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How to Create a Polar Bear Illustration in Adobe Illustrator

Final product image
What You’ll Be Creating

Once upon a time in the frozen Arctic lived a polar bear. He was standing alone on a glacier, waiting for fish…

Today, you are going to learn how to create this animal in Adobe Illustrator. If you want more inspiration, then check out GraphicRiver. You will see tons of amazing images of polar bears

Some images there might look complicated, but here, I will show you how to create a polar bear using basic shapes. We will also use Warp effects and the Pen Tool. To use the Pen Tool and not have to worry, we’ll use the Smart Guides, which will help us.

Let’s get started!

1. How to Create the Scenery

Step 1

After opening a new document (850 x 850 px Width and Height), we will start by creating the background. Let’s create a blue square: hit the Rectangle Tool (M) and click on your artboard. Enter Height and Width 850 px, and press OK. Set its fill color as shown in the image below.

creating the background

Step 2

Next, we will add a darker blue rectangle on the bottom part of the image. Select the background and create a copy in front: press Control-C and then Control-F. Then, using the Selection Tool (V), narrow it down. Change the fill color. This will be the ice-cold ocean!

creating the ocean

Step 3

Now we will create an image of mountains. To start our mountain, we will use the Pen Tool (P). Select the Pen Tool (P) and set any stroke color you want and no fill color. We will change the color later on, so go ahead and choose any stroke color to start with.

Now, simply start to click on your artboard. You will see that the points will be connected by a line.

drawing the mountains

Once you reach the beginning of this shape (the first anchor point), you will see that there is a small circle there, near the Pen Tool (L). Now click on the first anchor point, while you still see this circle, to close up your shape. If you have never used this tool before, then I would recommend messing around with it first just to see how it works.

finishing drawing the mountains

As soon as you close up the shape, you can change its color to a darker blue and remove the stroke color.

changing the color of the mountains

Step 4

In this step, we will continue working on the mountain image. But first, in order to the draw the lines with more precision, we need to enable the Smart Guides. So let’s go to View > Smart Guides (Control-U). Select the Pen Tool (P) and make the lighter part of the mountain.

creating the light part of the mountains

Do the same thing with all the other mountains. Try to end up with a result similar to the one below.

continue creating the light parts of the mountains

Step 5

Using a similar technique, create another set of darker blue shapes. Make sure you have this order: light blue part, middle blue part, and then the darker blue part for each mountain.

These will be our mountains!

creating the dark parts of the mountains

Step 6

Finally, using the Pen Tool (P), create a glacier on the bottom of the image, where our bear will be standing. The Smart Guides will help you not to go beyond the boundaries of the background.

creating the glacier

Step 7

Now we will create some clouds! To do so, create a bunch of rectangles, and then place them close together. Now simply create some more clouds to finish it off.

creating the clouds

Step 8

To smooth the shape of clouds, select one and unite all of the rectangles making up the cloud by pressing the Unite button on the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder). To smooth the clouds, select all of them and go to Effect > Stylize > Round Corners… In a new dialogue window, enter Radius 10 px.

We just created a place for our polar bear to live!

smoothen the clouds

2. How to Create the Polar Bear

Step 1

To create the bear, we will start by forming the shape of the body. Using the Rounded Rectangle Tool, create a white rounded rectangle. To get a rounded rectangle with very rounded corners, create a small rounded rectangle first and then stretch it. Or you can go to View > Show Corner Widget and modify the corners by dragging them inside.

creating the body of the polar bear

Step 2

Now, create a smaller white rounded rectangle and attach it to the larger one on the upper left side. This is the head. To create an eye, add a dark grey or black ellipse, using the Ellipse Tool (L).

creating the head of the polar bear

Step 3

For the neck, add a white rectangle and place it between the head and the body. Next, using the Direct Selection Tool (A), move its anchor points to connect the head and body.

creating the neck of the polar bear

Step 4

Now we will add the ears. Create three ellipses—two larger and one smaller ellipse—and place them as shown below. Change the fill color of the left and middle ovals to make them a little darker. Be sure the left ear stays behind the head (Control-X, Control-B).

creating the ears of the polar bear

Step 5

For the muzzle, create another white rounded rectangle and attach it to the left side of the head.

creating the muzzle of the polar bear

Then we will deform this shape by applying the Warp Effect: go to Effect > Warp > Arc and adjust the necessary options. Expand this shape: select it and go to Object > Expand Appearance.

warping the muzzle of the polar bear

Step 6

We will create a nose from an ellipse. Create a black ellipse and, using the Direct Selection Tool (A), move the left and right anchor points up.

creating the nose of the polar bear

Attach the nose to the muzzle of our bear.

placing the nose of the polar bear

Step 7

For the tail, create another small oval. Attach it to the upper right side of the body and rotate it to the left as in the image below.

creating the tail of the polar bear

Step 8

Let’s create the bear’s legs. First, create a white rounded rectangle. Then transform it: go to Effect > Warp > Arch, and enter the options shown below. Expand this shape (Object > Expand Appearance).

creating the leg of the polar bear

Attach this leg to the body.

placing the leg of the polar bear

Step 9

For the paw, create a small white ellipse. Now we will cut away the bottom part of the ellipse. For the cutter, create a rectangle with any fill color you want. Make sure that the rectangle overlaps the bottom part of the ellipse. While keeping these two shapes selected, press the Minus Front button on the Pathfinder panel. We will end up with the top part of the ellipse.

creating the paw of the polar bear

Attach this part to the bottom of the leg as a paw. The back leg is ready!

placing the paw of the polar bear

Step 10

Make another copy of the leg and attach it to the right side of the body as a front leg.

creating another leg of the polar bear

Step 11

Now create a copy of the front and back legs behind (Control-C, Control-B). Make them darker (use the Eyedropper Tool (I) to take the same color as the darker ear) and slightly shift the legs to the left.

Make sure the new darker legs are behind the whole body.

Our bear is ready!

creating other legs of the polar bear

Conclusion

And you are done! Great job. I hope you get used to this tricky Pen Tool and now will use it a lot. Or maybe you know already how to use it and just had some good practice. Anyway, I’m happy that you were with me through the whole tutorial!

See you next time!

final image