Digital illustration of a reindeer

With the holidays fast approaching, I wanted to create a cute kid design:

It’s a really cute design that is surprisingly easy to do and can take less than an hour to do. I will be working in Illustrator CS for this project, if you are in need of a free program, inkscape is a good option (though it’s installed on the living room computer, not this one).

Alright, first thing to do is draw an oval, then select the bottom point (not the whole object) and move it down with the arrow key, kind of like an inverted raindrop:

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After that, we will add some eyes. Draw one large circle (holding shift down to make it a perfect circle), and one small circle. Fill the color in: large one black, small one white – both with no outline. Place the smaller circle off center to make it appear as if light is reflecting off the soon-to-be-eye. Once you have that, group the two objects and copy and paste another one so you have two of the same:

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Align the eyes so they are level and place them on the head (our inverted rain drop). Next we will give this guy a nose; make a horizontally long oval with the circle tool and, using the pen tool, add two new points to the oval, both between the bottom point and the points on either side. Using your select tool, play with the location of the newly added points until you get a shape that looks somewhat like a distorted ‘T’:

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Ears can be made with the circle tool, draw an oval that is slightly long on the vertical, select the top point and pull the handle in to create a ‘point’ on the top. Play around with the width and height until you get something that looks like an ear:

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Rotate the ear so it angles to the left. Copy and paste the ear, in Object/Transform select ‘reflect object’ to get a mirror image, though angles to the right.

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For the antlers, we are going to make a series of lines. Start with a line leading from about the center of the head and curve it slightly up:

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Add a couple more lines:

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And change the weight/thickness of the stroke (I also select the option to round my ends):

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Outline your path/line so it becomes an object:

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After the paths become an object (you will be able to tell when a new path forms around your stroke, instead of through the middle), merge them together so you have one large antler instead of three independent pieces.

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Copy, paste and reflect so you have two antlers. Don’t forget to align them.

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The body is another oval with points added on either side between the top and side points. If you look closely at the image below, you can see where the points were added (roughly at the intersection of the body and head lines):

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I moved the top point up to distort the shape. Unfortunately I forgot to take a screenshot of this. The object was further modified by making it shorted, but not thinner, this can be seen in a later image.

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The legs are made up of elongated ovals with the bottom point handles dragged in so it created a shape angle. First, create a copy of the four oval feet (the image near the star below), one of the copies will be used for the modification below. Make sure your ovals are aligned correctly and create 4 circles the intersect at the bottom of the oval legs:

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Select the four circles and four ovals; in your path finder tool, select ‘divide’ to break up the objects where they intersect. Delete the top portion of the previous oval and the bottom portion of the circle so you are left with just the triangle (the third image over). Place those over the original ovals, these are the hooves.

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I neglected to take more screen shots, so I will try and explain what steps I took to get to here:

1.) select the body and make a copy, delete the top point and the points that were added earlier so you are left with just a half circle. Ensure that there is no fill color and use a calligraphy brush to stroke the line/path. Select the object; from the top menu select Object/Expand and say yes to expand the fill and stroke. This will turn your path into an object with a fill color instead of a line with a stroke.

2.) Do the same copy/paste with the two front legs and delete the top point. Use a calligraphy brush (one that if vertical) for the stroke. Expand that line as well.

3.) Select the hind legs (the ones on the further right & left) and merge them with the body.

4.) Move the antlers to the back so they are behind the head.

5.) Do 4 more circles (like you did to make the hooves originally) and divide the bottom points of the legs out so you have a hoof-like look about them.

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Copy and paste the deer. On the copied one, select all objects and select a fill color so everything is one color. In the path finder tool, merge these objects together so you have an outline of the deer. Change the stroke thickness/width and place that object in the very back (on PC, pres ctrl + [ to move and object back).

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Now group your first deer so it will be easier to move around on your work space. With that grouped and the other copy merged, you should have only two objects. With both objects selected, click align center on both the horizontal and vertical. You should have your own deer:

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This was my first illustration tutorial. I hope it was not too hard to follow, I tend to ramble and try to be detailed – which may cause confusion.