In this tutorial, you will learn how to create a minimal designed fox using two-toned colors. A lot of minimal designs use Geometric or Symmetrical techniques to keep the composition interesting which we will go through and show the proper steps in creating a symmetrical figure.

Set Up & Techniques

Before we begin, it would be best to go over some techniques and shortcuts that are used that will make this tutorial easier. If at some point you need help or need to review the details of a tool/technique used in this tutorial, you can refer back to this list.

Pathfinder Tool – The Pathfinder tool is located on your right side tool palette or under Windows < Pathfinder and is helpful merging shapes together or subtracting one shape from another.

Split, Copy, Reflect, Merge – This technique isn’t really an Illustrator preset but more of four steps in one process in order to give certain shapes a symmetrical feel. The idea is you take the shape, Use the Pathfinder to get half of the shape, Copy the shape, Reflect the shape and Merge the two shapes together to get one symmetrical shapes.

Step 1

Start by creating a light color background on it’s own layer. Then, create blue colored circles with the Ellipsis Tool (L) on it’s own layer, select all the circles and use the Pathfinder Tool to Combine them into one shape.


Step 2

Next, Use the Pen Tool to create an outline of a Fox’s head. After finishing the outline, you may want to go over it one more time and adjust the anchor points to adjust the curvy fur with pointed tips. Use the Convert Anchor Point Tool (Shift + C) to change the anchor handles and the Smooth Tool (N while holding Alt or Opt) to get smooth curvy lines.


Step 3

When finished with the outline, figure out if the left side or the right side of the fox’s silhouette looks better. Pick a side and use the Rectangle Tool (M) to cover the side you are NOT using. We are now going to Split, Copy, Reflect and Merge and turn the shapes into a symmetrical shape. Select the rectangle and the Fox’s head and use the Pathfinder Tool’s “Minus Front” button to “cut out” or “delete” the side you do no want. Select the recently split shape and Copy it. Right click the duplicated shape and select Transform < Reflect and select the Vertical option in the popup window and click OK. Line up the two shapes, select both of the shapes and use the Pathfinder tool again to Unite or “combine” the shapes together. Your illustration should look similar to the image below.


Step 4

Next, create a new layer and use the Pen Tool and a dark brown color to create the inner ear shape and the fox’s nose. Create another layer and use the Pen Tool again and cover the bottom part of the fox’s silhouette to create the bottom white fur around the nose, mouth, and cheek area. You will need to Split, Copy, Reflect, and Merge the shape to get the symmetrical feel. Select the newly created white shape and the fox’s silhouette, Duplicate them and use the Pathfinder Tool to Minus Front the new shape to create a shape that fits perfectly over the fox’s silhouette.


Step 5

To create the eyes of the fox, use the Pen Tool to create the white fur eyebrows. Create a dark blue shape where the eye will go. Use the Ellipsis Tool (L) to create a light blue eye over the dark blue shape. Select the two blue shapes, Copy and use the Pathfinder to make an eye that fits perfectly into the dark blue shape. Add white circles in the eyes to had some highlights to the eyes. Your illustration should look similar to the image below.


Step 6

Now we can start adding details to make the illustration more interesting. Take the background blue shape, change the color to a darker blue,Duplicate the two shapes and use the Pathfinder Tool to “delete” parts of the shape and create a two toned effect for the background blue shape. add some circles on top with different size strokes to add more details. It should look similar to the image below.


Step 7

To add some dimension, we are going to add a minimal looking shadow to the fox. It is easier if you use the Rectangle Tool (M) to draw a big rectangle over the illustration right to the origin of symmetry. You will be duplicating this rectangle along with the fox’s silhouette and the fox’s white fur to create shapes you need to place over the illustration. Use the same Copy and Pathfinder technique we have been using to get the custom shape to place over the silhouette and fur. Make sure to change the shape’s color to a slightly darker color to get the desired shadow look.


Wrapping It up

As you can see, though the design looks “simple”, the techniques used to align and create the proper shapes are quite advanced. The details are in the symmetry and will create an interesting composition. Use these techniques and see what else you can come up with.

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