Draw a Vector Pirate Cartoon Character in Illustrator

Character design might be one of the most fun things that you can do in Illustrator. In this tutorial, I decided to create a vector pirate cartoon character.


Final Image

As always, this is the final image that we’ll be creating:

Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

Tutorial Details

  • Program: Adobe Illustrator CS3
  • Estimated Completion Time: 45 minutes
  • Difficulty: Beginner-Intermediate

Step 1

Let’s create a new document first. Make sure to set the dimensions to Width=600px, Height= 600px and the Color Mode to RGB.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

Step 2

Let’s start with the face. Using the Pen Tool (P) to create pirate’s face shape as shown in the image below.

In the Swatches palette, go to Open Swatches Library > Gradients > Skintones. We select Skintone 12 for the face shape. With the shape still selected, go to Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow and set the values.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

Using the Ellipse Tool (L) draw a circle and apply the gradient Skintone 12, then go to Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow and set the values.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

Duplicate (Ctrl / Cmd + C, Ctrl / Cmd + F) the circle, resize it a little smaller and place it as shown in the image below.

Group (Ctrl + G) these circle together. This shape represents the pirate’s ears. Place the ears behind the pirate’s face.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

Step 3

For the eyes, using the Pen Tool (P) to create a shape as shown in the image below and apply the gradient Skintone 12. Then change Blending mode to Multiply and lower Opacity = 20%.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

Duplicate (Ctrl / Cmd + C, Ctrl / Cmd + F) the shape we have created and paste in front, resize it a little smaller. Then change the Blending mode to Normal with Opacity = 100%.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

Duplicate (Ctrl / Cmd + C, Ctrl / Cmd + F) the copy shape and paste in front, resize it a little smaller. Fill it with the gradient shown in the image below, then go to Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow and set the values.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

Grab the Ellipse Tool (L) and draw a small circle for the pupil. Then fill it with the gradient indicated.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

Add two more white circles to represent the sparkle in the eyes. Now we have a result like this.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

Step 4

For the nose I’ve used the Pen Tool (P) to create the shape shown in the image below and applied the gradient Skintone 12. Then change the Blending mode to Multiply and lower Opacity = 80%.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

With the nose shape still selected, duplicate (Ctrl / Cmd + C, Ctrl / Cmd + F) it and paste in front, move it up a little bit and change the Blending mode to Normal with Opacity = 100%. Then go to Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow and set the values.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

Step 5

Now we create the pirate’s mustache. Pick the Pen tool (P) and draw a shape as shown in the image below. Then add the gradient Skintone 12 and change the Blending mode to Multiply and lower Opacity = 50%.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

Duplicate (Ctrl / Cmd + C, Ctrl / Cmd + F) the mustache shape we have created and paste in front, move it up a little bit, apply the gradient Skintone 20. Then change the Blending mode to Normal with Opacity = 100%.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

Step 6

Pick the Pen tool (P) to create the pirate’s eyebrow as shown in the image below then repeat step 5 and you will get the result like this.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

Duplicate (Ctrl / Cmd + C, Ctrl / Cmd + F) the eyebrow shape, scale it a little smaller and pick Reflect Tool (O) to reflect the copy shape.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

Step 7

In this step, we will create the eye patch for our pirate. Use the Rounded Rectangle Tool to create the main shape of eye patch, then use the Pen Tool (P) to create the strings.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

Apply the gradient Skintone 12 to the eye patch, then apply the Blending mode Multiply with lower Opacity = 40%.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

Duplicate (Ctrl / Cmd + C, Ctrl / Cmd + F) the eye patch shape we have created and paste in front, move it up a little bit, apply the gradient Skintone 20. Then change the Blending mode to Normal with Opacity = 100%.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

Step 8

Let’s have fun with the bandana, pick the Pen tool (P) to create a shape as shown in the image below. Fill it with the gradient Skintone 12, apply the Blending mode Multiply and lower Opacity = 50%.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

Duplicate (Ctrl / Cmd + C, Ctrl / Cmd + F) the bandana shape we have created and paste in front, move it up a little bit, apply the color #F05A28. Then change the Blending mode to Normal with Opacity = 100%. Go to Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow and set the values.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

Let’s add some white dots to the pirate’s bandana, just use the Ellipse tool (L). Now you get a result like this.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

Step 9

Ok, It’s time to add a cool three-cornered hat to our character. Pick the Pen tool (P) to create a shape as shown in the image below and fill it with #333333.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

Duplicate (Ctrl / Cmd + C, Ctrl / Cmd + F) the copy shape and paste in front, resize it a little smaller. Fill it with the gradient shown in the image below, then go to Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow and set the values.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

Once the hat is complete, we are going to add the skull head symbol. Just pick the Pen tool (P) to draw a shape as shown in the image below, then use the Ellipse tool (L) to create his eye.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

Apply the gradient indicated for the crossed bones.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

We continue to apply the same gradient for the skull and eyes, just change the Gradient angle to Radial.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

Now you should get the result shown in the image below.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

Step 10

We’re going to draw the costume for our pirate. To start, the collar of the shirt is two rounded rectangles. Fill them with color #F2F2F2, then go to Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow and set the values.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

We continue with the waistcoat, pick the Pen Tool (P) to create the shapes shown in the image below and fill them with color #26A9E0, , then go to Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow and set the values.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

Grab the Pen Tool (P) to create a shape as shown in the image below and fill it with color #F05A28, then go to Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow and set the values.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

We’re going to create the fancy buttons for the waistcoat. Just use the Ellipse Tool (L) to create 2 circles as shown below, fill them with the gradient indicated then change the Blending mode to Multiply.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

We continue to use the Pick Tool (P) to create a line as shown, fill it with the same gradient, then change the Blending mode to Multiply with lower Opacity = 50%.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

Duplicate (Ctrl / Cmd + C, Ctrl / Cmd + F) the fancy buttons shape we have created and paste in front, move it up a little bit. In the Swatches palette, go to Open Swatches Library > Gradients > Metals. Select Gold Radial for the buttons.Then change the Blending mode to Normal with Opacity = 100%.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

Group (Ctrl+ G ) all the fancy buttons elements together. Then duplicate it 2 more times and place them as shown in the image below.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

For the belt, use the Rounded Rectangle Tool (M) to draw two large rounded rectangles to create the buckle. Place as shown in the image below, and under the Pathfinder Panel hit the Subtract from shape area button. Make sure to expand the shape.

Select Object > Expand Appearance. It will turn the object into an editable shape. This shape represents the highlight on the plate. In the Swatches palette, go to Open Swatches Library > Gradients > Metals> White Gold.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

Pick the Pen Tool (P) to create the belt shape. Apply the gradient indicated for the belt.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

Place the belt as shown in the image below.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

Now we create the sleeves, pick the Pen Tool (P) to draw a shape as shown in the image below, and fill it with color #26A9E0. Then go to Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow and set the values.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

Continue working on the sleeves, pick the Pen Tool (P) to draw a new shape as shown in the image below, and fill it with color #F05A28. Then go to Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow and set the values.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

Use the Pen Tool (P) to draw a stripe as shown in the image below, fill it with color #F2F2F2.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

Now we duplicate the sleeves and pick th Reflect Tool (O) to reflect the copy shape.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

Step 11

In this step, we’re going to draw the trousers, just pick the Pen Tool (P) to create two shapes as shown in the image below. Fill them with color #5A4A42. Then go to Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow and set the values.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator
 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

Now we place these shapes like this.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

Step 12

For the boots, we continue with the Pen Tool (P) to create the shape shown in the image below. Fill it with the gradient indicated.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

Duplicate (Ctrl / Cmd + C, Ctrl / Cmd + V) the boot shape we have created and place them like this.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

Step 13

In this step, we’re going to create the pirate’s hand. Pick the Pen Tool (P) to create the hand shape and fill it with gradient Skintone 13. Then go to Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow and set the values.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

Pick the Pen Tool (P) to draw a hook for our pirate character. In the Swatches palette, go to Open Swatches Library > Gradients > Metals. We select Gold for the hook.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

Now we place the hand and hook as in this image.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

Step 14

Now we’re going to create a sword for our pirate character. Grab the Pen Tool (P) to draw the outline as shown in the image below.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

Fill with color #231F20 for the sword’s handle. And with the cross-guard selected, we fill it with color #4D4D4D, then go to Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow and set the values.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

Apply the gradient Silver for sword’s blade.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

With the sword’s blade still selected, go to Object > Path > Offset Path.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

We want the sword’s blade color to be much lighter than it is so duplicate ( Ctrl / Cmd + C, Ctrl / Cmd + F) it and change Blending Mode to Overlay.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

Now we place the sword as shown in the image below.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

Step 15

In the Symbol palette, go to Open Symbol Library >Nature . Pick the symbols Rock 3, Rock 4, Rock 5 and place them as shown below.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

We continue working with the symbols, now we pick Grass 1 and place it like this.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

Now we pick the Fish 1 and place it like this.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

I want to add some water and place it under the rocks. Pick the Pen Tool (P) and draw a shape as shown in the image below. In the Swatches palette, go to Open Swatches Library > Gradients > Pastels. We select the gradient Blue for the water.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

Duplicate (Ctrl / Cmd + C, Ctrl / Cmd + V) the water and paste it in front, move the copy to the right side a little bit. Then change the Blending mode to Softlight for the copy.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator

And We’re Done!

Here is how it should look. I hope you’ve enjoyed this tutorial and can apply these techniques in your future projects.

 Draw a vector pirate cartoon character in Adobe Illustrator


Newsletter Subscription

Signup today for free and receive all new free tutorials published at Vector Cove.

To complete the subscription process, please click the link in the email we just sent you.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This