When I started this blog, I posted the taxonomy of cuteness, a chart of visual elements that most often appeared in cute images, or lent to the overall cuteness of an image- from specific facial features like big eyes, to general elements like roundness and bright colors. Knowing these properties is very helpful in creating cute illustrations and graphics, and knowing exactly what is cute.
To demonstrate how useful these properties are, I will explain how I used them in the creation of the illustrations posted below.
Above is a polar bear illustration I did for an acquaintance. Polar bear themselves are already cute, so the trick was to tweak what a polar bear already has to make it extra-cute. Starting off, I knew that the bear's body would have to be comprised of circles to give it a fat, round shape. Having the bear sitting with its feet out emphasizes the roundness of its body.
For the face, I imitated the proportions of an infant's face: high forehead, large low-set eyes and a small mouth. While this in no way resembles a polar bear's face, it gives it a teddy bear look, further emphasizing its cuddliness. The contrast of the harmless face with the dead fish also adds to the overall cuteness (going with the "shock-cuteness" principle I've discussed before).
I chose simple colors to make more apparent the simple shapes. The stark whiteness also makes the black eyes and nose stand out more. And then for the setting, having the bear sitting along on a floating iceberg makes it seem isolated and helpless.
The final reaction to the drawing: "Awwwww!"
This next illustration presented its own special challenges. It depicts cute, childlike versions of Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, as depicted by Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law in the 2009 movie adaptation. The main problem in creating this picture was making the two characters cute without making them look infantile.
I achieved this by downplaying several cute characteristics, namely a high, rounded forehead, and by making theirs a bit more in proportion with their bodies. Some attributes of the original characters are also brought over into the their cute versions that seemingly clash with cuteness, but only serve to heighten the cuteness- Holmes' pipe and beard stubble, Watson's moustache and frown.
The clothing is also a bit more detailed than would be on a typical cute illustration (simplicity = cute), so I made their hands and feet into simple shapes to balance it out.