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Illustration

Create a Colorful, Funky Robot With Gradients in Adobe Illustrator

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In this tutorial, I'm going to be starting with a sketch which I'll then build up to be a colorful robot friend. I'll then frame piece in Adobe Illustrator using the Pen Tool, Clipping Masks, and transparent Gradients. So let's get on with it!


1. Create the Base for Your Robot's Head

Step 1

Start with a sketch of your robot friend. Add details, but don't go too crazy since you'll be rendering them later anyway.

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Step 2

Start with the head. Use the Rounded Rectangle Tool. Double click to alter the radius of the corners to your liking.

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Step 3

Using the Ellipse Tool (L), I made a circle for each of the antenna's base.

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Repeating this step for both sides and the ends of the antennae.

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Step 4

Using the Pen Tool (P), I've drawn a curved tube shape in a very light lilac.

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The basic head shape is complete.

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2. Create the Base for Your Robot's Body

Step 1

Once again I use the Rounded Rectangle Tool. This time it's for the body. My settings for the corner radius's were the same as those used for the head.

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Step 2

Using the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the bottom corner anchor points and manipulate them as you see fit.

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Step 3

Repeat on the other side.

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3. Begin Adding Shapes for the Arms

Step 1

To start the arms, I've added a circle with the Ellipse Tool (L) to form a shoulder.

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Step 2

Following my initial sketch, I've traced the little hands with the Pen Tool (P).

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Step 3

I've drawn simple finger shapes as well as a blue piece to make the robot's thumb look like it is coming out of the hand versus sitting on top of it. How you build your basic hand shapes is entirely up to you.

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Step 4

Group (Ctrl + G) your hand pieces together, Copy (Ctrl + C) and Paste (Ctrl + V). Then Right-Click, select Transform and Reflect.

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Choose the vertical axis. Place your newly flipped hand accordingly.

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4. Add the Basic Facial Feature Shapes

Step 1

The basic neck shapes are as follows: a rough drawn rectangle with the Pen Tool (P) and an Ellipse (L).

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Step 2

Using the Ellipse Tool (L), draw an oval or circle for an eye. Repeat for as many eyes as you'd like your robot to have.

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Step 3

This robot's mouth is a simple rounded rectangle, much like the robot's head itself. Copy (Ctrl + C) and Paste (Ctrl + V) the base head shape and place it beneath the mouth shape. In the Pathfinder panel, with both shapes selected, hit Intersect.

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The new mouth shape now cuts off the awkward rounded corners on the bottom edge.

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5. Draw a Simple Heart Shape

Step 1

Use the Ellipse Tool (L) to draw an even pink circle.

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Step 2

Copy (Ctrl + C) and Paste (Ctrl + V) the circle and align it with the other.

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Step 3

Overlap the two shapes slightly.

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Step 4

Using the Pen Tool (P), I've drawn a pointed shape to create one-half of the bottom of the heart.

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Step 5

Copy (Ctrl + C) and Paste (Ctrl + V) the shape, flip it over a vertical axis, and align it next to its copied self.

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Step 6

Edit the bottom points and any curves necessary to perfect your heart.

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Step 7

Unite your shapes via the Pathfinder panel.

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That is one snazzy little robot friend.

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6. Begin Adding Base Shapes for the Frame

Step 1

Copy (Ctrl + C) and Paste (Ctrl + V) the heart shape and change the color to a very light lilac or gray.

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Step 2

Trace your frame elements using the Pen Tool (P). In this case, it's a cute little wing being drawn.

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Step 3

The sides of the frame are like long, robotic tube shapes.

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7. Add Human Heart-Shaped Silhouettes

Step 1

The bottom of the frame has two big human heart-shaped silhouettes. Check out some references for this or do your best to draw it up from memory.

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Step 2

I made some drippy, blood like shapes using the Pencil Tool (N) to add to the bottom of the hearts.

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Step 3

A dark, dark blue was chosen for blood element to mimic oil.

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Step 4

Add more little slick like shapes.

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Step 5

Group (Ctrl + G) together your frame pieces, Copy (Ctrl + C) and Paste (Ctrl + V) them, flip over a vertical axis, and align accordingly to make the other side of your frame.

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8. Modify and Refine the Base Shapes

Step 1

I've added a shape similar to the neck that will attach the bottom of the robot to the torso.

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Step 2

Using the Ellipse Tool (L) again, I've drawn the top-side of the bottom of the robot.

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Step 3

Using the Rounded Rectangle Tool with the settings as seen below, I've added the full shape of the robot's body. To get it to fit seamlessly with the ellipse drawn previously, I edited the shape by carefully manipulating the anchor points.

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Step 4

Select the ellipse and change the color to something a bit darker.

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Step 5

Drawn some extra bits on the frame.

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Step 6

The arms were too stubby, so I drew something more wiggly, similar to the frame shapes, to be the arm base. It will be set beneath the shoulder and hand pieces, but above the torso.

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9. Create a Pixel Fade Effect for the Bottom of the Robot

Step 1

Draw two small squares with the Rectangle Tool (M) and Align them with each other.

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Step 2

Select the Blend Tool (W) and with that select first the square on the left and then the one on the right. This will create an effect similar to what's seen above.

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Step 3

Double click the Blend Tool (W) in the tool bar and a dialogue box should appear. Select "Specified Steps" and choose how many intervals you'd like your blend to have. By checking preview, you can see what changes you're making without committing to them.

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Step 4

Repeat as you see necessary and even add extra boxes around the bottom of the robot so it doesn't seem so uniform.

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Step 5

Select all blends and boxes and Group (Ctrl + G) them together.

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10. Use an Opacity Mask on the Pixels

Step 1

Draw a square over the little assortment of squares you drew previously. Apply a black and white gradient going from white to black vertically.

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Step 2

Select both the grouped squares and the new gradient square. In the Transparency panel select extra options and select Make Opacity Mask.

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Step 3

Make sure Clip is selected in the Transparency panel.

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Step 4

Your pieces should now look like they're fading into the background.

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11. Use Gradients to Color the Robot's Head

Step 1

Draw a rectangle or rounded rectangle with the tool of your choice. Copy (Ctrl + C) and Paste (Ctrl + V) the robot's head base shape and arrange it beneath the new rectangle you created.

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Step 2

In the Pathfinder panel, with both rectangles selected, hit Minus Front and the only bit left will be anything the front piece did not touch.

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Step 3

Apply a transparent gradient similar to the one seen above.

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Step 4

Repeat Step 1, but hit Intersect in Pathfinder and apply a gradient that goes from a light blue, yellow, or white to the base blue.

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Step 5

Place this beneath the eyes and mouth bits and alter the Opacity as you see fit.

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12. Add the Shapes to a Clipping Mask

Step 1

You can repeat part 11 until you've rendered your robot to your liking, or your can follow this section to render with the use of a Clipping Mask (Ctrl + 7). Copy (Ctrl + C) and Paste (Ctrl + V) the base head shape over to the side. Draw shapes with the Pen Tool (P) or Pencil Tool (N) and apply transparent gradients as you see fit.

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Step 2

Try manipulating the settings of radial gradients in addition to linear ones. The lighting for this piece mainly comes from the upper-left corner of the picture plane.

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Step 3

Check out the settings for this radial gradient set in the lower part of the robot head.

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Step 4

Try playing with black and white or colorful gradients to give more of a chrome look to your robot.

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Step 5

Change the Blending Mode of the shape in the Transparency panel to Overlay so it keeps with your color palette.

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Step 6

Continue adding shadows, highlights, and gradient shapes until you feel your rectangle looks as it should (think metallic).

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Step 7

Group (Ctrl + G) together your rendering pieces and arrange the base rectangle shape to be above the new group.

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Step 8

Select all and make a Clipping Mask (Ctrl + 7). Adjust the Blending Mode on components in your group as necessary.

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Step 9

Align with the main robot head in your image and set the clipping mask group beneath your robot's eyes and mouth.

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13. Render the Eyes with a Colorful Style

Step 1

Select both of the robot's eyes and apply the linear gradient of your choice. This one goes from bright pink to yellow to a light cream.

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Step 2

Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create a dark purple (or brown) oval inside the eye shape. Alter its Opacity as you see fit.

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Step 3

Draw a curved teardrop shape the follows the bottom edge of the robot's eye. Apply a gradient going from a light cream to a completely transparent blue (same color as the robot head).

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Step 4

Repeat both steps above on the other eye and reduce the Opacity of the highlight shapes. also, add a transparent oval behind the eye itself to create more depth.

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Step 5

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), draw a series of long rectangles spanning the robot's eye. Unite them in Pathfinder.

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Step 6

Copy (Ctrl + C) and Paste (Ctrl + V) the base eye shape and place it over the top and aligned with the series of united rectangles.

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Step 7

Select both shapes and hit Intersect in Pathfinder.

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Step 8

Reduce the Opacity to 36%.

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Step 9

Draw a new Ellipse (L) within the eye shape.

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Step 10

Change the gradient to a linear one going from light cream to a completely transparent yellow and move it closer to the upper left corner of the eye.

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Step 11

Repeat Steps 9 and 10 with a smaller ellipse and a gradient going from white to a fully transparent cream.

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Step 12

Copy (Ctrl + C) and Paste (Ctrl + V) the shadow ellipse within the eye and set the fill color to "no fill" and the stroke to the same color as the shadow color used previously.

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Step 13

Adjust the Stroke Weight to 0.75pt or 0.5pt. Lower the Opacity to your liking.

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Step 14

Copy (Ctrl + C) and Paste (Ctrl + V) the main eye shape and follow steps 12-13, but set the Stroke Weight to 1pt.

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Step 15

Set this stroked ellipse behind the base eye shape.

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Step 16

Copy (Ctrl + C) and Paste (Ctrl + V) the left eye, flip it over a vertical axis, and place it over the right eye (or in place of the right eye if you copy more than the newly rendered bits).

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14. Render the Rest of the Face

Step 1

Follow the same steps from rendering the eyes to build the mouth. Add a highlight shape that follows the shape of the top of the mouth and is set behind the mouth.

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Step 2

Add a curved teardrop shape to the top of each eye.

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Step 3

Add another dark blue shadow shape to the bottom edge of the robot's head.

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Step 4

Repeat the steps involved with keeping only the intersected shape

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Set the new shadow behind the main face pieces.

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Step 5

Add more highlight gradient shapes to the stop of the robot head. I used the Pen Tool (P) to draw these shapes.

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Step 6

Copy (Ctrl + C) and Paste (Ctrl + V) the main head shape, take out the fill color, and stroke it with the settings in the image above.

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Step 7

Set this box behind and in line with the robot head.

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15. Add Shading to the Shoulder and Antenna Joints

Step 1

With the Pen Tool (P) draw a shape along the bottom of the connecting antenna ball with a linear gradient going from dark blue to light blue.

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Step 2

Draw another shape along the side contour of the ball. Continue adding shapes to give the ball depth.

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Step 3

For a highlight on the ball shape, another curved tear drop was drawn (similar to those around the eyes) but instead of a
linear gradient, a radial gradient has been applied. A stroked shape similar to the one behind the robot head was added behind the blue ball. Repeat these steps for the other side.

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Step 4

Apply dark blue to light blue linear gradients to the shoulder pieces.

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Step 5

Repeat the steps in rendering the ball shapes above for these shoulder pieces.

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16. Give Your Robot Rosy Cheeks

Step 1

Draw a small ellipse that slightly overlaps the bottom edge of the left eye.

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Step 2

Apply a radial gradient going from bright pink to transparent blue (Opacity set to 0%).

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Step 3

Repeat on the other side.

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17. Render the Antennae

Step 1

Repeat the steps for rendering the other ball shapes on the pink ends of the antennae.

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Step 2

Draw a shape that follows the contour of the antenna. This will serve as a shadow.

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Step 3

Apply a linear gradient to this shape going from the dark purple/brown used previously to the antenna's light lilac set to 0% Opacity. Follow the steps shown previously for intersecting a shape with another (see section 11, steps 4-5).

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Step 4

Using the Pen Tool (P) draw a curved line (no fill, only stroke) set to the stroke point of your choice. Repeat along the antenna. Group (Ctrl + G) the little lines together.

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Step 5

Copy (Ctrl + C) and Paste (Ctrl + V) the base antenna shape.

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Step 6

Align it with the main antenna.

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Step 7

Select both the grouped lines and the new antenna shape and make a Clipping Mask (Ctrl + 7).

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Step 8

Apply a linear gradient with a medium purple-blue on either side of the light lilac color to the base antenna shape. Adjust the gradient angle as you see fit.

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Step 9

Draw a shape with the Pen Tool (P) that follows the contour of the antenna shape, similar to in the image above.

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Step 10

Apply a linear gradient from white to light lilac, with the lilac set to 0% Opacity. alter the shape's overall transparency to your liking. Copy (Ctrl + C) and Paste (Ctrl + V) the left antenna, flip over a vertical axis, and align with the antenna on the right side.

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18. Add Shading to the Neck

Step 1

Apply the same gradient from the antenna in section 17, step 8. Keep it vertical with the shadow colors closer to the outside edges of the neck shape.

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Step 2

The steps are similar to those from the previous section. Draw stroked lines, Copy (Ctrl + C) and Paste (Ctrl + V) the neck shape, Align, and make a Clipping Mask (Ctrl + 7).

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Step 3

Draw a shape with the Pen Tool (P) that follows the bottom contour of the neck piece and ends about half-way up. Place this behind the clipped lines, but above the rectangle and ellipse of the neck. This creates the shape seen above. Match the gradient from the base neck shape.

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Step 4

For the edge of the ellipse connecting the neck to the robot's torso, draw a shape similar to the one above using the same gradient as before.

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Step 5

This one overlaps the ellipse, so you'll have to Intersect it in Pathfinder.

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Step 6

Add a shadow shape to the top of the neck.

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Place it behind the head.

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19. Add Detailing and Shading to the Arms

Step 1

These are the same steps from the antennae and the neck. Apply the same linear gradient from sections 17 and 18.

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Step 2

Draw curved lines with the Pen Tool (P) that follows the length and contour of the robot's arms and Group (Ctrl + G) together.

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Step 3

Copy (Ctrl + C) and Paste (Ctrl + V) the arm shape and Align.

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Step 4

Select both the new arm shape and the grouped lines and apply a Clipping Mask (Ctrl + 7).

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Step 5

Add a shadow shape in the same manner as the one added in Section 17, Steps 2-4.

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Step 6

Repeat steps 1-5 for the right arm or Copy (Ctrl + C) and Paste (Ctrl + V) if your arms are mirrored.

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20. Render and Refine the Hands

Step 1

I find it easiest to work on the hands away from the rest of the composition.

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Step 2

Draw a shadow shape that tapers at the lower left corner of the hand and upper right. This transparent gradient goes from dark blue to light blue.

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Step 3

Repeat the steps to Intersect shapes from previous steps. Apply a linear gradient similar to the one seen above to the main hand shape.

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Step 4

Add a shape for the hand's highlight. This one follows the upper contour of the hand.

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Step 5

I added some low-opacity 1pt stroke lines as core shadows on the hand.

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Step 6

The same gradient from the arms and neck have been applied to the robot's thumb (and will be applied to each finger).

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Step 7

Copy (Ctrl + C) and Paste (Ctrl + V) the thumb piece, change it to the dark purple/brown shadow color, lower the Opacity, and set it behind the original thumb piece.

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Step 8

Back to the same steps from the arms and neck. Draw your thin stroked lines and Group (Ctrl + G) them together.

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Step 9

Apply a Clipping Mask (Ctrl + 7) in the same manner as before.

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Step 10

Repeat for each finger.

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Step 11

Add shadow shapes similar to those of the arms or neck.

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Step 12

Repeat steps 1-11 for the other hand or simply Copy (Ctrl + C) and Paste (Ctrl + V), if your other hand is the same.

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21. Add Shading to the Heart

Step 1

Copy (Ctrl + C) and Paste (Ctrl + V) the heart your little robot is holding to another area of your workspace.

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Step 2

Rendering the pink heart is similar to rendering the ball pieces from earlier. Play with linear and radial gradients to create shadows and highlights.

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Step 3

Add shadow shapes that accentuate the curves of the heart. Group the rendered shapes together, set the pink heart shape above the grouped ones, and make a Clipping Mask (Ctrl + 7).

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Step 4

Align the shadow and highlight group with the original heart shape. Copy (Ctrl + C) and Paste (Ctrl + V) the original heart shape and set it as a stroked line. Set it behind the main heart.

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Step 5

Add transparent circles with the Ellipse Tool (L).

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Step 6

Copy (Ctrl + C) and Paste (Ctrl + V) the main heart shape, set it as the same dark purple/brown color used for shadows throughout the piece and lower its Opacity to your desired level. Off-set it behind the main heart piece.

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Here's how it will look.

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22. Finish Your Illustration by Rendering the Frame

Step 1

Repeat the steps from the previous section for the heart in the frame.

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Step 2

Isolate one of the wing shapes away from the rest of the composition in order to work more easily. Work up shadow shapes that follow the wing's scallops.

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Step 3

Add gradient shapes that work as highlights, going from an even lighter lilac to the main lilac color. Other colors that work well for metal bits are assorted grays, blues, and light greens.

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Step 4

Apply a Clipping Mask (Ctrl + 7) as you have done countless times before in this tutorial and Group (Ctrl + G) together your elements.

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Step 5

Place the wing back into the frame, beneath the heart shape.

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Step 6

The other three wings were Copy (Ctrl + C) and Pasted (Ctrl + V) from the first and arranged into the composition.

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Step 7

Apply the same gradient from the robot's arms to the frame pieces.

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Step 8

Follow the same steps from the arm section in drawing curved lines on the frame tubes, shading, and making a Clipping Mask.

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Step 9

Moving on to the human heart shapes at the bottom of the frame, reference if likely needed to understand the basic shapes of the heart, valves, etc. The short of it is render this piece in the same way you did the robot heart.

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Step 10

The more the shadow and highlight shapes you layer onto one another, the more rendered your human heart shape will become.

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Step 11

Once again, Group (Ctrl + G) together your shadow and highlight shapes, Copy (Ctrl + C) and Paste (Ctrl + V) the main heart shape on top of them, and make a Clipping Mask (Ctrl +7).

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Step 12

Unhide those hidden oil wiggles from earlier.

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Step 13

Add some more with the Pencil Tool (N).

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Step 14

Copy (Ctrl + C) and Paste (Ctrl + V), flip over a vertical axis, and align for the other side of the frame. Add whatever sort of background you deem fit. In this case, a simple radial gradient has been applied behind the main piece (in a large rectangle that takes up the picture frame).

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Awesome Work! You're Now Finished!

At long last this funky robot and his crazy little frame is complete. Push your piece further with more rendered/shaded bits or add some sweet little sparkles in those highlight hot spots.

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