This post first appeared on www.vickiwenderlich.com.
In Parts 1 and 2, you learned how to make straight lines with the Pen tool, how to make curvy lines, how to edit the anchor points and handles both during and after creating the shape, and how to combine shapes and edit their points.
In this last section of the tutorial, you will practice your Pen skills and create the cute kitten that will go inside your mug!
Part 3: Making The Kitten
The kitten is made up of a body/head, two paws, and a tail. The body/head shape has added features like eyes, pink inner ears, a mouth, and a nose. Let’s start with the body/head.
Make The Basic Body Shape
First, lock the mug layer and hide it by clicking the eye icon next to Layer 2.
Create a new layer for our cat.
Drag Out An Ellipse
The cat body is mostly oval in shape, and I’ve learned that it is best to have a guideline for shapes rather than try to freehand them.
Select the Ellipse tool (shortcut L).
Drag out an oval similar to the one as shown.
This will be our guideline for the major shape of the cat body/head.
Lock The Ellipse
Lock the ellipse layer in the Layers panel so that you don’t accidentally select and move it.
Place First Anchor
Select the Direct Selection tool (shortcut A) and then the Pen tool (shortcut P).
Remember that when pressing Command while using the Pen tool, it uses your last selection tool and we want that to be the Direct Selection tool.
Click and drag at the top of the oval.
This will be the top of the cat’s head between the ears.
Don’t make the handles too big – the ears are close by.
Place, Edit, & Convert Anchors
Click and drag to the left of the first point, following the curve of the oval.
Press Option (Alt) and drag the left-most handle up, creating a sharp point. This will be the corner of your ear.
Click and drag where the top of the ear will be, and convert that point to a sharp one as shown.
Continue Placing Points
Click and drag to create a third point down at the bottom of the ear.
Convert it as usual by holding down Option (Alt) and dragging one of the handles.
Notice that our cat shape is overlapping the oval. This will become a problem when it covers even more of the oval, since we are trying to follow the oval shape.
Lower Cat Body Opacity
Go to the Transparency panel and lower it to around 50%.
This way you can see your new shape as well as the old one below it.
Make Cat Fur
Now we will start making the fur part of the cat.
Click and drag to the left of the oval, making sure your anchor points and handles are as shown.
Convert the point, dragging the leftmost anchor point back in towards the cat body.
Click and drag close by the oval again.
Convert the anchor point and continue, making another tuft of fur.
Round The Body
When done with the second tuft of fur, click and drag down at the bottom of the oval, as shown.
You are halfway done!
Finish The Shape
Continue placing points and converting them, controlling the handles as you go. When you are finished, you should have a shape like the one here.
If you ever accidentally switch away from the Pen tool, you can resume drawing your shape by switching back to the Pen tool and then clicking and dragging the last point you created.
Your cursor when you mouseover the last point should have a straight diagonal line pop up to the right of it – this tells you that if you click there, your shape will be continued rather than starting a new shape.
Raise Opacity And Hide Oval
Raise the opacity of your cat body shape back to 100%.
Hide the grey oval in the Layers panel by clicking the eye icon next to it.
Inner Ear Shapes
Switch to the Direct Selection tool (Shortcut A) and click somewhere off your cat body to deselect it. Click the lighter pink swatch.
Choose the Pen tool again (shortcut P – have you memorized it yet?).
For each inner ear shape, place and convert three anchor points, moving the handles into the positions shown to the left.
Make An Eye
Create an eye shape as shown with three points.
Copy The Eye
When you are finished with it, switch to the Selection tool (shortcut V).
Hold down Option (Alt) and drag the eye shape to the right to create a copy.
Reflect The Second Eye
Right-click and select Transform>Reflect.
Select Vertical, and click OK.
Follow the steps in the Awesome Easy Eyeball Tutorial to make these shapes into eyes.
They have a 2 point medium grey stroke.
Create The Nose
Switch back to the Pen tool and create the nose shape.
It has three smooth anchor points as shown.
Give it the light pink fill.
Create The Mouth
Now make the cat mouth.
These anchor points are all sharp, so convert the handles as you make the shape.
When finished, go to the Appearance panel and select the Fill. Click the darker pink swatch in the Swatches panel.
Group The Cat Layers
Select all the layers that make up the cat in the Layers panel.
Group them by right-clicking on the canvas and selecting “Group”.
Rename the group “cat”.
Turn on Layer 2 by clicking the lock icon and the empty box next to it (an eye icon should appear).
You should see your mug on the artboard now, behind your cat.
Drag the cat group down into Layer 2, underneath the Mug Front layer.
Position and Rotate
Choose the Selection tool (Shortcut V) and drag the cat into position between the mug front and back.
Rotate the cat slightly as shown. Tilted heads always increase cuteness!
Kitten Tail and Paws
Make The Tail
Select the Pen tool again and create the shape shown to the left. This is your kitten’s tail.
When done, drag it behind your cat group in the Layers panel.
Make The Paws
Choose the Direct Selection tool (shortcut A).
Hold down Option (Alt) and drag the paw to the right to copy it.
Reflect it vertically as you did with the eye shape.
So Far, So Cute
Here’s what we have so far:
Pretty good, eh? But there’s something missing…
Since the cat is all white, the paws and tail and cat body all blend together. Let’s fix this by adding drop shadows.
Add Drop Shadows
Switch to the Selection tool (shortcut V).
Select one of the paws.
Go up to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow.
Change the settings so they match the ones shown here, and click OK.
See how good that looks on the paw? Now select the other paw, go up to Effect, and click Apply Drop Shadow. That spot on the Effect menu will always have “Apply (last effect you used)”. This time, it applies the drop shadow you just made to the second paw.
Select the cat, mug front, mug back, and mug handle groups, as well as the cat tail. Go up to Effect and choose Apply Drop Shadow.
Here’s what you should get:
And for extra credit, move your cat parts around the mug to make more cuteness:
Congratulations! You just finished an illustration that made extensive use of the Pen tool – you now have mad skillz!
Go forth and create whatever vector shapes you want, now that you know how!
If you found this tutorial helpful, or if anything is unclear, please let me know in the comments :]