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How to Create a Detailed Lighter in Adobe Illustrator

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In the following tutorial you will learn how to create a detailed lighter illustration in Adobe Illustrator. First, you'll learn how to create pixel perfect shapes using the Rectangle or the Ellipse Tools along with the grid and the snap to grid option. Next, you'll see how you can add depth and shading for your shapes using complex gradients, the Pathfinder options and some basic blending techniques. For the final touches you will learn how to create your own pattern and how to make it a part of your final piece.


Step 1

Hit Control + N to create a New document. Enter 600 in the width and height boxes then click on the Advanced button. Select RGB, Screen (72ppi) and make sure that the "Align New Objects to Pixel Grid" box is unchecked before your click OK.

Now, turn on the Grid (View > Grid) and the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). For starters you'll need a grid every 5px. Go to Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid, enter 5 in the Gridline every box and 1 in the Subdivisions box. You can also open the Info panel (Window > Info) for a live preview with the size and position of your shapes. Do not forget to set the unit of measurement at pixels from Edit > Preferences > Unit > General. All these options will significantly increase your work speed.


Step 2

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 95 by 220px shape and fill it with the linear gradient shown in the following image. The white numbers from the gradient image stand for location percentage. Select this rectangle and make a copy in front (Control + C > Control + F).


Step 3

Continue with the Rectangle Tool (M) and create two 10 by 230px shapes. Fill both shapes with white and place them as shown in the first image. Make sure that both rectangles are selected and turn them into a Compound Path (Object > Compound Path > Make or Control + 8). Select this new Compound Path along with the copy made in the finale of the previous step, open the Pathfinder panel and click on the Intersect button. Select the resulting group of shapes and Ungroup it (Shift + Control + G). Select the left, white rectangle, lower its Opacity to 25% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light. Select the other white rectangle, lower its Opacity to 10% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.


Step 4

Disable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid) then go to Edit > Preferences > General and make sure that the Keyboard Increment is set at 1px. Select the rectangle made in the second step and make two copies in front (Control + C > Control + F > Control + F). Select the top copy and move it 1px down using the down arrow from your keyboard. Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with white, lower its Opacity to 70% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.


Step 5

Select the rectangle made in the second step and make two new copies in front (Control + C > Control + F > Control + F). Select the top copy and move it 1px up and move it 1px up using the up arrow from your keyboard. Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with black and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.


Step 6

Select the rectangle made in the second step and make two copies in front (Control + C > Control + F > Control + F). Select the top copy and move it 1px to the right using the right arrow from your keyboard. Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with black and lower its Opacity to 3%.


Step 7

Select the rectangle made in the second step and make two copies in front (Control + C > Control + F > Control + F). Select the top copy and move it 3px to the right using the right arrow from your keyboard. Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with black and lower its Opacity to 3%.


Step 8

Select the rectangle made in the second step and make two copies in front (Control + C > Control + F > Control + F). Select the top copy and move it 6px to the right using the right arrow from your keyboard. Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with black and lower its Opacity to 3%.


Step 9

Enable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). Reselect the three shapes made in the last three steps and Group them (Control + G). Select this new group and go to Object > Transform > Reflect. Check the Vertical button and click on the Copy button. This will create a horizontally flipped group copy. Select this new group, drag it to the right and place it as shown in the second image.


Step 10

For the following step you will need a grid every 1px. So, go to Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid and enter 1 in the Gridline every box. Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 1 by 218px shape, fill it with black and place it as shown in the first image. Make a copy of this thin rectangle (Control + C > Control + F), fill it with white and move it 1px to the right as shown in the second image.


Step 11

Select the black rectangle made in the previous step, set its Blending Mode to Soft Light then replace the flat color used for the fill with the linear gradient shown in the first image. Select the white rectangle made in the previous step, set its Blending Mode to Soft Light, lower the Opacity to 70% then replace the flat color used for the fill with the linear gradient shown in the second image. The yellow zero from the gradient images stands for Opacity percentage.


Step 12

Reselect the two, thin rectangles edited in the previous step and Group them (Control + G). Select this new group and go to Object > Transform > Reflect. Check the Vertical button and click on the Copy button. Select the newly created group, drag it to the right and place it as shown in the second image.


Step 13

Select the shape made in the second step, focus on the Appearance panel and add second fill using the Add New Fill button (pointed by the little, blue arrow). You will need a built-in pattern for this new fill. Go to the Swatches panel, open the fly-out menu and go to Open Swatch Library > Patterns > Basic Graphics > Basic Graphics_Textures. A new window with a set of built-in patterns should open. Make sure that the second fill is still selected, add the "USHS 19 Land Inundation" pattern, change its Blending Mode to Overlay and go to Object > Transform > Rotate. Enter a 90 degrees angle, uncheck the Objects box, check the Patterns box then click OK. In end things should look like in the second image.


Step 14

Select the shape edited in the previous step, focus on the Appearance panel and add a third fill. Select it, set the color at R=133 G=69 B=72, lower its Opacity to 50% and change the Blending Mode to Color Burn.


Step 15

Return to "Gridline every 5px". So, go to Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid and enter 5 in the Gridline every box. Focus on the bottom side of the shapes created so far. Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 95 by 15px shape, fill it with the linear gradient shown below and place it as shown in the first image. Next, you'll need the Round Any Corner script. You can find it in the Vectortuts+ article 20 Free and Useful Adobe Illustrator Scripts. Save it to your hard drive, return to Illustrator and grab the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select the two anchor points highlighted in the first image and go to File > Scripts > Other Script. Open the Round Any Corner Script, enter a 5px Radius and click OK. In the end your shapes should look like in the second image. Select it and make a copy in front (Control + C > Control + F).


Step 16

Continue with the Rectangle Tool (M) and create two, 10 by 25px shapes. Fill both shapes with white, place them as shown in the first image the them into a Compound Path (Control + 8). Select this new compound path along with the copy made in the finale of the previous step and click on the Intersect button from the Pathfinder panel. Select the resulting group of shapes and Ungroup it (Shift + Control + G). Select the left, white shape and lower its Opacity to 20% then select the other white shape and lower its Opacity to 10%.


Step 17

Disable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). Select the shape made in the fifteenth step and make two copies in front (Control + C > Control + F > Control + F). Select the top copy and move it 1px down. Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with white, lower its Opacity to 75% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.


Step 18

Select the shape made in the fifteenth step and make two copies in front (Control + C > Control + F > Control + F). Select the top copy and move it 1px up. Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with black, lower its Opacity to 50% and change the Blending Mode to Overlay.


Step 19

Select the shape made in the fifteenth step and make a copy in front (Control + C > Control + F). Select this copy, move it 1px up then make a new copy in front (Control + C > Control + F). Select it and move it 1px up. Reselect both shape made in this step and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with the linear gradient shown in the following image and lower its Opacity to 50%.


Step 20

Enable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). Next, we'll create a simple pattern. First, you need to switch to "Gridline every 1px". Now, pick the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 3px square and fill it with a random color. Continue with the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 1 by 3px shape, fill it with black and place it as shown in the second image. Make a new 1 by 3px vector shape, fill it with white and place it as shown in the third image. Reselect the square made in the beginning of the step, focus on the Appearance panel and simply remove the color from the fill. Finally, select the three shapes made in this step and simply drag them inside the Swatches panel. This should add your new pattern. Return to the Layers panel and delete the three little shapes.


Step 21

Select the shape made in the fifteenth step, focus on the Appearance panel and add a second fill. Select it, add the pattern made in the previous step, lower its Opacity to 40% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.


Step 22

Return to "Gridline every 5px". Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 95 by 15px shape, fill it with the linear gradient shown below, place it as shown in the following image and make a copy in front (Control + C > Control + F).


Step 23

Continue with the Rectangle Tool (M) and create two, 10 by 25px shapes. Fill both shapes with white, place them as shown in the first image and turn them into a Compound Path (Control + 8). Select this new compound path along with the copy made in the previous step and click on the Intersect button from the Pathfinder panel. Select the resulting group of shapes and Ungroup it (Shift + Control + G). Select the left, white rectangle and lower its Opacity to 20% then select the other white rectangle and lower its Opacity to 10%.


Step 24

Disable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). Select the rectangle made in the twenty-second step and make two copies in front (Control + C > Control + F > Control + F). Select the top copy and move it 1px down. Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with white, lower its Opacity to 60% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.


Step 25

Select the rectangle made in the twenty-second step and make two copies in front (Control + C > Control + F > Control + F). Select the top copy and move it 1px up. Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with black, lower its Opacity to 15% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.


Step 26

Select the rectangle made in the twenty-second step and make two copies in front (Control + C > Control + F > Control + F). Select the top copy and move it 2px up. Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with black, lower its Opacity to 15% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.


Step 27

Select the rectangle made in the twenty-second step, focus on the Appearance panel and add a second fill. Select it, add your pattern, lower its Opacity to 40% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.


Step 28

Enable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid) and focus on the top side of the shape edited in the previous step. Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 70 by 45px shape, fill it with the linear gradient shown below and place it as shown in the first image. Switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the top, right anchor point and move it 5px to the left. Once again you will need the Round Any Corner script. Make sure that the Direct Selection Tool is still active, select the two anchor points highlighted in the second image and go to File > Scripts > Other Script. Open the Round Any Corner Script, enter a 5px Radius and click OK. In the end your shapes should look like in the third image.


Step 29

Disable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). Select the shape made in the previous step and make two copies in front (Control + C > Control + F > Control + F). Select the top copy and move it 1px up. Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with black and lower its Opacity to 5%.


Step 30

Select the shape made in the twenty-eighth step and make two copies in front (Control + C > Control + F > Control + F). Select the top copy and move it 3px up. Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with black and lower its Opacity to 5%.


Step 31

Select the shape made in the twenty-eighth step and make two copies in front (Control + C > Control + F > Control + F). Select the top copy and move it 1px to the left. Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with the linear gradient shown in the third image.


Step 32

Select the shape made in the twenty-eighth step and make two copies in front (Control + C > Control + F > Control + F). Select the top copy and move it 2px to the left. Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with the linear gradient shown in the following image and change its Blending Mode to Overlay.


Step 33

Select the shape made in the twenty-eighth step and make two copies in front (Control + C > Control + F > Control + F). Select the top copy and move it 1px down. Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with the linear gradient shown in the following image.


Step 34

Select the shape made in the twenty-eighth step and make two copies in front (Control + C > Control + F > Control + F). Select the top copy and move it 2px down and 5px to the left. Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with the linear gradient shown in the following image, lower its Opacity to 55% and change the Blending Mode to Overlay.


Step 35

Enable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). Select the shape made in the twenty-eighth step and make a copy in front (Control + C > Control + F). Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 10 by 55px shape, fill it with white and place it as shown in the second image. Select this white rectangle along with the copy made in the beginning of the step and click on the Intersect button from the Pathfinder panel. Select the resulting shape and lower its Opacity to 15%.


Step 36

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 10 by 5px shape, fill it with the linear gradient shown below and place it as shown in the first image. Make sure that this new rectangle is selected and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 2.5px radius, click OK and go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the properties shown in the following image and click OK.


Step 37

Switch to "Gridline every 1px" and use the Rectangle Tool (M) to create a 3 by 5px shape. Fill it with the linear gradient shown below, place it as shown in the following image and go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the properties shown below and click OK.


Step 38

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 32 by 10px shape and fill it with the linear gradient shown in the following image.


Step 39

Using the Rectangle Tool (M) crate a 32 by 1px shape. Fill it with the linear gradient shown below, place it as shown in the first image and lower its Opacity to 30%. Continue with the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a 32 by 3px shape. Fill it with the linear gradient shown below, place it as shown in the second image and lower its Opacity to 20%. Using the Rectangle Tool (M) crate a second, 32 by 1px shape. Fill it with the linear gradient shown below, place it as shown in the third image and lower its Opacity to 30%.


Step 40

Focus on the top side of the shapes made in the previous step and use the Rectangle Tool (M) to create a 35 by 8px shape. Fill it with the linear gradient shown below, place it as shown in the first image and switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select the top, left anchor point and drag it 3px down. Make sure that this new shape is still selected and go to Effect > Warp > Arc Upper. Enter the properties shown in the second image, click OK and go to Object > Expand Appearance.


Step 41

One last time you will need the Round Any Corner script. Focus on the shape made in the previous step, pick the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the two anchor points highlighted in the first image and go to File > Scripts > Other Script. Open the Round Any Corner Script, enter a 2px Radius and click OK. In the end your shape should look like in the second image.


Step 42

Disable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). Select the shape edited in the previous step and make two copies in front (Control + C > Control + F > Control + F). Select the top copy and move it 1px down. Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with the linear gradient shown in the final image and change its Blending Mode to Soft Light.


Step 43

Select the shape edited in forty-first step and make two new copies in front (Control + C > Control + F > Control + F). Select the top copy and move it 1px up. Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with black, lower its Opacity to 30% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.


Step 44

Enable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). Select all the shapes made in the last six steps and Group them (Control + G). Select this new group, send it to back (Shift + Control + [ ) then place it as shown in the following image.


Step 45

Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 40px circle, fill it with the linear gradient shown below and place it as shown in the first image. Send this new shape to back (Shift + Control + [ ) then make a copy in front (Control + C > Control + F)


Step 46

Select the shape made in the twenty-eighth step and go to Object > Path > Offset Path. Enter a 1px Offset and click OK. Select the resulting shape along with the copy made in the finale of the previous step and click on the Intersect button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with black and lower its Opacity to 15%.


Step 47

Disable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). Select the circle made in the forty-fifth step and go to Object > Path > Offset Path. Enter a -0.5px Offset and click OK. Select the resulting shape, make a copy in front (Control + C > Control + F), select it and move it 1px down. Reselect both shapes made in this step and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with the linear gradient shown in the following image.


Step 48

Select the circle made in the forty-fifth step, focus on the Appearance panel and add a 2pt stroke. Select it, set the color at R=50 G=50 B=50 and open the Stroke panel. Check the Dashed Line box then enter 2pt in the "dash" and "gap" boxes. Return to the Appearance panel and add a second stroke for your circle using the Add New Stroke button. Select this new stroke, make it 1pt wide, align it to inside and set the color at R=120 G=120 B=120.


Step 49

Enable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create an 87 by 3px shape, fill it with black, place it as shown in the first image and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 1px radius, click OK and go to Effect > Warp > Arc Lower. Enter the properties shown below, click OK and go to Object > Expand Appearance. Fill the resulting shape with the linear gradient shown in the following image, send it to back (Shift + Control + [ ) and add a 1pt stroke. Align it to inside and set the color at R=45 G=45 B=45.


Step 50

Disable the Grid (View > Hide Grid) and the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). Pick the Type Tool (T) and add your grey (R=130 G=127 B=133) piece of text. Use the "Hybrid Bold" font with the size set at 30pt and the style at Bold. Select it and go to Object > Expand. Select the resulting group of shapes and turn it into a Compound Path (Control + 8).


Step 51

Select the compound path made in the previous step and make two copies in front (Control + C > Control + F > Control + F). Select the top copy and move it 1px down. Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Select the resulting group of shapes and turn it into a Compound Path (Control + 8). Fill it with black, lower the Opacity to 50% and change the Blending Mode to Overlay.


Step 52

Select the compound path made in the fiftieth step and make two new copies in front (Control + C > Control + F > Control + F). Select the bottom copy and move it 1px down. Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Select the resulting group of shapes and turn it into a Compound Path (Control + 8). Fill it with white, lower the Opacity to 70% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.


Step 53

Select the compound path made in the fiftieth step, replace the grey used for the fill with black, lower its Opacity to 30% and change the Blending Mode to Overlay.


Step 54

Select all the shapes created so far and Group them (Control + G). Select this new group and add the five Drop Shadow effects shown in the following image.


Step 55

Finally, let's add a simple background. Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a shape the size of your artboard, fill it with the radial gradient shown below and send it to back (Shift + Control + [ ). Make sure that this new shape stays selected, focus on the Appearance panel and add a second fill. Make it black, lower its Opacity to 15%, change the Blending Mode to Multiply and go to Effect > Sketch > Note Paper. Enter the data shown below and click OK. Return to the Appearance panel and add a third fill for your shape. Select it, add the "Diamond" pattern (you can find it inside the Basic Graphics_Textures panel), lower its Opacity to 10%, change the Blending Mode to Multiply and go to Effect > Artistic > Film Grain. Enter the data shown below, click OK and you're done.


Conclusion

Now your work is done. Here is how it should look.

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