For illustrator Meni Tzima of the famed online site Yupyland, a character is born the moment you imagine it. Here’s how she creates her wonderful character art using Adobe Illustrator.

Meni Tzima knows all about cute. And scary. She has specialized in crafting cutesy, often strange characters from her virtual Yupyland haunt since 2003 – and deploys a range of techniques to breathe life into her creations.

She has created art for children’s books, clothes and products – and her characters are increasingly finding a home in corporate work.

For this masterclass, Meni reveals how she created the character above from initial sketch through to working in Adobe Illustrator. The masterclass draws on vector art skills, exploring the power of various stroke techniques.

One key area often overlooked by character designers is the importance of the palette used in Illustrator. Here, Meni guides you through palette creation, drawing on Adobe Illustrator’s built-in specialized palettes. And, as she says, the point is to have fun when working and continue to experiment in character design.

Step 1
First, we’re going to sketch the character. Grab your pencils and have some fun. Try to bring out on paper the character that you imagined and start producing the rough sketches.

Our character will probably be sketched several times before we’re satisfied with the result. Don’t be afraid to experiment and mess up with your sketchbook, a messy sketchbook is better than an empty one, and of course, practice makes perfect!

Step 2
Before scanning in your sketch, it is important to keep the final sketch clean, so later we can easily trace it in Illustrator. You can use a light box to trace the image on a new piece of paper, or use a tracing paper. When the sketch is transferred, improve the sketch where needed.