Make a Cat Design in Illustrator

Moniker, a San Francisco–based studio, created this cheerful basking cat llustration for a beer bottle. They showed Lidia Lukianova the simple steps for re-creating it. 

To celebrate their new studio location in San Francisco’s Mission District, Moniker hosted an open house—at which they served their very own beer! They collaborated with Woods Brewery to create the beer, and with the naming and branding agency A Hundred Monkeys to name the beer and craft a story. The inspiration for the image (and the beer) came from a studio trip to Tokyo:

“Brewed with genmaicha, Bask brings the earthy taste of green tea and toasted rice to the brightness of Azacca and Nelson Sauvin hops. Perfect for a warm night along the Meguro river, or wherever you might find yourself on the longest days of the year. It’s the kind of beer that has nowhere to be, except in the palm of your hand.”


The Moniker team showed artist and designer Lidia Lukianova how to create a similar “basking cat” illustration. Here, she explains the technique, using Adobe Illustrator. (You can start from scratch or download a practice file.)

Step 1: Use the Ellipse tool to draw eyes. To make a perfect circle, hold down the shift key as you drag the shape. Duplicate the circle by pressing command-C or (ctrl-C on Windows). Scale the circle relative to its center point, by holding down the option (alt) key as you drag the edge of the bounding box. Change the fill color of the second ellipse to black. Paste a copy of the circle by pressing command-F (ctrl-F).

Step 2: Use the Polygon tool to draw the nose. Double-click anywhere in the document to open the Polygon dialog box. Enter 3 as the number of sides. Select the triangle with the Selection tool, and hold down the shift key as you rotate the shape 180 degrees. Move the corners of the bounding box to change the size of the shape. 

Step 3: Use the Pen tool to draw whiskers: Click and drag to draw a curved line. To copy the line, select it with the Selection tool, and then press and hold down the option (alt) key as you drag the selection. With the Direct Selection tool, select the anchor points and adjust them to your satisfaction.

Step 4: With the Shape Builder tool, you can create various custom shapes. Select overlapping shapes; press and hold the option (alt) key to delete the sections you don’t need. 

Lukianova says, "In talking to Brent Couchman at Moniker, I found it interesting that originally they had a more complex illustration that they simplified even more, and that the color palette reflects the beer flavors (green tea and toasted rice)." Learn more about Moniker SF in our studio profile video

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