In the spirit of Halloween (pardon the pun) we’re going to draw a basic bat using Adobe Illustrator. Later on, we will import the bat into Adobe After Effects. OK, so let’s get started!
Step 1 – Document setup
Open Adobe Illustrator and make a new document (File -> New) making the size 1920 x 1080 pixels. Name this file Bat.
Step 2 – Setting up the Grids and Guides
To make things a little easier, we’re going to set up gridlines. Go to Edit -> Preferences and choose Guides and Grids. Set grid to 72 and subdivisions to 6. You won’t be able to see the grid lines until you go to View -> Show Grid
*note: some people find it helpful to use Snap to Grid. To turn this on go to View-> Snap to Grid.
Step 3 – Making the Bat’s wing
Now we’re going to use the Pen Tool to make the bat’s wing. Make sure you have the color set to NO FILL & aBLACK STROKE. It is also EXTREMELY important to go ahead and get in the habit of naming all your layers before you start. Please rename Layer 1 to: Wing_Right.
Step 4 – Making the Bat’s Wing
To use the pen tool you’re going to click and drag to make a curve. To make a point you just click. If you are in the middle of a curve and need to make a point, you hold down alt. By following the picture below, let’s make our bat wing! The red arrows are where you’re dragging the Pen Tool. The Blue lines are the other handles that you can adjust afterwards with the Direct Selection Tool. To close the shape you simply click on your beginning point.
*note: you can always go back and adjust the curves and points with the Direct Selection Tool so it doesn’t need to be perfect.
Step 5 – Changing color
We need to fill his wing with color now and take away the stroke. Click on your fill color and for this tutorial we used color #3e3a49. This way he will show up against a black night sky! 🙂
Step 6 – Reflect Tool
Using your Selection Tool, select the wing. Since we want to make his wings symmetrical we’re just going to make a flipped copy. In your Tool Box you will find the Reflect Tool hiding under your Rotate Tool. Double click on the Reflect Tool. We will be flipping it over the Vertical Axis. Now, instead of clicking OK, click Copy. Now we need to move it with the Selection Tool where it will be across from the other wing.
*note: If you hold down shift while using the Selection Tool, it will move it in a straight line.
Step 7 – The importance of Layers
The only problem with this is that now both wings are on the same layer! OH NO! Let’s go ahead and make a new layer in the layers palette and name it Wing_Left. Select the left wing and if you’ll notice in the layer’s palette there is a little blue box to the right of where it says Wing_Right. Click and drag that box up to the Wing_Left layer.
IMPORTANT NOTE: EVERY NEW PIECE YOU MAKE SHOULD HAVE IT’S OWN LAYER AND NAMED APPROPRIATELY!!!
Step 8 – Body for your Bat
Now we need to give our bat a body. Make a new layer and rename it Body. Using the Ellipse Tool, draw an oval for his body. Make a new Layer and name it Head and draw an oval for his head.
*note: If you hold down Alt, you can draw your oval from the center where your crosshair is (like directly between the bat wings).
Step 9 – Bat Ears
You betcha! While we’re at it, let’s go ahead and give him pointy ears. Make a new layer and name it Ear_Right. Using the Ellipse Tool draw a tall oval for his ear and line it up with the side of his head. Now we need to make it pointy! In the Tool Box, under the Pen Tool you will find a tool called Convert Anchor Point Tool (or Shift+C). Click the top most point of the ear and voila!
Step 10 – Two Ears?
Now we need to duplicate that ear so he has two! While you have the right ear selected with your Selection Tool, hold down Alt and you’ll find your cursor looking like a double arrow. While holding Alt drag the selection to the left and line that ear up with the left side of his head!
Step 11 – Left not Right, or is it Right not Left?
Once again we have the problem of both of his ears being on the same layer, which is a BIG problem when you’re trying to animate things individually. Create a new layer and name it Ear_Left. Using your Selection Tool (V), select the left ear. In your layer’s palette you’ll see the little colored box to the right of where it says Ear_Right, drag that little box up to the Ear_Left layer.
Step 12 – Bat legs Anyone?
We’re going to give the illusion that he has little legs. Let’s use our Direct Selection Tool to select the bottom most point on his body and either drag it up or use your arrow keys to nudge it upwards. You can also pull the handles out to touch the handles coming down to give it a little more shape.
*note: if you hold down shift while using the arrow keys it will go 10 pixels instead of just 1.
Step 13 – Batty feet
Let’s make our next layer and name it Foot_Right. Using our Pen Tool, draw his little foot using the method we did for the wing. Use the Selection Tool to select the right foot, double click on the Reflect Tool and make a vertical copy. Once the copy is made, position it onto his left leg. Again, we’re going to have to make a new layer and name it Foot_Left, then we need to select that foot and look at the layers palette, to the right of Foot_Right drag the little colored box up to the Foot_Left layer. (can this wording be any more confusing, plz? lol)
Step 14 Eye see you!
The only thing we have left is to make his eyes and mouth! We create his eyes simply using the Ellipse Tool. Remember to make a new layer for each eye!
*note: You already know that if you hold down Alt it will draw the ellipse from the center point, but if you also hold down Shift it will make it a perfect circle!
Step 15 My Big Bat Mouth
Make a new layer named Mouth and we will use the Pen Tool to make a little curved mouth and do 3 simple clicks to make a little pointy fang. You can duplicate that fang easily. Use your selection tool to select the fang and while holding alt, click and drag the fang. It made a copy!
Voila! You have your bat!
The next blog will demonstrate how to animate a similarly designed bat character using Adobe After Effects.
Meet Boppy the Bat! 2D animation just in time for Halloween!