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Create a Detailed Envelope Illustration in Adobe Illustrator

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Gift

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In the following steps you will learn how to create a detailed envelope illustration in Adobe Illustrator. For starters you will learn how to setup a grid and how to create a pattern and a simple graphic style. Next, using that pattern along with some basic tools and vector shape building techniques you will learn how to create the essential pieces of the envelope. Moving on, using basic effects and taking full advantage of the Appearance panel you will learn how to add shading, depth and highlights for the overall illustration. Finally, using mainly the Appearance panel and some basic masking techniques you will learn how to create a stamp and two subtle seals.


1. Create a New Document & Setup a Grid

Hit Control + N to create a new document. Enter 600 in the width and height boxes then click the Advanced button. Select RG, Screen (72ppi) and make sure that the Align New Objects to Pixel Grid box is unchecked before you click OK.

Enable the Grid (View > Show Grid) and the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). You'll need a grid every 5px, so simply go to Edit > Preferences > Guides > Grid, enter 5 in the Gridline every box and 1 in the Subdivisions box. You should also open the Info panel (Window > Info) for a live preview with the size and position of your shapes. Do not forget to set the unit of measurement to pixels from Edit > Preferences > Units > General. All these options will significantly increase your work speed.

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2. Create a Pattern and a Graphic Style

Step 1

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and focus on your Toolbar. Remove the color from the stroke then select the fill and set its color at R=255 G=222 B=23. Move to your Artboard and simply create a 10 x 40px rectangle, the Snap to Grid should ease your work. Set the fill color at R=162 G=179 B=189, create a 10 x 15px rectangle and place it as shown in the second image then set the fill color at R=225 G=176 B=169, create another 10 x 15px rectangle and place it as shown in the second image. Focus on the smaller rectangles and pick the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select the four anchor points highlighted in the second image and simple drag them 5px down. Again, the Snap to Grid will ease your work. Reselect that yellow rectangle and simply remove the color from the fill. Select all three shapes and simply drag them inside the Swatches panel (Window > Swatches) to save them as a pattern. Once you have your pattern you can remove those shape from your Artboard.

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Step 2

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M), create a random shape, fill it with black and lower its Opacity to 15%. Make sure that this new shape stays selected, open the Graphic Styles panel (Window > Graphic Style) and simply click the New Graphic Style button (pointed by the little, blue arrow). Double click on this newly saved graphic style and simply name it "black". Get back to your artboard and remove the existing shape.

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3. Create the Envelope

Step 1

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 250 x 160px shape, fill it with the linear gradient shown below and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 10px radius, click OK and go to Object > Expand Appearance. Move to the Layers panel (Window > Layers), double-click on the existing shape and simply name it "main". Select "main" and make a copy in front (Control + C > Control + F), you'll need it later.

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The white numbers from the Gradient image stand for Location percentage.

Step 2

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 10 x 160px shape, add that "black" graphic style and place it as shown in the first image. Duplicate this thin rectangle (Control + C > Control + F), select the copy, drag it to the right and place it as shown in the second image. Select both shapes and hit Control + 8 (or go to Object > Compound Path > Make) to turn them into a simple Compound Path. Select this compound path along with the "main" copy, open the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder) and click the Intersect button. Make sure that the resulting group is selected and hit Shift + Control + G to Ungroup it.

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Step 3

Select both black shapes, increase their Opacity to 100% then go to the Swatches panel and add your pattern.

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Step 4

Select "main", make a copy in front (Control + C > Control + F) and bring it to front (Shift + Control + ] ). Make sure that this copy stays selected and focus on the Appearance panel (Window > Appearance). Remove that linear gradient from the fill and add a black stroke. Select it, set the Blending Mode at Soft Light then hit the Duplicate Selected Item button (pointed by the little, blue arrow in the following image) four times. In the end your should have five strokes. Keep focusing on the Appearance panel, select the bottom stroke, make it 1pt wide, align it to inside and lower its Opacity to 60%. Move up to the next stroke, make it 2pt wide, align it to inside and lower its Opacity to 30%. Move up to the next stroke, make it 3pt wide, align it to inside and lower its Opacity to 20%. Move up to the next stroke, make it 5pt wide, align it to inside and lower its Opacity to 15%. Finally, select the top stroke, make it 7pt wide, align it to inside and lower its Opacity to 10%.

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Step 5

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 270 x 105px shape, add your "black" graphic style and place it as shown in the first image. Focus on the top side of this new rectangle, pick the Direct Selection Tool (A), select both anchor points (highlighted in the first image) and hit Alt + Control + J (or go to Object > Path > Average). Check the Both box and click OK. This should turn your rectangle into a triangle. Reselect "main" and make a copy in front (Control + C > Control + F). Select it along with the triangle shape and click the Intersect button from the Pathfinder panel. Select the resulting shape, increase the Opacity to 100% and fill it with the linear gradient shown in the following image. Move to the Layers panel and name this new shape "bottomFold".

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Step 6

Select "main" and make a copy in front (Control + C > Control + F) then select "bottomFold" and go to Object > Path > Offset Path. Enter a 1px Offset and click OK. Select both shapes made in this step and click the Intersect button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with black, lower its Opacity to 50% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

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Step 7

Select "main" and make a copy in front (Control + C > Control + F) then select "bottomFold" and go to Object > Path > Offset Path. Enter a 3px Offset and click OK. Select both shapes made in this step and click the Intersect button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with black, lower its Opacity to 30% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

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Step 8

Disable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid) then go to Edit > Preferences > General and make sure that the Keyboard Increment is set at 1px. Select "bottomFold" and make two copies in front (Control + C > Control + F > Control + F). Select the top copy and move it 1px up using the up arrow from your keyboard. Reselect both copies and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with black and change its Blending Mode to Soft Light.

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Step 9

Select "bottomFold" and make two copies in front (Control + C > Control + F > Control + F). Select the top copy and move it 2px up using the up arrow from your keyboard. Reselect both copies and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with white, lower its Opacity to 30% and change the Blending Mode to Overlay.

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Step 10

Select "bottomFold" and make two copies in front (Control + C > Control + F > Control + F). Select the top copy and move it 3px down using the down arrow from your keyboard. Reselect both copies and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with white, lower its Opacity to 60% and change the Blending Mode to Overlay.

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Step 11

Select "bottomFold" and make two copies in front (Control + C > Control + F > Control + F). Select the top copy and move it 4px down using the down arrow from your keyboard. Reselect both copies and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with black, lower its Opacity to 80% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

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Step 12

Reselect "bottomFold" along with all the shapes used to highlight this side of the envelope and simply Group them (Control + G). Move to the Layers panel, double click on this new group and name it "bottomFold".

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Step 13

Enable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid) then select "main" and make a copy in front (Control + C > Control + F). Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 270 x 105px shape, add the "black" graphic style and place it as shown in the second image. Focus on the bottom side of this new rectangle, pick the Direct Selection Tool (A), select both anchor points (highlighted in the second image) and hit Alt + Control + J. Check the Both box and click OK. Select this new triangle shape and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 5px radius, click OK and go to Object > Expand Appearance. Select the resulting shape along with the "main" copy and click the Intersect button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with the linear gradient shown in the following image and increase its Opacity to 100%. Move to the Layers panel and name this new shape "topFold".

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Step 14

Select "main" and make a copy in front (Control + C > Control + F) then select "topFold" and go to Object > Path > Offset Path. Enter a 1px Offset and click OK. Select both shapes made in this step and click the Intersect button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with black, lower its Opacity to 50% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

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Step 15

Select "main" and make a copy in front (Control + C > Control + F) then select "topFold" and go to Object > Path > Offset Path. Enter a 3px Offset and click OK. Select both shapes made in this step and click the Intersect button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with black, lower its Opacity to 30% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

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Step 16

Disable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). Select "topFold" and make two copies in front (Control + C > Control + F > Control + F). Select the top copy and move it 1px down using the down arrow from your keyboard. Reselect both copies and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with white and change its Blending Mode to Soft Light.

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Step 17

Select "topFold" and make two copies in front (Control + C > Control + F > Control + F). Select the top copy and move it 3px up. Reselect both copies and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with white, lower its Opacity to 60% and change the Blending Mode to Overlay.

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Step 18

Select "topFold" and make two copies in front (Control + C > Control + F > Control + F). Select the top copy and move it 4px up. Reselect both copies and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with black, lower its Opacity to 90% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

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Step 19

Reselect "topFold" along with all the shapes used to highlight this side of the envelope and Group them (Control + G). Move to the Layers panel and name this new group "topFold".

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Step 20

Enable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 200 x 90px shape, fill it with R=189 G=189 B=174 and place it as shown in the first image. Switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A), focus on the bottom side of this new rectangle, select both anchor points (highlighted in the first image) and hit Alt + Control + J. Check the Both box and click OK. Move to the Layers panel, double click on this new triangle and name it "topFold Shadow". Select it, drag it below the "topFold" group then focus on the Appearance panel. Select the fill, lower its Opacity to 75%, change the Blending Mode to Multiply and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 10px radius, click OK and go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Enter a 5px radius and click OK.

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Step 21

Reselect "main", make a copy in front (Control + C > Control + F) and bring it to front (Shift + Control + ] ). Focus on this new shape, replace the linear gradient with R=165 G=165 B=165 and change its Blending Mode to Color Burn. Select all the shapes made so far and Group them (Control + G). Move to the Layers panel and name this new group "envelope".

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4. Add a Patterned Background

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M), create a shape the size of your artboard (600 x 600px), fill it with R=193 G=212 B=212 and send it to back (Shift + Control + [ ). Make sure that this new shape stays selected, focus on the Appearance panel and add a second fill using the Add New Fill button (pointed by the little, blue arrow in the following image). Select this new fill and add the radial gradient shown below. Keep focusing on the Appearance panel and add a third fill for this square. You will need a built in pattern for this new fill. Move to the Swatches panel (Window > Swatches), open the fly-out menu and go to Open Swatch Library > Patterns > Basic Graphics > Basic Graphics_Textures. This should open a new window with a simple set of built-in pattern. Make sure that your square is still selected, return to the Appearance panel and select that third fill. Add the "Diamond" pattern, lower its Opacity to 60% and change the Blending Mode to Overlay. Move to the Layers panel name this new shape "background" then lock it to make sure that you won't accidentally select/move it.

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The yellow zero from the Gradient image stands for Opacity percentage.

5. Add Shading and Multiply the Envelope

Step 1

Select your "envelope" group and go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the properties shown in the left window (in the following image), click OK and go again to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the properties shown in the middle window (in the following image) and go one more time to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the properties shown in the right window (in the following image) and click OK.

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Step 2

Make sure that your "envelope" group is still selected and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the left window, click OK and go again to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the right window and click OK. Notice how the pattern did not change its orientation for the rotated envelope. To fix this issue you need to expand the patterned shapes. Focus on the Layers panel, open your "envelope" group, select both patterned shapes and go to Object > Expand. In the end things should look like in the third image. Get back to the Layers panel and lock the "envelope" group.

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6. Create a Simple Stamp

Step 1

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 25px square, fill it with white and place it as shown below. Add a 2pt, red stroke for this new shape, select it and open the Stroke panel (Window > Stroke). Check the "Dashed Line" box then enter 2 in the first dash and gap boxes.

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Step 2

Make sure that your 25px square is still selected and go to Object > Path > Outline Stroke. Select the resulting group of shapes and hit the Unite button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with black and lower its Opacity to 5%. Move to the Layers panel, name this new shape "stampShadow" then make a copy in front (Control + C > Control + F). Select it, increase the Opacity to 100% and replace the black with the linear gradient shown in the following image. Return to the Layers panel and name this new shape "stamp".

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Step 3

Select your "stamp" shape, focus on the Appearance panel and add a second fill. Select it, set the color at black, lower its Opacity to 40%, change the Blending Mode to Soft Light and go to Effect > Convert to Shape > Rectangle. Enter the properties shown in the following image and click OK.

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Step 4

Make sure that your "stamp" shape is still selected, focus on the Appearance panel and add two black strokes using the Add New Stroke button (pointed by the little, blue arrow in the following image). Select the bottom one and make it 1pt wide. Align it to inside, lower its Opacity to 40%, change the Blending Mode to Soft Light and go to Effect > Convert to Shape > Rectangle. Enter the properties shown in the following image and click OK. Move to the top stroke, make it 1pt wide, align it to inside, lower its Opacity to 40%, change the Blending Mode to Soft Light and go to Effect > Convert to Shape > Rectangle. Enter the properties shown below and click OK.

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Step 5

Keep focusing on the "stamp" shape, make sure that no fill or stroke is selected (in the Appearance panel) and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Free Distort. Drag the bottom, left anchor point as shown in the following image, click OK and go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the properties shown below and click OK.

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7. Create Two Simple Seals

Step 1

Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 35px circle, place it as shown in the following image, fill it with none, but add four, red (R=237 G=28 B=36) strokes. Focus on the Appearance panel, select the bottom stroke, make it 2pt wide and align to inside. Move up to the next stroke, make it 1pt wide, align it to inside and go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a -3px Offset and click OK. Continue with the next stroke, make it 1pt wide, align it to inside and go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a -9px Offset and click OK. Get back to the Appearance panel, select the top stroke, make it 2pt wide, align it to inside and go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a -11px Offset and click OK. Move to the Layers panel and name this tiny circle "redSeal".

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Step 2

Using the Type Tool (T), add a simple piece of text as shown in the following image. Set its color at R=28 G=117 B=188 and use the "Myriad Pro" font with the style set at Bold and the size at 8pt.

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Step 3

Make sure that your piece of text is still selected, focus on the Appearance panel and add a 1pt stroke. Select it , set the color at R=28 G=117 B=188 and go to Effect > Convert to Shape > Rectangle. Enter the properties shown in the following image, click OK and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 3px radius, click OK and return to the Appearance panel. Make sure that the stroke is still selected and click the Duplicate Select Item button. Focus on this new stroke, make it 2pt wide and open the existing Rounded Corners effect. Increase the radius to 5px, click OK and go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a 2.5px Offset and click OK. Move to the Layers panel and name this piece of text "blueSeal".

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Step 4

Disable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). For this step you will need the "Chalk - Scribble" art brush. Here's what you need to do if you don't have it inside your Brushes panel. Open the fly-out menu of the Brushes panel (Window > Brushes) and simply go to Open Brush Library > Artistic > Artistic_ChalkCharcoalPencil. Select the "Chalk - Scribble" art brush, pick the Brush Tool (B) and draw to simple path over your seal shapes as shown in the following image. Set the color of these brushes at R=30 G=30 B=30.

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Step 5

Open the Transparency panel (Window > Transparency). Select "redSeal" along with the brush that covers it, open the fly-out menu of the Transparency panel and go to Make Opacity Mask. Make sure that this masked shape stays selected, un-check the Clip box from the Transparency panel and change its Blending Mode to Soft Light.

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Step 6

Select the "blueSeal" along with that art brush, repeat the masking technique used for the "redSeal", but set the Blending Mode at Multiply instead of Soft Light and lower the Opacity to 10%.

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Congratulations! You're Done!

Here is how it should look. I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial and can apply these techniques in your future projects.

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