Create a Cute Spring Chick in Illustrator
Spring is on its way here in the UK, snowdrops have started to appear and the days are starting to get a little brighter. It won’t be long before the countryside is full of frolicking lambs and newborn foals, so I thought I’d celebrate the coming of the season by sharing a tutorial on how to create a cute spring chick in Illustrator.
Spring is the season where vivid colours start to break through the bleakness of winter, so I have chosen a bright colour palette for the tutorial. The child-like colours also compliment the basic shapes used to create the chick, so this tutorial should be suitable for beginners and experts alike.
Open up Illustrator and start by creating a 200px circle for the chick’s body. Using the Direct Selection Tool (A), pull the circle’s bottom anchor point up by 30px and top anchor point up by 10px.
To create the eyes draw two 20px circles positioned side-by-side with roughly a 40px gap between them. Copy and paste the circles in place (CTRL+C, CTRL+F, or CMD+C, CMD+F for Mac users) then pull the left copy down and to the left by 10px and the right copy down and to the right by 10px. Send the two copies to the back of the document (SHIFT+CTRL+[), then group all four circles together and align them centrally within the chick’s body using the Align palette.
To finish off the chick’s face we just need to create his beak. Draw a 20px square then rotate it by 45° (right-click Transform > Rotate), then using the Direct Selection Tool delete the top anchor point. Select the left and right anchor points right-click and choose Join from the pop-up menu to close the path, you should now be left with a downward pointing triangle. Select the shape and then from the Effect menu choose Stylize > Round Corners, set the Radius to 10px and click OK. Finally, expand the beak’s appearance using the Object menu and position it in the centre of the body.
Let’s give our chick some stubby little wings now, the disproportionate features help add to the cuteness. Draw a 50px circle and using the Direct Selection Tool pull its bottom anchor point down by 20px before rotating the shape by -45°. Copy and paste the wing in place then rotate the copy vertically (right-click Transform > Rotate) and pull it to the right by about 170px. Group the two wings together then align them horizontally with the bottom of the chick’s body before pulling them upwards by 40px. Combine the wings and the body using the Pathfinder palette’s Unite button then send the body to the back of the document.
Let’s move onto the chick’s feet. Start by drawing a 20px circle and pulling its bottom anchor point down by 30px, this will form one of the toes. Create a copy of the toe and pull it to the right by 10px, repeat this step once more so that you are left with three overlapping toes. Using the Direct Selection Tool pull the bottom anchor points of the left and right toes up by 5px. Rotate the left toe by 30° and the right toe by -30°, then align them both to the bottom of the centre toe. Combine the three toes using the Unite button then rotate the whole foot by 30°. Create a copy of the foot, reflect it vertically then pull it to the right by roughly 100px. Group the feet then align them centrally with the bottom of the chick.
All that’s left to do with the chick is give him a few tufts of feathers on the top of his head.To do this we’ll need to create a custom brush. Draw a 15px circle and pull its top anchor point up by 20px. Open the Brushes panel (F5), then select the New Brush button. Create a new Art Brush ensuring that the Direction options are set to Stroke From Bottom To Top (the up arrow). Use the Paintbrush Tool (B) to draw a few tufts, when you are happy expand their appearance using the Object menu then combine them using the Unite button. Delete out some of the lower anchor points then position the tuft on the chick’s head.
Now is a good time to add a little colour to our chick. I have also given my chick a 2pt stroke around the body, tuft and feet and a 3px offset to create a sense of depth. To create the offset select all the shapes that make up the chick then copy and paste them in place, with the elements of the copy still selected combine them using the Unite button. From the Object menu choose Path > Offset Path, change the Offset to 3px and click OK. Unite the combined shape with the offset then give it the same fill you used for the stroke colour and send it to the back of the document.
Our chick has just hatched, so we need to create his egg next. Draw a 200px circle and pull its top anchor point up by 50px. Use the Pen Tool (P) to draw a jagged line across the egg where you want it to be cracked, then select both the egg and the line and choose the Pathfinder’s Divide button. Ungroup the shell segments (right-click Ungroup) and position the shell either side of the chick, I have rotated the top part of the shell by -120°.
Let’s add a stippled effect to the eggshell to finish it off. Open up the free vector texture set that I created and position the first of the sets over one of the eggshell halves, with the texture still selected press CTRL+8 to create a compound path (this is important as it will allow us to use the Intersect button in the next step). Copy and paste the shell in place then with the copy still highlighted select the texture and press the Pathfinder’s Intersect button. Give the texture the same fill colour as the shell then using the Transparency palette set its Blending Mode to Multiply and its Opacity to 50%. Repeat this step for the other half of the eggshell.
Add some grass to finish off the scene in a bright green colour. If you want to add a bit more depth, create some subtle shadows under the chick and eggshells by creating ovals in the same fill as the grass and then changing their Blending Mode to Multiply and their Transparency to 50% (remember to reorder the layers so that the shadows sit behind the chick and eggshells but above the background).
As a final touch, why not add a few grass tufts using the same technique we used to create the feathers on our chick’s head? That’s it, our cute spring chick tutorial is complete, well done!
Written by Liz Canning