Create a gingerdead man in Illustrator

Create a gingerdead man in IllustratorI love food, but I have to be honest, I’m much better at eating it than I am at cooking it. After making some ‘Gingerdead’ men using the cookie cutter I treated myself to (by Fred & Friends), I decided that I would probably get better results in Illustrator. In this tutorial I will show you how to create your very own ‘Gingerdead Man’ style cookie using basic shapes, with the added bonus of zero calories!

Gingerdead man

Here’s the Gingerdead man we’ll be creating during this tutorial. The use of basic shapes not only gives our tasty treat a cartoon-like appearance, it also makes the tutorial accessible for Illustrator beginners.

Gingerdead man skull

Let’s start by creating the skeleton icing. Create a new document in Illustrator and draw a 100px by 100px circle. Using the Direct Selection tool pull the top anchor point up by 5px and the bottom anchor point down by 25px, this will form the skull. Next create 3 small circles (15px by 15px) side by side and delete the top anchor point of each one. Draw a 45px by 7.5px rectangle and position it above the three half circles (having Snap to Point from the View menu checked will really help here). Combine the rectangle and half circles using the Unite button from the Pathfinder palette, these shapes will form the teeth.

Gingerdead man skull

Align the teeth horizontally to the centre and vertically to the bottom of the skull, using the Align palette, then pull them downwards by roughly 13px. Combine the teeth and skull. We are now ready to create the eye sockets and nose hole.

Gingerdead man nose hole

We’ll start with the Gingerdead man’s nose hole. Draw a 10px by 10px circle. Press SHIFT+C to access the Convert Anchor Point Tool and click on the circle’s lower anchor point to form a sharp point. Using the Direct Selection tool, pull the lower anchor point up by 5px and the top anchor point up by 3px. Align the nose hole horizontally to the centre and vertically to the bottom of the skull and then pull it up by 20px or until you are happy with its position.

Gingerdead man eye sockets

To create the eye sockets draw two ovals (15px by 25px) with roughly 15px of space between them, this doesn’t have to be exact and you can increase/decrease the spacing as you see fit. Pull the left anchor point of the left oval out by 5px and then mirror this step with the right oval. Position the eye sockets so that they sit in the centre of the skull, just above the nose hole. With the skull complete we are ready to move on to the rib cage.

Gingerdead man rib cage

To create the spine draw a rounded rectangle (15px by 120px) with a corner radius of 15px, position it so that it is around 10px below the skull. For the ribs draw another rounded rectangle with a height and corner radius of 10px and a width of 45px. Align the newly created rib vertically to the top and horizontally to the centre of the spine and pull it down, again by roughly 10px. Repeat this process so that you have 5 rib sections in total, each with 5px of spacing between them, increasing in width by 20px (with the exception of the last, which will be 20px narrower than its predecessor).

Gingerdead man rib cage

We could leave the ribs as they are, but they look a little too straight. Select the ribs and from the Effect menu choose Warp then Arc. Make sure the Horizontal radio button is checked and set the Bend to -25% before clicking OK. The lowest rib section looks a bit too close to the one above it, nudge it downwards by 5px or until you are satisfied with the spacing. Once you are happy with the ribs make sure they are all selected and then from the Object menu click Expand Appearance. Finally, combine the rib cage with the spine by using the Unite button in the Pathfinder palette.

Gingerdead man pelvis

Our skeleton icing is in need of a pelvis, so let’s create that now. Draw a 30px by 50px oval and rotate it by 70° by right-clicking and then selecting Transform and Rotate from the pop-up menu. Next, draw a 20px by 30px oval with a smaller (10px by 15px) oval centred inside it, rotate them both by -30°. Group the smaller ovals together (CTRL+G) and then position them so that they sit against the right edge of the larger oval, creating what looks like a butterfly’s wing. Un-group the smaller ovals and then combine the larger two with the Unite button (make sure that you don’t include the smallest oval when you are uniting the shapes).

Gingerdead man pelvis

Copy and paste (CTRL+C, CTRL+F or if you’re using a Mac CMD+C, CMD+F) the butterfly wing shape in place before reflecting the copy vertically (right-click and select Transform then Reflect from the pop-up menu). Add around 5px of spacing between the two halves of the pelvis before positioning them so that they sit centrally on the spine just below the lower ribs. Combine the pelvis shapes with the rib cage, again you will need to ensure that you don’t include the smaller ovals.

Gingerdead man arm bone

We’ll create the arm bone next. Draw a rounded rectangle (10px by 55px) with a corner radius of 10px. Next, create a 15px by 20px oval. Using the Direct Selection tool pull the oval’s lower anchor point down and to the right by 2px, then pull its left anchor point out to the left by 3px. Copy and paste the oval in place (CTRL+C, CTRL+F) and then reflect it vertically. Position the two shapes so that they are touching and then align them so that they sit around 10px above the rounded rectangle.

Gingerdead man arm bone

Copy and paste the two ovals (well, they used to be ovals) in place and then reflect them horizontally. Pull them down so that they sit around 10px below the rounded rectangle and then combine all the shapes together using the Unite button. Rotate the resulting bone shape by 60° and then position it to the left side of the skeleton. For reference, I aligned the bone vertically to the top and horizontally to the left of the skeleton before pulling it down by 80px and out by 60px (by holding down SHIFT and using the arrows on your keyboard you can speed up this process a little). Copy and reflect the arm bone horizontally before placing it to the right of the skeleton so that it mirrors the original.

Gingerdead man leg bone

We’ll be reusing the arm bones for the legs. Copy and paste the left arm bone and rotate it by -60° so that it becomes straight again. To create the toe bones draw 3 (10px by 10px) circles with 5px of spacing between them. Pull the middle toe down by around 3px so that it creates a slightly curved appearance. Place the toes so that they sit roughly 3px beneath the leg bone before grouping the shapes. Rotate the shapes by -30° and position them beneath the skeleton (again, for reference I aligned the leg horizontally to the left and vertically to the bottom of the skeleton before pulling it in to the right by 10px and down by 80px). As with the arm, copy and reflect the leg bone horizontally before placing it to the right of the skeleton so that it mirrors the original.

Gingerdead man cookie

With the skeleton icing complete we are now ready to create the gingerbread cookie part of our Gingerdead man. Start by drawing a 130px by 130px circle. Next, create a rounded rectangle (150px by 75px) with a corner radius of 75px, rotate the rounded rectangle by -30°. Using the Align palette, align the rectangle horizontally to the left and vertically to the top of the circle before pulling it down by 80px and to the left by 70px. Copy and paste the rounded rectangle in place and then reflect it horizontally positioning it on the right of the circle so that it mirrors the original. Group the shapes together.

Gingerdead man cookie

To create the legs of the cookie draw a 200px by 85px rounded rectangle with a corner radius of 85px ad rotate it by 60°. Align the rounded rectangle vertically to the top and horizontally to the left of the top of the cookie before pulling it down by 170px and in to the right by 10px. As with the arm, copy and paste the leg in place before reflecting it horizontally and positioning to the right.

Gingerdead man cookie stomach

Combine all of the cookie elements together using the Unite button from the Pathfinder palette. You will notice that there are a few stray anchor points in the centre of our cookie, use the Direct Selection tool to delete them out. I think our cookie could do with being a little bit chubbier around the middle, let’s give him a bit more of a stomach. Create a 130px by 130px circle and align it horizontally and vertically to the centre of the cookie. Pull the circle down by 20px using the Selection tool. With the circle still selected go to the Effect menu and choose Warp and Shell Lower. Make sure that the Horizontal radio button is checked, set the Bend to 10% and click OK. Expand the shape using the Expand Appearance option from the Object menu before finally combining it with the rest of the cookie.

Gingerdead man colour

Send the cookie to the back of the document and then align it both horizontally and vertically to the centre with the skeleton icing (you’ll need to group all of the skeleton elements first if you haven’t already done so). Let’s add some colour to our Gingerdead man so that he has that freshly baked golden look. Fill the cookie with a light brown colour, set the icing’s fill to white with no stroke. You can see that we’ve lost some of the detail on the skull and pelvis. Use the Selection tool to select the eye sockets, nose hole and skull and then choose the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder palette. Repeat this process with the pelvis.

Gingerdead man stroke

Our Gingerdead man is looking delicious, but there are a few finishing touches we can add. Select the skeleton icing and from the Object menu choose Path then Offset Path. Change the Offset to 3px, Joins to Round and click OK. Set the offset’s fill to a slightly darker brown than we used for the gingerbread cookie. Repeat this process for the cookie, but this time set the Offset to 5px.

Gingerdead man texture

Finally, let’s add a little texture to the gingerbread to make it look crunchy. Copy and paste the gingerbread layer in place (you don’t need to include the offset), then from the Effect menu select Texture then Grain. Change the Intensity to 35, leave the Contrast set to 50, change the Grain Type to Sprinkles and then click OK. With the gingerbread layer still selected go back to the Effect menu but this time choose Blur then Gaussian Blur, set Radius to 0.3px and click OK. Using the Transparency panel change the Blending Mode of the layer to Soft Light and the Opacity to 35%.

Gingerdead man

That’s it, we’re finished. I hope you enjoyed creating this tasty, waistline friendly snack! Oh, and if you were wondering what my baked Gingerdead men cookies looked like, they are pictured below…

Gingerdead men cookies

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Written by Liz Canning

4 Comments

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  1. David says:

    This is a great tutorial, really well explained. Thanks!

    1. Liz Canning says:

      Thank you David, I’m glad you enjoyed it.

    1. Liz Canning says:

      Thank you very much! It’s always nice to be featured on another site.

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