Create a Cute Panda Bear Face Icon

Create a Cute Panda Bear FaceLately, I have been working on some children illustrations, creating some über cute creatures. In the following easy tutorial, I’ll show you how to create a cute panda bear face icon all from ellipses (well, actually there is one rectangle for the background). The great part about this tutorial, is that you can easily apply the techniques to other icons, illustrations, logos, or other projects.

Notes

This tutorial was created with Adobe Illustrator CS4, but you should be able to create the tutorial in other Illustrator CS versions.

Final Image

Below is what the illustration will look like when we are done.

Final Image

Step 1

First, create an ellipse with the Ellipse tool (L). Next, with the Direct Selection tool (A), select the bottom anchor point of the ellipse and drag it up about one fourth the way up the ellipse.

Step 1

Step 2

With the ellipse selected, create a radial gradient from the gradient panel. Make the first Color Stop in the radial gradient white and the second Color Stop a light grey. Within the gradient panel, click on the Midpoint Indicator on the Gradient Slider and move it right, closer to the light gray swatch, making the white area of the gradient bigger.

Step 2

Step 3

Copy (Command + C) the ellipse and Paste in Front (Command + F). Next, scale down the copied ellipse to a third of it’s original size with the Selection tool (V). Still using the Selection tool (V), move the copy up to the top left side of the original ellipse and rotate the copy about 20 degrees to the left. This will be the first ear shape.

Step 3

Step 4

Select the ear shape and change the gradient to a Linear Gradient from the Gradient panel. Change the first Color Stop to black and the second Color Stop to a dark grey color. Move the Midpoint Indicator on the Gradient Slider to mid-point of the two swatches. Next, send the copied ellipse to the back by choosing Object > Arrange > Send to Back (Command + Shift + [ ).

Step 4

Step 5

Select the ear shape, Copy (Command + C), and Paste in Front (Command + F). With the Selection tool (V) scale the copy down slightly, squish it horizontally, and place to the lower left side of the first ear shape. Next, press the Reverse Gradient icon in the Gradient panel.

Step 5

Step 6

Select both ear shapes, Copy (Command + C), and Paste in Front (Command + F). With the copies still selected, go Object > Transform > Reflect and chose Vertical from the Reflect dialog. Next, move the copied ear shapes over to the right side of the face shape.

Step 6

Step 7

Create an ellipse over the panda face where you want the eyes to go. Fill the ellipse with the same linear gradient as the first ear shape. With the Gradient tool (G), click on the top of the ellipse and drag down, making the darker part of the gradient appear at the top of the ellipse.

Step 7

Step 8

Use the Direct Selection tool (A) and move the bottom anchor point down and slightly to the left. Next move the the top anchor point slightly to the left.

Step 8

Step 9

Within the first eye shape, draw another ellipse and fill it with a linear gradient. For this gradient we are going to need three Color Stops in the gradient. To add a Color Stop to the gradient slider, simply click right below the gradient slider in-between the first two swatches. Change the first Color Stop to a dark grey, the second Color Stop to black, and the third Color Stop to a grey color. Use the Gradient tool (G) and adjust the gradient by click at the top of the shape and dragging to the bottom.

Step 9

Step 10

Copy (Command + C) the newest ellipse and Paste in Front (Command + F). With the Selection tool (V) scale the ellipse down slightly so you can still see the three Color Stop gradient ellipse behind it. Next, use the Eyedropper tool (I) and sample the original white radial gradient from the panda face.

Step 10

Step 11

Copy (Command + C) the white eye ellipse and Paste in Front (Command + F). Scale the it down and move it the right slightly. Next, change the first Color Stop in the gradient to a dark cyan color and the second Color Stop to a cyan color.

Step 11

Step 12

Copy (Command + C) the cyan ellipse and Paste in Front (Command + F). Scale it down and change the first Color Stop to black and the second Color Stop to a dark grey color.

Step 12

Step 13

Draw three white ellipses over the eyes shapes to create some highlights.

Step 13

Step 14

Copy (Command + C) all the eye shapes and Paste in Front (Command + F). Next, go Object > Transform > Reflect, select the Vertical radial button, and press OK. Move the copied shapes to the right.

Step 14

Step 15

Draw an oblong ellipse in-between and towards the bottom of the eyes. Use the Eyedropper tool (I) and sample the gradient of the inner ear shape.

Step 15

Step 16

With the new nose ellipse selected, go Effect > Warp > Arc. In the Warp dialog change the Bend to -40% and press OK.

Step 16

Step 17

Copy (Command + C) the main white panda shape and Paste in Front (Command + F). Squish the copied shape horizontally to the width of the nose shape. Next squish the copy vertically. Change the gradient of the copy to a linear gradient and make the last Color Stop on the slider and darker grey. Next, adjust the gradient so the lighter part of the gradient is at the top of the shape.

Step 17

Step 18

Draw an ellipse with the right anchor point roughly in the middle of the nose shape. Copy (Command + C) the ellipse and Paste in Front(Command + F). Move the copy up and to the left slightly. Select both ellipses and press the Minus Front button in the Pathfinder panel and change the color of the shape to a grey color.

Step 19

Step 19

Select the mouth shape and go Object > Arrange > Send Backward (Command + [). Do this a couple of times until the mouth shape is behind both nose shapes. Next, Copy (Command + C) the mouth shape and Paste in Front (Command + F). With the mouth shape selected, go Object > Transform > Reflect, select the Vertical radial button, and press OK. Move the copied shape to the right, creating the other side of the mouth.

Step 19

Step 20

Create an ellipse close to the end of the left mouth shape. Fill the ellipse with a radial gradient, with the first Color Stop a light pink color and the second Color Stop white. Next, set the Blending Mode to Multiply from the Transparency panel. Copy (Command + C) the pink ellipse, Paste in Front (Command + F), and move to the other side of the mouth.

Step 20

Step 21

Select the all the shapes in the panda face and go Object > Group. With the group selected, go Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. With the Drop Shadow dialog open, change the Opacity to 50, the X Offset to 0, the Y Offset to .05 in, the Blur to .07 in, and press OK.

Step 21

Step 22

Create a rectangle bigger than the panda face and fill it with a radial gradient. Make the first Color Stop white, and choose a different color for the second Color Stop.

Step 22

Final Image

All done! Wasn’t that easy? This tutorial is a good example of how some simple shapes can create a compelling illustration. Moreover, you can easily apply these techniques to other illustrations, logos, and projects!

Final Image

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188 thoughts on “Create a Cute Panda Bear Face Icon

    • I’ve seen Zoom-Eyed Creatures before and they are awesome!

      The panda wasn’t initially inspired by them, but they probably crept up in my subconscious when creating it.

      The panda came from some children illustration that I have been doing lately.

  1. Great Tut!

    Can i just asked why you chose to reverse the lighting reflections in the eyes… wouldn’t these be the same in both eyes? I know i’m being a bit picky as it’s an illustration and the realism isn’t really an issue but you’ve clearly gone to a lot of effort with the gradients to give the impression of shading and light and the reflections would be a part of that no?

    That aside though, excellent tut. Love the detail! Thanks.

      • Having the assymetrical highlights to the inside of each eye ball actually makes the light look like it is right above and in front of the panda. It adds innocence in the eyes. Only if the light source were to the left or right would the reflections in the eyes be symmetrical. Thanks for the tuts –an art teacher

      • Realism does not matter, as long as I can learn clearly about gradient.

        Question: How to attach a picture in the ‘Reader’ box?

        Thanks.

  2. Thank you for the tutorial but my question to you is that I do believe that the panda is not actually a bear; to call it a panda bear would be wrong. I do understand that the giant Chine’s panda bear has recently been re-classified as a bear but I’m not sure that this tutorial picture is of a giant panda.
    Many thanks

    • Ah, but it’s still correct English to call it a “Panda Bear”, just as it is a “Flying Squirrel” instead of a “Sort-of-Gliding Squirrel”. It’s just one of those funny things. ;-)

  3. thanks a lot showing each simpel step of the character design. Many tutorials usually don’t have all the details, so its super to see ypu explaining each little step – keep up the great style ;)

  4. Nice tutorial! I’m going to see about repurposing some of the techniques for a little illustration I’m doing. If I have any success at all I’ll send you the results. :)

    • I repurposed this tutorial in a first attempt to make some stylized “characters” for my family blog. I think it turned out great, even if I don’t end up using them in the end… the lesson was well worth it!

      Just thought you’d like to know that the lesson wasn’t lost on me. :) (as noted in the blog post, though… whoops on not using the right monitor for the job!)

      http://blog.monkey-house.ca/2009/whos-that-cute-redhead/

  5. ahh! thank you so much, i just created my first vector ever using this tutorial, it was ALOT easier then i thought!
    –Leah

  6. Hi! great tutorial, very helpful, but I can´t customize the gradients settings, I put it on Radial (step 4) and doesn´t look like the tutorial image. and 2) Reverse gradiente doesn´t works in Illustrator CS or yes?

  7. Thanxs for show how to create this pretty panda bear!!!
    it was very easy for me!

    thanxs again!
    nice tuto!
    ^_^

  8. I did not find this tutorial easy at all, as a complete beginner I thought you should have explained each step’s commands more, as a result, Not having a clue what I had to do, I quit not long after step 5…

    • Hi DJ!

      Maybe you can attend an Illus class (with a person) once, then practice along tutorials.

      Much appreciation to this detailed guide.

      Pat

  9. Thanks!! You have made me want to learn Illustrator!! :) Heck, this panda took me a good 2 hours to do (I am definately a beginner!) but it was fun! :)

  10. Oh and to the person that quit after step 5, there were a lot of things I was unclear on throughout the tutorial but realized it was my own fault for not reading his instructions better.

    • I just noticed, in step 20, is there any particular reason for setting the blush to multiply?

      I saved the the finished thing as SVG and noticed that the edges of the blush were white instead of blending in properly as in Illustrator. So I just changed the opacity of the white stop to 0% and changed the opacity of the pink one accordingly and that seemed to have fixed the problem.

  11. Great! Great tutorial!
    I’m new in illustrator and this tut. is very great to learn the basic of shapes,degrades… Thanks! I’ve do a Panda Bear with body and bamboo but using your desing of face. Thanks again!

  12. Very good tutorial. Only one constructive critique, namely the reflection in the panda’s eyes shouldn’t be mirrored. Light refelected from the eyes cannot be symetrical. Other then that, it looks great :)

    Cheers,

    Aka

  13. wow thanku very much for beautiful tutorial i loved it..good work…I want to know how to use blend tools & mesh tools illustrator for gradient or good effects. please do reply..

    thanku

  14. Thank you very much for the tutorial. This is the first tutorial I tried as I started learning illustrator now, and I can’t believe that I made that! This is just because of you.. Thanks again!

  15. Cool Tutorial.
    If u interested, u can make your own panda in 3D as well.

    Check this out:
    http://www.zakkaimport.com

    Panda Babes: Do It Yourself (DIY): Art and Crafts: Perfect educational product for families and schools: 360 Joint Design: DIY Mess Free: Kids Friendly Design: No Glue, No Cutting, No extra tools require to assemble: Perfect Panda Gift

    • Couldn’t find a way to comment, only reply….

      Anyway, thanks for the great tutorial. It is really appreciated. I was able to make my first Illustrator item :)

    • thanks for a great tutorial my panda looks so cute i’m definily gonna come back here for more tips thanks i luv this website i’m gonna be back tomorrow

  16. This is a really great tutorial for beginners, i Learnt a lot of new things and jeesh! I felt so proud that i finally created something that looked like what i saw in all those design sites, Thanks! :)

  17. Heya just wanted to give you a quick heads up
    and let you know a few of the pictures aren’t loading correctly. I’m
    not sure why but I think its a linking issue. I’ve tried it in two different browsers and both show the same outcome.

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