Let’s create this cute koala character climbing on a tree. It’s an easy, fun tutorial for those who’ve just started to learn Adobe Illustrator. Follow the steps below.
Create a Koala Character in Adobe Illustrator
1. Creating the Head and Face
First, let’s open your Adobe Illustrator and create a new document. For this, go to File > New. Let’s create a New document with 600 x 600 px Width and Height. Then click OK.
Now we are going to create the koala’s head. Look at the left panel on your workspace—the Tools panel (to open it go to Window > Tools). There, you can find the Ellipse Tool (L), which you will use to create the head.
So, let’s take the Ellipse Tool (L) and draw an ellipse. Set the color to R=171 G=175 B=166. Take the Direct Selection Tool (A) from the Tools panel and select the left and right anchor points. Move them down using the arrows on your keyboard.
Now we want to give the koala’s head a slightly fluffy effect. Take a look at the top panel of your workspace and find Effect on the tool bar. Go to Effect > Distort and Transform > Roughen. In the new dialogue window, enter the following options:
Let’s create the ear. Keep the fill color, and use the Ellipse Tool (L) to create a circle. To create a nice, even circle, hold the Shift key while drawing. You can see that your circle is already becoming rougher.
Then add a smaller circle with the fill color R=221 G=223 B=218. This smaller circle is already roughened, but we don’t need the roughening effect. To delete the rough effect, on the Appearance panel (Window > Appearance), grab the word “Roughen” and move to the trash icon. In the second image you can see how to remove this effect. Look at the circle now!
Here is how to move the word “Roughen” to the trash.
Keep the whole ear selected and right-click your mouse. In the pop-up window, select Transform > Reflect. Select Vertical axis of reflection and press Copy.
Move the second ear and place it on the upper right side of the head. To make the ears align correctly, you can select both ears, right-click the mouse and select Group. While holding down the Shift key, select the head and the ears together. Go to the Align panel (Window > Align) and press Horizontal Align Center.
Now on to the eyes. Choose a dark gray fill color, which you can see in the image below, and draw an oval using the Ellipse Tool (L). Draw a small white circle to give a sparkle to the eye. Then create another eye—keep the existing eye selected and while holding the Alt key, move it to the right. You can see that you just created a copy of the eye by holding the Alt key.
Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create an ellipse. Move down the left and right anchor points, just as you did for the koala’s head. You will get an egg shape. Then create a copy of it (Control-C, Control-V) and make it smaller. Change the fill color to R=75 G=76 B=72. Place it as shown in the image below:
Place the whole nose on the koala’s face. Try to put the nose right between the eyes. Look how cute it is!
2. Creating the Trunk of the Tree
Now, we need create the tree trunk. Take the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a rectangle. You can see the fill color on the image below, or feel free to choose any color of your choice.
Look closely at the Tools panel and try to find the Warp Tool (Shift-R). Do you see a hand with a finger holding some strange thread? That’s it. But before using it, let’s adjust the options on this tool. Double-click on it and in the new dialogue window, enter:
Once you have created the tree trunk and adjusted the options on the Warp Tool (Shift-R), draw the branch using this tool. In the image below, you can see the directions of the movement.
Make the fill color darker (R=86 G=52 B=29) and draw a few long rectangles around the trunk. Use the Warp Tool (Shift-R) over them again.
Place the koala’s head behind the trunk. To place it behind, select the whole head, group it together (right-click > Group) and press Control-X, Control-B. Rotate the head a little bit to the right.
3. Creating the Paws
To draw the paws, start with an oval. Set the fill color to R=189 G=191 B=183. Add a rough effect for the paw as you did for the head and ears (go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Roughen). Enter the options you see below.
Copy-paste the paw to have four of them, and place them as shown:
4. Creating the Leaves
We’re almost there! Once you have an ellipse, with fill color R=163 G=165 B=16, pick the Convert Anchor Point Tool (Shift-C), and make sharp anchor points by clicking on the top and bottom anchor points. You’ll get a simple leaf shape.
Copy-paste to create as many leaves as you want, and put them on the tree.
Let’s create a background for this illustration. Set the fill color to R=237 G=234 B=239 and click on your art board. In the new dialogue window, enter Width 600 px, Height 600 px and click OK. Place the square behind everything (keep it selected and press Control-X, Control-B). And… we are done!