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Turn a doodle into an illustrator character in 5 minutes or less

Using the Illustrator live paint tool

  • 1 October 2020
  • Author: Sharon ONeill
  • Number of views: 3251

Are you a doodler? Is the back of your notepad filled with drawings of little creatures and pocket monsters? It could be fun to turn those drawings into fully realised characters for posters and postcards. One of our own in-house obsessive doodlers shows you how to turn those drawings into brightly coloured vector art in no time.

There are many ways of doing this. But if you’re doing it quickly for fun, this method works quite well. Firstly I grab one of my scribbles, I have a little Cherry character here, and place it in a blank A4 illustrator page [file > place]

Once placed and selected, buttons appear across the top of the screen. In this case, it’s the ‘image trace’ button we’re after. Next to that is a drop down list with some pre-set options. As this is a sketch I’ll go for ‘sketched art’.


There are several settings here, but we’ll focus on the ‘threshold’ slider. My drawing has a few gaps in it where the tracing isn’t perfect. I can adjust the threshold slider to close the gaps.

When you are happy with the results, push the button at the top of the screen marked ‘expand’. Your drawing is now vector art.

Here’s the neat trick. We can use the ‘live paint’ tool to liven it up. This tool has been around a while, but some don’t know what it is good at. In this case it’s a perfect way to quickly add colour to the artwork. Select your art and choose the ‘live paint bucket tool’. Click on the art to turn it into a ‘live paint group’.

(hint: if you de-select the art at this point it can be slightly easier to see what the paint bucket is doing for the next part).

With the live bucket tool in action, you will see areas of your art ‘light up’ with a soft reddish outline. As each area lights up, click with the bucket to add your chosen colours.

Once you are done colouring in your character you can add details, such as leaves, or backgrounds.


You may be interested in our Illustrator courses:

Adobe Courses at New Horizons Ireland

At New Horizons Ireland we provide a wide range of Adobe courses to boost your design skills. Our certified and highly experienced instructor delivers training which is focused on exercises and practices, so you will finish the class more confident to apply the knowledge.

Contact one of our Account Managers today to know more about our courses. They are ready to give you the best advice accordingly with your career goals.


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