Adobe Illustrator Tutorial for Beginners
In this Beginner Adobe Illustrator Tutorial using 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 Tutorial is a part of our Beginner Guide. Looking to Follow Along? If you do not have our Brushes + Resources, I recommend to start there first if you intend on Following Along. Download our Brushes + Resources to Follow Along with our 50 Step by Steps on the Website or 100 Beginner Tutorials Playlist on YouTube.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.