Vector Ninja Characters Beginner Illustrator Tutorial

Hello everyone this is Chris from Spoon Graphics back with another video tutorial for Adobe Illustrator Today's video kind of fits in to the whole #10YearChallenge that's going around at the moment, with this topic originally appearing on my Spoon Graphics website exactly 10 years ago in January 2009

What we'll be making is a group of cute, but extremely dangerous Ninja characters in Adobe Illustrator, using basic shapes and flat colours to give the artwork a stylised illustrative look This is an ideal topic for beginners, since we'll be using a range of basic Illustrator tools and techniques If you want to become a design ninja, check out Envato Elements, the ultimate creative toolkit for designers So to create your group of vector ninja characters, open up Adobe Illustrator and create a new document Since you can scale vector artwork up and down, the size of the artwork doesn't really matter, but I'm going to be using the RGB colour mode

Go to View > Hide Artboards to give yourself a nice large workspace with no edges, then under the same menu, turn on Smart Guides if they aren't already enabled Select the Ellipse tool from the toolbar and draw a circle to represent the head Hold the Shift key to constrain it into a perfect circle Go back and choose the Rectangle tool and draw a shape to represent the body The great thing about drawing cartoons is the proportions don't matter at all

Switch to the Move tool and use the Smart Guides to line it up centrally The rectangle is currently overlapping the circle, so right click and choose Arrange > Send To Back to place the head on top Select the Rectangle tool again, then continue drawing a leg Use the Smart Guides to line up the shape exactly on the edge of the body Click and drag one of the corner widgets to turn the shape into a rounded rectangle

With the Move tool selected, hold the ALT key while dragging the shape to make a duplicate Position this second leg on the other side, then make another copy to represent an arm Rotate the arm shape by 45 degrees, holding the Shift key to constrain the angle, then position it on the body Make a duplicate of this arm shape for the other side then rotate and move it into position Grab the Ellipse tool again and draw another circle, this time slightly smaller than the head

Draw another shape that overlaps it, this time a flat oval Switch back to the Move tool to Shift and click and select both shapes, then under the Align panel, click the Horizontal Align Center button to make sure they're both lined up Click the Minus Front button in the Pathfinder window to trim the oval shape from the circle Position this shape on the head to represent the face Scale the face shape if necessary, then to make sure it's lined up, select the head circle along with it

Release the Shift key and give the head another click to make it the Key Object, which will ensure it won't move out of alignment when you use the Horizontal Align Center button Before deselecting the shapes, fix the stacking order by right clicking and choosing Arrange > Bring to Front The limbs can then be sent to back using the contextual menu, or the CMD(or CTRL on Windows)+Shift+[ shortcut Finish off the face with a small circle as an eye Remove the stroke and replace the standard white fill with black

Make a duplicate then group the two shapes together Move the eyes into position by using the head as a key object with the Align panel to centre everything up Next let's add some colour Make a selection of everything, then hold Shift and deselect the eyes and face shapes Change the main fill to a dark grey, almost black, such as #2d2d2d

Using strokes to outline your flat vector art can help give it a stylised appearance Bump up the black stroke to around 5pt, then click the icon to Align the Stroke to the Outside Multiple strokes can be added to objects in Illustrator Under the Appearance panel, choose Add New Stroke and set it up with a slightly lighter grey than the fill, such as #3a3a3a Keep the 5pt size, but align this stroke to the inside

This multiple stroke technique helps add some style and definition to otherwise flat colours and shapes The only shape to require a different colour scheme is the face Give this object the same 5pt black stroke but a fill using a pale skin tone of #fcdbac In order to use the multiple stroke technique, add a second stroke and align it to the inside, then sample the fill using the Eyedropper tool while holding the Shift key This hue can then be altered to a darker shade in the color picker window

That's the basic character constructed, so now let's duplicate it into a group of ninjas Draw a selection around everything and hold the ALT key while dragging a copy to one side After creating one duplicate, repeatedly press CMD+D (or CTRL+D on Windows) to make numerous more copies Working on each ninja in turn, modify the pose by moving the arms and legs into different positions You can also alter the stacking order with the CMD+Shift+[ or ] keys to place the limbs on top or below the body and head

For each ninja in turn, select all the limb shapes along with the body, except any limbs that overlap the body, then click the Unite button in the Pathfinder panel If you make sure to hold the ALT key while clicking the Unite button, it preserves the originally shapes within the compound path, which means you can use the Direct Selection tool to adjust them if necessary This is handy if any of the limbs aren't lined up exactly, or if you want to edit the ninja's pose The cute stubby legs and friendly rounded shapes make these ninjas look like they're performing dance moves rather than deadly martial arts, so let's give them some killer ninja weapons Using some empty space on the artboard, draw a long thin rectangle as a staff

Change the fill and stroke colours to brown swatches, not forgetting to add the extra stroke to produce a black outline Since this shape is quite thin, a 3pt inner stroke will suffice Move the staff graphic into position Select all the shapes that make up ninjas number 1, group them together and move him out of the way Ninjas number two will be given some nunchuks, which conveniently gives us the opportunity to use Illustrator's blend tool

Draw the handles just like the wooden staff, but for the chain, use a small circle with grey swatches for the fill and stroke Hold the Alt and Shift keys to drag a duplicate copy, then with both shapes selected, go to Object > Blend > Make Switch over to the Pen tool and draw a path from one nunchuk handle to the other that follows the natural curve of a chain With this path and the blended circles object selected, head to Object > Blend > Replace Spine Go back to Object > Blend > Blend Options and change the settings to Specified Steps to alter the number of chain circles between the handles

Group the elements that form the nunchuk, then group them with the rest of the ninja Next we'll create a dagger Begin with the Star tool, but while dragging the shape, reduce the number of points to 3 using the keyboard cursor keys Give this shape the same grey fills as the nunchuk chain, but with an additional black outlining stroke Use the Direct Selection tool to select just the uppermost point of the triangle and move it vertically to extend the shape into a sword or dagger

Using the Pen tool, make single clicks to follow the shapes outline to create a shading shape that covers half of the blade Give it the darker grey fill with no stroke Add a little rectangle as the handle, aligned centrally and given a brown colour scheme Group these shapes and place the dagger in the hands of the ninja Finally, we'll use the Star tool to create an actual ninja death star

Draw a new shape and increase the number of points Set up the fills and strokes with grey swatches Use the Lasso tool to draw a selection around all the outermost points, then select the Rotate tool Click and drag to offset the points to create a series of sharp tips Move the shurikens into place to finish off the ninja characters

So there you have your very own army of ninja mascots I hope these tips and techniques for Adobe Illustrator help you create all kinds of illustrations, whether they're simple characters, icons or infographic elements Once you reduce a subject down to basic shapes, you can make illustrations of pretty much anything If you enjoyed this tutorial be sure to give it a thumbs up to help spread the word, subscribe to the Spoon Graphics YouTube Channel to stick around for more video tutorials Head over to my Spoon Graphics website to grab my free design resources bundle, otherwise thank you very much for watching, and I'll see you in the next one

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