Create a puffin in Illustrator
England might not be a country that you’d usually associate with puffins, but if you’re ever in the North you may be delighted to find that at certain times of the year there are islands (more specifically the Farne Islands) that host around breeding 37,000 pairs. Trying to catch a puffin on camera, especially if you’re on a moving boat, can prove quite tricky, so today I’m going to show you how to make your very own puffin in Illustrator with this tutorial.
The puffin that we’re going to create is comprised of flat, block colours giving it a simplified and almost minimalistic feel, which compliments the use of basic shapes.
Create a new document in Illustrator and draw two 150px circles. Place the circles one above the other with a 100px overlap and then group them together (CTRL+G, or CMD+G if you’re using a Mac), this is going to help create the shape of our puffin’s head. Next, create a 100px circle and using the Align palette align it vertically and horizontally to the centre of the two larger grouped circles.
Select all of the circles and then using the Pathfinder palette choose the Divide button. Delete out the overlapping top and bottom sections of circle until you are left with an eye shape and then delete the shape to the left of the remaining circle. You are now left with the outline of the puffin’s head and beak.
Let’s add some of the extra detailing to our puffin’s beak next, after all it’s the beak that makes the puffin such a distinctive bird. Select the beak and copy it (CTRL+C), you may have to double-click in order to isolate the shape. Paste the copy back in (CTRL+F) and then pull it to the left by around 7px. Select both the original and copy and then using the Pathfinder palette choose the Intersect button. Press CTRL+F to paste the original back again and send it to the back of the document (SHIFT+CTRL+[). Repeat this process, but this time pull the copy to the left by about 10px before intersecting the shapes.
Our puffin’s head isn’t quite finished yet. Copy the circle shape and paste it back in place, using the Transform palette change the circle’s size to be 90px making sure that the Reference Point is set to the centre. Pull the smaller circle to the right by 10px and then with it still highlighted select the larger circle as well. Use the Pathfinder palette to minus the smaller circle shape from the larger one with the Minus Front button before pasting the original back in again and sending it to the back of the document.
Now for the eye. Start by making an oval roughly 12px by 18px. With the oval selected go to the Object menu and choose Path then Offset Path, set the Offset to 5px and click OK. Select the oval’s offset and from the Effect menu choose Warp and then Arc, set the Vertical Bend to -30% then in the Distortion options set Horizontal to -30% and Vertical to 30% and click OK. Expand the shape’s appearance using the Object menu, then using the Direct Selection Tool pull its lower anchor point out to the left by 10px. Finally, move the original oval to the right by about 2px so that it sits within the surrounding shape more naturally.
Align the eye horizontlaly and vertically to the centre of the puffin’s head using the Align palette then pull it up by around 5px, or until you are satisfied with it’s position.
Our puffin’s head is complete, we’re ready to move onto the body. Draw two 150px circles placed one on top of the other. Select one of the circles and pull it up by around 70px and to the left by roughly 50px (use the SHIFT and arrow keys on your keyboard to speed up this process a little). Next select both the circles and divide them using the Pathfinder palette. Delete out the top two shapes until you are left with what looks a bit like a tilted waxing moon.
We want to distinguish between the dark and light feathers on our puffin next (you’ll have to imagine the colours for now). Copy and paste the body shape back in place, then pull the copy up by 50px and to the left by 20px. Select both shapes and then choose the Intersect button from the Pathfinder palette before pasting the original back in place and then sending it behind the intersected shape (CTRL+[).
Position the body underneath the puffin’s head. For ease, I aligned the body to the top right of the puffin’s head using the Align palette and then pulled it down by 50px and to the left by 20px. To make the next steps easier you will need to ungroup all of the objects you have created so far, it will also help with the layering if you set the shapes to have a white fill as well as a black stroke, if you haven’t already done so.
Okay, now we want to combine some of the body elements. So things don’t get too confusing at this stage, move the waning moon shape on the left of the puffin’s head off to the side, we’ll put it back in a minute. Take a copy of the circle that forms the puffin’s head and paste it elsewhere on the artboard, you’ll need it later. Now, select the lower section of the puffin’s body and its head and combine them using the Pathfinder palette’s Unite button. Delete any stray points and then send the shape to the back of the document.
Now, put the waning moon shape back where it was and with it still highlighted select the upper part of the puffin’s body, combine the two shapes with the Unite button. Take the copy of the puffin’s head that you made earlier and place it back in its original position, but at the top of the layer stack. Using the Transform palette reduce its size to 90px with the Reference Point set to centre and then pull it to the right by 10px. Subtract the head shape from the combined upper body that you just created using the Minus Front button.
Our puffin’s really staring to take shape, but I don’t like the way the lower half of the beak is overlapping the body, let’s fix that now. Copy and paste the lower half of the puffin’s body and bring it to the front of the document. With the shape still highlighted select the outermost part of the beak and then choose the Pathfinder’s Minus Front button. Reorder the layering and then repeat this process for the other two beak segments. There, that looks better!
Let’s create the wing next. Draw two 100px circles one above the other with an overlap of 50px. With both circles selected use the Pathfinder palette to intersect the shapes. Align the wing to the top left of the puffin using the Align palette and then pull it down by about 85px and into the right by 10px or until you are happy with its position. Finally, combine the wing with the upper body using the Unite button.
We’re going to create our puffin’s leg next. Start by drawing a 30px circle and pulling its left, bottom and right anchor points out by 5px using the Direct Selection Tool. Align the shape centrally to the bottom of the puffin and then pull it down and to the left by 10px before combining it with the puffin’s lower body using the Unite button. Reorder the layers as necessary.
Draw another 30px circle and pull its left and right anchor points out by 10px and up by 5px each, this is going to form our puffin’s foot. Pull the lower anchor point down by 5px. Next create a 15px by 30px rounded rectangle with a corner radius of 15px. Align the rounded rectangle horizontally to the left and vertically to the bottom of the foot, then pull it up by 20px before combining the two shapes. Centre the leg with the bottom of the puffin and then pull it down by about 35px and to the right by 5px before sending it to the back of the document.
Our puffin is now complete! How about we create a rock for him to stand on? Use the Pen Tool to create a rocky outcrop, the shape and height are entirely up to you. Once you’re happy with it send it to the back of the document. The rock looks a bit plain doesn’t it? Let’s add a few embellishments. To create a starfish use the Star Tool to draw a star, set Radius 1 to 7px, Radius 2 to 20px, Points to 5 and click OK. Select the star and from the Effect menu choose Stylize then Round Corners, set the Radius to 5px and click OK. Expand the star’s apperance using the Object menu and then position the starfish on the rock. Repeat this process using starfish of different sizes in different positions.
Add some lichen to the rock by creating circles of varying sizes and dotting them around in clusters. Let’s finish off by creating some flowery corals. Select the Polygon Tool and create a new shape with a Radius of 10px and 12 Sides. With the polygon selected go the the Effect menu and choose Distort & Transform, then Pucker & Bloat, pull the slider towards Bloat until you reach 50% and click OK. Expand the appearance of the coral using the Object menu and then place it on the rock. Continue to decorate the rock until you are happy with the results.
That’s it, all we need to do is add some colour and our puffin is finished! Feel free to use my colour palette or to choose your own. I have used the more vibrant colours on my puffin’s beak and his large, clumsy feet to help them stand out.
Here is the finished product, I hope you had fun creating your very own puffin in Illustrator! If you’re wondering where the inspiration for this tutorial came from, it was during a recent holiday where I had the opportunity to take a boat trip around the Farne Islands (as evidenced below), though you may have guessed that from my intro…
Wondering what your puffin would look like as a zombie? Yeah, I thought so. Okay, let’s get the zombification process under way.
The first thing you will need to do is adjust your colour palette. Switch out all the colours we have used so far for sickly, pallid looking greens and rotting browns.
We’re going to give our zombie puffin some exposed ribs. Draw Three rounded rectangles, 10px by 5px, 20px by 5px and 30px by 5px, each with a corner radius of 5px, positioned one above the other (smallest on top) with 5px spacing between each. Select the ribs, group them, and from the Effect menu choose Warp and then Arc, set the Horizontal Arc to -50% and click OK before expanding the apperance of the ribs using the Object menu.
Draw a 40px circle and align it horizontally and vertically to the centre of the ribs. Using the Direct Selection Tool pull the top and bottom anchor points to the left by 10px and the right anchor point down by 10px. Select all of the shapes and rotate them by -45° by right-clicking and selecting Transform then Rotate from the pop-up menu. Give the ribs a white fill with no stroke and the surrounding chest cavity a reddish fill before positioning them on the chest of the puffin. For reference my ribs are 120px below and 35px to the left of the top right corner of the puffin.
Add a few sprays of blood around the chest cavity by making circles of varying width and positioning them in random clusters. Let’s make the chest cavity drip with blood next. Create a 3px circle and then press SHIFT+C to access the Convert Anchor Point Tool, click on the circle’s top anchor point to give it a sharp corner then using the Direct Selection Tool pull it up by 30px. Position the drip just behind the lower rib, you’ll need reorder the layers so that it sits behind the rib and above the gaping chest cavity. Repeat this process adding as many drips as you want.
All that’s left to do to our zombie puffin is add the bite marks from the wound that caused the zombie virus to spread and we’ve finished. Draw three 10px circles side-by-side with a 2px overlap. Pull the central circle down by roughly 2px and then combine the three shapes using the Pathfinder’s Unite button. Rotate the bite marks by 30° and position them on the top of the puffin’s wing, or wherever you would like the bite to be (you may need to adjust the angle of rotation depending on where you place them). Select the bite marks and the part of the puffin you have placed them over and then use the Pathfinder’s Minus Front button to subtract the shape.
Your puffin is now a fully fledged zombie.
Written by Liz Canning