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Adobe Illustrator How to Make a Cartoon Tutorial

In Adobe Illustrator, Step by Step Adobe Illustrator Tutorials by Jason Secrest

Adobe Illustrator Tutorial for Beginners using Cartoon Character

Beginner Adobe Illustrator Tutorial will be going step by step on how to make a cartoon in Adobe Illustrator. We will be going through inking using the pencil tool following our tablet friendly guide. This Tutorial is a part of our Brushes 101 Series. 

adobe illustrator pen tool kid
Tablet Friendly Guides

Tablet Friendly Guides are designed to make life easier as you are learning to use the Tablet in Adobe Illustrator. These will have just the simplified path.

Using Pencil Tool

We will be using the Pencil Tool and our Cartoon Brushes to lay down lines and edit. Adjust the settings in your Pencil Tool to Smooth.

Adding Flat Color

Using live paint for a fast way of getting down color without having to use pathfinder to create shapes.

Pencil Tool Options

Here are some of the Pencil Tool Options that I recommend. I will go through some of them so you can modify them depending on your drawing style.

The first slide bar is the Fidelity or Smoothing setting. This one is great for those of you who want to go fast and hate hitting Control/Command + Z (undo) all the time in other programs. This will clean up the line as you draw and will remove unnecessary anchor points.

The main 2 Options that I want to cover is the Keep Selected and Edit Selected Paths down at the bottom. This is so we can edit and join as we go. The ability to join helps a lot and allows us to get back corners that the smoothing will potentially round out. Notice the bottom and the within 0 (zero) pixels. This will remove the rewrite or auto correct which is pretty frustrating if you don't want it.

adobe illustrator pencil tool settings
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TABLET SETTINGS

Tablet Settings

Most of the tablet settings that I can adjust have been turned off or disabled. All of the short cuts will come from the keyboard shortcuts for Illustrator not the tablet. If you have a rather large tablet that you can't reach your keyboard then I would set up your Express keys.

Pencil Settings

Turn your smoothing (fidelity) all the way up. This will keep your lines extremely smooth. I would also have the fills turned off. The keep selected box will be on for this tutorial since we are working on joining paths, especially sharp corners.

adobe illustrator preferences for beginners
adobe illustrator preferences for beginners

Zoom In

All of our initial preferences are designed to gain more control over what you are clicking on. The more you can zoom in and see your anchors and handles the better.

Smart Guides

Under VIEW make sure you have your smart guides turned on. Under your PREFERENCES (smart guides) you should definitely have your anchor/ path labels selected.

Anchor and Handle Size

In your (general) PREFERENCES there is a setting which can enlarge your anchor points and handles to make them easier for you to see before clicking.

Direct Selection Tool

The white arrow can grab and adjust the anchors, handles, and paths. All of the other settings are designed to let you know what you are selecting before you click and drag.

Adding on Line Variation using Cartoon Brushes

You will have more control over the placement and width of each of your lines using the Cartoon Brushes (Download + Install). The process will be a combination of using the Brushes to get down the initial thickness and stroke width. The second step will be modifying the placement of the variation using the so we can edit later. This 2-Step Process allows for more control over your Line Variation compared to using your Tablet with Pressure.

Download Brushes

1. The Direct Download will make it very easy to download the zipped brushes file. Simply Extract All of the contents and follow along with the rest of the video.

Open Other Library

2. In your Brushes Panel, Window - Brushes. In the Bottom Left Hand Corner you will see a Brushes Library icon that looks like books. Click on it and scroll down to Other Library. Open Brush Library from folder.

Adding Line Weight

3. Depending on your own Style or preference, I would recommend adding a little more line weight to your artwork. The mistake I see a lot of beginners make is keeping the line weight at 1pt.

Cartoon Brushes

4. We have 17 Brush Libraries in our folder. You can use any one of them during this tutorial. All you have to do is line up the thin edge which will be floating in space. The Thick ends will represent our values which will be merging into other areas and strokes.

cartoon brush set
200 Adobe Illustrator Brushes specifically designed for Cartoonists and Illustrators who are looking to speed up their workflows. Use Illustrator Brushes with the Pen, Pencil or Paint Brush Tools to Apply different Line Variation to your Vector Artwork. Updated Brush Libraries are Pressure Sensitive to use with your Tablet.
comic strip brush set
Includes Hand Painted + Comic Strip Sets to get a lived in feel back into your Vector Art. Use these Brushes with your Comic Strips or Fine Line Work. Hand Painted + Fine Line Marker are actually painted based on some of my favorite artists and cartoonists. These are designed to look ready for the Sunday Paper.
mascot brush set
Jittery Hand, Caffeinated Cartoonist + Rough Ink to Mimic Paper Bleed and Caffeine. Includes our Cartoon Brushes 1 + 2. Designed to be be a little less stiff with your vector art. Use these Brush Libraries to get more of a distressed look or ink bleed back in your own Illustrations and Vector Artwork.
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Free Bonus: Follow Along to 50 Step by Step Adobe Illustrator Tutorials and Challenges on the Website and YouTube to Learn the Basics of Building, Applying Brushes, Editing and Coloring  in Adobe Illustrator.
cartoon brush set
(Updated) Adobe Illustrator Cartoon Brushes specifically designed for Cartoonists and Illustrators who are looking to speed up their workflows. Use Cartoon Illustrator Brushes with the Pen, Pencil or Paint Brush Tools to Apply different Line Variation to your Vector Artwork. Includes 70+ Cartoon Brushes (libraries include the Updated Cartoon, Cartoon 2, and Original Cartoon Brush Libraries).
comic strip brush set
Includes Hand Painted + Comic Strip Sets to get a lived in feel back into your Vector Art. Comic Strips and Hand Painted are painted based on some of my favorite artists and cartoonists. These brushes are designed to look ready for the Sunday Paper. Includes 100+ Brushes (libraries include the Updated Comic Strip, Hand-Painted, Paintbrush, and Fine Liner Brush Libraries).
mascot brush set
Jittery Hand, Caffeinated Cartoonist + Rough Ink to Mimic Paper Bleed and Caffeine. Designed to be a little less stiff with your vector art. Use these Brush Libraries to get more of a distressed look or ink bleed back in your own Vector Artwork with heavy ink and a little more wobble. Includes 50+ Brushes (libraries include the updated Caffeinated Cartoonist, Rough Ink, and Jittery Hand Brush Libraries).
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Free Bonus: I have included the  Anchor Point and Tablet Friendly Guides (as a Free Bonus) to Follow Along with the 50 Step by Steps on the Website or the 100 Beginner Tutorials Playlist on YouTube to Learn the Basics of Building, Applying Brushes, Editing, and Coloring in Adobe Illustrator. Follow Along with the Tutorials or use the Brushes with Your Own Artwork.
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Editing using the Shape Builder Tool

Shape Builder is a tool that can be used to give an alternative to the Eraser Tool while Editing. In order to use Shape Builder, you will need to Expand the Brush Layer. Select All - Expand (or Expand Appearance + Expand). I do recommend duplicating a Brushes Layer to preserve a Live Brush Layer for future edits. Once the Brushes are Expanded, Select All + click on the Shape Builder Tool. The Alt/Option key will switch the Shape Builder Tool to delete mode. Simply Click or Drag through the stray or overlapped areas to delete. Remember to keep holding down the Alt/Option. You can also Turn On/Off the Highlighting by double-clicking on the Shape Builder Tool. The flashing gets irritating.

Expand Appearance: I do recommend Expanding your Brushes Layer before using Shape Builder. This will prevent bouncing of the Brushes and Line Variation. It will also move toward an efficiency model to save time so you are not stopping and editing while you are still building.

Select your All on Brushes Layer: In order to use the Shape Builder Tool, you will need to select an Object or All Objects so the Tool knows what it should interact with. You can modify what is selected by choosing smaller areas if selecting all becomes too overwhelming.

Hold Alt/Option: When you hold down your Alt/Option Key while using the Shape Builder Tool to Delete Mode. I do recommend turning off the Highlighting when in this mode. Drag or click on any of the overlapped or stray marks to delete using the Shape Builder Tool.

How to Color in Adobe Illustrator

One of the easiest and fastest ways of filling in your color is through Live Paint. Live Paint Bucket is a part of the Shape Builder Tools which builds the shapes in the exact shape you need it. Select All. Go up to Object - Live Paint - Make. If you have a grayed out Make it simply means you didn't have anything selected. I do recommend Deselecting by clicking on your artboard before clicking on a Color Swatch. *Remember Everything is still Selected so it will Color the Full Selection if you click on a Color Swatch with everything selected. Click on the Live Paint Bucket (K) and Click to Dump Color. It will feel like the Paint Bucket in Adobe Photoshop. 

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