Intro

We recently interviewed Dutch illustrator and design Martijn Rijven about how he created the mascot for Mozilla’s Firefox OS smartphone platform. Here he details his creative process for producing animals that embody specific human characteristics or ideals, to help you design flexible characters that could be used across a client’s identity.

For this tutorial, Martijn details how he would produce an illustrated mascot to serve as part of a larger branding concept for an importer of African coffee and coco beans. He has created this depiction of a lion, which in its pose and demeanour is meant to represent nobility, pride, aspiration and achievement, but it also has to be nimble and active.

First off, he demonstrates how he uses a pencil and paper to explore posture and different styles to communicate the characteristics requested in the brief. Martijn covers everything from stance and facial expression to colouring and style. He then explains how he produced the artwork in Illustrator. Martijn builds it up using layered vector shapes and Pathfinder functions – before colouring using semi-transparent gradients and blending modes. 

This tutorial can help you develop a character that needs to portray certain human characteristics, and develop it in a way so it will be usable for print. 

Time to complete 

Exploration and sketching, 12 hours, Vectors and colouring, 5 hours

Tools

Illustrator CS3 or later