Final Product What You'll Be Creating
Although we should get ready for the spring arrival and nice weather, half of the world is still covered with snow. For those who already have a nice weather and are not able to create a Snowman with the real snow, we will show you how to create it from scratch in Adobe Illustrator. We’ll be using the Ellipse Tool (L) to create the basic shapes of the Snowman, a bit of Pen Tool work (P) and nice color gradients. Beside that we need to pay attention to shadows that will give our illustration a nice depth. Let’s get down to business!
We’ll start with two circles. Grab the Ellipse Tool (L) from the Tool Panel and create two perfect circles. Arrange them as it shown below.
We are going to apply colors gradients right away. This way we will be full aware of the look of our illustration from the beginning, and we can decide if there is something we should change as we build our illustration.
Let’s create the buttons for our snowman. Grab the Ellipse Tool (L) again and create a small circle. Set the Fill color to #414042.
Duplicate (Command + C, Command + F) the circle and set the Fill color of the copy to black (#000000). Use the arrow key on your keyboard to nudge the copy 2-3 pixels to the right. Place the black circle underneath the gray circle (Shift + Command + [). You should end up with something like this.
Group (Command + G) both circles and duplicate the group (Command + C, Command + F). Place the copy below the original. Make sure to align them (Align > Horizontal Align Center). If the Align Panel is not visible you can find it under Window > Align.
Select both groups and under Object select Blend > Make. It will create a few buttons in the middle. To set the exact number of new buttons select again Object > Blend > Blend Options.
Set the Spacing to Specified Steps and the value to 3. It will create three new buttons in the middle.
Let’s turn the buttons into editable shapes. This way we will be able to make some changes. Select Object > Expand.
Ungroup (Shift + Command + G) the buttons and scale up the buttons in the middle as shown. Group (Command + G) the buttons again.
Now we’ll distort the position of the buttons a little bit. Under the Object select Envelope Distort > Make with Warp. Set the Style to Arc, Vertical. Set the Bend to 17% and hit the OK button.
Expand (Object > Expand) the buttons again and place them on the body of our Snowman.
Create two button for the eyes as well.
For the nose (carrot) we will use the Pen Tool (P). Grab it from the Tool Panel and create the shape as shown below. Basically, it is a simple triangle.
Set the Fill color of the triangle to #F15A29. Now grab the Convert Anchor Point Tool (Shift + C) from the Tool Panel and adjust a bit the left angle (top of the nose). Just make it less sharp.
Grab the Add Anchor Point Tool (+) from the Tool Panel and add an anchor point as shown.
Use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to select a new anchor point and drag it to the right.
Now we need to turn that side of the nose into a curve. Grab the Convert Anchor Point Tool (Shift + C) from the Tool Panel, click on the anchor point and drag the handle downwards, until you create a nice, flawless curve.
To make the nose more interesting we will divide the orange shape and color new parts with similar colors. Grab the Line Tool (/) from the Tool Panel and create two lines, as shown below.
Select all the elements (for the nose) and under the Pathfinder Panel hit Divide button. Ungroup (Shift + Command + G) the new shape and change the Fill color of the upper and lower part of the nose. You should end up with something like the image below.
Group (Command + G) all the nose elements and place the nose on the Snowman’s face.
It is time to create a nice fancy hat for our Snowman. To do that, we will need to practice using the Pen Tool (P) a bit. Grab it from the Tool Panel and start drawing the basic shape of the hat.
You won’t be able to create it in one drawing, but don’t worry. There are not many people who can do that. Even if you manage to do that, you will need to do some tweaking and adjusting until you create a rally nice hat. On the pictures below you can monitor the creation process of the fancy cylinder hat.
Remove the Stroke Color and apply a nice radial gradient, as shown below.
For the lower part of the hat we will be using the Ellipse Tool (L). Grab it from the Tool Panel and create an ellipse like this:
I’m sure you agree that our hat looks a little bit flat at this stage. Let’s change that. Duplicate (Command + C, Command + F) the lower part of the hat (ellipse). Nudge the copy 2 pixels downwards.
Now apply a nice linear gradient to our original ellipse. This way we have created the nice edge highlight.
Now we’ll create a nice decoration for the cylinder hat. Mistletoe can be a very nice asset.
To create it we will be using Pen Tool (P) again. Select it from the Tool Panel and create the shape shown below.
Remove the Stroke color and apply a nice radial gradient.
Grab the Pen Tool (P) from the Tool Panel one more time and create the paths as shown. Make sure to set the thickness of the stroke to 2 pt.
Under the Stroke Panel make sure to set the Profile to Width Profile 1.
We’ll make some changes in order to create an interesting mistletoe. First we need to expand the paths from previous step, in order to be able to apply a nice color gradient. Select all the paths and under Object select Expand Appearance. Under the Pathfinder Panel hit the Unite button. It will turn all the shapes into one shape. Now we can apply a nice golden gradient.
Select the shape of the leaf and under the Object select Path > Offset Path. Set the value for Offset to 1.5 pt and hit the OK button. Feel free to use the same golden gradient we used in the last step.
Select all the elements and group (Command + G) them. Duplicate (Command + C, Command + F) the leaf three times and arrange the copies as shown below.
With the Ellipse Tool (L) selected create berries like this. Now group (Command + C, Command + F) all the mistletoe elements.
Now we’ll create a fancy red ribbon for our hat. Grab the Pen Tool (P) from the Tool Panel and create a path as shown. Just make sure to make it curvy (just a little bit). It will increase the depth of the hat.
Duplicate (Command + C, Command + F) the “crown” of the hat. Select the copy and the path from the previous step and under the Pathfinder Panel hit the Divide button. Ungroup (Shift + Command + G) the new shape and remove the upper part. Apply a nice red gradient to the lower part. This way we have created a nice silk ribbon for the hat.
Place our decoration as shown in the picture below.
There is another thing we can do to make the hat more interesting. Let’s create a small amount of snow on the top of the hat. Grab the Pen Tool (P) from the Tool Panel and create the shapes like this:
Now we’ll create some shadows to make the snow looks more realistic. To do that, duplicate (Command + C, Command + F) the shape of the snow. Nudge one of the copies two pixels upwards (using the arrow keys on the keyboard). Select both copies, and under the Pathfinder Panel hit the Minus Front button. Set the Fill color of the new shape to light gray, and scale it down a little bit.
A discreet highlight will contribute to the realistic look as well. With the Pen Toll (P) create the shape as shown below. Set the Fill color to white (#FFFFFF) and lower the Opacity to 15%.
Let’s place the hat on the Snowman’s head. In order to do that properly, we will have to adjust the shape of the head. To do that we’ll create a curved path with the Pen Tool (P).
The path we just created will help us to divide the head in half (sounds brutal). Select the path and the head, then under the Pathfinder Panel hit the Divide button. Ungroup (Shift + Command + G) the head of the Snowman and remove the upper part of the head.
Place the hat on top of the Snowman’s head (feel free to adjust the angle and the position of the hat as needed).
A tree branch will be perfect for the arms. Grab the Pen Tool (P) from the Tool Panel and start to draw a randomly shaped branch. Just focus on creating many sharp corners and parts of the branch with different lengths. Keep it looking edgy. Set the Fill color to a nice brown (#3C2415).
Repeat the previous step for the left arm.
As you can see the mouth is still missing. You can be creative here. Try to make different facial expressions, just by creating a different look for the mouth. We have already learned how to create a row of dots (using the Blend Tool). To create the mouth we will be using the same tool.
When you are satisfied with the number of “dots” grab the Pen Tool (P) from the Tool Panel and create a curved path. Don’t forget, the path actually represents the shape of the mouth.
Select both, the new path and dots and under the Object select Blend > Replace Spine. This way we have arranged dots to follow the path. Under the Object select Expand and place the mouth on the face of the Snowman.
There is another thing we can create to make our Snowman even more interesting. Since outside is very cold a scarf is a must. For this part of the tutorial we will need the Pen Tool (P) again. Grab it from the Tool Panel and start drawing the parts of the scarf as shown.
Apply a nice radial gradient.
Keep drawing the other parts of the scarf as well.
You will agree that the scarf looks quite flat and boring. With a few simple details we will improve the complete look. A few puckers will definitely create the depth for the scarf. Grab the Pen Tool (P) from the Tool Panel and create a few paths as shown.
Let’s make some changes. Select all the paths and under the Stroke Panel set the Weight to 2 pt and the Profile to Width Profile 4. It will change the shape of the paths. Set the Stroke Color to a nice dark color (a bit darker than the color of the scarf).
If the paths exceeds the edge of the scarf then we need to crop them. Under Object select Expand Appearance. It will turn the path into an editable shape. That way we will be able to crop it. Duplicate (Command + C, Command + F) the shape of the scarf. Select the copy we have just created and the expanded path, then under the Pathfinder Panel hit the Intersect button.
Try to play around with different kinds of shapes. The main idea is to create some shadows and nice highlights. Feel free to try out different color combination. Just be creative.
Let’s create a few more shadows in order to complete our illustration. Grab the Ellipse Tool (L) from the Tool Panel and create the ellipse that will represent the shadow on the ground. Set the Fill Color to #BCBEC0 and place the ellipse underneath our snowman (Shift + Command + [).
Duplicate (Command + C, Command + F) the body of the snowman twice. Nudge one of the copies to the left using the arrow key on your keyboard. Select both copies and under the Pathfinder Panel hit the Minus Front button. Set the Fill color of the new shape to #5ACAEF.
Repeat the previous step in order to create the shadow on the back of the head.
The same technique can be used if you want to create a shadow on the arm. Duplicate it (Command + C, Command + F) and rotate. Duplicate the snowman’s body as well. Select both copies and under the Pathfinder Panel hit the Intersect button. Set the Fill color of the new shape to #5ACAEF.
Today we had an opportunity to practice the usage of the Pen Tool (P). If you are not a skilled user don’t discourage yourself. The Pen Tool requires a lot of practice. Even professional designers has to repeat some steps until they reach a desirable look. If you need more practice, then jump over to Illustrator’s Pen Tool: The Comprehensive Guide here on Vectortuts+.
If you are not the biggest fan of winter, this is the nice opportunity to create a cute snowman in the warmth of your home. If you have any questions or comment please post them in the comments section below this tutorial.