How to Create a Reindeer Cartoon Character in Adobe Illustrator

Learn how to create a cute reindeer character that will put you into the winter holiday spirit, using Adobe Illustrator.

How to Create a Reindeer Cartoon Character in Adobe Illustrator

For the reindeer’s head, body, and legs, you’ll use effects to add texture and brushes to add details. After that, you’ll create a cute face for this little guy along with the classic red nose, draw the horns, and decorate them with a bauble and ribbon curls. By the end of this tutorial, you will be able to apply these techniques to create other cartoon characters in the future. Let’s start the fun!

How to Create a Reindeer Cartoon Character in Adobe Illustrator

If you are hungry for more cartoon characters,decorations, winter holidays or Christmas inspiration, be sure to check out GraphicRiver where you’ll find more resources than you’ll ever need.

What You’ll Need

To complete the tutorial you will need the following assets:

1.How
to Open a New Document

Launch Illustrator and go to File > New to open a blank document. Type a name for your file, set up the dimensions, and then select Pixels as Units and RGB as Color Mode. Make sure that Align New Objects to Pixel Grid is not checked.

Next, go to Edit > Preferences > General and set the Keyboard Increment to 1 px and while there, go to Units to make sure they are set as in the following image. I usually work with these settings, and they will help you throughout the drawing process.

How to Create a Reindeer Cartoon Character in Adobe Illustrator

2.How
to Create the Head of the Reindeer

Step
1

First, take the Ellipse Tool (L) and draw a 90 x 219 px ellipse on your artboard (1). Use the Add Anchor Point Tool (+) to add extra points on the path, and now distort the ellipse by moving these points and also adjust their handles to get the shape of the head (2). Rotate the head about 30 degrees and give it a light brown fill (3).

How to Create a Reindeer Cartoon Character in Adobe Illustrator

Step
2

While the head shape stays selected, go to Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow and apply the settings shown (1); then go back and apply this effect again using different settings (2).

How to Create a Reindeer Cartoon Character in Adobe Illustrator

Step
3

Let’s add some texture. With the head shape still selected, add a New Fill above the first and use the same color; then go to Effect > Sketch > Note Paper and apply the settings shown (1). Set the Blending Mode to Multiply and reduce the Opacity to 12% (2).

How to Create a Reindeer Cartoon Character in Adobe Illustrator

Step
4

Use the Pen Tool (P) to draw three paths on the sides and at the bottom of the head. Give them a 2 pt black Stroke and use the Dry Brush 6 Art Brush from the Brush Libraries Menu > Artistic > Artistic_Paintbrush (1).

Next, go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur and apply a Radius of 6 px (2), and then set them to Blending Mode Overlay and 35% Opacity (3).

How to Create a Reindeer Cartoon Character in Adobe Illustrator

Step
5

Select the head shape and then Copy and Paste in Place (Shift-Control-V) in order to make a copy of it in front of everything. Remove all existing appearances for this copy. Now, select all the shapes on your artboard and go to Object > Clipping Mask > Make (Control-7). You can see the result in the image below, and at this point the head is ready (2).

How to Create a Reindeer Cartoon Character in Adobe Illustrator

3.How
to Create the Ears of the Reindeer

Step
1

Use the Pen Tool (P) to draw the two ear shapes and give them a light brown color (1). Next, apply the Inner Glow effect twice, as you did for the head, but use the settings shown below (2).

How to Create a Reindeer Cartoon Character in Adobe Illustrator

Step
2

Draw a similar but smaller shape on top, filled with light pink (2), and then draw the second shape even smaller, filled with the same pink (2). The third shape is the smallest; use the linear gradient shown to fill it (3).

Now, select only the second pink shape along with the smallest purple shape and go to Object > Blend > Blend Options. Choose 20 Specified Steps, hit OK, and then go back to Object > Blend > Make (Alt-Control-B) (4).

How to Create a Reindeer Cartoon Character in Adobe Illustrator

Step
3

Using the Pen Tool (P), draw a curved path at the top of the pink ear shape (1). Give it a 2 pt brown Stroke and use the Black Blend Brush 100×3 (info below). Group (Control-G) all the shapes that make up the left ear to keep things organized in the Layers panel (2).

Follow the same techniques to draw the other ear of the reindeer, or to make things easier, you could just reflect vertically the first one (Object
> Transform > Reflect) (3).

I have an entire tutorial dedicated to Blend Art Brushes and how useful they are. I use them in my drawings all the time. You can find more information on the Black Blend Art Brush 100×3 that we are using today inHow to Create a Set of Multi-Use Blend Brushes in Adobe Illustrator.

How to Create a Reindeer Cartoon Character in Adobe Illustrator

4.How
to Create the Body of the Reindeer

Step
1

Take the Pen Tool (P) and draw a shape like in the next image as the body (1). Use the same color, effects, and settings as for the head of the reindeer earlier in the tutorial (2).

How to Create a Reindeer Cartoon Character in Adobe Illustrator

Step
2

Select the body shape and then Copy and Paste in Place (Shift-Control-V) in order to make a copy of it in front of everything. Remove all existing appearances for this copy (1).

Now, select the body shape along with the copy and go to Object > Clipping Mask > Make (Control-7). As a result, you will get smooth, clean edges (2).

How to Create a Reindeer Cartoon Character in Adobe Illustrator

Step
3

To create the belly, draw an ellipse on the body (1) and fill it with the radial gradient shown. After that, go to Effect > Stylize > Feather and apply a Radius of 5 px to make the edges a bit smoother (2).

How to Create a Reindeer Cartoon Character in Adobe Illustrator

5.How
to Create the Legs and Hooves of the Reindeer

Step
1

Draw with the Pen Tool (P) the shape of the leg (1) and use the same color, effects, and settings as for the head and the body of the reindeer. For the Inner Glow effects, use a smaller Radius value because the shape of the leg is much smaller. You can see the result in the image below (2).

You can create a mask using a copy of the leg shape to get clean edges, just as you did earlier in the tutorial for the body.

How to Create a Reindeer Cartoon Character in Adobe Illustrator

Step
2

The hoof is made of two shapes as shown in the following image (1), so draw the two halves with the Pen Tool (P) and fill them with dark brown (2). Next, draw two similar but smaller shapes in the middle filled with a medium brown (3).

Now, select the dark brown shape on the left side along with the smaller shape on top of it and blend them using 20 Specified Steps. Do the same thing for the right side of the hoof (4).

How to Create a Reindeer Cartoon Character in Adobe Illustrator

Step
3

Draw with the Pen Tool (P) two paths on the hoof (1); give them a 1 pt light brown Stroke and also use the Black Blend Art Brush. As a result, you will get two highlights on the hoof (2).

Group (Control-G) all the shapes that make up the hoof to keep things organized in the Layers panel.

How to Create a Reindeer Cartoon Character in Adobe Illustrator

Step
4

Make a copy of the first leg and the hoof and arrange them on the left side of the body as the “arm”. Move these two behind the body in the Layers panel (1).

Make two other copies and arrange them as the right leg and the right “arm”. These two should be in front of the body. Take the Pen Tool (P) and draw a slightly curved path at the base of the leg and the “arm” (2); give them a 1.5 pt Stroke and use the Black Blend Art Brush again. This will create a small shadow at the base (3).

How to Create a Reindeer Cartoon Character in Adobe Illustrator

6.How
to Create the Collar of the Reindeer

Step
1

Draw a rectangle-like shape on the neck of the reindeer and use the linear gradient shown to fill it (1). Copy and Paste in Back (Control-B) this shape and move it 1-2 px downward by pressing the Down Arrow key on your keyboard. Change the fill color to dark red (2).

How to Create a Reindeer Cartoon Character in Adobe Illustrator

Step
2

Go to the Symbols panel, open the Symbol Libraries menu > Web Buttons and Bars and find the Bullet 6-Orange symbol. Drag it into your artboard and go to Object > Expand (1). Select the bigger circle and delete it.

Now, select the outer circle and set the Angle of the gradient to -90 degrees so the white is at the top and the gray at the bottom. Also set the Blending Mode to Multiply (2).

Select the new button (3), go to Object > Transform > Scale, and type 22% in the Scale field. Move the tiny button (4) on the collar and make two or three more copies.

How to Create a Reindeer Cartoon Character in Adobe Illustrator

7.How
to Create the Eyes of the Reindeer

Step
1

Use the Ellipse Tool (L) to draw two ellipses as the eyes (1). Fill them with a very light gray and then apply the Inner Glow effect using the settings shown (2).

How to Create a Reindeer Cartoon Character in Adobe Illustrator

Step
2

Draw a smaller ellipse on each eye as the iris (1). Fill them with a dark yellow and apply the Inner Glow effect (2).

How to Create a Reindeer Cartoon Character in Adobe Illustrator

Step
3

Draw two even smaller ellipses filled with black as the pupils (1). To add some sparkles, draw two new ellipses on the pupils as shown in the image below (2). Fill all of them with a basic black to white radial gradient and set the Blending Mode to Screen (3).

How to Create a Reindeer Cartoon Character in Adobe Illustrator

Step
4

Use the Pen Tool (P) to draw two curved paths above the eyes as the eyebrows and two paths following the bottom edge of the eyes for the shadows (1). Give all of them a 2 pt brown Stroke and use the Black Blend Art Brush (2).

How to Create a Reindeer Cartoon Character in Adobe Illustrator

Step
5

Draw other two paths under the eyes, as shown in the next image (1). Give them a 2 pt brown Stroke and use the Black Blend Art Brush again (2).

How to Create a Reindeer Cartoon Character in Adobe Illustrator

8.How
to Create the Mouth of the Reindeer

Step
1

Grab the Pen Tool (P) and draw a big mouth shape like in the following image (1). Use the same color and effects as for the ears of the reindeer (2).

Now, Copy and Paste in Back (Control-B) the mouth shape, remove all existing appearances, and select just a brown fill color. Move this copy 2 px downwards by pressing the Down Arrow key on your keyboard twice (3).

How to Create a Reindeer Cartoon Character in Adobe Illustrator

Step
2

While the mouth shape stays selected, go to Object > Path > Offset Path and apply an Offset of -5 px (1). Fill the smaller shape obtained with red and apply the Inner Glow effect (2).

How to Create a Reindeer Cartoon Character in Adobe Illustrator

Step
3

Draw the shapes of the teeth, four on each side. They don’t have to be identical or perfectly round (1). Fill the teeth with pale yellow and after that, draw a similar but smaller shape filled with white on each tooth (2).

Select only one tooth along with the smaller white shape on top of it and Blend them using 12 Specified Steps. Repeat the same thing for the rest of the teeth (2).

How to Create a Reindeer Cartoon Character in Adobe Illustrator

Step
4

Zoom on the teeth and draw with the Pen Tool (P) two paths right between them (1). Give them a 0.5 pt Stroke using gray and the Black Blend Art Brush (2).

How to Create a Reindeer Cartoon Character in Adobe Illustrator

Step
5

Let’s add a small highlight on the gums. Use the Pen Tool (P) or the Pencil Tool (N) to draw a short path on the left side of the teeth (1). Give it a 1.5 pt Stroke using white and also the Black Blend Art Brush. Since the Colorization is set to Tints, the brush becomes white as well regardless of its name. Reduce the Opacity to 50% (2).

How to Create a Reindeer Cartoon Character in Adobe Illustrator

9.How
to Create the Nose of the Reindeer

Step
1

Use the Ellipse Tool (L) to draw two ellipses like in the next image filled with red and dark red (1). While both shapes stay selected, Blend them using 12 Specified Steps (2). Now, select the resulting blend group, go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow and apply the settings shown below (3).

How to Create a Reindeer Cartoon Character in Adobe Illustrator

Step
2

Draw a new ellipse on the nose filled with a basic black to white radial gradient (1). Apply a 2 px Gaussian Blur; then set it to Blending Mode Screen and 75% Opacity (2).

How to Create a Reindeer Cartoon Character in Adobe Illustrator

Step
3

Use the Pen Tool (P) to draw a path on the lower left side of the nose (1). Give it a 2 pt Stroke using white and the Black Blend Art Brush. Set the Blending Mode to Overlay and the Opacity to 75% (2).

Use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to select only the bigger ellipse of the nose and then Copy and Paste in Place (Shift-Control-V) to make a copy of it in front of everything. Set this copy to stroke-none and fill-none. Now, select the stroked path along with the nose copy (3) and go to Object > Clipping Mask > Make (Control-7). You can see the result in the image below (4).

How to Create a Reindeer Cartoon Character in Adobe Illustrator

Step
4

At this point the red nose is ready and you can Group (Control-G) all the shapes that compose it to keep things organized in the Layers panel.

This cute reindeer is just missing his horns now.

How to Create a Reindeer Cartoon Character in Adobe Illustrator

10.How
to Create the Horns of the Reindeer

Step
1

Grab the Pen Tool (P) or the Pencil Tool (N) and draw four paths to define the shape of the horns. Give them an 11 pt Stroke and press the Round Cap option in the Stroke panel (1). While the paths stay selected, go to Object > Expand and then press Unite in the Pathfinder panel. As a result, you will get the shape of the left horn (2).

Now, you can make extra adjustments like making the top ends wider and rounder or fix other areas that don’t look smooth enough (3).

How to Create a Reindeer Cartoon Character in Adobe Illustrator

Step
2

Repeat the previous step and create the right horn (1) or you could just reflect vertically the first one (Object > Transform >
Reflect). Fill both horns with brown; then go to Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow and apply the settings shown (2).

How to Create a Reindeer Cartoon Character in Adobe Illustrator

Step
3

Use the Pen Tool (P) or the Pencil Tool (N) to draw a few short paths on the horns where you want the highlights to be (1). For the green paths select a 2 pt Stroke, for the orange paths select a 1 pt Stroke, and also use the Black Blend Art Brush.

With all the paths still selected, go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur and apply a Radius of 2 px (2).

How to Create a Reindeer Cartoon Character in Adobe Illustrator

11.How
to Create the Bauble and Ribbons

Step
1

Take the Ellipse Tool (L) and draw a 53 x 53 pxcircle filled with a golden radial gradient (1). Draw a new circle on the upper right side of the bauble filled with a basic black to white radial gradient and after that, apply a 2 px Gaussian Blur. Set the Blending Mode to Screen and the Opacity to 75% (2).

Continue with another ellipse on the lower left side of the bauble filled with a basic white to black radial gradient and apply a 2 px Gaussian Blur again. Set the Blending Mode to Multiply and the Opacity to 15% this time (3).

Let’s create a mask now. Select the bauble shape and then Copy and Paste in Place (Shift-Control-V) to make a copy of it in front of everything. Remove the existing appearances for this copy. Now, drag a selection over the bauble to select all the shapes and go to Object > Clipping Mask > Make (Control-7) (4).

How to Create a Reindeer Cartoon Character in Adobe Illustrator

Step
2

To create the hanging piece, first draw a rectangle-like shape at the top of the bauble filled with the linear gradient shown (1). Next, draw a circle having a 0.75 pt Stroke and after that, go to Object > Expand (2). Fill the resulting ring shape with the same golden gradient (3).

How to Create a Reindeer Cartoon Character in Adobe Illustrator

Step
3

To add a shadow under the hanging piece, draw a path following the top edge of the bauble (1). Give it a 0.5 pt brown Stroke and use the Black Blend Art Brush (2). At this point, the bauble is ready, and you can Group (Control-G) all the shapes (3).

How to Create a Reindeer Cartoon Character in Adobe Illustrator

Step
4

From the bauble up to the horns, draw a thin rectangle slightly rounded at the ends as the hanging ribbon (1).

To create the ribbon curls, follow the sequence of images and draw one segment at a time (2). There are no shortcuts here.

How to Create a Reindeer Cartoon Character in Adobe Illustrator

Step
5

You can add a second ribbon curl or as many as you want.

To create the small bow above the bauble, follow the sequence of images and draw it with the Pen Tool (P).

How to Create a Reindeer Cartoon Character in Adobe Illustrator

Step
6

The golden curls are just a much thinner version of the red ribbon curls. You can decorate the horns with as many as you want.

I’ve used these ribbons in another tutorial of mine a while back,Create a Set of Realistic Christmas Baubles. Have a look and learn more about how to create vector baubles in Illustrator.

How to Create a Reindeer Cartoon Character in Adobe Illustrator

Step
7

This cute guy is ready for Christmas now.

How to Create a Reindeer Cartoon Character in Adobe Illustrator

Congratulations!
You’re Done!

I hope this tutorial was fun for you and put you into the winter holiday spirit. Cartoon characters are my favorite to draw because they put my imagination to the test, so if you decide to recreate this cute reindeer, please share an image. I would love to see your work.

How to Create a Reindeer Cartoon Character in Adobe Illustrator