Let’s Learn Together: The Basics of Illustrator for Content Creators

the-basics-of-illustrator-for-content-creatorsOriginal content is one of the most valuable things a brand can offer. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, original content creation should be very high on your list of priorities.

It’s not difficult to understand the importance of high quality, unique content in 2018. With the massive quantity of content created and shared on a daily – even hourly – basis, it’s crucial to stand out.

One big way you can do that is through illustration. With illustrations, you can create exactly the image you need. There are endless possibilities.

But if you’ve never illustrated before, where do you start? It’s a creative task that seems tedious and daunting. With the right steps and resources, however, you’ll be able to overcome that fear and start illustrating.

A great place to start is Adobe Illustrator. It’s important to get familiar with this program, as all of your illustrations for digital content will likely start and/or end up there.

As with all Adobe programs, Illustrator has a lot you need to learn, including:

  • Panels, Workspaces, and Artboards
  • Vector basics
  • Tools and effects

Luckily, it’s not crucial to be familiar with these things to get started. If you’ve used other Adobe programs before, you may be familiar with the similar interface, panels, and workspaces.

I found this great tutorial on creating simple outline illustrations in Illustrator and tried it myself, without any prior Illustrator experience. Below, you’ll find my personal experience with the tutorial, including additional tips and tricks that I had to research along the way.

1. Open Adobe Illustrator

  • File -> New
  • Width: 800px; Height: 600px
  • Artboards: 1
  • Bleed: 0px all around
  • Color Mode: RGB

Illustrator Tutorial - 1

2. Once you’ve created your new document, you’ll see that you have a new layer called “Layer 1.” Rename that layer to “mug” and then create a sublayer named “lines.”

Illustrator Tutorial - 2

3. Select the “lines” layer and choose the “Pen” (P on your keyboard) tool.

  • Stroke width: 4px
  • Stroke color: Whatever color you want
  • Fill color: none

Create a line with a width of 140px. Create a 52px by 56px rectangular outline of the mug and place it in the center of the line.

Illustrator Tutorial - 3


Round the corners of the mug: 4px radius for the top corners, 12px for the bottom corners. Use the “Direct Selection” tool (or “A”) to select a single corner to round.

Illustrator Tutorial - 4


Illustrator Tutorial - 5


You’ll need to create the semi-circles for the mug handle. To do this, I created two circles: one with a width of 16px and one with a width of 34px.

To create a circle, I used the Shaper tool (shift + N), manually drew a circle, and Illustrator automatically turned it into a perfect circle.

Adjust the width of your circle under the “Properties” section and make sure you “maintain the width and height proportions.” You also may need to adjust the stroke width, color, and fill of your circles again. Repeat the initial steps to do this.

Illustrator Tutorial - 6


Now that you have two circles, how do you turn them into semi-circles for the handle? To do this, choose the Direct Selection tool, drag a selection over the left half of the circles, select the anchor points on that left side and press delete. Now you should have two semi-circles.

Illustrator Tutorial - 7


Illustrator Tutorial - 8


Once you’ve completed your mug, you can add a tea bag to have a little more detail. To do this, create a 14px by 18px rectangle with 2px corners radius.

The string of the teabag can be done by creating another semi-circle (I used a 15px width) and creating a simple 2px line to connect the semi-circle to the teabag.

Illustrator Tutorial - 9


Illustrator Tutorial - 10


And, voila!

This was my first real experience illustrating in Adobe Illustrator. It was a bit of a challenge but a lot of fun. Like a lot of people, I was hesitant to jump into Illustrator. It seemed complicated and tedious. I had my doubts about “getting it” at first.

I like to learn by playing around in a program and seeing what each tool does, but I wouldn’t say Illustrator is very friendly to that style of learning. Although, after learning with a bit of structure, it seems a lot less daunting now. I can’t wait to keep experimenting and building other things in Illustrator.

The importance of structure is my biggest takeaway from this experience. Illustrator can do so much. It really helps to have specific guidance on things like sizes and settings. I chose to go into even greater detail than the original tutorial on my passthrough.

Once you’re comfortable with the basics, you can start experimenting with the tools you know. As is the case with learning just about anything else, it’s important to try and try again.

While I’m definitely far from an expert in Illustrator, I do feel more equipped than before. This tutorial was enough to get me interested and comfortable enough to start playing around.

For next steps, I’ve included a few additional tutorials that I enjoyed. Each is easy enough for any beginner to follow. I arranged them from easiest to most challenging.

If you’re really interested in illustration, there are several online classes and numerous YouTube channels that have great insight on the topic. These resources include:




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