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Create a Set of Realistic Christmas Baubles in Adobe Illustrator

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This post is part of a series called Christmas Illustration Content.
Create a Detailed Christmas Lights Text Effect in Adobe Illustrator

Follow this winter holiday inspired tutorial and learn how to create realistic Christmas baubles in Adobe Illustrator. At the beginning we will create the shape of the Christmas bauble starting from a circle then using the Create Gradient Mesh function we will define areas of light and shade on the ball. Next, you will be able to color the globe according to your own taste using colors or gradients and the Blending Modes. We will continue with the cap and the hook then with the design of the golden Christmas bauble that consists of a simple snowflake symbol mapped on the front surface. Finally, we will add a few reflections on the ball for a more realistic look using Opacity Masks. Let's start!


Tutorial Assets

To complete the tutorial you will need the following assets:


1. Start a New Project

Launch Illustrator then go to File > New to open a new 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 0.1px. While there, you can also set the Units. I always use Points for Stroke and Type and Pixels for the rest. These settings will help you throughout the drawing process.

diana_ChGlobes_tut_1

2. Create a Golden Christmas bauble

Step 1

First, grab the Ellipse Tool (L) and draw a 130 x 130px circle. You can select any fill color for the moment.

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Step 2

With the circle selected, go to Object > Create Gradient Mesh. Select 4 Rows and 4 Columns then hit OK.

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Step 3

Now, you need to distort a little the mesh lines created. To do so, just select using the Direct Selection Tool (A) the mesh points and move them one by one. Also adjust the handles if needed.

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Step 4

This is what you should get:

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Step 5

Now, use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to select each mesh point and fill them with different shades of gray. This way you will define areas of light and shade on the ball. Follow the color code and after you are done the ball should look like in the next image.

diana_ChGlobes_tut_6b

Step 6

At this point you need a copy of the circle but if you are like me and forgot to keep a copy, use the next trick. Select the mesh-shape then go to Object > Path > Offset Path and apply a 0px Offset. As a result you will get the circle of same size but without the mesh lines. The new circle must be in front of the mesh and you can now fill it with the color indicated and set the Blending Mode to Color. I will call it "color-shape".

You can also try other colors and depending on the color another Blending Mode.

diana_ChGlobes_tut_7

3. Create the Golden Cap

Step 1

Grab the Pencil Tool (N) or the Pen Tool (P) if you want and draw a few loops like below. They don't have to be symmetrical therefore it's easier. After you are done, close the path at the top and this will be the "cap-shape". Make a few copies because you will need them again later.

diana_ChGlobes_tut_8

Step 2

Now, with the Rectangle Tool (M) draw a 28 x 16px rectangle. Fill it with the linear gradient shown then send it behind the cap-shape. This size should be enough to cover the cap-shape entirely.

diana_ChGlobes_tut_9b

Step 3

Select the golden rectangle and the cap-shape (stroke-none, fill-none) and go to Object > Clipping Mask > Make (Control-7).

diana_ChGlobes_tut_10

Step 4

Select one of the copies of the cap-shape and move it a little down by pressing the Down Arrow Key on your keyboard 3 times (Keyboard Increment: 0.1px). Fill it with dark brown then send it behind everything by going to Object > Arrange > Send to Back (Shift-Control-[). I will call this shape "cap-edge" (1).

Next, with the Ellipse Tool (L) draw an ellipse about the length of the cap and fill it with black. This shape is called "cap-back" and should be in back (2).

diana_ChGlobes_tut_11

4. Create the Hook

Step 1

Grab the Pen Tool (P) and draw a path like below then give it a 1pt any-color Stroke. With the path still selected, choose Expand and Ungroup from the Object menu. You will get the hook-shape and now you can fill it with the linear gradient shown.

diana_ChGlobes_tut_12

Step 2

Copy and Paste in Front (Control-F) the hook-shape (orange) then Copy and Paste in Front (Control-F) the orange shape again (green). Move the green shape a little to the left by pressing the Left Arrow Key two times. Now, select both shapes (orange and green) and press Subtract in the Pathfinder panel. As a result you will get the thin orange edge.

diana_ChGlobes_tut_13

Step 3

Fill the thin edge from the previous step with white then set to Blending Mode Overlay and 50% Opacity.

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Step 4

Copy and Paste in Front (Control-F) the hook-shape (blue) then Copy and Paste in Front (Control-F) the blue shape again (purple). Move the purple shape a little to the right by pressing the Right Arrow Key two times. Next, select both shapes (blue and purple) and press Subtract in the Pathfinder panel. You will get the thin blue edge on the left side of the hook.

diana_ChGlobes_tut_15

Step 5

Fill the edge from the previous step with black and set to 50% Opacity. At this point the cap should look like in the next image:

diana_ChGlobes_tut_16

5. Add Details on the Cap

Step 1

At this step you will need another copy of the cap-shape. Bring this copy in front of everything by going to Object > Arrange > Bring to Front (Shift-Control-]) then fill it with red, for example. Now, Copy and Paste in Front (Control-F) the red shape and move it a little downwards. Having both shapes selected (red and green) press Subtract in the Pathfinder panel. You will get a border at the top.

diana_ChGlobes_tut_17

Step 2

Fill the border from the previous step with the radial gradient shown then set to Blending Mode Color Burn and 35% Opacity.

diana_ChGlobes_tut_18

Step 3

You can add more details on the cap but this is optional. Arrange a few small circles on the border and also on the loops and fill them with black. Group (Control-G) the circles then set the group to Blending Mode Overlay and 50% Opacity.

diana_ChGlobes_tut_19

6. Add Shadow under the Cap

Step 1

First, Group (Control-G) all the shapes that make up the cap then move it above the golden Christmas bauble. To add the shadow under the cap jump at the next step.

diana_ChGlobes_tut_20

Step 2

Draw an ellipse right near the top edge of the ball then draw a smaller one like in the image (1). Fill them both with black. Set the bigger ellipse to Blending Mode Multiply and 0% Opacity and the smaller ellipse to Blending Mode Multiply and 100% Opacity (2).

With the shapes still selected, go to Object > Blend > Blend Options and choose 20 Specified Steps then go back to Object > Blend > Make (Alt-Control-B). Lower the Opacity for the resulting blend-group to 40% (3).

diana_ChGlobes_tut_21

7. Save the Snowflake Symbol

Step 1

At this step we will use the vector Snowflake symbols created by all-silhouettes. Download them then open the file and copy the snowflakes into your document. From the set I've used the red snowflake for the golden Christmas bauble and the green snowflake for the green Christmas bauble.

diana_ChGlobes_tut_22

Step 2

Now, grab the snowflake then go to Effect > Distort & Transform and apply the Transform effect to get a few snowflakes in a row. In order to expand the effect applied, select Expand Appearance from the Object menu. Drag the resulting group of snowflakes into the Symbols panel to save it.

diana_ChGlobes_tut_23

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

diana_ChGlobes_tut_24

8. Apply Snowflakes on the Christmas Bauble

Step 1

Copy and Paste in Front (Control-F) the "color-shape" then set to fill-none, any-color stroke. Select with the Direct Selection Tool (A) and delete all anchor points from the left side.

diana_ChGlobes_tut_25

Step 2

Having the path from the previous step selected, go to Effect > 3D > Revolve. In the window that opens select the Front Position and leave the other settings as they are. Press the Map Art button to continue. In the Map Art window select the Snowflake symbol from the list and apply it on the front surface of the globe (1 of 2). You can move or scale the symbol and when you are happy with the result hit OK.

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Step 3

In order to expand the 3D object select Expand Appearance from the Object menu. Now, use the Layers panel to find the resulting group and open it until you see the group of snowflakes. Grab the group of snowflakes and drag them above the 3D object then delete everything else from that group. You don't need the 3D object but only the snowflakes.

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Step 4

Set the group of snowflakes to Blending Mode Soft Light.

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9. Add Reflections on the Christmas Bauble

Step 1

Grab the Ellipse Tool (L) and draw two white ellipses and one black over the globe. Arrange them like in the image then set the Blending Mode to Overlay for all three.

diana_ChGlobes_tut_29

Step 2

Copy and Paste in Front (Control-F) these ellipses and fill them with a radial gradient from white to black. Set the Blending Mode from Overlay back to Normal for all three.

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Step 3

Next, select the two overlapping shapes from the upper right side and choose Make Opacity Mask from the fly-out menu of the Transparency panel. The Blending Mode should be set to Overlay.

diana_ChGlobes_tut_31

Step 4

Continue with the two overlapping shapes from the upper left side and select Make Opacity Mask again. The same thing goes for the two ellipses from the bottom of the Christmas bauble.

diana_ChGlobes_tut_32

Step 5

At this point you need to clean up the edges with the help of a mask. First, Copy and Paste in Front (Control-F) the "color-shape" then bring it in front of everything by going to Object > Arrange > Bring to Front (Shift-Control-]). Delete the fill color. Now, select this copy and the three ellipses and go to Object > Clipping Mask > Make (Control-7).

diana_ChGlobes_tut_33

Step 6

In the next image you can see a before and after creating the reflections on the Christmas bauble.

diana_ChGlobes_tut_34b

10. Try Different Colors and Designs

Step 1

You can easily create other color versions of the Christmas bauble and here's how. First make a copy of the golden ball then select the "color-shape" and replace the existing fill color with red. Set to Blending Mode Soft Light. To make it even brighter, Copy and Paste in Front (Control-F) the new "color-shape" and replace the red fill with the linear gradient shown. Keep the Blending Mode to Soft Light. You have just obtained a classic red Christmas bauble.

diana_ChGlobes_tut_35

Step 2

To obtain the green one, make another copy of the golden Christmas bauble. Select the "color-shape" and fill it with the linear gradient shown then set to Blending Mode Color. To make it brighter, Copy and Paste in Front (Control-F) the new "color-shape" and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light while keeping the same gradient.

diana_ChGlobes_tut_36

Step 3

Next, select the other snowflake from the set and multiply it. Arrange different sizes like in the image then drag everything into the Symbols panel to save the new symbol. To apply the symbol follow again the explanations from Step 8. Basically, you create the 3D object and map the symbol then after expand, you delete the 3D object and keep only the snowflakes.

diana_ChGlobes_tut_37

Step 4

Fill the bigger snowflakes from the front with the radial gradient shown and the smaller snowflakes from the sides with the second gradient. Set the group of snowflakes to Blending Mode Screen.

diana_ChGlobes_tut_38b

Step 5

As you can see above, the red and green Christmas baubles have a silver cap. To obtain it, use a copy of the golden cap and just change a few things. First, fill the rectangle with the gradient shown (1) then replace the dark brown fill color of the "cap-edge" with 50% black (2). For the hook use the second gradient shown (3) and leave the rest of the shapes and details as they are (4). Easy, right?

diana_ChGlobes_tut_39b

11. Finalize the Christmas baubles

The three Christmas baubles are ready at this point. If you wish to hang them using ribbons, take the Rectangle Tool (M) and draw a long rectangle up to the hook. Add an extra point at the bottom of the rectangle with the Add Anchor Point Tool (+) then move this point a bit down using the Down Arrow Key on your keyboard. Do the same thing for the other globes.

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Congratulations! You're Done

Now you have the necessary knowledge to draw different Christmas baubles. Using the same principle you can create other types of globes regarding colors, shape and design. You can also use any of the snowflakes from the set to decorate your Christmas baubles. Feel free to add ribbons, bows, plenty of sparkles, snowflakes and lights since it's Christmas and it's allowed.


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