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Create a Cute Circus Tent Icon with Adobe Illustrator

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We all like cute, colorful icons very much. Their job is to attract our attention and to make us explore what's hiding behind them. Today we will be learning how to create a cute circus tent in vector form using Adobe Illustrator. Although illustration might seem difficult to create it's actually quite simple. We just need to use right combination of shapes and paths in order to create basic shape of the circus tent. Colorful color gradients will help us to do the rest. With selection of right color gradients we will be able to create an eye catchy illustration.


Step 1

If you consider yourself a beginner you don't need to worry about creating the basic shape of the circus tent. We will take it slow and keep it simple. Let's start with Ellipse Tool (L). Grab it from the Tool Panel and create an ellipse as it shown on the picture below.


 


Step 2

Let's duplicate (copy and paste in place; Ctrl / Command + C, Ctrl / Command + F) this ellipse few times. Place the copies like this.


 


Step 3

Select two ellipses on the top and scale them for 50%.


 


Step 4

You should end up with something like this.


 


Step 5

Duplicate (Ctrl / Command + C, Ctrl / Command + F) small ellipses once, scale them down a bit and place them as it shown on the picture below.


 


Step 6

Also, make sure to scale down the ellipse on the bottom. That ellipse represents actually the bottom of the circus tent.


 


Step 7

We need to connect ellipses somehow, to create other parts of the circus tent that missing. Select the Pen Tool (P) from the Tool Panel and try to draw the shape as it shown on the picture below.


 


Step 8

Make sure to match endpoints of the lower ellipse and the green shape we have just created.


 


Step 9

Now, select lower yellow ellipse and the green shape and under the Pathfinder Panel hit the Unite button. It will turn both elements into one shape.



 


Step 10

Make sure to send the new green shape to back (Shift + Ctrl / Command + [).


 


Step 11

Let's divide the green shape into few segments that we'll turn later into red and white stripes. Grab the Pen Tool (P) from the Tool Panel and draw the path as it shown on the picture below..


 


Step 12

We will need the same path for the right side of the tent as well. Instead of trying to draw the exact same path with the Pen Tool, we will just create a mirror image of the existing path. Select the path we've already created and under the Object hit Transform > Reflect. Set the Axis to Vertical and hit the Copy button. Place the new path on the right side of the tent.



 


Step 13

Select both paths and under the Object select Blend > Make. It will create more paths between these we already have.


 


Step 14

To adjust the number of new paths we need to select again Object > Blend > Blend Options. Set the Spacing to Specified Steps and the value to 5.



Step 15

We have to expand the paths in order to be able to adjust them. Under the Object select Expand. It will turn each path into the separated, editable object. Don't forget to Ungroup (Shift + Ctrl / Command + G) the paths in order to be able to adjust them.



Step 16

Let's make some adjustments. We need to change the space between paths. That way we will trick the eye to see circus tent as cylindrical object. Of course, we will have to do a little bit more than just that, but this step is also very important.



Step 17

Duplicate (Ctrl / Command + C, Ctrl / Command + F) the green shape. Now we have two green shapes. One of them will represent the inside wall of the tent, so leave it in the background, and the other one will be divided into a famous red and white stripes.

Select one copy of the green shape and all paths we have created and under the Pathfinder Panel hit Divide button.


 


Step 18

As you can see the green shape came to front. Select it and send it back ( Shift + Ctrl / Command + [ ). Ungroup (Shift + Ctrl / Command + G) it.

Now we need to create the roof. Creation process is quite similar to what we did with the lower part of the circus tent. Grab the Pen Tool (P) from the Tool Panel and create the path as it shown on the picture below. Make sure that path is touching the yellow ellipse. In that spot we will actually create a connection between roof elements. Also, make sure to draw a longer path with the curve (don't draw a straight path). Longer paths will cover the whole roof area.


 


Step 19

Under the Object select Transform > Reflect. Set the Axis to Vertical and hit the Copy button. It will create another path that we will place as it shown on the picture below.



 


Step 20

Select both paths and under the Object select Blend > Make. To set the specific number of lines that the Blend Tool will create between our paths we need to select again Object > Blend > Blend Options. Set the Spacing to Specified Steps and the value to 10. It means Blend Tool will create 10 new paths in the middle.



 


Step 21

Let's expand (Object > Expand) the set of paths and Ungroup (Shift + Ctrl / Cmd + G) it. Select both end paths and duplicate (Ctrl / Command + C, Ctrl / Command + F) them. We need to add some anchor points now. Pick the Add Anchor Point Tool (+) from the Tool Panel and add two anchor points, as it shown on the picture below.



Step 22

Grab the Direct Selection Tool (A) from the Tool Panel now. Select lower end anchor points of both paths and remove them. You should end up with something like this


 


Step 23

Now we will join those paths by using the Pen Tool (P). Grab it from the Tool Panel and click on the end anchor points in order to join the paths. You should end up with something like this.





 


Step 24

Duplicate (Ctrl / Command + C, Ctrl / Command + F) yellow ellipse and send the copy to back (Shift + Ctrl / Command + [). You can lock and hide this layer. We will need that ellipse later again.

Select the blue shape we have just created and the yellow ellipse and under the Pathfinder Panel hit the Unite button.



 


Step 25

Select all the paths and bring them to the front (Shift + Ctrl / Command + ]). Now select all the paths together with the blue shape and under the Pathfinder Panel hit Divide button.



Step 26

When we Ungroup (Shift + Ctrl / Command + G) stripes that constitute the roof and change the Fill color of some stripes we should end up with something like this.


 


Step 27

There is one more thing we need to create in this part of the tutorial. Select the Pen Tool (P) from the Tool Panel one more time and create the shape as it shown on the picture below.




 


Step 28

We just have to repeat this step for the rest of the stripes. Continue drawing until you complete the whole brim of the roof.


We have created the basic shape of the circus tent. However, as you can see we are not even close to the final result, but we are on the good way to get there. So, let's continue. What follows will be more entertaining for us. We will get the chance to apply some nice color gradients and to move around some anchor points in order to finalize our illustration.


Step 29

From now on we will be doing something more interesting for sure. Since traditional circus tent has white and red stripes we will be using this colors mostly. Make sure to open your Swatch and Gradient Panels and start coloring.


 


Step 30

Apply same linear gradient to all red stripes.


 

 


Step 31

We will do the same for the white stripes.



 


Step 32

We need to modify the lower part of the tent a little bit. As you can notice, there's no door. We need to fix that. Grab the Direct Selection Tool (A) from the Tool Panel, select the lower anchor point of the red stripe and move it as it shown on the picture below.


 

 


Step 33

Now we need to adjust the handle position of that anchor point in order to make a nice curve on the side of the red stripe.


 

 


Step 34

We will repeat this step for the red stripe on the right as well.


 

 


Step 35

Now, we need to create a small shape that will represent the folded part of the open door. Grab the Pen Tool (P) from the Tool Panel and create the shape as it shown on the picture below.




 

 


Step 36

Repeat this step for the right side of the door as well. You should end up with something like this.


 

 


Step 37

Let's apply some nice color gradients for the red stripes.



 


Step 38

For the middle red stripes (door) we will be using red radial gradient.



 


Step 39

And, for the white stripes…



 


Step 40

We will be using radial gradient for the folded parts of the door.



 


Step 41

For the brim of the roof we will be using some nice and simple red and white gradients.





 


Step 42

As you can notice, the top of the tent is missing. Let's create that part of the illustration.

First we need to connect somehow ellipses on the top of the circus tent. Grab the Rectangle Tool (M) from the Tool Panel and create a rectangle. Make sure to match the end points of the rectangle with the end points of both ellipses (green one on the bottom and the red one on the top).



 


Step 43

Select the rectangle we have just created and the lower green ellipse and under the Pathfinder Panel hit the Unite button.


 


Step 44

Make sure to place other ellipses on the top of the illustration. Just select them and hit the shortcut on your keyboard (Shift + Ctrl / Commandd + ]).


 


Step 45

We will do the same thing with the ellipses on the very top of the circus tent. You should end up with something like this.


 


Step 46

Feel free to adjust the size of ellipses if needed.

Select all the stripes that constitute the roof and Group them (Ctrl / Command + G). Duplicate (Ctrl / Command + C, Ctrl / Command + F) the group of stripes, scale them down and place them as it shown on the picture below.


 


Step 47

With another ellipse we will cover the top of the roof. Just duplicate (Ctrl / Command + C, Ctrl / Command + F) the ellipse right underneath the set of smaller stripes. Bring the new ellipse to the front (Shift + Ctrl / Command + ]), scale it down and place it on the top of the tent. You should end up with something like this.


 


Step 48

We need to create few more details. Grab the Line Tool (/) from the Tool Panel and create vertical lines as it shown on the picture below.



Step 49

Select all the lines and the yellow shape underneath them and under the Pathfinder Panel hit Divide button. It will divide the yellow shape into small segments.


 


Step 50

Ungroup (Shift + Ctrl / Command + G) the segments we have just created and start applying color gradients.





 

 


Step 51

And two more gradients for the rest of the ellipses.




Step 52

From now on we will talk about importance of details. They can improve the look of the illustration a lot. Beside that we need to finish the roof and to make sure that our circus tent won't be blown away by strong wind. For that purpose we will create few strings to hold the tent firmly on the ground. But, let's get back to work. First, we are going to finish the roof. Let's create a nice red flag for the very top.

Grab Ellipse Tool (L) from the Tool Panel and create an ellipse as it shown on the picture below.


 


Step 53

Select the red ellipse right underneath the purple one and duplicate it (Ctrl / Command + C, Ctrl / Command + F). Bring the copy on the top of the illustration (Shift + Ctrl / Command + ]). Pick the Direct Selection Tool (A) from the Tool Panel, select the anchor point on the top of the red ellipse and remove it (hit Delete key on your keyboard).



 


Step 54

Remove the Fill color and set the Stroke color to any color. Nudge the path for the pixel or two upwards. Select the path and the purple ellipse and under the Pathfinder Panel hit Divide button.


 


Step 55

Ungroup (Shift + Ctrl / Command + G) the new shape and remove the lower part. Apply nice radial gradient.


 


Step 56

We will also apply nice radial gradient to the red ellipse underneath the metal cap we have just created. Dark red color in the color gradient will represent the shadow that metal cap is casting on the ellipse.



Step 57

Let's create a flag. Actually, first we will create a flag holder. To do that we will need to use Rectangle Tool (M). Grab it from the Tool Panel and create a rectangle as it shown on the picture below (make sure to align it with the rest of the circus tent).



Step 58

Now, we will do the same thing we did when we created the metal base for the flag. Duplicate (Ctrl / Command + C, Ctrl / Command + F) the metal base. Bring the copy on the top of the illustration by using following shortcut (Shift + Ctrl / Command + ]). With the Direct Selection Tool (A) select the upper anchor point and remove it by hitting Delete key on your keyboard. Remove the Fill color and set the Stroke color to any color you like.



Step 59

Place the curved path as it shown on the picture below.



Step 60

Select both, red rectangle and the path and under the Pathfinder Panel hit Divide button.



Step 61

Ungroup (Shift + Ctrl / Command + G) the flag holder and remove the lower part. You should end up with something like this.



Step 62

Let's apply nice metal linear gradient.



Step 63

For the top of the flag holder we need to create a metal ball. Grab the Ellipse Tool (L) from the Tool Panel and create a circle as it shown on the picture below.



Step 64

Apply nice radial gradient.



Step 65

Now we can create the flag. To do that, we will be using combination of Ellipse Tool (L) and Rounded Rectangle Tool. Grab Rounded Rectangle Tool from the Tool Panel and create the shapes as it shown on the picture below.



Step 66

After that, select the Ellipse Tool (L) from the Tool Panel and create the ellipse. Make sure to align both elements with the flag holder (and the rest of the circus tent) by using Horizontal Align Center under the Align Panel.



Step 67

Duplicate (Ctrl / Command + C, Ctrl / Command + F) the purple ellipse and place it as it shown on the picture below. Just select the copied ellipse and drag it downwards (don't forget to hold the Shift key on the keyboard for straight dragging).



Step 68

Select all the elements (yellow rounded rectangle and two purple ellipses) and under the Pathfinder Panel hit the Unite button. It will unite three elements into one.



Step 69

When we Ungroup (Shift + Ctrl / Command + G) stripes that constitute the roof and change the Fill color of some stripes we should end up with something like this.



Step 70

Grab the Ellipse Tool (L) from the Tool Panel one more time and create ellipse like this.



Step 71

Select the purple shape and the green ellipse and under the Pathfinder Panel hit Minus Front button.



Step 72

You should end up with something like this.



Step 73h2>

Let's apply nice linear gradient.



Step 74

And finally, let's draw the flag. Grab the Pen Tool (P) from the Tool Panel and draw the shape as it shown on the picture below.


 


Step 75

Remove the Stroke color and apply nice linear gradient.


 


Step 76

There is another thing we can create. We actually need a “hole” for the flag holder. Without that hole it looks like the flag holder is stick to the metal cap on the top of the tent. Let's fix that. Grab Ellipse Tool (L) from the Tool Panel and create an ellipse like this. Set its Fill color to #453C3D.


 


Step 77

Make sure to place the flag (with the flag holder) on the top of that ellipse. Select all the elements that constitute the flag and hit the shortcut on your keyboard (Shift + Ctrl / Command + ]).


 


Step 78

Let's fix the inner side of the circus tent. For that we will be using the yellow ellipse we locked and hide before. Find that layer in the Layer Panel (the last one on the list of layers) unlock it, make it visible and bring it to front (Shift + Ctrl / Command + ]). We will be using this ellipse more than just once.



Step 79

Duplicate (Ctrl / Command + C, Ctrl / Command + F) yellow ellipse, scale the copy down to fit the bottom of the circus tent and place it as it shown on the picture below.



Step 80

Apply nice radial gradient.



Step 81

Place the green ellipse inside the circus tent.



Step 82

For the inner wall of the tent we will be using red linear gradient.



Step 83

As you can see we are almost done with our illustration. We just need to create few edge highlights and some security strings.

Duplicate (Ctrl / Command + C, Ctrl / Command + F) the yellow ellipse two times. Nudge one of them for 1 pixel upwards. Select both copies and under the Pathfinder Panel hit Minus Front button.



 


Step 84

Select the third yellow ellipse, scale it down and move it upwards (make sure to save one more copy of the yellow ellipse for the tents base). Place it as it shown on the picture below.



Step 85

Duplicate (Ctrl / Command + C, Ctrl / Command + F) the ellipse and nudge the copy for 1 pixel upwards. Basically, we are doing the same thing we did for the large brim of the tent.



 


Step 86

Set the Fill color of the both highlights to white and low the Opacity to 30%.



Step 87

Select the last copy of the yellow ellipse ana place it as it shown on the picture below.



Step 88

Duplicate (Ctrl / Command + C, Ctrl / Command + F) the yellow ellipse one more time and nudge it for the few pixels downwards.



Step 89

Let's apply some nice color gradients.



 


Step 90

Do you remember what we did to create the edge highlight? Well, we will do the same thing to create the edge highlight for the stand.



 


Step 91

Let's create a nice soft shadow underneath the circus tent. That way we will avoid the floating look of the circus tent. Duplicate (Ctrl / Command + C, Ctrl / Command + F) the upper ellipse of the tents stand, scale it up and place it underneath the tent (Shift + Ctrl / Command + [). We will apply nice radial gradient.



Step 92

The only thing that's left is to create few strings to hold our circus tent on the ground. To create them we will duplicate (Ctrl / Command + C, Ctrl / Command + F) the flag holder from the top of the circus tent. Rotate it and place it as it shown on the picture below.



Step 93

Grab the Rectangle Tool (M) from the Tool Panel and create a rectangle. Make sure to remove Fill and Stroke color.



Step 94

Select both elements and under the Object select Clipping Mask > Make.


 


Step 95

This way we are going to trim the peg for the string. You should end up with something like this.


 


Step 96

Grab the Ellipse Tool from the Tool Panel and create the ellipse as it shown on the picture below.


 


Step 98

We are going to apply radial gradient to our ellipse in order to create the shadow that peg is casting on the ground.


 


Step 99

Select the peg and its shadow and Group it (Ctrl / Command + G). Under the Object select Transform > Reflect. Set the Axis to Vertical and hit the Copy button. Place the new peg as it shown on the picture below.


 


Step 100

Make few copies of the peg with the shadow and place them around the circus tent.


 


Step 101

Grab the Pen Tool (P) from the Tool Panel. We are going to create few strings. Just make sure to draw the path that connects a peg with the circus tent. Also, make sure not to make string too tight.


 


Step 102

Do the same thing to create the rest of the strings. And voila! Our circus tent is done!


 


Conclusion

Although it seem like a very long and complicated tutorial with many steps to complete you have to admit it was quite simple. All you need for illustration like this is a good imagination, few simple techniques and a good choice of color combinations. Good thing about vectors is that they are fully editable. You can move things around, combine them and play with colors and shadows until you create something you really like. I hope you like this tutorial. If you have any question or comment please post it in the comment section below. You can also post a tutorial request if there is something you would like to learn. I would be glad to meet your request.

Thank you for following along.


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