Creating Cartoon Characters With Shapes
Most cartoon characters can be created using shapes.
- Open a new document with a transparent background with a document size
of 400 by 400.
- When selecting shapes, create them with a black stroke and choose an appropriate
fill color. For skin tones, I would suggest you use a gradient fill. Below
is a tutorial on how to create a custom gradient fill:
- Draw the shape to fill with a gradient style you like. I am going to
draw the face of a cartoon character and will create a gradient fill for
the skin tone.
- First I choose the ellipse tool and drew out my shape. Make sure you
have your stoke set to black and the size set to 1. The stroke dialog
box should be set as shown below:
- Next you want to set the fill to linear gradient as shown below:
- Next you will want to determine the mixture of the gradient. I choose
a pink and white. To edit the gradient click on the edit button at this
dialog box to open the panel below:
- To choose the color (pink and white), simply click the arrow to drop
down the color pallet. Select the color by clicking on it. Then go to
the second color choice and choose white.
- Once you have the gradient the way you want it, it is a good idea to
save it. You will be using this gradient again. To save the gradient,
click the arrow in the top right hand corner of your fill pallet and select
save gradient from the drop-down menu:
- Name the gradient Skin Tone or any name that you will remember at a
- Notice now that the gradient appears in the drop-down list in your gradient
fill panel. Next time you need to use it, simply select it from your drop-down
- Drag out you circle. You should have something that looks like the picture
- To be successful in Fireworks, you must always use a different layer
for each item you are draw. Also make sure to name your layer so you can
quickly recognize the different components of your drawing. I will replace
layer 1 with the name Chin by double clicking layer 1 in the layers pallet
then keying in the name. Click the New Layer Button (highlighted by a
red square below) on your layers pallet to create a new layer. Name this
new layer top of head.
- Lock the chin layer by clicking on the pencil icon. This will keep you
from modifying that layer accidentally.
- With the top of head layer selected, draw another circle like what is
- With the eraser tool, sever the lines as you did when dividing your
circle in half and delete the bottom of the circle so it appears like
the picture below:
- Now we need a guide line both vertically and horizontally so that we
can place the facial features proportionally on the face. Add another
layer and name it eyes. Drag the guide lines out like you did for the
heart shape, clicking on the top area and dragging down to bring down
the horizontal guide:
- Make sure the other layers are locked. Click on the eye layer. You will
make one eye using a radical gradient, then simply copy and paste to create
the other. Select the circle, and draw out your first eye. The stroke
should be black and size 1. For the fill, select radical gradient and
edit the color to be similar to the picture below. To move the arrows
for the colors, simply click the arrow and drag it across the panel. To
add a new color arrow, click on the pallet where the previous arrow was,
and a new arrow will appear.
- Once you get the first eye the way you want it, copy and paste the second
one and place them proportionally within the guides:
- Make sure to lock the eyes layer. Create a new layer and draw an oval
and place it similar to below. Make sure you select the skin flesh linear
- Now, just as we did with the line through our first two circles, use
the Eraser tool to remove the black line in between the eyes. You may
need to adjust your magnification in order to get a closer look.
- Add another layer and name it mouth. Make sure that you lock all the
other layers!! Select the oval tool, fill color set to red and line color
set to black and draw out the mouth as shown here .
Select the subselection tool and modify it so that it looks like this
- Lock the mouth layer and create another layer and name it ears. Draw
an oval with the skin tone gradient fill like the one here .
Copy and paste the oval to make the second ear. Drag the ears to the head
where the ears should be. Notice that the ears appear on the top of the
head. We want the ears to be under the head. No problem!!! Click on the
ears layer name and while holding down the left mouse key, drag the layer
to the bottom of the layers pallet.
- At this point you can turn off your guide (View>Show Guide).
- Lock the ears layer and add another layer called hair. We will use the
and a built in texture to create the hair for this character. At the strokes
panel, select the following settings:
- Click on the canvas and begin painting several strokes until you get the
desired effect. Here is how my hair came out:
- Add another layer and name it hat brim. Make sure you have locked all
other layers. Select the oval shape and draw out the brim of the hat. Lock
the brim layer and add a layer named top of hat and draw out the top of
- Now we must create the body to go with the head. Now you are going to
switch to the triangle shape. Draw a triangle and place it similar to below:
- Create another layer and call it bib. Draw out another triangle as shown
- Create another layer and name it pants. Draw a triangle as shown below:
- Now for the shoes. Create another layer and name it shoes. Draw out a
flattened oval. Make the fill color black. Copy and paste to make two shoes.
- Next we need to make some arms. Create a new layer named arms. We will
also use a triangle shape that will appear below the body triangle. Drag
out the triangle as shown below:
- Now we are coming into the home stretch. You will need to create hands
for the character. The hands will be created on four different layers. The
layers will be named fingers, palm, joint and thumb. Create the four layers,
then activate the fingers layer. Draw out an ovals similar to the ones you
see below, only on different layers. Make sure you choose the Skin Tone
Gradient you saved earlier.
- Lock and turn off visibility to all layers but the fingers layer. To turn
off visibility, simply click the eye icon on that layer. Draw three lines
to represent fingers.
- Turn on the visibility of the palm layer and unlock it. Erase the line
covering the palm like you did with the face earlier. The finished hand
should look like this
- Rotate and place the hands below the body layer. Your finished cartoon
character should look like the one below: