adobe illustrator tutorial for beginners monkey

Beginner Adobe Illustrator Tutorial using Shapes

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

Adobe Illustrator Tutorial for Beginners

In this Beginner Adobe Illustrator Tutorial use shapes and the Pathfinder panel through a fun step-by-step cartoon illustration. We will be using the ellipse tool, fills, pathfinder, and warp effects to complete this easy character. This is a great tutorial if you are new to Adobe Illustrator and looking to learn the basics. 

adobe illustrator monkey shapes
Building with Shapes

Shapes are a great way of building your characters especially as you gain experience with blend, warp, shape builder, and pathfinder to create unique shapes.

Adding Warp Effects

We will be adding blend and warp effects to create more organic shapes within our cartoon characters to give you more building tools and options.


Our goal is to simplify pathfinder in the next few step by step tutorials by practicing and going through as many different options to build up your confidence.




Align to Selection

Always think what you are aligning to and then do a double check of your settings. We will typically align objects (to selection) and then group them to maintain.

Thought Process

Most of you will actually choose the correct Align Button without any trouble, the issue is not checking if it is Aligning to artboard or selection. It will crash into the middle of the artboard so it is pretty obvious when Align to Artboard is Selected.

Align to Artboard

If you are building in the center of an artboard this is extremely helpful or it can be frustrating. The main trick is to Group Objects and then Align them to Artboard. Again, they will crash into the middle to let you know they are not grouped.

Group Objects

Easiest way to think about grouping is when you have two objects aligned on opposite sites of the center line. These will be the objects that will crash into the center when Aligning to Artboard.

Pathfinder Minus Front

1. Have 2 overlapping shapes selected. One shape will be in the front and this is the cut away shape. (I colored this one garbage green since it will be trashed after we click minus front). (Use fills only)

Shape Builder (alt/option) Delete

2. Have 2 overlapping shapes selected and click the Shape Builder tool. Hold down alt/option and click on areas you wish to be deleted. Wait for the shape to grey out. (Use fills only)

Pathfinder Unite

3. Have 2 or more overlapping shapes selected and click on the pathfinder unite button. The 2 shapes will merge together. (Use fills only)

Shape Builder- Combine Shapes

4. Have 2 or more shapes selected and then click on the shape builder tool. Click, Hold and drag across the shapes you wish to combine. Do NOT hold down alt/option.

Opening Color Swatches

Open the Swatch Window. On the bottom left hand corner you will see the Open Swatch Libraries icon. At the bottom of the drop-down menu you will see Open Other Library. Go to our resource folder in the Color Palettes folder to Open ASE files. The ASE files have been created to make your life easier while going through the Challenge Series. Once you open the Library- click on the folder icon next to the swatches to move them from the library to the swatches.

Coloring with Fills

One of the easiest and fastest ways of filling in your color is through using Fills. The main thing to look for is enclosed shaped. We have done nothing but build with Shapes so coloring is super easy. Keep this in mind as you are going through the other tutorials where we don't have any shapes.

Gradient Panel

Select each color using the Magic Wand Tool (Adjust to Tolerance 5) each color. Add on a Radial Gradient to the frosting layers (3). Use the lightest and Darkest Color Swatch from the color set of 3. Adjust the slider to control where the values hit. Troubleshooting: Double check your fill is in front and not your stroke.

Gradient Tool

You can use the Gradient Tool to gain some control over where the gradient hits on your shapes. The tool will control the same features that are in the panel. I use the tool when I don't want to guess and check angle degrees or aspect ratio percentages.

STEP #1: DOWNLOAD + EXTRACT OUR ADOBE ILLUSTRATOR BMP TEXTURE FOLDER. The Texture Folders will come to you zipped. Extract All before using in Adobe Illustrator. The BMP Textures are ready to use once you have extracted the folder. There is no installation needed to use BMP Textures, simply file place over your finished design or artwork.
STEP #2: FILE + PLACE BMP TEXTURES INTO YOUR WORKING ARTBOARD. Place a BMP Texture over your finished vector artwork. Simple File-Place. I recommend scaling the texture to fit over your completed artwork before you export or save. Simply scale the texture file using the Bounding Box or the Properties Panel. You can scale the texture to fit over the asset or the entire artboard.
STEP #3: ADJUST TEXTURES USING THE TRANSPARENCY SLIDER. Adjustments to the texture file can be made in the Transparency Panel in Adobe Illustrator. If you are looking to Blend the Pattern toward your Background Color, you can simply click on a Color Swatch to Change the Color of the BMP Texture. Use the Transparency Slider to adjust the opacity for subtle texture overlays.
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.


beginner adobe illustrator tutorial whale
200 ADOBE ILLUSTRATOR BRUSHES. Our (Updated) Adobe Illustrator Brush Libraries are specifically designed for Illustrators and Cartoonists to speed up their workflow. I have recently added more brushes and updated the Brush Libraries to allow for Pressure Sensitivity. Follow Along with the Tutorials or Use them with Your Own Artwork. Brush Libraries include our 70 Cartoon, 100 Comic Strip, and 50 Vintage Mascot Brushes.
beginner adobe illustrator tutorial pug
70 ADOBE ILLUSTRATOR HALFTONES + PATTERN FILLS. Our Halftones and Patterns Fills are designed for easy application even if you are new to Adobe Illustrator. Halftone Fills behave the same as a Color Swatch so you can apply them quickly using the Blob Brush, Live Paint, or Basic Fills. Simply Paint in Halftones into your own Illustrations and Comics. Halftones include our Comic Strip Halftone Fills, Pattern Fills, and Halftone Value Scales.
beginner adobe illustrator tutorial coyote
400 ADOBE ILLUSTRATOR BMP TEXTURES. Our BMP Textures are extremely easy to use even if you are a beginner to Adobe Illustrator. Simply File-Place the Textures over your finished artwork to use with the Transparency Panel for soft overlays. Use BMP Textures along with Opacity Masks for T-Shirt Distressing. BMP Textures include our 145 Cracks, 120 Grunge Distressing, 75 Paper, and 77 Paint Splatter Textures.


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. 

Popular Adobe Illustrator Tutorials

beginner adobe illustrator tutorial whale
beginner adobe illustrator tutorial pug
beginner adobe illustrator tutorial coyote
beginner adobe illustrator tutorial duck
beginner adobe illustrator tutorial ice cream
beginner adobe illustrator tutorial ice cream
beginner adobe illustrator tutorial snail
beginner adobe illustrator tutorial monkey
beginner adobe illustrator tutorial ice cream
beginner adobe illustrator tutorial posicle
beginner adobe illustrator tutorial ice cream
beginner adobe illustrator tutorial ice cream