Get a free year on Tuts+ this month when you purchase a Siteground hosting plan from $3.95/mo
In this tutorial we will learn how to create a rainbow beetle using the Gradient Tool, Gradient Mesh Tool, Art and Scatter Brushes, Blend Tool, and many other techniques, some of which I have developed while creating the tutorial.
I often use simple shapes to create complex ones. Just like now – take the Ellipse Tool (L) and create an ellipse. The fill and stroke colors are not important at this stage of development.
Use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to select the bottom point of the ellipse and move it a little bit down vertically, while holding down the Shift button.
Now select the left point of the ellipse and shift it a little bit down.
Use the Pen Tool (P) to create a new point on the bottom left piece of the ellipse, when doing this the contour should be selected. While olding down Alt, move the handles of this point to bring it to the shape shown in the figure below.
Rotate the achieved shape at a certain angle (30 degrees).
Create a new point A in the upper right piece of the figure and move it to the right.
Now create a new point B and move it slightly up, making a small dip in the outline.
The shape of the beetle body is ready.
With the help of the Pen Tool (P) create a trapezoid-like shape – it will be a template of the beetle neck.
Add a new anchor point C to the outline, and moving the handles of control points, bring the shape into the view shown below.
Let us shape up the head of a beetle. Take the Ellipse Tool (L) and create a circle and rotate it so that the diagonal of the Bounding Box is located along the axis of the neck of the beetle.
Move the points A and B so that they lie on the contour of the neck of the beetle, operating the handles of the anchor points, bring the shape to the view shown in the figure below.
Now create two ellipses, it will be an eye pit and nose of the beetle.
Select the ellipses and the shape of the head, then press the Unite button from the Pathfinder palette.
Create another circle – it will be an eye of the beetle.
Fill the created shapes with arbitrary color and place them in the right sequence by moving the under layers in the Layers palette.
Let’s proceed to the creation of the beetle whiskers. Beetle whiskers will consist of identical segments, create one of them. Take the Pen Tool (P) and create a trapezoid, as shown below.
Keep the object selected, then go to Effect > Stylize > Round Corners… and set the radius of the rounding in the dialog box.
The radius of rounding depends on the size of your object and is chosen by eye. Of course, the segment of the whisker should be comparable to the size of the beetle itself.
Drag the object into the Brushes palette and save it as a Scatter Brush with the parameters shown in the figure below.
With the Pen Tool (P) create the outlines of the whiskers, and apply this brush to them.
Let’s create a small antenna on the nose of the beetle. Take the Ellipse Tool (L) and create three ellipses. Leave one of them unchanged; change the other two converting one anchor point from smooth to corner. Place the pieces on the nose of the beetle, as shown in the figure below.
Select these three objects and click on Unite from the Pathfinder palette.
Place the antenna on the nose of the beetle below all the objects, by moving it in the Layers palette or by pressing the key combination Shift + Command + Left Bracket key.
Proceed to the creation of beetle’s legs. Create an upper phalanx of the front leg. Take the Rectangle Tool (M) and draw a rectangle (a). Now with the help of Pen Tool (P) add four points to its contour (b). By moving the created points, bring about the shape shown in the figure below (c). Select and convert all the points of the contour from corner to smooth ones and operating their hands, we get something like the one shown below (d).
Create the joint of the front leg. Take the Ellipse Tool (L) and create an ellipse, which we place below all the objects.
Locate the phalanx created in the previous step so that it comes out of the beetle’s joint.
Duplicate the upper phalanx and place the copy of the phalanx in the extension of the leg.
You can slightly modify the shape of the lower phalanx, operating its reference points.
Create the last phalanx of the leg with a claw. With the Pen Tool (P) create a shape as shown in the figure below.
Take the Ellipse Tool (L) and create an ellipse. With the help of the Pen Tool (P) create a new point on the contour of the ellipse and move it as shown below.
Finally, with the help of Pen Tool (P) we’ll create a claw.
Using the described technique and the already created elements, create the rest of the legs of the beetle.
The basic elements of the beetle are created and, as always before coloring, I create a background color and composition. The beetle will be green, so I chose red for the background color. Red and green are a good, balanced matching. Why balanced? Probably because we often see this combination in nature: strawberries, cherries, etc. All set – the beetle will be crawling on the rose petals. With the Pen Tool (P) create the petals and color with a dark red.
Now create two pink petals.
With the Ellipse Tool (L) create another dark red petal.
Light and shadow on the petals will be created with the help of the Gradient Mesh and simple gradients. Select the last petal created and fill it with a radial gradient that goes from red to brown.
Now select the other lower petal and go to Object > Create Gradient Mesh and set the number of rows and columns in the dialog box.
Recolor the mesh points in different shades of red to add volume to the petals. You can pick colors from the radial gradient that you have created earlier. To do this, select a mesh node, take the Eyedropper Tool (I), and while holding Shift, pick the color by clicking on the figure with the radial gradient.
Using this technique, create light and shadow on the rest of the petals.
On the petal, on which the beetle sits, color a few nodes in a dark brown color (it will be a shadow from the beetle).
I filled the second rose petal with a simple linear gradient.
Take the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a background composition. Fill the rectangle with a linear gradient, which consists of two shades of green.
The contour of the rectangle will limit our composition.
Hide the unnecessary parts of the petals. Copy the lower rectangle and paste it in front (Command + C; Command + F), then move up the copy in the layers palette so that it is above all the petals.
Select all the petals and the upper rectangle, then press Command + 7, which creates a Clipping Mask around the background.
Now we’ll proceed to coloring the beetle itself. Let’s tart with the antennae. Select the antennae and go to Object > Expand Appearance. Now you can edit the shape of the antennae’s segments and fill them with the desired color.
I modified the shape of the first and last segment of the left antenna.
Now using the gradient fill, try to reproduce the play of light on the antennae of the beetle.
Now create glow on the beetle’s antennae. Listen carefully, I’m describing the technique in detail, which will be applied in many places in this work. Create a circle with a yellow fill.
Copy and paste this circle in front. Now reduce its size by using the Selection Tool (V).
Select both circles and go to Object > Blend > Make. Set the number of steps of the blend at 15.
The number of steps in the blend affects the size of your file, the more steps you have, the larger file is. In addition, the number of steps of the blend affects the speed of rendering an image by a program on the monitor of your computer. So do not put a lot of steps, if you work with small objects.
With a 100% increase your eye will not notice the stepped transition on tiny items. Select the bottom circle with the Direct Selection Tool (A) (or in layers palette), and set for it 0% Opacity in the Transparency palette.
Now you can modify the shape of the bottom circle, moving it and adding new points. Now fill the shape with another color. Change the position, shape, and color of the upper circle as needed. I call this technique a Dynamic Blend.
Using this technique, create glow on the other segments of the antennae.
Let’s proceed to coloring the beetle’s legs. Fill the leg with a linear gradient that goes from black to dark brown. The brown color in the gradient is due to red background. Although this is a very dark color, do not neglect it in your work because it adds volume to the objects.
Now create glares of light on the surface of the legs. Basing on the technique described in step 21, create a blend object shown in the figure below.
I put this object on the beetle’s claw for a reason, that is where the highlight will be, it is done in order to choose the right color. Drag the blend object into the Brushes palette and save a new brush as Art Brush.
Now let’s create an arc on the beetle’s claw with the Pen Tool (P) and apply the created brush to it. I call such a technique the Blend Art Brush.
The numbers in the figure below indicate: 1 – Blend Art Brushes; 2 – Dynamic Blend. Blend Art Brushes have an obvious advantage when creating arc-shaped glares of light, but if you need to create a color transition on large surfaces, apply the Dynamic Blend.
Create another shape that will repeat the curves of the claw and fill it with a green gradient. Change the Opacity of the gradient markers from 0 to 50%.
And this is how all the elements of the claw look together.
The arrows on the figure below show the areas on the legs where the Blend Art Brushes and Dynamic Blend techniques were used.
Besides the glares with soft edges, you can also create glare with sharp edges. These elements are created with the Pen Tool (P) or by the deformation of simple shapes, such as an ellipse.
Let’s proceed to the coloring of the beetle’s body. Fill the body with a linear gradient that goes from black to green.
Use the technique of dynamic blend to create glow on the body of the beetle. The size of the upper circle of the blend is 1 x 1px.
The intensity of the glow is clearly not enough. Blend evenly distributes Opacity from 100% to 0%. How to change this algorithm? Simply copy and paste the blends in front.
Not enough yet? Copy it once again and paste it. Do you want to edit the distribution of light – no problem, move the upper circle of one or a few blend objects.
Let’s name this technique the Total Blend. I just came up with it .
Using the technique of dynamic blend, continue creating color play on the shell of the beetle.
You can also experiment by changing the Blending Mode of individual blend objects or their elements.
The beetle’s shell opens up because it has wings. Create a line separating the shell into two halves. Take the Pen Tool (P) and create a curved line, this line applies to the appropriate profile from the Stroke palette.
This is possible if you have Adobe Illustrator CS5. If you use other versions of the program, create an object of similar shape, drag it to the Brushes palette and save a new brush as Art Brush. Then apply it to the created curve.
Of course, light glares will be located at the place where the shell opens. The shape of glare is created with the Art Brushes, or profiles from the Stroke palette. After the command Object > Expand Appearance, this form is filled with linear gradient in order to soften the color transition of the ends of the glare.
Create another element on the shell of a beetle. With the help of the Pen Tool (P) create the shape shown in the figure below.
Copy this shape and paste it in front, move it a few pixels up and fill it with a linear gradient that goes from black to dark green.
With the help of the Pen Tool (P) create another shape colored dark green and with a glare of light.
The coloring techniques of the beetle’s head and neck do not differ from those I described earlier in this tutorial. I’m only showing the stages of this work.
This species of beetles usually has a small deepening on the shell, let’s create them. Create a circle of 3 x 3px filled with dark green.
Move this object to the Brushes palette and save a new brush as a Scatter Brush, without changing the settings set by default.
Now take the Paintbrush Tool (B) and create a brush stroke on the shell of the beetle.
Reconfigure our brush, to do this double-click on the icon of the brush in the Brushes palette. Then start experimenting with the parameters by setting the preview option in the dialog box.
Once you have achieved the desired result, click the OK button, and then click on the Apply to Stroke in the new dialog window.
Use the Paintbrush Tool (B) to create a few arc-shaped strokes on the shell of the beetle.
Select all the strokes that we have created and go to Object > Expand Appearance.
As a result of this action, we got a group of circles. Copy this group and paste it back (Command + C; Command + B), move the lower group a little bit down and to the right using the arrow keys, and set the Color Dodge Blending Mode for it in the Transparency palette.
Set 75% Opacity for the upper group of circles in the Transparency palette.
Using this technique, create depressions in the head and neck of the beetle.
We just need to complete the composition. Where is your bug crawling? Mine is crawling to get some water to drink. Create a drop of water on the rose petal. Create a circle on the way of the beetle, with the Direct Selection Tool (A) move up its lowest point. Fill the shape with a radial gradient that goes from white to white with 0% Opacity.
Copy and paste the shape of a drop in front and fill this shape with a radial gradient that goes from red with 0% Opacity to a dark red color.
Use the Pen Tool (P) to create the shape of light glare in the top part of the drop and fill it with a linear gradient that goes from white with 70% Opacity to white with 0% Opacity.
Create a reflection of the light source in the drop of water. Create two white circles. The lower circle is bigger in size and has 0% Opacity. Select both circles and go to Object > Blend > Make.
Use the Pen Tool (P) to create a shape of the shadow that goes from the drop and fill it with a radial gradient that goes from white to brown with 50% Opacity.
In this tutorial we have learned some techniques that were born just at the time of its creation. The rest of the described techniques were born during the creation of other projects. You should avoid getting tired of experimenting for better results. Walk and you shall reach! And as always, I encourage you to be active, ask questions in the comments to this tutorial, or at the consultation forum on my blog.