I have not had a chance to create a character based illustration in a long time and after I stumbled upon I decided to give it a try. In this post I will show my design process from start to finish. I hope you will enjoy the process, and learn something new!

Step 1

I primarily focused on generating characters that had a whimsical aura about them, but before I had a solid grasp on what type of animated characters I wanted to create I had to first list all the graphic images and icons that I wanted within the illustration.

Step 2

When I decided what graphic imagery I wanted within the illustration I went straight to the sketching phase. I usually sketch out my ideas on a 14 by 17 Canson sketch pad, but I opted on using an 11 by 14 Canson tracing paper. In my personal experience using tracing paper has a much better result when scanning your sketches into Adobe Illustrator. I also like to use a light box because it allows me to detail my sketches easier and it’s just a convenient tool all artist should have.

Step 3

Scan the illustrations into the computer. I use a Cannon Lide 110 which is not the fanciest scanner in the world, but I can guarantee it works well. When scanning in an image make sure you adjust your scan settings so you can get the best image possible.

Step 4

A Bamboo tablet or a Wacom Intuos tablet are great for creating illustrations in a program like Adobe Illustrator (you can use Photoshop as well) and it feels like a pencil on paper. First I created two layers one for the image and the second one so I can go over my sketches with the tablet and the pen tool. (Above are the vectorized drawings)

Step 5

Once I finalized my drawings in illustrator I decided on a simple color palette; and then started to add the color in.

Step 6

The concept was to have an illustration of a boy, but the characters would define the inner area of the body. So I had to create a silhouette image of a boy to help me define how I would place the characters within the silhouetted image and then I simply started to fill the image with the characters.

Step 7

After filling the both with the characters I felt that I needed an extra element to really tie in the whole concept. I played around with a couple of concepts and after two days I finally came up with an idea to have someone turning the handle of a faucet and instead of water coming out the faucet it would be the characters I drawn.


Vote for Little Boy faucet at


Pretty creative huh? Have you had any previous experience with Threadless before? We would love to hear your feedback, so please don’t be shy to comment below. Please don’t forget to subscribe to the RSS-feed and follow Inspirationfeed on TwitterFacebook (100% Spam Free!) If you enjoyed the following article we humbly ask you to comment,  and help us spread the word with your peers!


Posted by Isaiahfrazier1

Isaiah Frazier is a freelance Brand Identity Designer that creates websites, logos and creative campaigns for companies of all sizes. Check out his online portfolio


  1. Great Work Isaiah, I’m planning on making my own threadless. Finished the sketch a while back, but haven’t got the time to digitalize it. Good Job.

  2. Isaiahfrazier1 July 8, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    @Juan Thank you and I will be glad to take a look at it once you are done!

  3. Yes, very nice work! Say, I’ve always wanted to participate in Threadless, and have an array of paintings I’d like to convert onto Illustrator. How exactly would I go about establishing a design with an 18″ x 24″ mixed medium painting?

  4. @Corey

    In all honestly I have never done that before, but if you have the drawings or sketches you used to make your paintings you can scan them in and use a graphic editing program like Adobe Illustrator to make your illustrations.

    That is the best option that I know of and if you would like you can send me an email and we both figure out a way to solve this issue you have. My email is [email protected]

    Good luck Corey!

  5. Hi Isaiah, Awesome work on the T-shirt, its so great to see a piece like that from start to finish. Very Inspiring. Best of luck with future designs at Threadless. I love their shirts!

  6. Nice work and great step-by-step instructions. Also the whole design & process brought a smile to my day thanks!


    my specialty is photography- events, photo-restorations,
    and commercial photography.

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