It’s February 14th! What better way to celebrate than by creating a Valentine’s Day Cupid using the beloved Adobe Illustrator.

Throughout this tutorial, you’ll quickly see how important the Pen tool is, along with other tools and techniques like:

  • Outlining Strokes: Turning strokes into objects so you can adjust their widths
  • Shape tools: Using the Ellipse and Rectangle tool shapes
  • Pathfinder palette: Using the Minus Front button to make a ribbon shape
  • Blend tool: Using the Blend tool to create shading along Cupid’s ribbon and arrow
  • Scale tool: Using the Scale tool to make Cupid’s arrow fletching

I’ll also show a quick, easy way to give your design a subtle vintage theme. More and more designers are using classic typography techniques, muted colors and dirty textures to simulate designs from centuries past.

So celebrate Valentine’s Day with 99designs and me by creating the iconic Cupid.


1. Create Cupid’s face with Outlined Strokes

First, create the main shape for the head using the Pen tool (P).


Give it a stroke and fill it with color.


We want the stroke to become an object so we can adjust the thickness of it. You can do this by going to Object > Path > Outline Stroke.


Now we can vary the weight of the stroke using the Direct Selection tool (A).


Now add some shading by duplicating the pink shape, making it a little smaller and filling it with a lighter color.


Again, use the Pen tool (P) to create the ear shape. But this time use a Width Profile style and do not connect the Path.


Use the same Setting style as the step above to create the ear’s inner lines.

Again, you can adjust the line weight of the stroke by going to Object > Path > Outline Stroke.


Now use the Pen tool (P) to create the main eye shape.


Then duplicate the eye, flip and adjust the shape and size.


Use the Ellipse tool (L) and make 4 oval and circlular shapes to create the pupil and iris. Make sure to use different colors to give it a shaded look.


You’re going to continue using the Pen tool to create Cupid’s nose and mouth. You can also add depth to his face by adding small, darker shapes around the eyes and nose.

Once you have the details down, continue using the Pen tool to create his hair.


2. Create Cupid’s hands with the Pen tool

Follow the numbered image below to see the steps it took to create Cupid’s hands:

  1. Create a slightly oval shape
  2. Use the Pen tool to create shapes for elbows and palms — do not connect the Paths
  3. Similarly to #2, create a finger shape
  4. Then duplicate it twice and arrange it next to each other
  5. Create depth by using smaller, lighter shapes inside the hand

Then, duplicate the hand and flip it.


The Pen tool is getting easier to use, right?

3. Make Cupid’s wings (Pen tool continued)

Similarly to STEP 2, check out the image below to see how Cupid’s wings were created:

  1. Create the main shape for the wing using the Pen tool
  2. Give it an inner line
  3. Make a feather shape and give it an inner line
  4. Duplicate the feather and arrange it on the wing’s main shape

Then, duplicate the wing and flip it.


Voilà! Cupid is done and all it took was the Pen tool, Outlined Strokes and a little bit of shading.

4. Create a red hot, symmetrical heart

First create half the shape of a heart then duplicate, flip and unite it — the shape will be symmetrical.


As always, let’s create depth! Create a smaller, darker shape inside the original heart. Now we have a red hot heart with Cupid loving on it.


5. Create a ribbon using Pathfinder and Blend tool

First, we want to create the shape of the ribbon so that it bends around the heart:

  1. Use the Ellipse tool (L) to make an ellipse shape
  2. Duplicate the ellipse shape, make it slightly smaller, then put it above the bigger shape
  3. Select both ellipse shapes, then on the Pathfinder palette choose the Minus Front button
  4. Create squares on both sides of the new shape, and use Minus Front button again to cut it again

Now we want to create the nice line effects without having to copy and paste each one:

  1. Create a line and select the wide-to-pointy stroke style
  2. Duplicate and place one at the beginning of your ribbon and one at the end
  3. Select one of the lines and click Blend tool (W) then choose Specified Steps on the popup menu
  4. Double click the line you want to blend towards

Then, copy the blended line and flip it.


Copy the ribbon, put it behind the heart and flip it vertically.



6. Create Cupid’s arrow using the Shape tool

Cupid can not strike with love without his arrow. Let’s create it using the Shape tool and add shadows with the Blend tool:

  1. Create a rectangle using the Rectangle tool (M)
  2. Activate both upper angles using the Scale tool (S), and slide both angles until you have a parallelogram
  3. Similar to STEP 5, use the Blend tool to create the nice shadowy effects

Create a long rectangle using the Rectangle tool (M), then duplicate the arrow fletching and flip it vertically.


Use the Pen tool (P) to create shapes that give the illusion of the arrow stem piercing the heart.


Then Use the Pen tool (P) to make the arrowhead.


7. Give it a vintage feel using Multiply Transparency

Here is a quick, easy way to give this design a subtle vintage feel. First, select the entire object and make it into one group (Ctrl + G).


After placing a vintage paper for the background, select Cupid and change the object Transparency to Multiply.


And here’s the final result:


Happy Valentine’s Day from 99designs!

What tools do you use to create a vintage style?