By Diana Toma
What You’ll Be Creating
School started a while back, so let’s get inspired and create three
pencil characters in Adobe Illustrator.
At the beginning, you will
create the body of the pencil using basic shapes and a few distortion
techniques, and after that comes the fun part where you will create
different face expressions. You can even mix and match all the
elements as you desire to obtain a personalized pencil character.
Next, you’ll add the arms, the hands and some accessories to make
them even cuter. Let’s start the fun!
1. Start a New Project
Illustrator and go to File > New to open a blank document. Type a
name for your file, set up the dimensions and then select Pixels as
Units and RGB as Color Mode. Make sure that Align New Objects to
Pixel Grid is not checked.
Next, go to Edit > Preferences >
General and set the Keyboard Increment to 1 px and while there, go to
Units to make sure they are set as in the following image. I usually
work with these settings and they will help you throughout the
2. Create the Body of the Pencil
the Rounded Rectangle Tool and use the settings shown to draw the
first shape. With the shape still selected, go to Object > Path >
Add Anchor Points in order to add an extra point in the middle of
each side. Grab the Add Anchor Point Tool (+) and add two extra
points at the bottom.
the Direct Selection Tool (A) to select only point 1, and then go
to Object > Transform > Move. Type 25 px in the Vertical field
and hit OK. Next, select points 2 and 3 and apply the Move effect
again, but this time type -6 px in the Vertical field.
using the Direct Selection Tool (A), drag a selection over the three
points at the bottom and then press the Convert selected anchor points
to smooth option in the Control panel. This will generate handles
and make them rounded.
the Line Segment Tool () or the Pen Tool (P) to draw a straight path
over the rectangle, not through the middle but slightly to the
right. Now, select the rectangle along with the path and press Divide
in the Pathfinder panel. You will get two separate shapes.
the shape on the right with the lighter gradient and the shape on the left with the darker one.
the Pen Tool (P) to draw a triangle at the bottom (1) and then a path
like in the next image (2). Select the triangle and the path and
press Divide in the Pathfinder panel.
As a result you will get two
separate shapes, the “wood” and the “lead” (3). Add two extra
points with the Add Anchor Point Tool (+) on the sides of the “wood”
and move them 1-2 px outwards to create a slightly rounded look (4).
the “wood” with the linear gradient shown and select dark gray as
the fill color for the “lead”.
add some highlights. Use the Pen Tool (P) to draw a similar shape on
top of the “wood” and fill it with a gray to white linear
gradient (1). Set this shape to Blending Mode Screen and 20% Opacity
(2). Next, zoom on the “lead” and draw two shapes like below
using the Pen Tool (P). Fill them with a black to white linear
this point the body of the yellow pencil is ready. Group (Control-G)
all the shapes and name the group “Body”. To create other
pencils, just multiply the “Body” group and replace the two
yellow gradients. Remember to use the lighter gradient on the right
side and the darker one on the left.
3. Create the Rubber
the Rounded Rectangle Tool and draw a new rectangle with the
dimensions shown. Go to Object > Path > Add Anchor Points in
order to add an extra point in the middle of each side.
points in the direction of the arrows about 2-3 px using the arrow
keys on your keyboard. If your points don’t have handles, just press
the Convert selected anchor points to smooth option in the Control
panel. Fill this shape with the gradient from below (the
colors are grayscale because they are shades of gray and it’s
a similar shape and send it behind the one from the previous step.
Use the first gradient shown below to fill it. Copy and Paste in Back
(Control-B) this shape and then move it upwards a little. Use the
second gradient to fill it.
grab the Ellipse Tool (L) and draw two ellipses like in the next
image. For the bigger one, select white as the fill color and set it
to 75% Opacity. For the smaller one, use the linear gradient shown.
take the Rectangle Tool (M) and draw a thin rectangle a few pixels
wider than the metal shape.
the thin rectangle still selected, go to Effect > Stylize >
Drop Shadow and apply this effect three times using the settings
shown in the following image.
two copies of the thin rectangle and arrange them under the first.
Group (Control-G) the three rectangles and then go to Effect >
Warp > Arch and apply a 3% Horizontal Bend.
add some highlights on the rubber. First, draw two ellipses like in
the next image. For the one in front, select white as the fill color and set it to Blending Mode Overlay and 50% Opacity. For the
ellipse on the right side, just select dark pink as the fill color.
Go to Effect > Stylize > Feather and apply a Radius of 15 px for
the Pen Tool (P) and draw a path following the top side of the
metal shape. Give it a 4 pt black Stroke and then go to Effect >
Blur > Gaussian Blur and apply a Radius of 9 px.
draw a path at the bottom of the metal-shape, give it a 5 pt black
Stroke and apply a 5.8 px Gaussian Blur. Send both paths behind the
this point the rubber is ready. Group (Control-G) all the shape that
compose it and name the group “Rubber”. Arrange it at the top of
the yellow “Body”. Make two copies for the other pencils.
4. Create the Eyes
the Pen Tool (P) and draw the eye shape, and then go to Object >
Transform > Reflect, check Vertical and hit Copy. As a result you
will get the right eye shape. Next, go to Object > Path >
Offset Path and apply an Offset of 10 px to both shapes.
the bigger shape on the left with the linear gradient shown. For
the bigger shape on the right, use the same gradient but choose the
Reverse Gradient option in the Gradient panel.
the two eye shapes and fill them with white, and then go to Effect >
Stylize > Inner Glow and apply the settings shown below.
create the iris, use the Ellipse Tool (L) to draw a 40 x 40 px circle
over the left eye. Select blue as the fill color and a 3 pt Stroke, and then make a copy of this circle and arrange it over the right eye.
Draw two smaller circles filled with black as the pupils.
add some sparkles in the eyes. Draw a small circle, fill it with a
white to black radial gradient, and then set it to Blending Mode Screen
(black becomes transparent). Make a copy of this circle and arrange
it over the right eye. Next, draw two more circles at the top and
fill them with white.
first pair of eyes is ready. Create two groups called “Left eye”
and “Right Eye”. The red and blue eyes are created using the
exact same settings and colors, except that the eye shape is a 83 x 83
px circle, which is easier. All you have to do is to replace the
gradient for the bigger shape according to the pencils, and in this
case we have a red pencil and a blue pencil. Don’t forget to press
Reverse Gradient for the right eye.
this point you can also make the iris and the pupils bigger or
smaller and move them around as you like.
5. Create the Mouth
the Pen Tool (P) and draw the mouth shape like in the next image.
Select dark brown as the fill color and a 5 pt Outside Stroke.
draw the tongue shape and fill it with red; then go to Effect >
Stylize > Inner Glow and apply the settings from the following
using the Pen Tool (P) draw a black shape in the middle of the
tongue, go to Effect > Stylize > Feather and apply a Radius of
create the teeth, first draw a shape like below. Select the
mouth shape, and then Copy and Paste in Front (Control-F) and remove all
existing appearances. Select this copy along with the green shape and
press Intersect in the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape
all the shapes and create a group called “Mouth”. The other two
mouths are created using the exact same settings and colors—just the
mouth shape is different. To match the mouth to the red and blue
pencils, just change the Stroke color of the mouth shape to red and
blue as indicated.
6. Create the Eyebrows
the right eyebrow-shape with the Pen Tool (P) and select brown as the
fill color. Go to Object > Transform > Reflect, check Vertical
and hit Copy in order to get the left eyebrow.
the right eyebrow selected, go to Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow
and apply the settings shown. Apply the effect again for the left
eyebrow but increase the Blur to 25 px.
the left eyebrow selected, go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow
and apply the settings shown in the next image. Repeat the same thing
for the right eyebrow.
the Pencil Tool (N) to draw two paths on the front part of the
eyebrows. For the path on the right, select a 2 pt Stroke and apply a
1.6 px Gaussian Blur. For the path on the left, select a 3 pt Stroke
and apply a 1.6 px Gaussian Blur again.
a group called “Right eyebrow” and a group called “Left eyebrow”.
7. Compose the Face Expressions
the face elements are ready and each element should be grouped now.
You can be creative and you can mix and match to create different
expressions for the pencils.
are the faces that I’ve come up with:
the correct face over the yellow “Body” and at the next step we
will add some highlights.
the right eye, select only the bigger shape from the group and take a
look at the Appearance panel. Add a New Fill below the existing one
and select white; then go to Effect > Distort & Transform >
Transform and apply the settings shown. Set the Blending Mode for
this Fill to Overlay. Repeat the same thing for the left eye.
select the mouth-shape and in the Appearance panel add a New Fill
below the existing appearances. Use white, apply the Transform effect, and set the Blending Mode to Overlay again.
the correct face over the red “Body” and add highlights
to the eyes and the mouth as explained earlier. The same thing goes for
the blue pencil.
8. Create the Arms
the Pen Tool (P) or the Pencil Tool (N) and draw the arms for the
yellow pencil. You can choose any shape.
In the Appearance panel, add
the four strokes using the Stroke Weight and the colors indicated and
in the same order. Now, select only the brown Stroke at the bottom,
go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform and apply
the settings from the next image.
process remains the same if you create the arms for the red and blue
pencils—just change the stroke colors and the shape of the arms as you
9. Create the Hands
the Pen Tool (P) to draw a shape like in the next image and then go
to Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow. Apply the settings shown and
to the Pencil Tool (N) and draw four paths following the edge of the
hand shape (1). For the green, purple and blue paths select a 2 pt
Stroke, and then go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur and apply a
Radius of 5 px. After that, for the red path select a 3 pt Stroke
and apply a 7 px Gaussian Blur (2).
Next, select the hand shape, Copy and Paste in place (Shift-Control-V), and remove all existing
appearances (3). Now, select the four paths along with the copy of
the hand and go to Object > Clipping Mask > Make (Control-7)
(Control-G) all the shapes that compose the hand and make more copies
for the other pencils. You can rotate them depending on the position
of the arms.
add some shadows. Take the Rectangle Tool (M) and draw two small
rectangles as wide as the arms. Fill them with a white to black
linear gradient and use the Gradient Tool (G) to adjust the direction
(black should be next to the body).
Set the rectangle from the right
to Blending Mode Multiply and 30-40% Opacity and the rectangle from
the left to Blending Mode Multiply and 50% Opacity because we have a
darker and a brighter side.
10. Create the Accessories
Now, we will create some accessories, although this part is optional. Use
the Pen Tool (P) to draw a lens shape, and reflect it to obtain the
other one. Use the linear gradient shown to fill them both, and reduce the Opacity to 45%. Next, draw the frames, the bridge and
then the temples. All these shapes are filled with dark gray.
the lenses, the frames and the bridge and then Copy and Paste in Back
(Control-B). Still having the copies selected, press Unite in the
Pathfinder panel to get a single shape. Use the Selection Tool (V) to
distort the new shape by dragging the bounding box downwards. Fill
this shape with dark gray, apply a 4 px Gaussian Blur and reduce the
Opacity to 25%.
create the headphones, start with two shapes like in the next image
as the cushions. Continue with the caps, and then draw the headband.
draw some basic music notes and then multiply, rotate and arrange
them as you desire.
(Control-G) all the shapes that compose the glasses and arrange them
over the eyes. Make extra adjustments if the temples do not match
the headphones over the blue pencil but send the headband in back.
Next, arrange the music notes as you like.
you want to bend the blue pencil (or any other), first hide the
rubber, the headphones, the face and the music notes in the
Appearance panel to get them out of the way.
Take the Direct
Selection Tool (A) and drag a selection over the points at the top of
the “Body” and move them towards the left as much as you want
(1). Adjust the handles of these points and along the body if
necessary (2). Now, make the “Rubber” visible and rotate it to
match the new direction of the pencil (3). Make the rest of the
elements visible and make additional adjustments for everything to
look good (4).
11. Add a Shadow Under the Pencil
the Ellipse Tool (L) to draw an ellipse at the bottom of the pencil.
Use the radial gradient shown to fill it (the white stop has 0%
Opacity) and set it to Blending Mode Multiply. Send this ellipse
behind everything by going to Object > Arrange > Send to Back