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How to Create a Marker Board in Adobe Illustrator

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In the following tutorial, we'll show you how to create a marker board illustration using basic shapes, the Pathfinder and Appearance panel within Adobe Illustrator. This is a great tutorial for those who aren't comfortable with the Pen Tool and wish to learn some advanced techniques.


Step 1

Hit Command + N to create a New document. Enter 600 in the width box 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.

Enable the Grid (View > Show Grid) and the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). For starters you'll need a grid every 5px. Simply go to Edit > Preferences > Guides > Grid, enter 5 in the Gridline every box and 1 in the Subdivisions box. You should 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 to pixels from Edit > Preferences > Unit > General. All these options will significantly increase your work speed.


Step 2

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 430 by 270px shape, fill it with R=49 G=89 B=137 and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 10px radius, click OK and go to Object > Path > Offset Path. Enter a -7px Offset and click OK. Select the resulting shape and focus on the Appearance panel. First, replace the blue with R=255 G=222 B=23 then open the existing Rounded Corners effect and decrease the radius to 7px. Make sure that this yellow shape is still selected and go to Object > Path > Offset Path. Enter a -3px Offset and click OK. Select the resulting shape and focus on the Appearance panel. First, replace the yellow with R=241 G=90 B=41 then open the existing Rounded Corners effect and decrease the radius to 5px.


Step 3

Reselect the three shapes made in the previous step and go to Object > Expand Appearance. Select the resulting shapes, open the Pathfinder panel and click on the Divide button. Move to the Layers panel, open the resulting group of shapes and Ungroup it (Shift + Control + G). In the end you should have two compound paths (a blue one and a yellow one) and a simple orange shape.


Step 4

Select the blue compound path and make a copy in front (Control + C > Control + F). Pick the Rectangle Tool (M), create four, 20px squares, fill them with black and place them as shown in the second image. Select these black squares and turn them into a compound path (Object > Compound Path > Make).


Step 5

Reselect the two compound paths made in the previous step and click on the Intersect button from the Pathfinder panel. Select the resulting group of shapes and turn it into a compound path (Object > Compound Path > Make). Fill it with R=70 G=70 B=70 and focus on the Appearance panel. Add a 1pt stroke, align it to inside and set the color at R=35 G=35 B=35. Reselect that blue compound path and focus on the Appearance panel. First, replace the blue with R=235 G=235 B=235 then add a 1pt stroke. Align it to inside and set the color at R=195 G=195 B=195.


Step 6

Select the yellow compound path and make a copy in front (Control + C > Control + F). Pick the Rectangle Tool (M), create four, 20px squares, fill them with black and place them as shown in the second image. Select all black squares and turn them into a compound path (Object > Compound Path > Make).


Step 7

Reselect the two compound paths made in the previous step and click on the Intersect button from the Pathfinder panel. Select the resulting group of shapes and turn it into a compound path (Object > Compound Path > Make). Fill it with R=45 G=45 B=45 and focus on the Appearance panel. Add a 1pt stroke, align it to inside and set the color at R=25 G=25 B=25. Reselect that yellow compound path and focus on the Appearance panel. First, replace the yellow with R=210 G=210 B=210 then add a 1pt stroke. Align it to inside and set the color at R=185 G=185 B=185.


Step 8

Select the orange rounded rectangle, focus on the Appearance panel and replace the flat color used for the fill with the linear gradient shown in the following image. Select this fill from the Appearance panel and go to Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow. Enter the properties shown below and click OK. Keep focusing on the Appearance panel and add a a 3pt stroke for this shape. Select it, set the color at black, make it 3pt wide, align it to inside and lower the Opacity to 5%. Add a second stroke for this shape using the Add New Stroke button from the bottom of the Appearance panel. Select this new stroke, set the color at black, make it 1pt wide, align it to inside and lower the Opacity to 10%.


Step 9

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 grey compound path edited in the fifth step and go to Object > Path > Offset Path. Enter a -1px Offset and click OK. Select the resulting shape and make a copy in front (Control + C > Control + F). Select this copy and move it 1px down using the down arrow from your keyboard. Reselect both shapes made in this step and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Select the resulting group of shapes, bring it to front (Shift + Control + ] ) and turn it into a compound path (Object > Compound Path > Make). Select this new compound path and focus on the Appearance panel. First, remove the color from the stroke. Next, select the fill, make it white and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.


Step 10

Enable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). Pick the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 430 by 270px shape and fill it with white. Place this new rectangle as shown in the first image, send it to back (Shift + Control + [ ) and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 10px radius, click OK and go to Object > Expand Appearance. Make sure that the resulting shape is selected and go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the properties shown in the top, left window, click OK and go again to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the properties shown in the bottom, left window, click OK and go once again to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the properties shown in the top, right window, click OK and go one more time to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the properties shown in the bottom, right window and click OK.


Step 11

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 290 by 10px shape and fill it with the linear gradient shown in the following image. Disable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). Select this rectangle 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 R=200 G=200 B=200.


Step 12

Reselect the first rectangle made in the previous step and make two copies in front (Control + C > Control + F > Control + F). Select the top copy and move it 2px down. Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with R=245 G=245 B=245.


Step 13

Reselect the first rectangle made in the eleventh 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 R=155 G=155 B=155.


Step 14

Enable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid) and focus on the right side of the shape made in the previous step. Pick the rectangle Tool (M), create a 5 by 10px shape, fill it with the linear gradient shown below and place it as shown in the first image. Focus on this small rectangle and switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select the bottom, right anchor point and simply drag it 5px up. In the end your shape should look like in the second image. Select it, make two copies in front (Control + C > Control + F > Control + F) and disable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). 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 R=155 G=155 B=155.


Step 15

Reselect the first 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 to the right. Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with R=200 G=200 B=200. Focus on this thin shape, grab the Delete Anchor Point Tool (-) and remove the anchor point highlighted in the third image. In the end your shape should look like in the fourth image.


Step 16

Enable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). Reselect the three shapes made in the last two 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 it, drag it to the left and place it as shown in the third image. Now, select both groups along with the shapes made in Steps 11, 12 and 13 and Group them (Control + G). Select this new group and place it as shown in the fifth image.


Step 17

Next, we'll create the markers. First, you will need a grid every 1px. Simply go to Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid and enter 1 in the Gridline every box. Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 70 by 8px shape and fill it with the linear gradient shown in the following image. Make sure that this new shape is selected and focus on the Appearance panel. Select the fill and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 1px radius, click OK and go to Effect > Warp > Arc Lower. Enter the properties shown in the following image, click OK and go to Effect > Warp > Arc Upper. Enter the properties shown below, click OK and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the data shown below and click OK. In the end your shape should look like in the following image.


Step 18

Reselect the shape made in the previous step, focus on the Appearance panel, make sure that the fill is selected and click on the Duplicate Selected Item button (pointed by the little, blue arrow). Select this new fill, edit the linear gradient as shown in the following image then open the existing Transform effect and enter the properties shown below.


Step 19

Reselect the shape edited in the previous step, focus on the Appearance panel, make sure that the top fill is selected and click on the Duplicate Selected Item button . Select this new fill, edit the linear gradient as shown in the following image then remove the Transform effect.


Step 20

Reselect the shape edited in the previous step, focus on the Appearance panel and add a fourth fill using the Add New Fill button (pointed by the little blue arrow). Select this new fill, set the color at R=237 G=28 B=36, change the Blending Mode to Overlay and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the following image and click OK.


Step 21

Focus on the right side of the shape edited in the previous step. Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 6px square, fill it with the linear gradient shown below and place it as shown in the first image. Switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A) and focus on the right side of this new shape. Select the top anchor point and drag it 1px down then select the bottom anchor point and drag it 1px up. Make sure that your shape is still selected, focus on the Appearance panel, select the fill and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 1px radius, click OK and go to Effect > Warp > Arc Lower. Enter the properties shown in the following image and click OK.


Step 22

Reselect the shape edited in the previous step, focus on the Appearance panel, make sure that the fill is selected and click on the Duplicate Selected Item button . Select the bottom fill and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown below and click OK. Also, edit the linear gradient used for this fill as shown in the following image. Finally, send this shape to back (Shift + Control + [ ).


Step 23

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 6 by 2px shape and fill it with the linear gradient shown below. Place this new rectangle shown in the following 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 in the following image and click OK. Finally, send this shape to back (Shift + Control + [ ).


Step 24

Reselect all the shapes crated and edited in the last seven steps and Group them (Control + G). Select this new group, make a copy in front (Control + C > Control + F) and drag it a few pixels down as shown in the second image. Focus on this new group, select the main shape and replace the red used for the top fill with a simple black. Select this second group, make a copy in front (Control + C > Control + F) and drag it a few pixels down as shown in the third image. Focus on this new group, select the main shape and replace the black used for the top fill with a light blue (R=39 G=170 B=225). Make sure that this third group is still selected and simply go to Object > Expand Appearance.


Step 25

Focus on the Layers panel, select the three groups made in the previous step and drag them below the group made in the sixteenth step. Keep focusing on the markers and place them as shown in the following image.


Step 26

Return to "Gridline every 5px". So, go to Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid and enter 5 in the Gridline every box. Pick the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 300 by 40px shape, fill it with the linear gradient shown below and lower the Opacity to 75%. Make sure that this new shape is selected, send it to back (Shift + Control + [ ) and go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Enter a 10px radius and click OK.


Step 27

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 420 by 40px shape, fill it with the linear gradient shown below and lower the Opacity to 75%. Make sure that this new shape is selected, send it to back (Shift + Control + [ ) and go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Enter a 5px radius and click OK.


Step 28

Pick the Type Tool (T) and add some simple text as shown in the following image. You can use the "Marker SD Italic" font with the size set at 20pt and the color at R=75 G=75 B=75. Finally, for the little red paths you will need the Paintbrush Tool (B) and the 3pt. Round calligraphic brush.


Conclusion

Now your work is done. Here is how it should look. I hope you've enjoyed today's tutorial and can apply these techniques in your own projects.

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