This Affinity Designer Tutorial takes us back to basics. We’re gonna have some fun drawing a flat style creature, based-off simple shapes. As usual, we’ll be starting from scratch using Affinity Designer‘s primitives and a couple of familiar tools we already know from previous Toon Lab mini-courses.
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1. Let’s get started!
Draw a circle using the Ellipse Tool, while holding the SHIFT key. Then add a Trapezoid and position it like in the picture above.
Then move the trapezoid’s top handles matching the half of the circle. We’re building the body of our cute little creature bastard here. So you have freedom to change the height of its body and, if you feel like, you can change the height of its head and make an ellipse instead of a circle.
Don’t move away from the Tools Panel and add a rectangle. Then, positioning your cursor, right in the bottom-middle while still selecting the shape, drag its center to the left (when the cursor turns into a double-arrow means you’re allowed to do so), about -3 degrees. Or just try to match the trapezoid’s angle by eyeball (but, when you use degrees, you look 25% sexier).
Using the good ol’ Corner Tool, reshape the bottom corners of the rectangle. Duplicate this shape, Flip it Horizontally and Place it on the opposite side.
Select all the shapes you’ve created so far and using the Add Function, merge ’em all [FIG.1]. This blob will serve as our monster’s base shape. Fill with a basic yellow color, we’ll be replacing this flat color later [FIG.1]. Using the Node Selection tool, clean up the whole shape by deleting unnecessary extra nodes. Just select any node you want to get rid of and hit the DELETE key [FIG.2].
Cleaning up your drawing is a MUST. Even if you’re just getting started, it’s a habit you should incorporate into your invisible skillset inventory RIGHT NOW. Why? Let’s say; someday you’ll want to sell your fantastic vector art on a micro-stock website such as Shutterstock. To get your stuff approved for sale, you’ll need to pass a thorough revision from their designers; and something these guys hates the most is ‘dirty vectors.’ Including unnecessary vertices, open paths, unfinished paths hidden under foreground objects, non-layered files, amongst other stuff.
Tip: Treat your personal art as if these reviewers were always watching you, even if you’re just doing this for fun.
Before you think I’m a pretentious preaching a-hole, let’s continue with the fun stuff, ok?
2. When in doubt, draw a monkey face and a hat!
Add two ellipses as in [FIG.1], to create our monster’s monkey-ish face; merge both shapes using the Add Function [FIG.2] and, presto! Fill this shape with an orange color.
Now, let’s put a cool hat on this baldy! Copy-Paste its main body shape and bring it to the front. Use another color for it. Draw a Rectangle as in the picture above and using the Subtract Function remove the bottom part we won’t be using anymore.
To make this little guy’s hat more interesting, draw two circles as shown above.
Again, use the power of Subtraction.
Our hat looks way more interesting, without having to spend too much time on it.
To move things forward, I’ve added a background color and used a Gradient Color Swatch for our character’s body. If you downloaded the free Swatch Library for this tutorial, use the one named: Body Yellow.
Select the Pen Tool and draw a curve, as the one above; it doesn’t need to be identical.
Depending on the thickness you want for our monster’s ears, increase the Stroke’s Width of the path you just drew. In my case, I used 80 pt. Also filled my stroke with the Swatch ‘Monster’s Green‘.
Now, using the Pressure Function, re-shape the ear/antenna as you wish. We used a similar method in our Octopus Micro Tutorial.
Go to the Top Menu > Layer > Expand Stroke, to convert this stroke into an editable path.
Select the Nodes (or points) you don’t need [FIG.1] and delete them (DEL key). Most of the times, when you perform this on curves, the curve tends to lose its original shape. Re-adjust its shape again using the Node Tool [FIG.2].
Above you can see a better example of what I was talking before. I selected and deleted most Nodes of the segment marked in [FIG.1]. So I reshape this curve using the Node Tool, manipulating the handles of the Node that appears in [FIG.2].
The result is a cleaner and more precise curve.
Take your time
I repeat these select-delete-reshape steps several times until I’m happy with the overall flow of my path. This part takes some practice and time to master, but it’s super important you spend a little while cleaning up your drawing.
Duplicate and Flip the ear to create a second one.
I always say: work smart whenever you can. Duplicate the first ear/antenna you made and that will become our monster’s right arm:
- Rotate it [FIG.1]
- With the Pen Tool draw a shape on top, following our monster’s torso edges and Subtract this shape from the arm [FIG.2]
- Adjust nodes if necessary [FIG.3].
As we did before with the ears, duplicate the arm, flip it and move it to the right.
I want my monster with its left fist clenched. To accomplish this, I’ll delete a couple Nodes [FIG.1] to shrink its arm a little bit and have a flattened end [FIG.2].
Since this creature has no fingers, this step it’s piece of cake. Draw an Ellipse to simulate its sock-puppet hand and fill it with the Swatch ‘Monster’s Green‘ [FIG.4]. Adjust the arm shape if you need to.
Create the eyes using the Donut Tool. Fill them with the Swatch ‘Monster’s Eyes‘ (most creative Swatches’s names ever dude!).
Love the expression you get using these type of eyes, like it’s not giving an F at all, yeah!
Draw the mouth using the Crescent Tool.
Rotate it 90 degrees and adjust the mouth shape to your liking.
Now that we’ve solved the most crucial part, which is designing the overall shape. It’s time to relax and have some fun with our little monster (Yikes! that didn’t sound good).
I want to add some kind of scales on its torso since it looks a little empty; so I add a circle using the Ellipse Tool and duplicate it five times. I make sure to position these circles overlapping each other a little bit, because I plan to merge them down…
… like this.
Then, duplicate the resulting shape and shift it upwards a little bit.
Select both shapes and use the Subtract function. You should end up with something similar to the image above. Duplicate this shape a couple times and distribute the copies along the torso.
To add a nice bevel effect to these scales, duplicate any of them and shift it a couple pixels upwards and fill it with a light yellow color.
Send it backwards and repeat this steps for the other two rows of scales. Now they look more tridimensional.
Select all scales and make them a Group. Now, go to the Layers Panel and Clip this group to the torso by dragging the scales group onto the torso Layer [FIG.1], so the scales group appear nested to it in the Layers Panel [FIG.2].
Fill the face of the monster using the Swatch ‘Monster’s Face‘.
Add a little slope to the face to make it look as if it was sticking it out of a hole in its suit. Duplicate the shape of the face, color it using the Swatch ‘Highlight,’ move it down a couple of pixels and send it back.
To give a shiny look to its hat, draw some specular spots of light using Ellipses.
Keep refining shapes
Once you’ve finished the whole thing, it’s time to revisit the main forms to spot mistakes or adjust minor details here and there.
In the images above you can see how I pulled up the segment between its legs to make an arc, deleted some nodes on its feet and adjusted a couple more to make them look more rounded, etc.
Remember that you’re in total control of your drawings. Despite we’ve been using basic shapes to create our monster, you can always use other tools to fine-tune your creations and make them look exactly as you see them in your mind.
Finally, change the color of the background using the Swatch ‘Background‘ (duh). Our tutorial has come to an end, but… hold on! stay in your seat because there’s homework to do.
In the image above you can see that I’ve added another set of details to my monster, such as the lollipop, the tongue, the background stripes, etc. So:
Based on what you’ve learn so far, inject your own personality to your monster by drawing him/her some accessories, change its hat, reshape its head… ahh the whole world of possibilities ahead my friend!
Hope you’ve enjoyed this tutorial. Please let us know in the comments section if you have any questions and don’t forget to visit our STORE from time to time to support our Frankentoon Project.
See you next time folks!