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Make a Cartoony Pencil in Illustrator

Cartoony Pencil
Cartoony Pencil
I am currently working with a client who asked me to revise a logo concept I had drawn in Illustrator to be more cartoony or hand-drawn. He thought the original drawing looked too much like clip art. He was right. Luckily, I knew a technique to achieve this cartoony feel. I’ll show you how to begin with the even strokes that Illustrator creates when you draw, and transform them into looser, variable lines.


Notice how even the strokes are in the logo concept below on the left. The revision on the right has an unevenness that creates a more casual, cartoony feel. It has more personality.

Even Outlines vs. Looser Outlines
Even Outlines vs. Looser Outlines

We’ll work with an image of a pencil, but this technique will work with any vector drawing that has outlines. You will need a basic skill with the Pen tool to draw the initial pencil image.

 

Draw a Pencil

  1. Set your Fill to none, and your Stroke to black.
  2. Select the Pen tool (Press P on your keyboard).
Pen Tool, Fill and Stroke
Pen Tool, Fill and Stroke
  1. Draw a basic pencil shape.
Basic Pencil Shape
Basic Pencil Shape
  1. Add a few details.
Add Details
Add Details
  1. Select all: Ctrl+A (Mac: Cmd+A).
  2. Open the Stroke panel (Window > Stroke).
  3. Increase the stroke weight. I chose 7pt.
7pt Stroke
7pt Stroke
  1. Change the strokes into outlines: Object > Path > Outline Stroke.
Outline Stroke
Outline Stroke
  1. Let’s make the pencil all one piece. Open the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder ).
  2. Alt+Click on the “Add to shape area” icon.
Expand Shape
Expand Shape
  1. Now rotate the pencil a bit to add some movement. Double-click on the Rotate tool in the Tools panel.
  2. Enter a degree of rotation. I chose 30.
  3. Press V to select your Move tool, and click somewhere outside of your drawing.
Rotate the Pencil
Rotate the Pencil
  1. So there’s our basic clip art pencil. We’ll make it cartoony on the next page. Save your file.

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