How to Draw a Retro Mascot Character Design in Illustrator

How to Draw a Retro Mascot Character Design in Illustrator


Hello
everyone this is Chris from Spoon Graphics back with another video tutorial for Adobe
Illustrator. Today we’re going to have some fun creating
a retro mascot character design of a hot dog, using inspiration from the classic cartoon
style of the 1930s known as “rubber hose”. Imagine the early Disney or Fleischer Studios
characters with their bendy limbs, pie-shaded eyes and three-fingered hands in white gloves. We’ll use a combination of the brush and blob
tools to construct the illustration from scratch, then incorporate a limited colour palette
and subtle texturing to suit the retro look. I’ll show you some of my favourite illustrating
techniques and brush settings to help you draw your own fun character designs. The idea for this character came from a couple
of signs outside a general store full of vintage memorabilia that I visited during my recent
trip to America. The signs seemed to be from an old movie theatre
and featured a soda cup and hot dog turned into cartoon characters with chubby smiles,
walking along in a happy pose. I’ve since seen loads of other great examples
of similar mascots via Pinterest and Google, featuring all kinds of anthropomorphic objects,
all with cute facial expressions and gleeful mannerisms. Check out my Showcase of Character Illustrations
Inspired by 1930s Cartoons over at Spoon Graphics as a starting point to gather some inspiration. To create your own retro hot dog character, begin by
opening Adobe Illustrator and create a new document. The size doesn’t really matter, because the
artwork will be in scalable vectors, so I prefer to simply go to View>Hide Artboards
to give myself a nice large work area. Select the Blob Brush, then double click the
tool to edit its settings. Move the slider to maximum smoothness, then
bump the size to around 100pt. If the Pressure option is set, change it to
Fixed. Draw three slightly curved lines to represent
the sausage and bun, making all three roughly the same curvature, but the middle one slightly
longer. It can take a few attempts to find the perfect
stroke, so use the CMD (or CTRL key on Windows) + Z shortcut to Undo and try again. Give the two outer shapes a colour fill to
represent the bun, then the middle one a swatch that represents the sausage. Move the shapes into place, overlapping them
slightly. It’s best to use basic shapes to construct
the main body wherever possible, but to illustrate the face and hands, some freehand drawing
is necessary. Create a new layer, then lock the original
to avoid accidentally selecting it. Bring up the Layers panel via the View menu
if it isn’t visible already. I’ve always had mine placed in the bottom
left, but it might be hiding elsewhere in a different workspace layout. Select the regular brush tool, then reset
the default black stroke and clear out any fill. Choose a rough brush tip, such as Charcoal,
just to make these sketch lines feel more organic, then reduce the opacity of the brush
in the top toolbar to around 10%. Begin sketching out the eyes, nose, cheeks
and mouth to form a face. If you’re using a Pen tablet loosely sketching
these elements feels quite natural, but it is possible to draw with a mouse. Taking inspiration from existing cartoons
can help you achieve the simplified art style. One advantage to sketching in Illustrator
is your brush strokes are all saved as individual paths, which means you can easily move them
around or alter the size to perfect the appearance. Loosely drawing a basic shape such as a circle,
then building up the details with darker lines is a really useful technique. Make any tweaks to the layout of the sketch
lines, then lock the layer and create a new layer for inking. A great way to achieve a realistic inked style
with tapered lines is to create a new brush. Select the Ellipse tool and draw a short and
wide shape. Click the new icon at the bottom of the Brushes
panel, then select New Art Brush. OK the settings then delete this shape. Use this new brush to trace the sketch with
neatly drawn lines. The thickness of the lines can be adjusted
by altering the weight of the stroke. To draw the arms, switch over to the Blob
Brush. Double click the tool to edit its settings
and bring the size back down. Trace the sketch lines with a thick stroke. Use the Brush tool again to trace the linework
of the hands. Use the Direct Selection tool to tweak the
paths once they have been drawn. Repeat the process to draw the legs and feet,
using the Blob brush to create the thick monoweight lines, then the brush tool with the tapered
brush tip to ink the rough sketch. There are some other areas that need blacking
out, namely the eyes and mouth. Change the Blob brush setting to enable Pressure,
then trace and fill the pupils of the eyes and mouth. Use the square bracket keys to alter the size
of the brush tip to accurately stay within the lines. To create the classic pie-eye shape, use the
Pen tool to draw a triangle that overlaps the pupil. Switch back to the Move tool and hold the
ALT key while dragging the shape to make a duplicate. Select both the triangle shape and the pupil
shape while holding the Shift key, then click the Minus Front button in the Pathfinder panel
to cut the shape out. Once the inking is complete, draw a selection
around all the paths and press CMD+X to cut the artwork. Turn off the visibility of the Sketch layer
and unlock the original artwork layer. Press CMD+F to Paste the linework back in
place. Make selections of the legs and the arm in
the background, then right click and choose Arrange>Send to Back. Those coloured shapes currently don’t have
a black outline. Select each one in turn and press CMD+C and
CMD+F to Copy and Paste in Front. Replace the coloured fill with a black stroke,
then apply the tapered brush and bump up the stroke weight as appropriate. If you want to adjust where the taper starts
and ends, use the Scissors tool to clip the path. Use the Blob brush tool to fill in any other
areas that require a fill colour, such as white for the eyes. Alter the stacking order by repeatedly pressing
the CMD+[ shortcut until the white shapes sit below the black outlines. The same method can be used to fill the overlap
where the facial features extend beyond the edge of the sausage. Don’t forget to paint in a shape to fill the
white gloves. It can be difficult to see when they’re placed
against a white background, so temporarily turn the Artboards back on under the View
menu, then move the artwork over the grey background. Send these shapes to the back so they sit
underneath the black linework, then turn the Artboards back off. Restricting the illustration to a limited
colour palette is a good way to tap in to the retro style. Use the existing colours to make fill shapes
for other areas of the illustration. Subtle details like highlight lines are the
finishing touches that can bring an illustration to life. Draw simple strokes with the Blob brush with
a white fill. A shadow can help ground the character. Draw an ellipse with a black fill, then send
it to the back. Draw a rectangle over the entire illustration
and choose a neutral colour as the fill. Send this element to the bottom of the stack
to act as a background. One last touch is to add a subtle texture
overlay. Download and open one of my Photocopy textures
in Photoshop. The texture first needs inverting so its black
on white. Use the CMD+I shortcut, then Copy and Paste
the texture into Illustrator. Scale the texture to fit over the background
rectangle, then change the blending mode to Multiply to apply the grainy details to the
illustration. The final result is a fun mascot character
in a retro style. The simple shapes, bold outlines and traits
of 1930s cartoons all add to the classic illustration style, which is enhanced with the limited
colour palette and the addition of a subtle texture overlay. If you enjoyed this tutorial or learnt any
new illustration tips or tricks, a thumbs up on the video to help spread the word would
be really appreciated. Subscribe to my channel to stick around for
more, and join my mailing list over at Spoon Graphics to get your hands on more of my free
design resources. As always thank you very much for watching,
and I’ll see you in the next one.

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