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How to Create a Vector Sketchbook

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A few times a each month we revisit some of our reader’s favorite posts from throughout the history of Vectortuts+. This tutorial by Rype was first published on May 4th 2009.

In this tutorial, I will show you how to create a customizable vector sketchbook. This intermediate tutorial uses some basic shapes, Shear transforms, and Effects to create a leather texture. Let's get started!

Final Image

Below is the final image we will be working towards. Want access to the full Vector Source files and downloadable copies of every tutorial, including this one? Join Vector Plus for just 9$ a month.

sketchbook_final_image

Video Tutorial

Our editor Sean Hodge has created this video tutorial to compliment this text + image tutorial.

Step 1

Open a new document and create a 380 px wide by 500 px tall rectangle with the Rectangle Tool (M).

sketchbook_01

Step 2

With the new rectangle selected, go to Effect > Stylize > Round Corners. Next in the Round Corners dialog, change the Radius to 30 px. Now go to Object > Expand Appearance.

sketchbook_02

Step 3

Draw a rectangle that covers the left side corners of the first rectangle. Select both shapes, press the Minus Front icon in the Pathfinder panel, and fill the new shape with a dark gray color, making a cover for the sketchbook.

sketchbook_03

Step 4

With the cover shape selected, go to Object > Transform > Move. In the Move dialog, Change the Horizontal to 30 px, the Vertical to -30 px, and make sure to press the Copy button.

sketchbook_04

Step 5

Select the back cover shape and Copy (Command + C) and Paste in Front (Command + F). Select the copy and scale it down slightly from the right and down with the Selection Tool (V). Press the Shift key to constrain the proportion when scaling. Change the fill of the scaled down copy to a linear gradient from the gradient panel. Change the first Color Stop in the gradient to a dark khaki color and the second one to a light khaki color.

sketchbook_05

Step 6

Select the khaki colored cover shape and go to Effect > Distort and Transform > Transform. With the Transform Effect dialog open, change the Copies to 10, the Horizontal to -3, and the Vertical to 3 px. Now we have some pages!

sketchbook_06

Step 7

With the pages selected go to Object > Expanded Appearance. Next, choose Object > Arrange > Send Backward (Command + Left Bracket key), and then choose Object > Ungroup (Command + Shift + G).

sketchbook_07

Step 8

Select a random page and in the Gradient panel change the location of the gradient. Do this to four or five of the other page shapes varying the location in the gradient.

sketchbook_08

Step 9

Create a rectangle the is 30 px wide by 500 px tall. Place the rectangle to the right edge of the front cover. This will be our spine. Fill the rectangle with the same gray color as the front and back cover. With the spine rectangle selected, go to Object > Transform > Shear. In the shear dialog, change the Shear Angle to 45 and check the Vertical Radial button. Next, move the spine shape so the top-left corner matches the top-left corner of the back cover.

sketchbook_09

Step 10

Now that we have the basic shape of the sketchbook done, we can start adding some textures and other elements. Let's take a look at the leather texture first. Copy (Command + C) the front cover and Paste in Front (Command + F). Scale the copied cover from the top-right down to about a third of it's original size.

sketchbook_10

Step 11

With the scaled down cover copy selected, go to Effect > Texture > Texturizer. In the Texturizer dialog, change the Texture to Sandstone, the Scaling to 200, and the Relief to 50.

sketchbook_11

Step 12

Expand the new texture by going Object > Expand Appearance. Once expanded, the Control panel defaults to the Live Trace options. Press the Tracing Presets arrow in the Control panel (the little arrow icon in-between the Live Trace and Mask buttons) to open a drop-down menu with different Live Trace presets. In the drop-down menu, choose the One Color Logo preset. Next, press the Expand button in the Control panel.

sketchbook_12

Step 13

Select the texture and scale it to the original size of the front cover. Next, change the fill of the texture to a slightly darker shade of the original cover color.

sketchbook_13

Step 14

Select the texture and the spine shape, Copy (Command + C), and Paste in Front (Command + F). Next, just with the texture selected, go to Object > Transform > Shear and in the shear dialog, change the Shear Angle to 45, check the Vertical Radial button, and press OK.

sketchbook_14

Step 15

Move the sheared texture to the left to line up with the spine. Next, mask out the texture with the spine copy by selecting both and choosing Object > Clipping Mask > Make.

sketchbook_15

Step 16

Create a rectangle that is the width of the cover and 120 px tall and place ti about halfway down the cover. Fill the new rectangle with a cyan color.

sketchbook_16

Step 17

Create a cyan filled rectangle that is 30 px wide by 120 px tall and place to the left of the previous shapes, lining it up horizontally. Next, go to Object > Transform > Shear and in the shear dialog, change the Shear Angle to 45, check the Vertical Radial button, and press OK. After shearing, move the rectangle so the top-right anchor point lines up with the top-left anchor point of the previous cyan rectangle.

sketchbook_17

Step 18

With the Type Tool (T), type out some text and place it over the front cover.

sketchbook_18

Step 19

Select the front cover, Copy (Command + C), Paste in Front (Command + F), and bring it to front by going to Object > Arrange > Bring to Front (Command + Shift + Right Bracket key).

sketchbook_19

Step 20

Change the fill of the cover copy to a radial gradient with the first Color Stop in the gradient white and the second one a dark gray color. Change the location of the gradient to be closer to the dark gray color. Next, change the Aspect Ration to 200 and set the Blending Mode to Multiply from the Transparency panel.

sketchbook_20

Step 21

Select the spine shape, Copy (Command + C), Paste in Front (Command + F), bring it to the front by going Object > Arrange > Bring to Front (Command + Shift + Right Bracket key), change the fill to a light gray, and set the blending mode to Multiply from the Transparency panel.

sketchbook_21

Step 22

Create a rectangle the is 30 px wide and is slightly taller than the cover it and place over the right side of the cover. Fill the rectangle with a linear gradient. For this rectangle we are going to add eight additional Color Stops to the gradient, giving us a total of ten.

To add a Color Stop to the gradient, click directly below the gradient slider in the gradient panel, but first change the first and last color stops to black. Next, add a Color Stop as explained before and change the color to a dark gray color. In the Location field in the Gradient panel, change the value to 10. Next add another Color Stop, change the color to black, and set its location to 20. Repeat these steps, alternating between dark gray and black Color Stops spaced out in increments of 10 for the Location.

sketchbook_22

Step 23

Copy (Command + C) the rectangle you just made and Paste in Back (Command + B). With your keyboard's arrow keys, move the copy to the left slightly to create a shadow. Change the fill of the copy to a gray color and set the Blending Mode to Multiply from the Transparency panel, creating a shadow.

sketchbook_23

Step 24

Copy (Command + C) the original 10 Color Stop gradient and Paste in Front (Command + F). Change the fill to a two Color Stop Gradient with the first stop white and the second black. Adjust the gradient with the Gradient tool (G) by clicking and dragging from the top of the rectangle down to the bottom, making the white Color Stop at the top of the rectangle. Set the rectangle to Overlay from the Transparency panel.

sketchbook_24

Step 25

Select the overlay, ten stop gradient, and shadow, Copy (Command +C) and Paste in Front (Command +F). In the transform panel, change the height of all to 30 px. Move the copies so that the bottom of them are right above the originals. With the copies still selected, go to Object > Transform > Reflect, and check the Horizontal radial button in the Reflect dialog. Next, go to Object > Transform > Shear and change the Shear Angle to -45 and check the Horizontal Radial Button. Finally, move the shapes to line up with the originals.

sketchbook_25

Step 26

Create a rectangle that is 40 px tall and the width of the front cover and it with a dark gray. Next, go to Object > Transform > Shear and change the Shear Angle to -45 and check the Horizontal Radial Button. With the rectangle still selected, go to Effect > Stylize > Feather and change the Feather Radius to 10 px. Move the rectangle towards the bottom left side of the sketchbook and go to Object > Arrange > Send to Back (Command + Shift + Left Bracket key).

sketchbook_26

Step 27

Select all the artwork and go to Object > Transform > Shear, then change the Shear Angle to -5 and check the Vertical Radial Button.

sketchbook_27

Step 28

Create a rectangle the size of your document. Fill it will a Radial gradient with the first Color Stop white and the second Color Stop a green color. Now go to Object > Arrange > Send to Back (Command + Shift + Left Bracket key). All done!

sketchbook_28

Final Image

Below is the final image again. Using these techniques you can easily add more customization like different colors, logos, and more.

sketchbook_final_image

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