Create a Cartoon Skull Vector in Adobe Illustrator

Cartoon Skull Sticker VectorToday we will be creating a cartoon skull vector  in Adobe Illustrator using various tools like the Shape tool, the Pen tool, and we’ll also get familiar with the pathfinder window. So let’s get started!

Difficulty: Beginner/Intermediate

Topics Covered: Shape Tools, Pen Tool, Pathfinder

Estimated Completion Time: 1.5 – 2 hours

Final Image: Cartoon Skull Sticker Vector

Here’s what we’ll be making!

Cartoon Skull Sticker Vector

Step 1: Cartoon Skull Sticker Vector

Create a new document. Using the Ellipse Tool (L) draw 5 intersecting circles as shown in the image to create the general shape of your cartoon skull vector. The black circle will be the head, the red one – cheek bones and the yellow – teeth.
face shapes

Step 2

Select all five shapes with the Selection Tool (V) and by using the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder) merge them all together by clicking on the Unite icon.
Cartoon Skull Sticker Vector

Step 3

Set your stroke to round caps and corners in the Stroke panel (Window > Stroke). I also set my stroke weight to 4pt.
Cartoon Skull Sticker Vector

Step 4

We need to find the exact center of the skull shape so that it would help us place other details of the illustration better.

To do this first enable your rulers by pressing the Command/Control + R or by going to View > Rulers > Show Rules.

Cartoon Skull Sticker Vector
Select your cartoon skull sticker vector shape to see the top and bottom anchor points. Click and drag a rule from the vertical ruler and place it on top of these anchor points.
Cartoon Skull Sticker Vector

Now you can turn off the rulers again (Command/Control + R)

To switch on and off the guide remember the keyboard combination Command/Control + ;

Step 5

Let’s draw the eyes. Choose the Ellipse Tool (L) and draw an ellipse where one of the eyes will be.
Cartoon Skull Sticker Vector

Keep the ellipse selected and choose the Reflect Tool (O). Now press down on the Option/Alt key and click with the reflection cursor directly on the guide we set up previously. A Reflect panel will appear. Set the axis to vertical and click the ‘Copy’ button to copy the eye on the other side of the skull.
Cartoon Skull Sticker Vector

Now we have two eye holes.
Cartoon Skull Sticker Vector

Step 6

Next – the nose. Create a new layer for the nose, just to keep it clean.

(1.) Draw a circle with the Ellipse Tool (L).

(2.) Copy this circle by pressing down on the Option/Alt key and dragging the circle with the Selection Tool (V) and place it next to the first circle.

(3.) Now select the Pen Tool (P ) and draw the shape as shown in the image below.

(4.) Like in the Step 2, use the Pathfinder panel to merge all three shapes together.
face shapes
When you have the heart shape nose, rotate it “feet up”, scale it down (or up) and place it where it should be (use the guide to locate the center of the skull).
Cartoon Skull Sticker Vector

Step 7

Now in you layers panel locate the skull shape, select it, copy it (Command/Control + C) and then paste it in back (Command/Control + B).
Cartoon Skull Sticker Vector

Step 8

Next, turn off the front skull for a moment and set the back skull (the one we just pasted in back) and set the fill color to black and no stroke.
Cartoon Skull Sticker Vector

Step 9

Turn back on the top skull with the white fill, but keep the black skull selected. Now go to Object > Path > Offset Path.
Cartoon Skull Sticker Vector
In my case 10px offset worked well. Then click ‘OK’.
Cartoon Skull Sticker Vector

Step 10

Now you have a thick black stroke around the cartoon skull sticker vector. Lock the black skull shape for now.

Select the eyes and nose and set the fill to black and no stroke.
fill negative space

Step 11

It’s time to add some details the the skull. Create a new layer on top of all other layers and by using the Pen Tool start drawing shapes to make the skull less flat and more detailed.

skull details
Since both sides of our skull are the same, save time by adding details only to one side of the skull. We will reflect them in the next step to the other side.
Cartoon Skull Sticker Vector

Step 12

Select all of the details you just made and again by using the Reflect Tool (O), hold down the Option/Alt key and click on the guide to plant the refection center. Click “Copy” to reflect the details to the other side. If they do not align for some reason, nudge them in place with the arrow keys.
Cartoon Skull Sticker Vector
This is how my skull ended up.
Cartoon Skull Sticker Vector

Step 13

Since it’s a cartoon skull, it might as well have eye-balls so that it could see.

Zoom in on the eye holes and use the Ellipse Tool again to draw an eye-ball. Mine will be blue with a black pupil and a white spark.

Step 14

Select the eyeball and Option/Alt drag it to the other side to copy it.

As you can see I drew a crack as well using the Pen Tool (P ).
skull crack

Step 15

I made a new layer, dragged it below the eye layer and by using the Pen Tool (P )and a light gray color added some dark areas to give the skull a bit more dimension.
skull dimension

Step 16

Our cartoon skull sticker vector is done! Now we need some background action!

Make a new layer, drag it to the bottom of your layers panel and with the Rectangle Tool (M), make a violet square for the background.
background color
Now take the Pen Tool (P ) and create a blob shape in the middle of your violet rectangle just to add some interest to the final piece.
background details

Step 17

The only thing left to do is to make the skull into a sticker. Find and select the black skull shape.
Cartoon Skull Sticker Vector
We will again offset it. Go to Object > Path > Offset Path. Tick the ‘Preview’ to see the offset. For me 20px worked well. Click “OK” when done.
skull outline
Change the color of this new shape to white fill, no stroke.
Cartoon Skull Sticker Vector

Final Step

I wanted to add a shadow effect to the sticker as if one side isn’t glued on the background yet. To do this simply select the white shape we create in the previous step, copy it (Command/Control + C) then paste it in back (Command/Control + B). Without deselection it, change the color of it to the same as the dark violet background and by using the arrow keys on your keyboard, nudge the shadow shape to the left and down a few clicks.
Cartoon Skull Sticker Vector


We are all done and have created a little, cool skull sticker! Hope you liked it and see you next time!
Cartoon Skull Sticker Vector

Tutorial by Tanita Makena

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13 thoughts on “Create a Cartoon Skull Vector in Adobe Illustrator

  1. You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this
    topic to be actually something which I think I would never
    understand. It seems too complex and extremely broad for me.
    I’m looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to
    get the hang of it!

  2. In inclusion, you could expect enhancement tasks to price you even more for the extra preparing required.

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