Illustrator vector tutorial: How to draw a seal

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By Mihaly Varga

In this new tutorial you will learn how to create a fun summery illustration of a cartoon seal sitting in a pool float in Adobe Illustrator. Let’s start!

Tutorial Details
Program: Adobe Illustrator CS6 – CC 2017
Estimated Completion Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Difficulty: Beginner-Intermediate

Step 1
Launch Illustrator and open a new document. Type a name for your file and set up the dimensions then select Pixels as Units and RGB as Color Mode. Next, go to Edit > Preferences > General and set the Keyboard Increment to 1 px and while there, also go to Units. These settings will help you throughout the drawing process.
Step 2
We will start with the shape of the head. Take the Ellipse Tool (L) and draw a circle of about 370 x 370 px on your artboard. Distort it a little by moving the anchor points with the help of the Direct Selection Tool (A) until you get a shape like in the image below. Add extra points on the path with the Add Anchor Point Tool (+). The head should not be perfectly round.
Color it with navy blue R=23, G=103, B=135; then go to Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow and apply the settings shown. This will create shading inside the edges of the head.
Step 3
Now, take the Pen Tool (P) and draw the shape of the snout. Color it with the same navy blue as the head. Go to Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow and apply the settings shown in order to give it some dimension.
Step 4
Next, draw a small nose and color it with R=29, G=29, B=27.
Step 5
We will continue with the whiskers. Use the Pen Tool (P) to draw three paths on each side of the snout. Give them a 3 pt Stroke using R=7, G=80, B=109 and also select the Width Profile 5 in the Stroke panel.
Step 6
Take the Pen Tool (P) and draw the shape of the sunglasses like in the following image. Send this shape under the snout and whiskers but in front of the head in the Layers panel.
Color the shape with R=23, G=19, B=26 and also apply a 16 pt pink Stroke. In the Stroke panel make sure to press the Align Stroke to Inside option.
Step 7
Use the Pen Tool (P) or the Line Segment Tool (\) to draw three paths over the glasses as reflections. Give them a 20 pt and 12 pt Stroke using white. Reduce the Opacity to 30%.
Step 8
Now, select the shape of the sunglasses and then Copy and Paste in Place (Shift-Control-V) to make a copy of it in front of everything. Go to Object > Expand Appearance followed by Ungroup (Shift-Control-G) and you will obtain two shapes: a black compound path as the glass and a pink compound path as the frame.
Select only the pink frame and go to Object > Compound Path > Release. You will get the two inside shapes of the glass so keep only those and delete the other resulting shapes. Keep the two glass shapes selected and set them to stroke-none and fill-none; then go to Object > Compound Path > Make (Control-8) to merge them together. We will use this newly obtained shape to mask the reflections therefore select it along with the three stroked paths and go to Object > Clipping Mask > Make (Control-7).
Step 9
Zoom on the snout as much as needed and draw a few tiny circles filled with blue at the base of the whiskers.
Step 10
Let’s add some detail lines on the head of the seal. Take the Pen Tool (P) and draw four paths like in the image below under the snout and on the chin. Give them a 3 pt Stroke and use the Width Profile 5 in the Stroke panel.
Step 11
At this point the face of the seal is ready and we will continue with the hat. Grab the Pen Tool (P) and draw a shape similar to the one below and color it with a darker shade of pink. While this path stays selected, go to Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow and apply the settings shown.
Step 12
Now, draw two shapes to cover the empty areas in the upper right and bottom left side of the hat and after that, send them in back.
To add a highlight on the hat, draw a curved path with the Pen Tool (P) and give it a 15 pt white Stroke. Use the Width Profile 1 in the Stroke panel. To make the highlight smoother, go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur and apply a Radius of 40 px. Reduce the Opacity to about 60%.
Step 13
Let’s continue with the body of the seal. Use the Pen Tool (P) to draw a shape like in the image below and after you are done, send it under the head in the Layers panel. Color it with the same navy blue as the head and also apply the Inner Glow effect.
To create a shadow at the neck, draw a triangle-like shape but rounded at the bottom filled with a darker shade of blue. Reduce the Opacity to about 37% and send this shape under the head as well.
Step 14
The bigger part of the body is the back and the tail together. Take your time to draw this shape with the Pen Tool (P) and remember that you can adjust it at any moment until you are happy with it. Color it with the same navy blue and then apply the Inner Glow effect.
Step 15
Focus on the tail and draw five paths to define the hind flippers. Give them a 5 pt Stroke using R=3, G=66, B=86 and the Width Profile 5 in the Stroke panel.
Step 16
Let’s add some shine on the body. Use the Pen Tool (P) to draw a random shape like in the image below and fill it with a linear gradient from black to light purple. Set it to Blending Mode Screen and reduce the Opacity to 30%.
Step 17
Draw another random shape on the tail and fill it with a linear gradient from black to light blue. Set it to Blending Mode Screen and reduce the Opacity to 30%.
Step 18
Draw a smaller shape in the left side of the tail and color it with the same gradient. Set it to Blending Mode Screen and reduce the Opacity to 10% this time.
Step 19
It’s time to add the foreflippers so take the Pen Tool (P) and first draw the one in front. Apply the same navy blue and the same Inner Glow settings as the body.
While the front flipper and the body of the seal stay selected, press Unite in the Pathfinder panel to merge them into a single shape. Send the newly obtained body shape in back in the Layers panel.
Step 20
To add shine on the front flipper, use the Pen Tool (P) to draw a similar but smaller shape on top. Fill it with a linear gradient from black to light blue; then set it to Blending Mode Screen and reduce the Opacity to 20%.
Step 21
Use the Pen Tool (P) again to draw two paths in order to define the tip of the flipper. Give them a 5 pt Stroke using R=3, G=66, B=86 and the Width Profile 5 in the Stroke panel as before.
You can add similar detail lines on the other areas of the body as well like in the armpit area and on the belly.
Step 22
Next, draw the other flipper and send it in back. Apply the same color and the same Inner Glow settings as the body.
Step 23
As you did earlier, add shine on the back flipper as well and use the same settings.
Step 24
At this point the seal character is ready and we will continue with the pool float. Draw a round shape and send it behind the seal. Color it with a dark yellow; then go to Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow and apply the settings shown to create shading inside the edges.
Step 25
To add shine, draw two shapes like in the image below in the front side of the pool float. Fill them with a linear gradient from black to light yellow and then set them to Blending Mode Screen and 80% Opacity.
Awesome work!
You are done. The fun seal character is ready. You can add a few blue shapes and splashes in the background to complete the summer illustration. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and that you learned new things today.

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