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Create a Quick and Easy Set of Spooky Ghosts in Adobe Illustrator

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In this new quick tip you will learn how to create a spooky ghost in Adobe Illustrator. At the beginning, using simple shapes you will create the shape of the ghost then you'll create the folded look and add details with the help of the Create Gradient Mesh option and Art brushes. Finally, for the face of the ghost you will also use simple shapes along with the Transform effect. This ghost is fun to create so let's begin!


1. Start a New Project

Launch Illustrator and go to File > New to open a blank document. Type a name and set up the dimensions then select Pixels as Units and RGB as Color Mode.

Next, go to Edit > Preferences > General and set the Keyboard Increment to 1px. These settings will help you throughout the drawing process.

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2. Create the Basic Shapes of the Ghost

Step 1

Grab the Line Segment Tool (\) and draw a horizontal line having 211px in length. Go to Object > Path > Add Anchor Points two times to add extra points on the path. Having this line selected, go to Effect > Distort & Transform and apply the Zig Zag effect. You will get a wavy path. From the Object menu select Expand Appearance and Ungroup (Shift-Control-G) then select Flip Vertical from the fly-out menu of the Transform panel. At this point, using the Direct Selection Tool (A) move the anchor points a little down (except for the end points) as shown below. The green path is what you need to achieve.

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These are the settings that I've used for the Zig Zag effect:

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Step 2

Use the Ellipse Tool (L) to draw an ellipse having the dimensions shown and move it above the wavy path obtained at the previous step. The distance between them should be about 190px. Now, use the Pen Tool (P) to close the green path. Start from one of the end points then go through the middle points of the ellipse and back to the other end point of the wavy path.

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Step 3

Use the Add Anchor Point Tool (+) to add a point on each side of the green shape and move them towards the inside using the Arrow Keys on your keyboard. Next, grab the Convert Anchor Point Tool (Shift-C) and use it to transform these two points from corner to smooth by dragging the handles.

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Step 4

Select with the Direct Selection Tool (A) only the two points indicated then go to File > Scripts > Round Any Corner and apply a Radius of 10. Now, select the ellipse and the green path and press Add in the Pathfinder panel. As a result you will get the ghost-shape. At this point you just have to make the head a bit wider by moving the points outwards and adjusting the handles.

Install the Round Any Corner script. After you restart Illustrator the script should be in the File menu under Scripts ready to be used.

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Step 5

Take the Pen Tool (P) and draw two paths like in the image below. Stroke these paths with an Art Brush called "Tapered - Round" that you can find in the Brush Libraries Menu > Artistic > Artistic_Ink. Set the Stroke Weight to 0.5pt.

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Step 6

In order to turn the strokes into fills go to Object > Expand Appearance then Ungroup (Shift-Control-G) twice. Use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to make the lower portion of these two shapes thicker by moving the points individually. Finally draw with the Pen Tool (P) two shapes like below.

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3. Color the Ghost

Step 1

Focus on the ghost-shape and fill it with the color indicated. Add a new Fill above from the fly-out menu of the Appearance panel. Use the gradient shown and set the angle to 90 Degrees. Set this Fill attribute to Blending Mode Multiply.

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Step 2

Now, select the shape from the right and fill it with the gradient shown. Go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur and apply a 2px Radius then set the Blending Mode to Multiply. Use the same gradient for the shape from the left but set the angle to -90 degrees, apply a 2px Gaussian Blur then set to Blending Mode Multiply and 75% Opacity.

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Step 3

Select the two shapes in front and go to Object > Create Gradient Mesh. Choose 3 Rows and 4 Columns then hit OK.

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Step 4

Use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to select all the outer mesh points indicated and fill them with the same shade of gray that you have used for the ghost-shape. This way the shape will blend better. Also using the Direct Selection Tool (A) select the rest of the points individually and fill them with the colors indicated below. Repeat the same thing for the other shape.

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Step 5

Copy and Paste in Front (Control-F) the ghost-shape and bring it in front of everything by going to Object > Arrange > Bring to Front (Shift-Control-]). Delete all existing appearances. Now, select the four shapes that create the folded look and also the copy of the ghost and go to Object > Clipping Mask > Make (Control-7).

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4. Add Details on the Ghost

Step 1

Grab the Pen Tool (P) and draw two paths like in the image. Stroke them with a black blend Art Brush that I've explained how to create in another tutorial of mine at Step 9. Just that instead of 200 x 5px this one has the dimensions 100 x 3px and black fill color. Increase the Stroke Weight to 3 pt for the right path and to 2pt for the left path.

Having the path from the right selected, double-click in the Appearance panel on the stroke applied to open the Stroke Options window. Set the Colorization to Tints and hit OK. Now, change the stroke color to gray. Repeat the same thing for the path from the left and use the shade of gray indicated as the stroke color.

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Step 2

Move the two paths from the previous step under the mask created earlier.

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5. Create the Spooky Face of the Ghost

Step 1

With the Ellipse Tool (L) draw two circles having the dimensions shown and arrange them like below. The red circle must be on top of the black. Select them both and press Subtract in the Pathfinder panel. Distort a little the resulting shape by moving some of the points and transforming the corner points to smooth points. Once you have the right "eye" fill it with the radial gradient shown then go to Object > Transform > Reflect. Check Vertical and hit Copy to obtain the left "eye".

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Step 2

Select the right "eye" and add a new Fill under the first. Use the linear gradient shown and set the angle to 90 Degrees. Having this Fill attribute selected in the Appearance panel, go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform and apply the settings shown below. Repeat the same thing but use the other settings shown for the left "eye".

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Step 3

Now, move the eyes over the ghost. Grab the Pen Tool (P) and draw two paths following the edges of the eyes like in the image. Stroke both paths with the black Blend Art Brush that you have used earlier. Open again the Stroke Options window and set the Colorization to Tints then change the stroke color to white.

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Step 4

Draw the shape of the mouth with the Pen Tool (P) then add the two fills in the Appearance panel. The gradients used are the ones from the eyes. Having the second Fill attribute selected, apply the Transform effect using the settings shown.

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6. Create the Shadow under the Ghost

Step 1

The face is ready and at this point the ghost should look like in the next image.

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Step 2

To add the shadow under the ghost, first draw two ellipses at the bottom and give them both a black fill. Set the Opacity for the bigger ellipse to 0%. Select the ellipses then go to Object > Blend > Blend Options and choose Smooth Color. Go back to Object > Blend > Make (Alt-Control-B) then send the resulting blend group in back by going to Object > Arrange > Send to Back (Shift-Control-[). Apply a 5px Gaussian Blur and reduce the opacity as much as you want.

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7. Create a Family of Ghosts

Now, you can easily create other ghost and following the same techniques you can create various faces, more or less spooky even cute. Mix them as you want in order to obtain new ghosts.

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Boo! You're done.

I hope that you've enjoyed this little Halloween project as much as me. I would love to see your drawings with the scary or cute ghosts that you have created.

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