By Yulia Sokolova

Final product image

What You’ll Be Creating

Are you waiting for the new X-Men:
Apocalypse movie as much as I am? Let’s get ready together and follow this
tutorial to create flat, faceless X-Men avatars! We’ll discover some useful tips
and tricks and learn simple techniques, while using basic shapes, the Pathfinder panel, the Shape Builder Tool and Clipping Masks.

X-Men are my favorite heroes from
the whole Marvel universe, so I always wait for the new movies with impatience.
However, this tutorial can be useful not only for X-Men fans! You can use the
following techniques to create some superhero avatars, flat human portraits and any other kind of flat avatars! You can even use your own photo
or any reference image from Envato Market to create a similar avatar for your social network profile. Let’s try
it out!

1. Create Wolverine’s Avatar

Step 1

Let’s shape Wolverine’s face, starting
with his chin. Take the Rectangle Tool
(M)
and make a 100 x 60 px shape
of pinky-beige skin-tone color. Keeping the shape selected, go to Object > Path > Add Anchor Points to add a point in the
middle of each side.

create face from the rectangle 1

Step 2

Let’s form the chin. Select the bottom left
anchor point with the Direct Selection
Tool (A)
and hit Enter to open
the Move window. Set the Horizontal
value to 20 px and Vertical to 0 px. Click OK to move
our point 20 px to the right.

Repeat the same for the bottom right anchor
point, but this time set the Horizontal value to -20 px in order to move the point in the opposite direction.

create face from the rectangle 2

Step 3

Now let’s make the shape of the chin more
rounded and smooth with the help of the Live
Corners
function. Select all the anchor points except the top two with the Direct Selection Tool (A) and pull the
circle markers of the Live Corners
up, making the corners slightly rounded.

If you’re using earlier versions of Adobe
Illustrator, which do not include this function, you can use Effect > Stylize > Round Corners
instead. But notice that it will make all the corners rounded. In this case, use the Eraser Tool (Shift-E) while holding Alt to make the top of the
shape straight and flat again.

make the chin rounded using live corners

Step 4

Now let’s shape the upper part of the face.
Create a rectangle of 100 x 75 px. Go
to Object > Path > Add Anchor
Points.

shape the upper part of the face

Step 5

Let’s adjust the hairline a bit. Select the
top central anchor point with the Direct
Selection Tool (A)
and move it 10 px
down. Switch to the Anchor Point Tool
(Shift-C)
and drag the anchor handles of the selected point up, as shown in
the image below. This way we form a gull-shaped hairline.

adjust the hairline

Step 6

Move the handles of the top left and right anchor
points to make the hairline more flowing and curved.

make the hairline more flowing

Step 7

Let’s make sure that the parts of the face
are perfectly aligned to each other. We’ll be using the same technique further
on when we need to align the objects to each other.

Select both parts of the face with the Selection Tool (V) and click the upper
shape once again to make it a Key
Object.
It will be indicated with a thicker selection around the shape. Now
head to the Align panel and click Horizontal Align Center. This way we
align the chin to the upper shape.

align the shapes to the center

Step 8

Move the top part of the face down, attaching it to
the chin.

attach the parts of the face

Step 9

Use the Move function again to move the upper left and right corners a bit
closer to each other, making the top of the shape narrower.

make the face narrower

Step 10

Now let’s draw Wolverine’s well-known hairdo! Arm yourself with the Pencil
Tool (N)
and draw the left part of the hair. Connect the extreme anchor
points either with the Pencil Tool (N)
or with the Pen Tool (P) to make the
right edge of the shape straight and squared.

draw hair with pencil tool

Step 11

Fill the shape with dark-grey color.
And let’s flip the copy to the other side to make the second half of the
hairdo. Double-click the Reflect Tool
(O)
to open the options window and select the Vertical Axis. Click Copy
and attach the right part of the hairdo.

form the hairdo

Step 12

Now let’s add the ears. Take the Ellipse Tool (L) and make a 15 x 30 px oval. Attach the shape to the
face, rotating it a bit. Add a second ear, using the Reflect Tool (O).

add the ears with ellipse tool

Step 13

Now let’s form Wolverine’s beard! First of
all, Copy the face shape and Paste in Front (Control-C > Control-F). Use
the Eyedropper Tool (I) to pick the
color from the hair and apply it to the created copy.

Take the Ellipse Tool (L) and make a 125 x 130
px
shape, placing it above the upper part of the face. Now you can see the
beard has started showing up in the bottom of the face.

form the beard 1

Step 14

Add another ellipse of smaller size (60 x 45 px), partially covering the chin.

form the beard 2

Step 15

Select both ellipses and Unite them in Pathfinder, merging them into a single shape.

Unite the shapes in Pathfinder

Step 16

Now let’s cut out the ellipses, leaving
only the dark-grey pieces for the beard. Select both the dark-grey shape and
the merged ellipses and use the Minus
Front
function of Pathfinder
to cut the shapes.

use minus front to cut out the beard

Step 17

Let’s add a couple of locks of hair to
Wolverine’s forehead. Make a 60 x 5 px
ellipse. Select its side anchor points with the Direct Selection Tool (A) and make the tips of the shape pointed, using
the Convert selected anchor points to
corner
function on the control panel on top.

Keeping the shape selected, go to Effect > Warp > Arc. Set the Horizontal Bend value to 30% and Object > Expand Appearance to apply the effect.

form a hair lock from ellipse

Step 18

Attach the created hair lock to the hairline
and add a smaller copy next to it.

Attach the created hair lock to the hairline

Step 19

Let’s add the neck. Make a 60 x 70 px rectangle of a darker skin
tone color. Place the neck beneath the head by Moving it to Back
(Shift-Control-

[). Adjust the length of the neck by moving it up or down,
hiding the unneeded part beneath the head.

Add another rectangle of 75 x 25 px for the collar and fill it
with dark greyish-blue color.

add neck and collar from rectangles

Step 20

Let’s shape the torso. Make a 160 x 110 px rectangle of lighter
greyish-blue color and place it right under the collar. Align all the shapes to
the center, if needed.

Select the bottom left anchor point with
the Direct Selection Tool (A) and
press Enter to open the Move window. Move the point father
left, setting the Horizontal Position
value to -20 px.

Move the right anchor point in the opposite
direction, making the bottom of the rectangle wider and forming a trapezium.

form a torso from rectangle

Step 21

Use the Live Corners feature (or the Round
Corners
effect) to make the shoulders of the torso rounded.

Let’s add a round X-Men emblem to the
collar. Make a 28 x 28 px circle
with the Ellipse Tool (L) with
dark-grey Fill and thick yellow Stroke (set the Stroke Weight to 5 pt in
the upper control panel).

Use the Line Segment Tool () to form two yellow 5 pt strokes for the X sign in the center.

make the X-Men round emblem

Step 22

Let’s add the base to our avatar. Make a 300 x 300 px yellow square and Send it to Back (Shift-Control-[), beneath the character. Group (Control-G) all parts of Wolverine and resize him to make the silhouette fit the square. You may leave
the lower part of the torso outside the square, as in the screenshot
below.

Copy the square and Bring to Front
(Shift-Control-])
, above all other objects.

Finally, select everything (Control-A), click the right mouse button and Make
Clipping Mask,
hiding the unwanted parts outside the square. Great!

make the base from square

Now we have our first X-Men avatar ready!
Let’s move on to the next one.

wolverine avatar

2. Draw Mystique’s Avatar

Step 1

Our second character will be marvelous
Mystique.

Let’s start forming her face from the chin,
as we did previously. Take Wolverine’s chin from our first avatar and
modify it, making the corners more rounded with the help of the Live Corners feature. Select the bottom
middle anchor point (the tip of the chin) and make it pointed by Converting it to Corner from the Convert menu on top.

form the chin

Step 2

Now let’s form the upper part of the face.
Make a 100 x 60 px rectangle and Align it to the chin shape. Use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to select
both top left and right anchor points and make the top of the shape fully rounded.

Use the Anchor Point Tool (Shift-C) to form the heart-shaped hairline by
placing the anchor handles as shown in the image below.

form the hairline

Step 3

Attach the upper part of the face to the
lower part and change the skin color to blue.

Let’s add a hairdo shape! Make a 100 x 80 px red rectangle and
place it beneath the face in the upper part of the head. Make the top of the
rectangle fully rounded.

Adjust the position of the shapes towards
each other. In my case, I move the upper part of the face further down to make
the face shorter and to reveal the hairdo a bit more.

recolor the skin and add hair

Step 4

Add the ears and neck to Mystique’s head.
Form a trapezium for the torso and this time Unite the torso and the neck in Pathfinder.

add ears neck and torso

Step 5

Use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to select the anchor points at the bottom
of the neck. Make them rounded, using the Live
Corners
feature. Make the shoulders rounded as well, forming a smooth,
gentle silhouette.

make the silhouette rounded

Step 6

Use the Ellipse Tool (L) to make a 5 x 10
px
ellipse of a slightly darker color than the face. Add some more spots to
the face, varying their size and position.

add elliptical spots

Step 7

Finish up with Mystique’s avatar by adding
some spots to her body and putting the character into a square mask with
dark-blue background.

Mystique avatar

3. Render the Avatar of Magneto

Step 1

Let’s make the head and helmet for Magneto.
Copy the base of the body from Wolverine and change the upper part of the head
by replacing Wolverine’s face and hair with a 100 x 75
px
rectangle. Make the top of the head fully rounded using the Live Corners function.

Create a rectangle on top (slightly larger
than the head) and make its top part rounded as well. This will be Magneto’s
helmet.

At this stage I also remove the ears and set
the Fill color of the helmet to None in order to see the head clearly.

make Magnetos helmet from rectangle

Step 2

Now let’s form the facial parts of the
helmet. If you remember the X-Men movies, Magneto had a large cut-out for eyes, nose
and mouth.

Make a small ellipse and place it in the
eye-area on the left, as shown in the image below. Use the Reflect Tool (O) to create a second ellipse. Add a
vertical stripe, combining it with the eye-holes. Finally, select the created
ellipses and the stripe and Unite them
in Pathfinder.

make the elements of the helmet 1

Step 3

Switch the Fill color of the helmet to dark purple and the central shape to
any contrast color, for example, yellow. Keeping the yellow shape selected, go
to Object > Path > Offset Path
and set the Offset value to 5 px, creating a larger shape.

make the elements of the helmet 2

Step 4

Select the helmet and the smaller yellow
shape. Use the Minus Front function
of Pathfinder to cut the shape
out.

Now we have the darker yellow-shape and a
helmet with a hole in the center.

Use the Minus Front function

Step 5

Keeping both shapes selected, arm yourself
with the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M),
hold down Alt and click the middle
of the dark-yellow shape that we need to delete. Great! Now we can see the
face.

use the Shape Builder Tool

Step 6

Change the dark-yellow color to
light-purple to make it blend with the helmet. And let’s add a thin 5 px stripe in the bottom of the helmet
as well. Use the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M)
again to delete the unneeded pieces of the stripe outside the helmet.

complete the helmet

Step 7

Let’s work at Magneto’s suit a bit.
Make it darker, changing the Fill
color to dark greyish-purple. Add a thin line right in the center of the suit,
depicting a stylized zip fastener.

And let’s darken the shoulders. Take the Line Segment Tool () and draw two
diagonal lines across the shoulders. Select both the lines and the torso and
use the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M)
to click the shoulder pieces that we need to cut. Wonderful—now the shoulder
parts are divided from the rest of the torso and we can make them darker.

Don’t forget to delete the pieces of the
line that we don’t need.

add details to the suite

Step 8

Make a light-purple avatar base and use the
Clipping Mask to form the
composition.

Finally, use the Convert function to make the outer corners of the eye-holes a bit
pointed. Edit the shapes with the Direct Selection Tool (A).

make the eyes pointed

Great! Magneto’s avatar is ready. We
have the last one to go!

The Magnetos avatar is ready

4. Draw the Avatar of Rogue

Step 1

Our final avatar is going to be pretty
young Rogue.

Let’s duplicate the whole of Mystique’s
silhouette and use it as a base for Rogue’s avatar by recoloring the skin and
removing the spots from the body.

duplicate Mystiques body

Step 2

Select the central point of the hairline
with the Direct Selection Tool (A)
and move it to the right a bit, changing the shape of the hairline.

Now grab the Pencil Tool (N) and make a slightly curved stroke for the hair lock
of the bang.

change the hair

Step 3

Let’s modify the bang. Switch the Stroke
color to pale-grey. Head to the Stroke
panel (Window > Stroke) and set
the Weight to 16 pt, making the bang much thicker.

Set the Cap and Corner to middle
positions to make the tips of the stroke rounded.

Finally, change the Profile to Width Profile 5
(one of the default profiles in the drop-down menu) and use the Flip Along button next to it to change
the direction of the stroke line. Great work!

Add a light-beige vertical stroke on top of
the dark hair for the parting. Set its Stroke
Weight
to 1.5 pt and the Profile to Width Profile 1.

make a bang from a stroke

Step 4

Add another lock at the opposite side of
the face and use similar settings as in the previous step. You can
use the Eyedropper Tool (I) to pick
the appearance from the previous lock and apply it to the new one, reducing the Weight to 12 pt.

Copy the collar from Wolverine’s avatar
and place it on Rogue’s neck.

add a second lock the the hair

Step 5

Let’s dress our character up. Select the
body shape and use the Knife tool to split the shape into two parts. Fill the
torso with dark-grey color, depicting the X-Men suit.

add a dark suite

Step 6

Add a zip fastener and the X-Men logo to
Rogue’s suit.

add details to the suit

Step 7

Finish up the avatar by adding
a green square base and putting the objects into a Clipping Mask.

Avatar of Rogue

Marvelous! Our X-Men Flat Avatars Are
Finished!

We’ve done a fantastic job! You can
continue tweaking the avatars and adding minor details to your liking. What is
more, you can use these simple techniques to create the whole X-Men team,
including both the good guys and the villains!

Have fun!

X-men flat avatars are finished

Read more here:: How to Create a Set of X-Men Avatars in Adobe Illustrator