Tutorial: How to Design a Kawaii Squid in Illustrator

Today we’re going to learn how to create a kawaii squid in Illustrator and for an added bonus we’re going to “zombify” it. After all, even the most adorable of cephalopods are susceptible to the zombie virus. I am using a PC, so wherever you see me use CTRL if you’re on a Mac you’ll want to use the CMD button instead.

We’ll start with the squid’s head. Create a new document in Illustrator, draw two circles (200px and 100px) and align them horizontally and vertically to the centre using the Align palette. Select the smaller of the two circles and then choose Warp and then Shell Upper from the Effect menu. Make sure that the Horizontal option is checked before setting the Bend to 90% and clicking OK. Expand the shape using the Expand Appearance option from the Object menu.


Pull the expanded shape up by roughly 10px, then using the Direct Selection Tool pull its top anchor point upwards by around 80px and the central bottom three anchor points up by 10px. Next we’re going to create the squid’s fin. Draw another 100px circle and align it with the top of the head. Using the Effect menu choose Warp, but this time select Shell Lower, set the Horizontal Bend to 65% and click OK before expanding the fin’s appearance with the Object menu.


Copy the cone shape, which I believe is called the mantle, and paste it in place (CTRL+C, CTRL+F). Bring the copy to the front of the document (SHIFT+CTRL+]), then using the Scissors Tool clip off its top. Aligning the cut points is made considerably easier if you use the rulers (CTRL+R) to create a horizontal guide on a new layer. Delete out the clipped top and the guide layer, as you won’t need either anymore.


Select the squid’s fin and the original mantle shape and combine them using the Pathfinder’s Unite button. Let’s give our squid some adorable facial features next. Group all of the shapes so far (CTRL+G) and then draw two 20px circles side-by-side, spaced roughly 90px apart. Align the eyes vertically to the centre and horizontally to the bottom of the grouped shapes before pulling them upwards by around 50px.


To create that cute little blush that we all associate with kawaii, copy and paste the eyes in place then pull them down by 15px or so and out the sides by about 10px. Re-order the layers so that the eyes sit above the blush.

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