Drawing the New Year Rooster

A brief tutorial and hyperlapse on illustrating a rooster in Adobe Illustrator

1. Hand draw a rough guide

First, I drew a very rough shape on paper with pencil of what I wanted my rooster to look like.  I use this because it helps me when using the pen tool in illustrator.  I find it more difficult to make it up on a blank screen.  

2. Scan, Place and Lock

 Scan this.  Open Adobe Illustrator and because I may later use this for an animation I go to File > New and under Profile select the Video and Film preset .  I made the Size 1080 x 1080 but you can make it any size really, hit OK. Then go to File > Place.  I usually make a layer above my artwork and place my scan there as a reference.  Then, with this layer selected, click on the opacity button (usually in the top panel) and change the Blending mode from Normal to Multiply.  Then Lock the layer in the layers panel to disable it from moving (fig 1.2).  This serves as a stable reference that you can then draw behind in the layers below and keeps the pencil line in place. You can delete this later or hide before exporting.

fig.1

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fig.1.2

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3. Use the pen tool to draw the shapes

There's no particular method for this part.  I usually start with the overall head or body shape using the Pen Tool (P).  The fewer anchor points you use, the smoother your shape will look. I usually use the Direct selection tool (the white cursor) to edit these anchor points after drawing the shape.  

Pen Tool Tip: when making a curve, click and drag the cursor out,  if you want to create a sharp, hard edge just click once and don't drag.  Also remember, you can add/remove anchor points after drawing any shape by clicking + OR - at any time.

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4. Use the Rectangle Tool to create the feathers and detail

I drag out a rectangle for the feathers. Then, using the direct selection tool (white cursor)  select the two bottom corners of the rectangle and pull the two white dots inward to make a rounded bottom.

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Duplicate these using Alt D and drag and rotate these shapes together to make the neck of the rooster.  The hyperlapse in the video at the top of this page (click the play button at the top) best shows how I did this.


5. Use the Pen Tool again to create the tail of the rooster

I  used the Pen Tool (P) again and increased the Stroke size. I made the end of the path (Cap) rounded for this particular style...

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6. Narrow the ends of the tail to make it look more feather-like

To do this, I used the Width Tool (Shift+W) and pulled in the end of the path to make it narrow.

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7. After adding all the detail Export as a .JPG

To export your image go to File > Export and under Format select JPEG

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Watch the Hyperlapse video to see the full illustration made
(click the play button at the top of the page)