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Create a Galaxy Globe in Illustrator

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In this tutorial I will show you how to create the 'Galaxy Globe' that I created for the Vectortuts+ Snow Globe Showdown. We'll use Opacity Masks, Mesh Tool, and more. Learn how to create an imaginative scene in Illustrator.


Introduction

In order to keep things organized I have split the tutorial into 3 sections:

  1. The Galaxy - in this section you will be using Transform Effects, Transparency Blends, 3D effects and making a custom Scatter Brush.
  2. The Hand - here you will be creating Gradient Meshes and using the Width Tool.
  3. The Globe - in this final section you will be using Clipping Masks, Glow Effects and the Flare Tool.

Step 1 - The Galaxy

Start by creating a new document with the dimensions of 1500 x 1500 pixels and use RGB color space.

Name the initial layer "Galaxy", create a new sublayer from the Layers panel menu and call it "Background". Using the Rectangle Tool (M), draw out a square that fills the whole artboard, fill it with RGB black (R=0, G=0, B=0) and lock the layer. This background will not be used in the final illustration, but will allow us to see the galaxy over black as we create it.



Step 2

Create three color swatches with the RGB values shown below.

Create a new sublayer of "Galaxy" above "Background" and name it "Cloud Twist". Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a rectangle 150px wide and 600px high. Center it on the artboard and fill it with the color swatch R=251, G=176, B=59.



Step 3

With the rectangle selected choose Effect > Distort & Transform > Twist. Set the Angle to 300 degrees.



Step 4

Apply a Transform effect (Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform) to the rectangle and set the values to those shown below.



Step 5

Set the Transparency Blend Mode of the selected rectangle to Hard Light.



Step 6

Apply a Gaussian Blur to the rectangle (Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur) and set the Radius to 23 pixels.



Step 7

Apply an Inner Glow to the rectangle (Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow). Set the mode color to RGB black and the settings to those shown.



Step 8

Duplicate the "Cloud Twist" sublayer and set its Transparency Blend to Hard Light.



Step 9

Apply another Transform effect (Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform) and set the values to those shown below.




Step 10

Duplicate the "Cloud Twist 2" sublayer and set the Transparency Blend to Hard Light.


To keep things organized, select the three Cloud Twist sublayers and, from the Layers Panel menu, choose Collect in New Layer and name it "Cloud".



Step 11

Create a new sublayer at the top of the "Cloud" layer and call it "Glow". Use the Ellipse Tool (L) to create a 443px circle and center it on the artboard. Set the fill to the color swatch R=255, G=255, B=131.



Step 12

Apply a Radial Gradient to the shape and set the outer swatch Opacity to 0%.



Step 13

Set the Transparency Blend of the circle to Hard Light.



Step 14

As the next step will rasterize some of the effects I recommend duplicating the "Cloud" layer, locking and hiding it. Call the duplicate layer "Cloud 3D".


Click the target circle on the right of the "3D Cloud" layer to select all the elements within it and apply a 3D Rotate effect (Effect > 3D > Rotate) using the settings shown below.



Step 15

Create a new sublayer of the main "Galaxy" layer and call it "Star Twist". Next draw a line 450px in length using the Line Segment Tool (\). Center it on the artboard and give it a 1pt stroke set to the swatch color R=255, G=255, B=204.



Step 16

With the line selected choose Effect > Distort & Transform > Twist. Set the Angle to 360 degrees.



Step 17

Apply a Transform effect (Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform) to the line and set the values to those shown below.



Step 18

Apply a 3D Rotate effect (Effect > 3D > Rotate) to the transformed line using the settings shown below.



Step 19

Set a Roughen effect (Effect > Distort & Transform > Roughen).


Set the Size 7px Absolute, Detail to 0px and Points to Smooth.



Step 20

With the roughened graphic selected expand it (Object > Expand Appearance). This will convert the graphic into a new sublayer containing its constituent parts and add a clipping path. We don't want the clipping path, so select it in the Layers Panel (see below) and delete it using the trash symbol in the bottom right of the Layers Panel.



Step 21

Swap the object fill to a stroke (Shift + X) and set the stroke weight to 0.5pt.




Step 22

For the stars we need to create a Scatter Brush. On a blank section of the artboard create a 27px circle and fill it with the swatch R=255, G=255, B=204. From the Brushes Panel menu select New Brush.


From the dialogue box that appears choose Scatter Brush.


In the Scatter Brushes Options window set the values to those shown. Now name the new brush "Star".



Step 23

With the "Star Twist" layer elements selected choose the "Star" brush you've just created to add stars to the galaxy.



Step 24

At this point I decided that the stars didn't trail along with the cloud enough, so with the Path Tool (P), I added 4 tails to the existing "Star Twist" layer. Again I set the stroke to 0.5pt, the color to R=255, G=255, B=204, and the brush to the "Star" Scatter Brush.



Step 25

With all the elements of the "Star Twist" layer selected apply an Outer Glow effect (Effect > Stylize > Outer Glow).


Set the Outer Glow Settings to Hard Light with a color of R=255, G=255, B=204, an Opacity of 50%, and Blur 4px.


The Galaxy is now complete.



Step 26 - The Hand

Create a New Document 1500px by 1500px and name it "Galaxy Globe." Name the default layer "Hand" and create a new layer above (Command + L) named "Globe".

Using the Ellipse Tool (L) create a 900px circle and make its center values x=750px and y=650px. Apply a 1pt black stroke.

For now it's best to lock the "Globe" layer, as we're just using it as a guide.



Step 27

At this point I took a webcam shot of my hand in a suitable pose and Placed (File > Place) it on the "Hand" layer. Scale and Rotate the image until you're happy with the positioning relative to the circle.



Step 28

Create a new sublayer of "Hand" and name it "Hand Behind".

Using the Path Tool (P) draw out the outlines of the thumb, palm and little finger separately. I used a red stroke color to make them stand out from the background.



Step 29

Create a new sublayer of "Hand", position it above "Hand Behind" and call it "Hand Infront". Draw out the outlines of the index, middle and ring fingers.



Step 30

Add the outlines of the fingernails.



Step 31

For each fingernail draw out filled paths for the tip and base of the nail.




Step 32

Add creases to the fingers by creating curved 1pt paths where the joints are.



Step 33

Using the Width Tool (Shift + W) click and drag out to thicken the lines in the middle and narrow them at the ends as shown.





Step 34

Repeat this in all the crease locations.


Make sure that the front finger creases are on the "Hand Infront" layer and the palm, thumb and little finger creases are on the "Hand Behind" layer.


Step 35

This is where the fun begins.

Select the outlined path of the little finger and convert it to a Gradient Mesh (Object > Create Gradient Mesh) and set the Rows to 8 and Columns to 5. This is just a starting number, as you will probably need to add a few extra lines as you shape them later.

Depending on the shape of the path the Gradient Mesh will vary and is unlikely to look exactly the same as below. You will have to adjust the mesh points with the Mesh Tool (U) to get a good shape. To make the mesh point follow either a vertical or horizontal line, hold down the Shift key when dragging. This is the best way to move them along the shape edge without distorting it. You will need to adjust the mesh point handles to keep a smooth path as you work along each area.

To add additional mesh points with the Mesh Tool (U) hover over a line and the cursor will show a + symbol. Clicking will add an intersecting line. If you click in an area between lines a new column and row will be created.

This is undoubtedly the lengthiest part of creating the illustration and is worth spending time on.



Step 36

The fill color will automatically be set to white. In my case I set the base skin color to R=236, G=193, B=156. This will vary depending on the skin color you are aiming for. Either way it should be a mid-tone as we are going to add shade and highlights shortly.



Step 37

It may be of some help when choosing skin tones to start with the built in Skintones Swatch Pallet (Window > Swatch Libraries > Skintones). I find that darker tones for shaded sections are achieved more effectively using the HSB color sliders - darker tones need more Saturation otherwise they look washed out. It's worth experimenting with this to see which tones are most effective for you.

Select mesh points along the bottom edge of the finger and darken to add shadow and shape. To pick up and apply color from any point use the Eyedropper Tool (I) - select a point and Shift-click to pick up the color from elsewhere.

To drop the color onto other areas hold down Option (the eyedropper cursor changes to a full symbol) and click to add that color. If you click between the mesh points the color will be applied to the 4 surrounding points.



Step 38

To create the effect of the galaxy shining out of the globe you need to add some highlights to the hand. Apply yellow H=60, S=20, B=100, along the top of the finger as shown.



Step 39

It's important to give the finger some shape, so take time to add shading to represent creases and areas of shadow.



Step 40

Follow the techniques used in Steps 35-39 for the thumb and palm.

Convert the thumb path to a Gradient Mesh (Object > Create Gradient Mesh).


Add a base skin tone and adjust the mesh points to shape the thumb.


Shape the thumb using shade and highlights.



Step 41

Convert the palm path to a Gradient Mesh (Object > Create Gradient Mesh) and adjust the mesh points to shape the palm.


Set the base skin tone and shape the palm using shade and highlight.



Step 42

Where the palm and thumb overlap set the adjacent mesh points to the same color. This will help to make the join seamless. This is not crucial, as the globe will eventually be hiding some of this area.



Step 43

The three front fingers are created in the same way as the back, but you will need to spend more time shaping around the fingernails.

Convert the ring finger path to a Gradient Mesh (Object > Create Gradient Mesh) and add a base skin tone.


Adjust the mesh points to shape the finger.


Shape the finger using shade and highlight. Around the nail shape you will need to add a darker shade for a more 3D effect (See below).



Step 44

Add the highlight to the top...


...and along the edge.



Step 45

Convert the middle finger path to a Gradient Mesh (Object > Create Gradient Mesh).


Add a base skin tone.


Adjust the mesh points to shape the thumbusing shade and highlights.

 



Step 46

Convert the index finger path to a Gradient Mesh (Object > Create Gradient Mesh).


Add a base skin tone.


Adjust the mesh points to shape the finger using shade and highlights. The bottom left edge points will need to match the points below for a smooth transition to the palm(as you did for the thumb).

 



Step 47

Next we can change all the strange red nails and creases to more realistic colors.

First, change the fill color of the nail top and bottom to R=245, G=224, B=205. The coloring of the nail elements will need to reflect the skin color you are creating.



Step 48

Convert the nail path to a Gradient Mesh (Object > Create Gradient Mesh)...


...and set its fill color to R=250, G=240, B=230.



Step 49

Set the color of the outer mesh points to a darker color. I used R=254, G=224, B=205.

If the top and bottom nail elements are below the main mesh, select them and bring them to the front (Shift + Command + Right Bracket key).



Step 50

Set the Transparency Opacity of the mesh to 75%.



Step 51

Repeat the Steps 47-50 with the remaining fingernails.

Middle finger






Step 52

Here is the Index finger.






Step 53

Here is the Little finger.





Step 54

Change the stroke color of the creases for each element. The darkness for each will depend on the darkness of the surrounding skin color.




At this point you can hide or delete the placed hand photo.


Step 55 - The Globe

We're on the final run now. Move the "Globe" layer down between the "Hand Infront" and "Hand Below" layers.



Step 56

The first thing to create is the globe shadow on the hand. Create a new sublayer of "Globe", name it "Hand Shadow" and, with the Ellipse Tool (L), draw out a 1000px circle and set its center point to x=750px and y=670px.



Step 57

Fill the shape with a Radial Gradient and set the colors and locations to those shown below.



Step 58

Set the shape's Transparency Blend to Multiply and it's Opacity to 90%.



Step 59

We need to create a clipping mask using the outline of "Hand Behind" layer elements. With all the elements of the "Hand Behind" layer selected, then apply Object > Path > Offset Path and set Offset to 0px.


Three duplicate (Gradient Mesh free) shapes will be created.



Step 60

With the new shapes still selected combine the 3 elements by clicking the Unite option from the Pathfinder Panel.



Step 61

Move the shape to the top of the "Hand Shadow" layer.



Step 62

With the 2 elements selected create the clipping mask (Object > Clipping Mask > Make or Command + 7). Lock the "Hand Shadow" layer to avoid selecting it in the next steps.



Step 63

Select the globe outlined circle shape and swap the stroke to a fill (Shift + X). Make sure the color is RGB black (R=0, G=0, B=0).



Step 64

Set the Transparency Blend of the shape to Multiply with an Opacity of 88%.



Step 65

Give the shape an Inner Glow effect (Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow) with an Opacity of 75% and Blur of 25px. Make the Mode Normal and the color white.



Step 66

With the circle still selected create an Offset Path (Object > Path > Offset Path) with an Offset of -7px.



Step 67

In the Appearance Panel click on Inner Glow to bring up the Inner Glow effect panel. Set the the Mode to Screen, the color to white and the Blur to 120px.



Step 68

With the shape still selected, create another Offset Path, this time using an Offset value of -155px. In the Appearance Panel select Inner Glow and delete it using the trash icon.



Step 69

Fill the shape with a Radial Gradient. Set both ends to the same bright yellow (R=255, G=255, B=204), but set the right hand swatch to an Opacity of 0%.



Step 70

Set the Transparency Blend mode to Screen. Create a new sublayer of "Globe" called "center Glow" and move the new shape to it.



Step 71

Create a new sublayer of the "Globe" layer, set it to the top of the layer and call it "Reflection". Draw out a roughly semi-circular shape in the top left of the globe shape and fill it with white.



Step 72

Set the Transparency Blend mode of the shape to Soft Light with an Opacity of 80%.



Step 73

Create a new sublayer of "Globe," and use the Flare Tool (found in the same tool set as the Ellipse Tool) to create a Flare shape.


Once the tool is selected, click on the center of the globe and the Flare Tool Options dialogue will appear. Set the values to those shown below. The shape is created randomly so it will look different to the one shown.



Step 74

Set the flare shape's Transparency Blend to Hard Light.



Step 75

The Flare Tool adds an optical effect to the shape that we don't need for this illustration. To remove it Right-click on the flare shape and choose Isolate Selected Group from the contextual menu to enter Isolation Mode. This allows you to edit elements within the group individually.

With the Group Selection Tool active (it's in the same tool set as the Direct Selection Tool) select and delete the smaller circle.


Then select and delete the larger circle.


Exit Isolation Mode by Right-clicking and choosing Exit Isolation Mode from the contextual menu.



Step 76

Copy (Command + C) and Paste in Place (Command + F) the outer globe shape, and move above the flare shape you've just created.



Step 77

With both the elements selected create a Clipping Mask (Command + 7). Name the layer containing the flare shape and clipping mask "Flare".



Step 78

It's time to add the galaxy we created earlier. Open up the "Galaxy" document, turn off the black "Background" layer and Select All (Command + A).



Step 79

Expand the appearance of the selected elements (Object > Expand Appearance).

I would advise doing this before you bring it into the main document, as all the active effects will overwork the computer's processors and slow things down considerably.

With everything still selected Copy (Command + C) and Paste (Command + V) the galaxy into the main document. Close the "Galaxy" document without saving so that your original file will still have live effects.



Step 80

Scale the "Galaxy" layer you've just pasted to a suitable size within the globe. To constrain the proportions when scaling Shift-drag.

Rotate the galaxy a little by selecting the Rotate Tool (R), choose the rotation center point by clicking in the middle of the globe and dragging around the outside until the angle is looking good.



Step 81

The outside of the galaxy needs to be clipped to the globe. The quickest way to do this is to copy the Clipping Mask we created for the flare.

Click the reveal triangle on the "Flare" layer to show the sublayers within. Select the "Clipping Path" layer, Option-drag it over "Group" within the "Galaxy" layer and release. This will duplicate and apply a Clipping Mask to those elements.



Step 82

Move the "Galaxy" layer below the "center Glow" layer.



Step 83

The finishing touch is to add a shadow below the hand.

Create a new sublayer below all the other layers and call it "Shadow". Create a rough hand shape with the Path Tool (P), similar to that shown below, and set the fill color to R=96, G=57, B=21.



Step 84

Set the Transparency Opacity of the shadow shape to 45%.



Step 85

Add a Gaussian Blur effect (Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur) and set the Radius to 20 pixels.



Finished!

Congratulations! You made it to the end. I hope you've learned a lot. I'd love to here your comments.


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