Doodle Style Tutorial in Adobe Illustrator

This a tutorial for making cartoon doodle illustrations in Adobe Illustrator. For this tutorial, you’ll need an additional plug-in (it’s free) for Illustrator. It’s a tool that let’s you find Open Paths. It is and invaluable plug-in for stock artists and anyone else too.

I start with my traced sketch that I drew with the Pen Tool and a stroked line.

Next, I drag my layer from the Layer Palette onto the Create New Layer button. This will create a duplicate layer.

I want to turn the visibility off on my new layer because I won’t be working on it right now. Click on the little icon that looks like an eye to the left of the layer to make it invisible.

Now, I select the original layer and use my new plug-in. Go to Select > Object > Open Paths. This will select all the lines that aren’t closed shapes.

Since I’m going to use this layer as my colored shape layer and the top layer as my line art, I want to delete the all the Open Paths. So, I hit delete on the keyboard.

Next, I select all. Go to Select > All or use the keyboard shortcut Command/Control A. With everything selected, I put a fill color on the shapes and eliminate the stroke color.

Now, I turn the visibility back on for my other layer.

With both layers visible, I want to select all again. After you have selected everything, go to Object > Group. Grouping the objects will pull them all onto the top layer. The reason I want to do this is that some of my shapes need to overlap some of my lines. So, I need everything on one layer to do that.

Next, I want to add a Brush stroke to all my lines. To do this I’ll need to select all my lines. Yeah, I should have done this before I merged my layers, but I like to do things the hard way. Anyway, select one of your lines, then go to Select > Same > Stroke Color.

Then, open your Brush Palette and pick the brush you want to use. I used one of the defaults. You may need to adjust the stroke weight after you pick the brush.

I still need to move my shapes around, so some of my shapes are overlapping the lines. To do this, I select the objects I want to move and use the Object > Arrange > Send to Back.

Here’s my illustration with everything arranged correctly.

Next, I want to turn my lines into shapes. To do this, I’m going to use the Flatten Transparency. Select all, and go to Object > Flatten Transparency.

A dialogue box pops up. Move the slider to 100% vector and click OK.

Finally, I adjust the colors of my shapes and I’m done.

This post was written on Content copyright 2009 Cory Thoman.

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  1. Charmaine

    Great tutorial thank you….is there a plug in for PC users too? I could only fine the MAC links!

  2. Cory


    I was wondering about that too. I checked back at the site and swapped out the link in the tutorial with a new one:

    The Select Menu plugin is for Mac and PC. It has the Open Paths and a few other selection tools. I use the Stray Points a lot too.

  3. 09/04/02

    Cool. Seems easy enough… I’ll have to try that.

  4. Charmaine

    Thanks Cory!

  5. 09/07/05

    Wow! This was a fun project for a newbie like me to try! I recommend this website to others that want to learn some new tricks.

  6. Vanessa

    am also trying to improve my illustrator skills and unfortunately not sure how to install the plugin into illustrator? can you help>?

  7. Cory


    It looks like both the “Read Me” files for Mac and PC say to drag and drop the plugin into your Illustrator plugin folder.

  8. Melissa

    I have a question. When I apply the brush stroke and flatten transparencies, the ‘outline’ preview shows that there’s a center pathline showing in the brush strokes. Is this normal/accepted?

  9. Cory

    If you have a fill on your stroked line, you’ll get that extra line. If it is not a closed shape, you can use the open paths selection to select them all and delete them.

  10. Ella Press

    Hi Cory, I’m loving your tutorials!
    I wanted to download the plug-in you mention, but for PC users the CS4 version isn’t available, however, it is for Mac users.
    Do you know where else I could find the plug-in? I’d love to play with it.


  11. Cory


    I found this:

    I haven’t used it, but you can try it out and see if that works.

  12. 11/05/09

    Have you ever considered about adding a little bit more than just your articles? I mean, what you say is fundamental and everything. Nevertheless imagine if you added some great graphics or videos to give your posts more, “pop”! Your content is excellent but with images and videos, this site could undeniably be one of the best in its field. Great blog!

  13. 11/05/18

    thanks for this great tutorial, i will try it, 😀

  14. 11/12/06

    Super simple tutorial, thanks 🙂

  15. 12/04/05

    I am always thought about this, appreciate it for putting up.

  16. arezelan

    thanks for the nice tutorial