Create Courage, The Cowardly Dog in Illustrator

I don't know about you guys, but Cartoon Network was like the Disney of the Tv channels when I was a kid, such a big range of awesome series and characters. So today I decided to pick one of them and highlight on a tutorial. I know some of you may not be familiar with Courage so here's a brief video that explains a bit this hilarious character.

I would say this tutorial it's half a case-study and half a tutorial, I'm just saying that before someone may complain of the fast pacing on some parts. Anyway, If you're used with my illustration tutorials, this will not be a big deal, please have fun.

Step 1

Ok, let's begin opening Illustrator, create a 31 x 23 cm canvas. Let's begin with the background.

Using the rectangle tool (M) create two big rectangles and thin one between then, just like the sample bellow.

Select the upper one and go to the gradient panel, create a golden radial gradient on it, use the gradient tool (G) to posicionate it on the right place.

Add another gradient on the lower big rectangle, use the previous tool to place it on the correct place.

I decided to apply a pattern on the upper one in order to make it look more like a grandma house ambient. You can get this texture here.

Later I used the blending mode multiply, with the texture over the previous gradient.

I also decided to apply some wood texture on the ground, go it on the same place.

Yeah and as you can see, i did the same with the thinner one, just watch for the bleding modes and the gradient directions.

Step 2

So, I did a rough sketch of what I would like to obtain, the main concept was to make Courage's shadow a frightening demon image. Also, trying to make the best use of the lightning. Create a exclusive layer for the shadows (command + L / ctrl + L)

Ok, let's start by the shadow, using the pen tool (P) start by the leg and elbow, the shadow got a refraction on the wall, that's why it look like bend on the half.

Before proceeding on the rest of the drawing, you should give attention to the hands, since as most people know, some hands can be very tricky to draw.

Ok, then draw the rest of the body as the original sketch. Paste the hand you created, duplicate, reflect and resize it to the other side, then use the pathfinder option called Unite to make then and the body one piece. Unite the legs also.

Use the pen tool (P) to create the demonic ways, it's pretty much just like drawing triangles, don't forget to add a bit of perpective on it.

After that, draw the sharpy teeth mouth, then select both mouth, eyes and body, go to the pathfinder panel and use the option called Minus Front.

Finally, add a black to white gradient to the shadow, use the gradient tool (G) to place it correctly. Then use the Multiply blending mode to make it look like a real shadow.

Step 3

Ok, let's skip to the main part, first create a exclusive layer for him (command + L / ctrl + L). Start by making a circle on the belly using the ellipse tool (L).

Make a circle and use the previous shape to make a clipping mask over it.

Drae the tail using the pen tool (P)

Use the ellipse tool (L) to create the eyeballs.

And the pupils.

Make the head using the rounded rectangle tool

Use a simple circle to make the cheek.

And also to make his lips

Draw his nose using the pencil tool (N).

Use the previous tool to make the ears.

Draw the sad eyebrowns using the pen tool (P), just make sure they loo like damn scared.

Use a ellipse and sharpy shape to create the mouth.

Use the pen tool (P) to trace the rest of the snout.

The leg it's quite simple: Make it using the pen tool (P), then using the ellipse tool (L) make the fingers, use the selection tool (V) to adjust them.

Then you're going to just redo this process three times again.

Now let's start blending the shapes, first start by the feet, select all shapes and use the Unite option at pathfinder panel.

I used the path eraser tool to erase the bottom of the leg and so give the impression of normal drawing dash.

Ok, now unite all arm shapes.

Unite the head and body shapes.

And all the mouth circles and shapes.

Remember the eyebrowns? Ok, let's duplicate both of them, select this copies and the eyeballs and use the Exclude option at the pathfinder panel, this will remove the eyebrown shape form the eyeballs, just don't forget to remove the rest of the shapes.

Step 4

Let's add Courage main colors on the shapes we already have. Then let's start adding some fine details.

Using the brush tool (B) to make the whiskers.

Use the pen tool (P) to make the wrinkles.

Also use it to make the teeth divisions.

Add some grey shades on the ears and nose using the pencil tool (N) and the pen tol (P).

I also added this shades using a similar process used on the legs.

Step 5

Let's make anotehr new layer. I drew some drips and pools of blood on the floor, that's pretty basic you just need to draw some round shapes using the pencil tool (N).

Then add some white reflexes and lower their opacity.

I also added some shades and made a clipping mask on them.

I went back on the shadows layer and added some behind those drips on the same direction as the demon shadow.

Step 6

Ok, the tv it's pretty simple, first let's draw half of the body using the pen tool (P), also I drew the top of it.

Add some perpective corners.

Use the rounded rectangle tool to create the monitor.

Duplicate, reflect and Unite it.

Make the antenna using first a circle and them creating this sharpy shapes using the pen tool (P).

Duplicate the monitor shape, then go to Effect > Grain. Let's turn this on real Tv, so use the same set up as the picture of the panel bellow.

Add a shadow and a light on the antenna.

Ok, now let's add some flat colors on it.

But in order to look like a real Tv, it should have some knobs, it's pretty eays to create them, as you can figure out on the pics bellow.

Also decided to add a speaker on it, doing the inverse process used on the knobs in order to give depth on it. Later just added a grid over it, just to look as old fashioned speakers.

I decided to use a really classy font on the title inside the Tv, so I used this one, don't worry it's free and quite useful.

And another sans serif font for the lettering, nothing special.

Step 7

Let's go back to the shades layer and make some for the Tv, it's quite easy, just do on the same direction of the previous one, use the pen tool (P) for this task.

Now that all the shadows are set, let' only verify If your layers are organized as they should be.

Now we just need a main light source, so make a big rectangle that fits all the canvas, use the gradient tool (G) to posicionate it's focus on the lower right on the screen. Then go to the tranparency panel and use the blending mode called Overlay.


Download the Adobe Illustrator File

Download the Adobe Illustrator file used for this tutorial

marcos333's picture
Marcos Torres

I'm Marcos Torres, I'm a Graphic Artist from Brasil.


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