illustrator video tutorial

How to create a Vector Mascot in Illustrator

How to create a vector mascot in Illustrator

Hi guys! I recorded the whole process in the making of Cheeky Monkey vector mascot design in Illustrator. There will be several videos and I will update this post frequently. Subscribing to my SOSFactory Youtube Channel or Facebook page is a good idea to stay up to date.

Learn how I create vector mascot designs in Adobe Illustrator. Work in progress images and videos included.

mascot design
Nice… huh?

Sadly the video is about 15 hours long, so I need to split it in different parts and accelerate the time to compress it within YouTube´s restrictions. I will write some annotations along the videos where I share some tips to improve your inking in Photoshop and your coloring in Illustrator but I’m sure lot of questions will pop up on your mind, feel free to ask.

Feel free to visit this post to learn more about my mascot design process or visit this character design tutorial.

Cheeky Monkey Media design process
Here you can see the mascot design evolution from the concept
to the final mascot design in Illustrator.

And some close-ups:

Mascot design close up


Video 1: some tips to improve the quality of your lineart in Photoshop

I receive lot of questions about my digital inking process: how do I get so sharp and crisp lines?. What brush settings do I use?. How big is my canvas?… In this video I reply all these questions and some others, if your lineart looks pixelated or blurry take care of these advices and you will notice a change.

EDIT: Youtube delete all my annotations… sorry, if you really want to learn how to ink digitally I suggest you get my masterclass.

Video 2: how to vectorize your lineart in Illustrator

Vectorizing your lineart in Illustrator with Live Trace is so easy that you don’t really need to deal with vectors until the final conversion. I find much more comfortable and natural working with Photoshop and a Wacom tablet, also the inking process is much faster.

At the end of this step I have lot of white shapes over a black silhouette.

Video 3: Assigning flat colors in Illustrator

This video could be a bit boring for expert users, I just assign flat colors and organize the shapes into groups, it’s very important when working on complex illustrations.

Video 4: Applying gradient colors in Illustrator (Part I)

I forgot to record the first minutes of this video, I just applied very basic gradients and cut big areas into smaller ones, then I start the tricky part: adding shadows and lights.

Video 5: Applying gradient colors in Illustrator (Part II)

So here is the last video, after 15 hours of work our vectorial mascot design is completely done. Crisp and clean!

I hope you enjoyed the process, I’m already working in the next Masterclass, this time about vector illustration in Illustrator, in the meantime if you have any question or suggestion just let me know.

monkey mascot design

See you soon!

How to become a Professional Mascot Designer?

I created some masterclasses with all my Photoshop tips and tricks about digital inking and digital coloring for mascot design. With my technique and some practice you can also make a living from the characters you imagine.

Sergio Ordoñez Suanez
[email protected]

Hi there, I'm webmaster, designer and digital content creator of everything you see at SOSFactory. I love sharing my limited knowledge as more experienced designers did when I was a newbie.

  • Tim
    Posted at 18:21h, 08 December Reply

    Great video. It is very helpful in the inking process. Did you do a ruff sketch in pencil first or did you do a ruff sketch in Photoshop? Can’t wait to see the coloring video. Thanks for these.

    • Sergio Ordonez
      Posted at 18:24h, 08 December Reply

      Hi Tim, thanks a lot 🙂

      In the past I used to draw and scan the sketches but since I have a Wacom Cintiq 21UX everything is done digitally.

  • Tim
    Posted at 18:32h, 08 December Reply

    Thank you Sergio!

    I bet that really speeds up the process. Just started using a Wacom tablet again and I am hooked. The next thing I want to get its a Cintiq!

  • Darky
    Posted at 17:43h, 08 December Reply

    Gracias por tomarte el tiempo de publicar estos excelentes recursos.. Saludos

  • Sergio Ordonez
    Posted at 18:43h, 08 December Reply

    Yes, with standard tablets you don´t have so much control, it´s quite more time consuming but I know artists who can do it. I personally would use vector tools if you don´t have a Cintiq yet.

  • Toki Tover
    Posted at 20:10h, 08 December Reply

    Hello Sergio,

    Great tutorial, thank you…

    Question, what makes you decide whether or not to color in illustrator versus photoshop?

    I remember you stating that you do not really care for illustrator.


    Toki Tover

  • Arvin
    Posted at 21:49h, 08 December Reply

    Great video! Inking is the thing that frustrates me most in Photoshop… it’s something I can do more intuitively by paper and pen, but who wants to do that? 🙂 I wish Photoshop had a brush system like Flash, which is faster than Illustrator and smooths strokes pretty intuitively.

    Question: It looks like you’re in a Cintiq 21ux. I am on the 12wx, and I was wondering if you had experience with the 12wx, and whether upgrading to the 21ux is worth the extra 1000USD, other than the size (which can be both good and bad) and higher resolution. Is it more sensitive, more conducive to producing smooth strokes, etc?

    Thanks a lot.

    • Sergio Ordonez
      Posted at 21:53h, 08 December Reply

      Hi Arvin,

      Illustrator actually have a brush system, but I tried it a couple of times and desisted because it was a pain.
      Flash is really that good?

      No, I have no experience on the smallest Cintiq, I think the expense is worth if you have lot of work. Your productivity will increase a lot, if it´s just for a hobby I bet I would stick to the 12″ version.

  • Arvin
    Posted at 22:01h, 08 December Reply

    Flash’s brush system is very fast and a good compromise between having smooth lines but still feeling organic, in the way that Illustrator isn’t. Plus being able to fill and change colors easily since it’s vector is an advantage over Photoshop. If only its layer system (with annoying blending and transparency modes) were more like Photoshop’s.

    At some point in the future I’d love to see a video shot in live action of you doing your stuff… it’d be informative to see your hands, how big your gestures are, how fast your hands move. The screen capture paints only part of the picture!

  • Sergio Ordonez
    Posted at 21:42h, 08 December Reply

    Hi Toki, you are right.

    I don´t like Illustrator though it was some advantages, it´s too picky and very time consuming but the design is cleaner and there is no scalability problems. So I use Illustrator when:

    1.- The client demands it for any reason.
    2.- The client really need it, in case he plains to print really big.

    I usually charge a fee for vector illustration since it´s more time consuming. If you don´t plain to print really big stuff, the extra expense is not worth in my opinion.


  • ikaznarsis
    Posted at 02:24h, 09 December Reply

    wow, its cool!! i like this character, Mongkey cute!!

  • Sergio Ordonez
    Posted at 00:02h, 10 December Reply

    Hi Arvin, it´s a good idea I will think about it!

  • Adrius
    Posted at 00:39h, 12 December Reply

    Eres un genio!! tus videos me son de GRAN utilidad, te estoy muy agradecio! Saludos crack!

  • Rigomax
    Posted at 02:19h, 13 December Reply

    HOlas genial el videotutorial, me gustaria preguntarte algunas cosas lo que mas me llama la atención es el tipo de pincel que usas y si también utilizas una tablet y cual recomiendas si es así.

    un abrazo desde Chile.

    sigue adelante 🙂

    • Sergio Ordonez
      Posted at 02:52h, 13 December Reply

      Rodrigo, en el mismo video respondo a estas preguntas y algunas más, ya me cansé de repetirlo 🙂

  • Fer Osorio
    Posted at 07:05h, 15 December Reply

    Hey there Sergio

    I could say I’m one of your followers and students. Some months ago I practiced your tut for inking in photoshop and coloring in illustrator (you can see here my deviation I found your blog pretty much inspiring and motivating, as by the time I continue to practice my drawing and illustration. A thousand thanks for every piece of time you dedicate to us newbies.

  • javier hernandez
    Posted at 15:02h, 15 December Reply

    sergio sos el mejor, mi viejo!!!
    gracias por tus consejos, como soy empirico en este tema del photoshop, no sabia eso de los colores ahora, en el momento de aplicar el color a mis dibujos y diseños es diferente, gracias por tomarte el tiempo de ayudarme, muchas gracias, sergio, Dios tre bendiga, por dedicarnos tiempo a aquekllos que queremos convertir nuestra pasion en nuestro modo de existencia, muchas gracias!!! este post esta de lujo!!!!

  • antonio
    Posted at 07:58h, 12 February Reply

    hola sergio oyes por favor una ayuda me podrias decir en que direccion tienes un tutorial donde creo habla de creacion de personajes de 3 cabezas creo infantiles bueno espero me ayudes por favor

  • Adrymil
    Posted at 16:12h, 14 February Reply

    Buenas Sergio, quería hacerte una pregunta: ¿el registro de derechos o copyright de las mascotas que haces, corre por tu cuenta? por cuenta del cliente? ambos?. En el caso de que lo hagas tú, ¿cómo se hace?

    • Sergio Ordonez
      Posted at 01:08h, 15 February Reply

      Yo vendo (casi) todos los derechos, el cliente debería registrar tanto los diseños como sus marcas. En cualquier caso la ley protege la obra desde su creación, independientemente de que se registre, aunque el registro es la mejor prueba de que eres el autor legítimo. Sólo tienes que buscar una oficina de registro de la propiedad intelectual en tu ciudad, no suele ser muy caro, especialmente si agrupas varios diseños y los registras como recopilación.


      • Adrymil
        Posted at 21:45h, 15 February Reply

        Todo claro, gracias!!
        Saludos! 🙂

  • Pablo Sergio
    Posted at 03:06h, 04 March Reply

    Sergio son geniales tus tutoriales! gracias por enseñarnos de tus conocimientos.
    Soy estudiante de diseño y amo esta profesión..
    Saludos, Suerte.

  • Pedro Llanos
    Posted at 09:54h, 04 March Reply

    Se sabe algo de aquel esperadisimo “The World’s longest Photoshop coloring tutorial”


    • Sergio Ordonez
      Posted at 12:49h, 05 March Reply

      Lo siento Pedro, por ahora el rediseño de SOSFactory es la prioridad, no habrá contenido nuevo durante un tiempo, aunque como ves sigo atendiendo los comentarios.

  • Toki【ツ】
    Posted at 21:14h, 11 March Reply

    Hey Sergio,

    Can’t wait for video 3 to come out!


  • Akrep_484
    Posted at 17:03h, 12 March Reply

    hı Will you give me the psd files?

  • Andrés
    Posted at 23:04h, 13 March Reply

    Maestro sergio!!! muy bueno, saludos.

  • Gustavo Simas
    Posted at 16:59h, 16 March Reply

    Daaammnn! DAMNNNNNNNNNNNN! You guyss Help mee a Lot! THANXXXX so Fucking Much! I did knoww about thiss… just Awesomeee!

    Thanx guys! Really helps me!

    S.O.S Rockss! o/

  • Mónica
    Posted at 21:27h, 16 April Reply

    Me encantó ver los videos… creía que lo hacías de otra forma, pero entintas igual que lo hago yo!!! Veo que no iba por mal camino.

    Como siempre buen trabajo y gracias!


  • Rey Enok Madrid
    Posted at 06:16h, 23 April Reply

    Great stuff Sergio… like always

  • Israel
    Posted at 16:11h, 26 April Reply

    Hi sergio
    My question is:

    How you get so soft gradient?, I know that you make a lot of vectors but I don’t know get then soft.

    • Sergio Ordonez
      Posted at 09:44h, 27 April Reply

      Hi Israel, just practice 🙂

      • Israel
        Posted at 13:50h, 28 April Reply

        ok thanks, sorry my english

  • Lian Tluanga
    Posted at 10:28h, 27 April Reply

    Ima Numberone FAN 😀

  • Ronald L. Harris
    Posted at 21:11h, 04 May Reply

    These tutorial videos art really really good. I’m new at mascot design so this helps so much. Please keep the tutorials coming.

  • Phil Oliveira
    Posted at 17:26h, 02 June Reply

    Hey Sergio, Love this stuff!!! I have one question though. I’m using CS3 and I bring in my line art which I did in photoshop off a pencil/ink sketch. I live trace it  and expand it and this is where my problem lies… The line art becomes the “shape” meaning I can’t fill in the “planes” with flat color, the only color I can change is the line art it’s self… I can Live Paint it but that leaves a white “Halo” around everything. I’ve been racking my brain and the web for help so I figured I’d just ask you.

    Keep up the good work!!!



    • Sergio Ordonez
      Posted at 11:57h, 03 June Reply

      Click on the shape > right click > release compound path. 

      It certainly will change all shapes to black, change all of them – but the profile, the bigger one – to white. You will spend some time but it’s worth.

  • matias
    Posted at 12:34h, 15 June Reply

    hola sergio aparte de tus tutoriales, donde puedo aprender a colorear asi? algun recurso online conoces? gracias de antemano.

    • Sergio Ordonez
      Posted at 07:26h, 17 June Reply

      Para aprender cualquier cosa sólo necesitas dos cosas: pasión y dedicación.

  • Anonymous
    Posted at 07:03h, 19 June Reply

    Buenas. Primero agradecerte la ayuda que nos brindas con estos tutoriales y segundo me gustaría hacerte una consulta.
    Lo he estado buscando en los comentarios y en el vídeo tampoco me queda muy claro.¿Qué pincel y configuraciones de
    pincel utilizas para conseguir que los trazos terminen en una línea muy fina? No sé cómo explicarlo mejor pongo una imagen.

    Gracias. Un saludo.

    • Sergio Ordonez
      Posted at 09:24h, 20 June Reply

      No existe ningún pincel tan preciso. Echa un ojo al video, hago un trazo, después otro y luego con el borrador afilo el corte.

  • Davicho
    Posted at 17:17h, 01 July Reply

    Que sucede si en algun momento nesecitas animar la ilustracion en Flash? que proceso hicieras? me gustaria ver un video tutorial de esto

    • Sergio Ordonez
      Posted at 11:23h, 08 July Reply

      Pues que el cliente tendría que contratar a un animador que simplificara el personaje y creara las diferentes partes del personaje, con este nivel de detalle es imposible.

  • Benchscream
    Posted at 09:19h, 18 July Reply

    wow! idol!

  • jazz
    Posted at 06:02h, 21 August Reply

    hi! I both have adobe photoshop cs2 and adobe illustrator cs5.. i dont use them to edit photos, i use them to create art from a blank canvas im currently using paint tool sai bcoz it’s easy and simple but it lacks some tools that i need to enhance my work. im pretty good at sketching and drawing using pens and paper but im really not familiar with adobe programs  my 1st question is how can i draw in vector mode in photoshop? bcoz dont like to work in raster mode. 2nd is how can i remove the lines that appear when i use the blob brush tool in illustrator? hope you can help me.. bcoz i havent seen any online tutorials about it so far. thanks 

  • Tina
    Posted at 01:14h, 12 March Reply

    I see you’re controlling those gradients as if they were shapes with bezier handles.  Is that what that is or is there some trick to gradients in Illustrator because they’re just so unfamiliar to me compared to Photoshop gradients. Also, how did you change some of the black lineart to colored gradients like on the monkey’s ear? Looks to be a very good technique to make him look more natural and pop out.

    • Sergio Ordonez
      Posted at 00:12h, 16 March Reply

      Hi Tina, it’s not just you… I hate Illustrator, it’s ages behind Photoshop in terms of usability. I colored the lineart just by using a new shape in top of the black lineart, the secret tip is I duplicate the black shape, change the color and then cut it so it fits exactly in the original place.

  • YonkersDave
    Posted at 23:55h, 17 May Reply

    Is there a way to watch any of these tutorials in regular speed, without the music?

    You are amazing, by the way. 

    • Gritnz
      Posted at 02:39h, 27 June Reply

      I download the tutorials from youtube and used VLC video player. You can slow down the play back a little I found it easier to follow

      • Sergio Ordonez
        Posted at 14:53h, 11 July Reply

        Sorry, it’s not possible right now.

    • Sergio Ordonez
      Posted at 14:55h, 11 July Reply

      It’s like 15 hours of video… sorry it’s not possible.

  • Carlos Villanueva
    Posted at 01:13h, 26 May Reply

    Gracias! Estoy tomando en cuenta muchos de estos factores, el primero y principal.. ” no hay trabajo fácil”. Realmente toma tiempo y estoy empezando a usar mi tabla. Te felicito!

  • Gritnz
    Posted at 02:43h, 27 June Reply

    How long did it take you to do colorize this from start to finish?

    • Sergio Ordonez
      Posted at 14:52h, 11 July Reply

      Around 15 hours.

  • Maa Graphic1307
    Posted at 12:02h, 01 July Reply

    u r best

  • J Franc
    Posted at 00:13h, 15 August Reply

    10 horas para colorear este personaje? creo que eso aclara todo. 😀

  • kaenes
    Posted at 14:48h, 31 August Reply

    wow..really amazing tut!

  • Karen Mitchell
    Posted at 20:47h, 14 November Reply

    Thank you thank you thank you for sharing. Just what I needed to know!

  • Karen Mitchell
    Posted at 17:45h, 15 November Reply

    I would like to see it on slow motion so I cen see what your using for some steps!

  • Jerm
    Posted at 17:23h, 11 December Reply


    You continue to be a source of inspiration and information for us all! I’ve been drawing and graphic-designing most my life. I watched your tutorials on the cheeky monkey illustration and was super pumped on your inking technique in Photoshop. I’ve never made the switch to a tablet only because I’ve never used one that made me feel faster. Can you give me any suggestions on the size/brand that you prefer?

    Your Characters are RAD! While your insane skill makes me feel a bit novice, it is also inspiring and helps me remember that practice is the only way to get any better. Keep it up!


  • Jeancarlo Fontalvo Mejia
    Posted at 23:40h, 22 March Reply

    Hola, Sergio Dios Te bendiga, mira en el Video, no entinedo muy bien como coloreas el Lineart, es decir como le haces para remplazar el color de ciertas areas del trazo, asi como en photoshop…..Gracias de Antemano !!!

  • nothingness
    Posted at 14:51h, 03 June Reply

    PLz share video tutorials…

  • Suzan
    Posted at 11:44h, 13 March Reply

    Every details have been mentioned here with very careful mind. The steps are cleared with the images so well.

  • Solaiman Sumon
    Posted at 10:41h, 02 May Reply

    Great illustrator designing tutorial you have made and published with us . So much thanks for this well posting . Keep continue sharing , thanks .

  • Mindy
    Posted at 23:11h, 25 October Reply

    I couldn’t see the tips even with annotations on. Are they deleted or maybe I’m not doing it right?
    Anyway, is there any way you could briefly write the tips out for the video “12 tips to improve lineart in photoshop”?
    Thank you..!

    • sergio ordonez
      Posted at 09:46h, 26 October Reply

      It seems Youtube deleted them in one of their udpates 🙁 At the shop I have a premium masterclass about digital inking.

  • Mindy
    Posted at 05:52h, 01 November Reply

    Thanks so much for the reply!! I actually don’t own photoshop… but do you think the masterclass will still be useful?
    I need to design a mascot for a website, and I’m struggling with the canvas size to make it look good on the site, even when it’s zoomed in.

    • sergio ordonez
      Posted at 09:42h, 01 November Reply

      You are welcome Mindy 🙂

      The masterclasses are quite easy to follow, in order to create clean a crips lines you only need a good sketch and 2-3 tools (brush, eraser and optionally the history brush). Any free Photoshop version in the last 15 years will work for this purpose.

      Key is using a very high resolution canvas, I use around 10.000 x 10.000 px, when finished you can resize it down to the size you need and it will look cristal clear.

      Good luck!

  • Robert
    Posted at 05:41h, 22 September Reply

    You are a genious!! Your videos are of GREAT use to me, I am very grateful to you! i love your avatar too…

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How to become a Professional Mascot Designer?

I created some masterclasses with all my Photoshop tips and tricks about digital inking and digital coloring for mascot design. With my technique and some practice you can also make a living from the characters you imagine.