Create a Glowing Vector Lightsaber
In this tutorial, I'll show you how to create a vector lightsaber. You will use some simple shapes, blends, and gradients in this intermediate tutorial. Also, if you want to learn more about all sorts of light weapons then check out wookieepedia, there is a page on the Lightsaber there.
Final Image Preview
To start off, let's take a look at the final illustration below.
Create a new letter sized document. Use the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a rectangle 36 px wide by 216 px tall.
With the rectangle selected go to Filter > Stylize > Round Corner to bring up the Round Corners dialog. Change the Radius to 11 px.
For this step we're going to create the top lip of the lightsaber. With the Ellipse Tool (L) draw a ellipse that is 30 px wide by 70 px tall. Place the ellipse so the center of the ellipse is on the right edge of the rectangle and the top fourth of the ellipse is above the rectangle.
Select the rectangle with the Selection Tool (V), hold down Alt + Shift and drag a copy upwards until it encompass the ellipse.
Select the copied rectangle and the ellipse, press the Intersect Shape Areas button from the Pathfinder Panel, and then press the Expand button.
Select the main rectangle and the intersected ellipse, press the Add To Shape Areas button from the Pathfinder Panel , and press the Expand button.
With the body of the lightsaber selected, create a Linear Gradient from the Gradient Panel. Add two more swatches to the gradient by clicking right below the Gradient Slider two times. Change the first swatch to a 38% black, the second swatch to a 18% black, the third swatch to a 67% black, and the fourth swatch to a 11% black. Now it's time to change the location of the swatch on the Gradient Slider, which can be changed in the Gradient Panel above the Gradient Slider. Change the first swatch's location to 5, the second to 18, the third to 67, and the fourth to 100.
Use the Ellipse Tool and create a ellipse that is 25 px wide by 14 px tall. Fill the ellispe with the same gradient as the lightsaber body, but change the Location of the darker swatch in the gradient to 50. Place the ellipse behind the lightsaber body so half of it sticks out from the bottom.
With the Rectangle Tool (M) create a rectangle that is 25 px by 25 px and fill it with the same gradient as the previous ellipse. Place this ellipse behind the lightsaber body so it sticks out at the top of the lightsaber.
Create an ellipse that is 10 px by 10 px, fill it with the previous gradient, and place it over the lightsaber body around the top-left curve.
Create a rectangle that is 20 px wide by 65 px tall. Fill it with a Linear Gradient and change the first swatch to a 90% black and the second swatch to a 100% black. Use the Gradient Tool (G), click the bottom of the rectangle, and drag to the top. The darkest part of the gradient should now be at the top of the rectangle.
Copy (Command + C) the new rectangle and Paste it in Front (Command + F). Create an ellipse that is 43 px by 43 px and place it over the rectangle about one third the way down. Select the copied rectangle and the ellipse, then press the Intersect Shape Areas button from the Pathfinder Panel. Change the fill of the intersected ellipse to a Linear Gradient, change the first swatch to a 70% black, change the second swatch to a 90% black, and adjust the gradient so the lighter swatch is at the top of the intersected ellipse.
Place the rectangle and intersected ellipse over the lightsaber body slightly above the bottom of the body.
Create a rectangle 10 px wide by 65 px tall to the left of the previous rectangle over the the lightsaber body. Fill the new rectangle with the darkest gradient from the previous rectangle. Adjust the gradient so the darkest part of the gradient is on the left side of the rectangle.
Copy (Command + C) the new rectangle and Paste it in Front (Command + F). With the Selection Tool, squish the rectangle from right to left about half the width of the original rectangle. Change the gradient to the lighter gradient of the intersected rectangle in step 12.
Copy (Command + C) the new rectangles, Paste it in Front (Command + F), choose Vertical from the pop-up menu of the Transform Panel and place the copied rectangle to the right of the wider rectangle.
Create a new rectangle that is 36 px wide by 60 px tall. Fill the rectangle with a three swatch Linear Gradient. Change the first swatch to a 70% black, the second swatch to a 100% black, and the third swatch to a 90% black. Select the middle 100% black and change the location to 35 and adjust the gradient so the lightest black is on the right side. Next, place the rectangle over the middle of the lightsaber body.
Draw a 100% black stroke line with the Line Segment Tool (\) that is 36 px wide at a 1pt stroke. Place the line on top of the previous step's rectangle slightly above the bottom. Select the line with the Selection Tool (V) and drag a copy to the top of the rectangle.
Select both lines and create a blend by going Object > Blend > Make. Right now there are too many steps in the blend. To fix this go Object > Blend > Blend Options and select Specified Steps from the drop-down menu. Change the option to 20.
Create an ellipse that is 14 px wide by 25 px tall. Create a two swatch Linear Gradient with the first swatch a 12% black and the second swatch a 90% black. Adjust the gradient so the lighter part is on the left. Place the ellipse behind the lightsaber body towards the top-left. Let half of the ellipse peak out from behind the lightsaber body.
Create a 9 px by 46 px rectangle and fill it with a two swatch linear gradient. Change the first swatch to a 80% black and the second to a 100% black, then adjust the gradient so the lightest part is on the right. Place the rectangle at the top-right side behind the lightsaber body.
Create an ellipse that is 30 px wide by 15 px tall. Fill the ellipse with the same gradient as in Step 20 but this time make the lightest part the right of the ellipse. Place the ellipse to the top-right behind the lightsaber body.
Create a 36 px wide .5 pt line over the lightsaber body and change the stroke to a 70% black. Drag out a copy and place it about 7 px higher then the first. Next, create a blend with 2 Specified Steps.
That does it for the handle of the lightsaber. Now we can start looking at the glowing spear of the sword! First, create a rectangle that is 14 px wide by 556 px tall. Go to Filter > Stylize > Round Corners and change the radius to 15 px.
Change the long rectangle to have a white fill with no stroke. Next go to Object > Path > Offset and change the Offset to 10 px. Change the offset path to a light green.
Select the green offset path and offset it again. This time change the Offset to 15 px. Change the color of the new offset to a 85% black and set the Opacity to 0 from the Transparency Panel. I change the color of this offset to a color that is close the eventual background color. If I was going to keep the background white, then I would of changed the color to white. The blend will pick up some of the color even though the opacity is set to 0.
Select all three shapes and create a blend. Place the blend behind the lightsaber handle.
The lightsaber is done, but lets add some finishing touch like a background and shadows. Start by creating a rectangle the size of your document. Fill the rectangle with a Radial Gradient with the first swatch a 60% black and the second swatch a 85% black. Place the background behind all other artwork.
Create a 140 px by 140 px ellipse. Fill it with a Radial Gradient with the first swatch a 100% black and the second swatch white. Squish the ellipse to one third it's original size, then choose multiply for the Blending Mode from the Transparency Panel. Place the bottom of the lightsaber.
Create a 35 px by 35 px ellipse and create an offset at 20. Change the color of the offset to an 8% yellow and change the opacity to 0. Select both ellipse and create a blend. Squish the blend slightly and set it to Overlay from the drop-down menu of the Transparency Panel. Place over the lightsaber where the spear and handle join. and your done!
Below is the final image again. Try changing the colors of the sword and background to create different results.
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