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How to Create a Hanging Monkey Illustration in Adobe Illustrator

Final product image
What You’ll Be Creating

Do you know the difference between monkeys and apes? Monkeys have tails, but apes don’t. Did you know that yawning is a sign of aggression in
monkeys? So when you spot a yawning monkey, don’t expect it to fall
asleep—it might just pounce on you. Or better yet—take a banana with
you so you can offer it to the monkey instead of yourself!

this tutorial, you will learn how to create a monkey hanging on a vine.
As usual, we will use basic shapes, warp effects, and the Pathfinder panel.
We will also move some anchor points and learn how to use the Line
Segment Tool and the Arc Tool.

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1. Draw the Head of the Monkey

Step 1

After opening your Adobe Illustrator and creating a new document with 850 x
850 px Width
and Height, we will start by drawing the head of the

Draw a circle. To create an even circle, use the Ellipse
Tool (L)
while holding down the Shift key. In the image below, you can
see which fill color you need. To give the head an irregular shape, go
to Effect > Warp > Inflate. Enter the options you see below.

creating the head shape

Here you can see the options window:

Warp Options window

Step 2

Let’s add some details to our monkey’s head. We’re going to create the
lighter part of the head where the facial details will go.

the Ellipse Tool (L), draw a light brown circle. Create a copy of this
circle: holding the Alt and Shift buttons, move the circle to the right.
This action will create a copy of the original circle, horizontally
aligned. Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create an oval and place it as shown in
the image below. Finally, unite these figures by selecting the two ellipses
and the oval and hitting the Unite button on the Pathfinder panel (Window
> Pathfinder

creating the face shape

Step 3

For the ears, let’s start by drawing a circle (Ellipse Tool (L) + Shift
key) with the same fill color as the head. After that, we need to place
the second smaller circle in the middle of the first one. To do this,
copy the original circle in front (Control-C, Control-F) and shrink the
newly created circle while holding down the Alt and Shift keys at the
same time (shrinking symmetrically to the center).

Change the color
of the smaller circle to light brown (use the Eye Dropper Tool (I)).
Select these two circles, send them to back (Control-X, Control-B), and
attach them to the head. To create the right ear, right-click >
Transform > Reflect
, choose Vertical, Angle 90 degrees, and press Copy.
Move the new copy of the ear to the right side of the head using the
Right Arrow button on your keyboard.

creating the ears

Step 4

For the eyes, create a white ellipse and slightly tilt it to the left.
Add a dark circle, followed by a small white circle as a highlight.

creating the left eye

Step 5

Keep the whole eye selected and take the Reflect Tool (O).
Holding down the Alt key, click in the middle of the face. In the new
dialogue window, enter Vertical and press Copy. You should have two eyes

creating the right eye

Step 6

The tiny nose will be represented by two small circles (Ellipse
Tool (L) + Shift key
) placed in the center of the head as shown below.

creating the nose

Step 7

Now for the mouth. You need to create a little ellipse, and using
the Convert Anchor Point Tool (Shift-C), make the left and right anchor
points sharp by clicking on them. After that, select those two anchor
points again (with the Direct Selection Tool (A)) and move them up by
pressing the Up Arrow on your keyboard.

creating the mouth

Step 8

To add the teeth, copy the mouth shape twice (Control-C,
Control-F twice) so that you have a total of three copies on top of each other.
Select the topmost copy and move it slightly down by pressing the Down
key. Select the two upper shapes and by pressing the Minus Front
on the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder), you will get a cut of
one of the shapes on top of the original. Give this cut a white fill

creating teeth

Step 9

Let’s make the tongue. Copy the mouth shape (Control-C,
Control-F) to have two copies on top of each other. Create a pink oval and
place it in front of the mouth. Select the mouth shape and the pink
oval, and hit the Intersect button on the Pathfinder panel.

creating the tongue

2. Create the Body

To create the body, draw an ellipse
using the Ellipse Tool (L). Place it behind the head. Select the two side
anchor points with the Direct Selection Tool (A), and move them down
using the Down Arrow key on the keyboard. Add a smaller light ellipse
over it. The fill color of this ellipse is the same as the face.

creating the body

3. Create the Vines

For the vines, we will use the Arc Tool. First,
delete the fill color and set the stroke color you see below. I checked
Round Cap on the Stroke panel, but it’s optional. Draw a few vines.

we can place the monkey under the vines to see how everything will
look. To easily move our monkey (we’re not finished with the monkey
yet), let’s go ahead and group it: select, then right-click > Group.

creating lianas

5. Create the Arms and Legs

Step 1

This will be very easy. Again using the Arc Tool, we will just draw two curves which will be the arms of the monkey.

first, we need to get the same dark brown color as we did for the head
and the body and set it as the stroke color. Click any dark brown fill
color (use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to select one of the grouped
shapes), and then click on your artboard. You will notice that on the Tools
(Windows > Tools) panel, you still have this fill color. Click on the
button called Swap Fill and Stroke (Shift-X), and you will get a dark
brown stroke color. On the Stroke panel, make the Weight of this stroke
very thick. After that, using the Arc Tool, draw the monkey’s arms. Move the handles of the anchor points to achieve the result you want.

creating the arms

Step 2

Using the previous method, draw the monkey’s legs.

creating the legs

Step 3

To draw the tail, we will use the Spiral Tool. If you don’t
see it, hold the Line Segment Tool () for a few seconds—a pop-up menu
will appear. Select the Spiral Tool then. Click on your artboard and a
new dialogue window will appear, asking you about the Radius of your spiral, as well as the Decay and Segments. I recommend playing with different Decay and
settings to find out what you like the most. Also you can reduce the Weight of the stroke on the Stroke panel.

After creating the
tail, you will see that it’s short, so just select one end of it (the
last anchor point) and move it to the monkey’s back. Then place the tail
behind the monkey (Control-X, Control-B).

creating the tail

6. Create the Hands

Step 1

Let’s start by drawing a circle for
the hand. Delete the stroke color and set the fill color you see below. Use the Rounded Rectangle Tool and add four small rounded
rectangles to the circle—these will be the fingers. For the thumb, make
an oval using the Ellipse Tool (L). Place the fingers on the circle,
similar to the image below. Select all the shapes and unite them by
hitting the Unite button on the Pathfinder panel (Window >
). Attach this hand to the right arm of the monkey.

creating the right hand
placing the right hand

Step 2

Let’s draw the left hand directly on the left arm, close to
the vine, so you can see how the fingers should be placed. By using the
Rounded Rectangle Tool, add four fingers to the hand that’s holding
the vine.

creating the left hand

Step 3

As the thumb of the hand stays behind the vine, we will make
it by drawing a slightly darker ellipse using the Ellipse Tool (L).

creating the thumb

7. Create the Feet

Step 1

Let’s start with an ellipse for the
foot. Select the two side anchor points with the Direct Selection Tool (A),
and move them down by pressing the Down Arrow key on the keyboard. Add five
tiny ellipses of different sizes and place them on the bottom of the big
deformed ellipse (see image below). Keeping all the shapes selected,
unite them by hitting the Unite button on the Pathfinder panel. Place
the foot behind the leg.

creating the right foot
placing the right foot

Step 2

To create the second foot, right-click >
Transform > Reflect
, choose Vertical, Angle 90 degrees, and press Copy.
Place the new copy of the foot behind the left leg.

creating the left foot

8. Create the Palm Leaf

Step 1

To create a leaf—can you guess
what tool we’ll use? Yes, we’ll start with an ellipse. Then pick the
Convert Anchor Point Tool (Shift-C), and make sharp anchor points by
clicking on the top and bottom anchor points. You’ll get a simple leaf

creating the palm leaf

Step 2

For the stem, we will use a long vertical ellipse. Place the
leaf you created in the previous step on top of the stem. Then make many
copies of this leaf and place them on the left side of the stem. Then
select all the leaves on the left side and make a reflection of them on
the right side (right-click > Transform > Reflect, Vertical, Angle
90 degrees, Copy
). It’s just what you did for the right feet of the

creating the palm leaf 2

Step 3

Let’s make two more copies of our leaf and apply different shades of green on them.
the first one, go to Effect > Warp > Arc. In the new Warp Options
window, check Style Arc Vertical, and then in the Bend section move the
slider as you want to warp your leaf. Be sure to check Preview, so you
can see what’s going on with this leaf. Repeat the warping with each
leaf. Don’t forget to expand every leaf you create (Object > Expand

warping leaves

Step 4

Now make a lot of leaves, because we will create a frame with them.
Place the leaves on the perimeter of the art board, behind everything.
Very important—expand the vines (Object > Expand). If you forget to
do this, when we crop the illustration later, the vines will disappear.
So—expand the vines.

placing leaves

Step 5

Add a light yellow square (850 px Width and Height) in the back
as the background. Use the Rectangle Tool (M) for it and hold the Shift
button to create an even square.

creating the background

Step 6

Now there are two methods of cropping: the Crop button in
and the Clipping Mask. Personally, I think the Clipping Mask
is better because it won’t cut the leaves; it will just hide them. But
here’s the downside—you will have a blank frame around the image. If you
were to use the Crop button, it would cut all the leaves and the vines,
and you wouldn’t be able to change their placements. Confused? Let me
explain it further.

If you decide to use the Clipping Mask:
Make a copy of the
background in front of everything. Delete the fill color for better
visibility, so you will have an empty square. Then select this empty
square and all the leaves and the vines. Go to Object > Clipping
Mask > Make
. All the elements which were behind the artboard are now
hidden. Double-click on it (now you are in isolated mode) and try to
move some of the leaves. You will see that you still have the whole

If you decide to use the Crop button:
Make a copy of the background
in front of everything. Select all the leaves and the vines together
with this square we just created. Press the Crop button in the
. Double-click on your artboard (now you are in isolated mode)
and try to move some of the leaves. See the difference?

The choice is yours—decide which one you like better!

cropping the illustration

Well Done! Go Ape! 

Yay! You made it! It was a huge project—now you have a
cute jungle illustration as a payoff. You have learned how to unite
shapes and how to use the Arc and Spiral Tool, Clipping Mask, and cropping.
If you have trouble with anything, please let me know in the comments
section below. 

I hope this tutorial was useful for you. You can freely
use these methods and techniques in your future projects. Just remember
that the result of this tutorial, even if you created it by following
the tutorial, is not your own idea and cannot be sold to other people or websites. 

Finished monkey illustration