In this lesson, you will learn to create a cute raccoon cartoon filled with shadows, highlights and reflections. I will show you how to turn a basic character made from a long rectangular shape and simple details into an appealing 3D-like illustration. If you are able to use a vector application to draw this cartoon animal, then the task will be much easier.
First, you can draw a few straight and curved lines to create the head, the ears, the body, the feet and the tail of the character. Don't forget to add two large rectangles on both sides of the head. To add more personality to the drawing, you can also make sure the tail is short and pointed. Both feet are made from one curved line and a straight one.
Using two small circular shape, you can illustrate the eyes just between the top of both triangles. Pupils are made from small dots. Below the eyes, you can draw the nose using a medium oval shape. The mouth is done using a short curved line. Then, you can work on the arms using broken lines. Hands are made from irregular shapes.
Inside the ears, you can draw two small curved lines to form the patches. Some hair is also visible on top of the head. Two pointed stripes are created around the eyes. A long patch is also draw on the chest of the raccoon cartoon illustration. Some lines are sketched inside the tail to separate colors and short lines are drawn inside the hands and the feet.
Inside the cartoon character, add some colors as shown in the illustration below. You can use a small variety of grey colors. Darker elements are added inside the tail, around the eyes, inside the pupils, on the hands and the feet. Brighter colors are found inside the patches of the ears and on the chest.
This raccoon cartoon illustration is pretty cool so far, but why not make it even more realistic? First, we can play with color gradients by adding some darker areas in strategic places. For instance, the bottom part of the body can be darker while the top is brighter. The same logic can be used on all sections of the tail.
Even if the result is pretty subtle, some color gradients are also added inside both patches found around the eyes and on the feet. The nose is also darker on the bottom as shown below.
Do you want to create more volume inside this illustration? Great! Let's draw some shadows manually using additional shapes. You can create these subtle shadows inside the ears, on the left of the forehead, below the patches, on the chest and below the arm located inside the character. Make sure all these new elements are partially transparent to end up with a realistic result.
Highlights and reflections are also useful to create more depth inside a character like this raccoon cartoon illustration. Unlike shadows drawn previously, these new shapes must be colored in white and be partially transparent on the bottom. You can see all these new additions with a blue or pink outline below.
Below you can see the final result once all digital effects are created. Notice how the animal feels real and genuine. We can almost touch this one! Creating a beautiful 2D illustration (that feels like a 3D picture) is quite easy using today's vector applications. All tools are easy to use and rendering a perfect cartoon character like our small cartoon friend below is accessible to anyone.
These are all eight steps required to draw this animal quickly and effectively. Since this animal is made from basic shapes and can be duplicated very easily, why not try different postures, facial expressions or just play with colors and textures? Just keep on drawing and have fun creating! :)