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How to Create a Water Pistol Illustration in Adobe Illustrator

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Difficulty:BeginnerLength:MediumLanguages:
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

In the following steps you will learn how to create a detailed water pistol illustration in Adobe Illustrator. 

For starters you will learn how to setup a simple grid and how to create the main body shape along with the trigger and the handle using basic tools and effects and some gradients. 

Next, using a bunch of new shapes, the live corners feature, some simple effects and basic masking techniques you will learn how to create the pipe, the nozzle and the water container. Finally, you will learn how to add subtle shading and highlights using basic blending techniques and a simple Drop Shadow effect.

1. Create a New Document and Set Up a Grid

Hit Control-N to create a new document. Select Pixels from the Units drop-down menu, 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 you click OK. Enable the Grid (View > Show Grid) and the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid).

For starters you will need a grid every 5px, so simply go to Edit > Preferences > Guides > Grid, enter 5 in the Gridline every box and 1 in the Subdivisions box. Try not to get discouraged by all that grid, it will ease your work and keep in mind that you can easily enable or disable it using the Control-" keyboard shortcut. 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 > Units > General. All these options will significantly increase your work speed.

setup grid

2. Create the Body, the Handle and the Trigger

Step 1

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and focus on your Toolbar. Remove the color from the stroke then select the fill and set its color at R=255 G=200 B=0. Move to your artboard and simply create a 130 x 25px rectangle, the Snap to Grid should ease your work. Make sure that this yellow shape stays selected and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 5px Radius, click OK then go to Object > Expand Appearance.

create body handles trigger

Step 2

Set a random orange for the fill color, make sure that the Rectangle Tool (M) is active, create a 35 x 75px shape and place it as shown in the first image. Switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A) and focus on the bottom side of this orange rectangle. Select both anchor points and simply drag them 25px to the right as shown in the second image. Once again, the grid and the Snap to Grid feature should ease your work.

Make sure that the shape made in this step is still selected and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 5px Radius, click OK and then go to Object > Expand Appearance.

create body handles trigger

Step 3

Reselect your yellow, rounded rectangle, make a copy in front (Control-C > Control-F) and bring it to front (Shift-Control-] ). Select this copy along with your orange shape, open the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder) and click the Minus Front button.

create body handles trigger

Step 4

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 40px square and place it as shown in the first image. Make sure that this new shape stays selected and focus on the Appearance panel (Window > Appearance). Remove the color from the fill and select the stroke. Set its color at R=189 G=15 B=4 then simply click on that "Stroke" piece of text to open the Stroke fly-out panel. Set the Weight at 8px and check the Align Stroke to Inside button.

Switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A) and focus on the bottom side of this red shape. Select both anchor points and simply drag them 15px to the right as shown in the second image. Make sure that your red shape stays selected and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 5px Radius, click OK and then go to Object > Path > Outline Stroke.

create body handles trigger

Step 5

Duplicate your yellow and orange shapes (Control-C > Control-F). Bring these copies to front (Shift-Control-] ), make sure that both shapes are selectes and click the Unite button from the Pathfinder panel. Select the resulting shape along with the red one and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel.

create body handles trigger

Step 6

Make sure that your yellow shape is selected, open the Gradient panel (Window > Gradient) and simply click on the gradient thumbnail to add the default black to white linear gradient.

Keep focusing on your Gradient panel, set the Angle at 90 degrees then move to the gradient colors. Select the right slider and set the color at R=255 G=230 B=30 then select the left slider and set the color at R=245 G=160 B=0. Focus on the gradient bar and simply click on it to add a new gradient slider. Make sure that this new slider is selected, set its color at R=245 G=160 B=0, focus on the Location box (from the Gradient panel) and set it at 15%. Keep in mind that the blue numbers from the Gradient images stand for Location percentage. Add five new sliders for this gradient then use the color and Location attributes shown in the following image.

create body handles trigger

Step 7

Make sure that your orange shape is selected and simply replace the existing fill color with the linear gradient shown in the following image.

create body handles trigger

Step 8

Make sure that the shape that makes up your handle is still selected, focus on the Appearance panel and add a second fill using the Add New Fill button. Select the new fill and simply add the linear gradient shown in the following image. Keep in mind that the blue number from the Gradient image stands for Location percentage while the yellow zero stands for Opacity percentage. This simply means that you need to select that gradient slider, focus on the Opacity box (from the Gradient panel) and set it at 0%.

create body handles trigger

Step 9

Make sure that your handle shape is still selected, focus on the Appearance panel and add a third fill using that same Add New Fill button. Focus on this new fill and simply click that "Opacity" piece of text to open the Transparency fly-out panel. Lower the Opacity to 5%, change the Blending Mode to Soft Light and then add the linear gradient shown in the following image.

create body handles trigger

Step 10

Select your red shape and simply replace the existing fill color with the radial gradient shown below. Make sure that this shape stays selected, focus on your artboard and use the Gradient Tool (G) to stretch your gradient as shown in the following image.

create body handles trigger

Step 11

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 35 x 40px shape, make it blue and place it as shown in the first image. Make sure that this new rectangle stays selected and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 3px Radius, click OK and go to Object > Expand Appearance. Replace the existing fill color with the linear gradient shown in the following image.

create body handles trigger

Step 12

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 35 x 10px shape, set the fill color at white (R=255 G=255 B=255), lower its Opacity to 20% and change the Blending Mode to Overlay.

create body handles trigger

Step 13

For this 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 Pen Tool (P), create a 10px, vertical path and place it as shown in the first image.

Make sure that this new path stays selected and focus on the Appearance panel. Remove the color from the fill then focus on the stroke. Add a dark red for the color, set the Weight at 5px and check the Round Cap button from the Stroke fly-out panel. Keep focusing on this path and switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select the bottom anchor point, drag it 8px to the right then go to Effect > Warp > Arc. Enter the properties shown in the following image, click OK and then go to Object > Path > Outline Stroke.

create body handles trigger

Step 14

Make sure that your red shape stays selected, replace the existing fill color with the linear gradient shown in the following image then go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the attributes shown below and click OK.

create body handles trigger

3. Create the Pipe, the Nozzle and Container Stand

Step 1

Return to gridline every 5px, so simply go to Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid and enter 5 in the Gridline every box. Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 5 x 15px shape 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 rectangle. Select both anchor points, focus on the top bar and simply enter 3px in the Corner box.

This feature is only available for CC users. The best solution to replace this effect would be the Round Any Corner that can found in this 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 that anchor point and go to File > Scripts > Other Script. Open the Round Any Corner Script, enter a 24px radius and click OK. The end result might look a bit different.

Make sure that the shape made in this step is still selected and simply replace the existing fill color with the linear gradient shown in the following image

create pipe nozzle container stand

Step 2

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 5 x 20px shape 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 rectangle. Select both anchor points, focus on the top bar and simply enter 3px in the Corner box. Make sure that this new shape stays selected and simply replace the existing fill color with the linear gradient used in the previous step. Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 10 x 20px shape, fill it with that same linear gradient used a few moments ago and place it as shown in the third image.

create pipe nozzle container stand

Step 3

Switch to gridline every 1px, so go to Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid and enter 1 in the Gridline every box. Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 25 x 12px shape, fill it with the linear gradient shown below and place it as shown in following image.

create pipe nozzle container stand

Step 4

Make sure that your 25 x 12px rectangle stays selected, focus on the Appearance panel and add a second fill using that same Add New Fill button. Drag it below the existing fill, change its Blending Mode to Soft Light, add the linear gradient shown below and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Drag the Move-Vertical slider at 10px and then click OK.

create pipe nozzle container stand

Step 5

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 1 x 12px shape, set the fill color at black (R=0 G=0 B=0) and place it as shown in following image. Make sure that this new shape stays selected, lower its Opacity to 30%, change the Blending Mode to Soft Light and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Drag the Move-Horizontal slider at 2px, enter 11 in the Copies box and then click OK.

create pipe nozzle container stand

Step 6

Return to gridline every 5px. Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 70 x 10px shape, fill it with the linear gradient shown below and place it as shown in the first image. Make sure that this new rectangle stays selected, focus on the Appearance panel and add a second fill. Select it, set the color at R=128 G=130 B=133 and change its Blending Mode to Color Burn. Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 70 x 5px shape, place it as shown in the second image and add the same Appearance attributes used for the first rectangle.

create pipe nozzle container stand

Step 7

Switch to gridline every 1px. Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 10 x 19px shape, fill it with the linear gradient shown below and place it as shown in the first image. Make sure that this rectangle stays selected, swith to the Direct Selection Tool (A), focus on the top bar and simply enter 2px in the Corners box.

create pipe nozzle container stand

Step 8

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. Make sure that your red, rounded rectangle is selected 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 button from your keyboard. Reselect both copies and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with white, lower its Opacity to 30% and change the Blending Mode to Overlay.

Reselect your red, rounded rectangle and make two copies in front (Control-C > Control-F > Control-F). Select the top copy and move it 1px to the left using the left arrow button from your keyboard. Reselect both copies and click 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.

create pipe nozzle container stand

Step 9

Enable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 3 x 5px shape, make it blue and place it as shown in the first image. Switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the two anchor points that make up the left side of your rectangle then and simply enter 2px in the Corners box.

Return to the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 3 x 10px shape, make it blue and place it as shown in the third image. Reselect the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the two anchor points that make up the left side of this new rectangle and enter 2px in the Corners box.

create pipe nozzle container stand

Step 10

Reselect the two, blue shape and simply hit Control-8 (or go to Object > Compound Path > Make) to turn them into a simple compound path. Make sure that this new compound path stays selected and simply replace the existing fill color with that same red, linear gradient used for the rounded rectangle that lies next to it.

Keep focusing on your compound path and add second fill using that same Add New Fill button. Select it, set the color at black and change its Blending Mode to Soft Light. Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 1 x 15px shape and place it as shown in the third image. Fill it with black, lower its Opacity to 50% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

create pipe nozzle container stand

4. Create the Water Container

Step 1

Return to gridline every 5px. Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 130 x 50px shape, set the fill color at R=57 G=181 B=74 and place it as shown in the first image. Make sure that this green rectangle stays selected and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 25px Radius, click OK and go to Object > Expand Appearance.

Using the same tool, create a 90 x 10px shape, set the fill color at R=161 G=218 B=103 and place it as shown in the second image. Make sure that this new rectangle stays selected, switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A) and simply enter 5px in the Corners box.

create water container

Step 2

Focus on your Toolbar and simply double click on the Blend Tool to open the Blend Options window. Select Specified Steps from the Spacing drop-down menu and enter 100 in that white box. Reselect both green shapes and simply hit Alt-Control-B to create a new blend. In the end things should look like in the second image.

create water container

Step 3

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 90 x 5px shape, set the fill color at white and place it as shown in the following image. Make sure that this new rectangle stays selected and focus on the Appearance panel. Select the existing fill, change its Blending Mode to Overlay and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 2.5px Radius, click OK and go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Enter a 10px Radius, click OK then return to the Appearance panel.

Add a second fill for your shape and select it. Set the color at white, lower its Opacity to 10%, change the Blending Mode to Overlay and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 2.5px Radius and click OK.

create water container

Step 4

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 100 x 25px shape, fill it with the linear gradient shown below and place it as shown in the following image. Make sure that this new shape stays selected, lower its Opacity to 50%, change the Blending Mode to Soft Light and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 12.5px Radius and click OK.

create water container

Step 5

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 130 x 50px shape, set the fill color at white and place it as shown in the first image. Make sure that this new rectangle stays selected and switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A). Focus on the top bar and simply enter 25px in that Corners box.

create water container

Step 6

Make sure that your white rounded rectangle is still selected and go to Object > Path > Offset Path. Enter a -5px Offset and click OK. Select the resulting shape and make a copy in front (Control-C > Control-F). Select this copy and move it 5px up using the up arrow button from your keyboard. Reselect both shapes made in this step and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with R=0 G=104 B=56 and go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Enter a 5px Radius and click OK.

create water container

Step 7

Select all the shapes that make up your water container (except the white, rounded rectangle) and simply hit Control-G to Group them. Bring your white shape to front (Shift-Control-] ), select it along with the fresh group, focus on the Transparency panel (Window > Transparency) and simply click the Make Mask button.

If you're not an Illustrator CC user, open the fly-out menu of the Transparency panel and simply go to Make Opacity Mask.

create water container

Step 8

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 5 x 30px shape, fill it with the linear gradient shown below and place it as shown in the following image. Make sure that this new rectangle stays selected and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 2.5px Radius, click OK and go to Object > Expand Appearance.

create water container

Step 9

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 10 x 20px shape, place it as shown in the first image and pick a random red for the fill color. Switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A) and focus on the left side of this new rectangle. Select both anchor points and simply enter 2px in the Corners box. Make sure that this red shape stays selected and go to Effect > Warp > Arc Upper. Enter the attributes shown in the following image, click OK and go to Object > Expand Appearance.

create water container

Step 10

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. Keep focusing on your red shape and replace the existing fill color with the same linear gradient used for your 5 x 30px rounded rectangle.

Make sure that the shape edited in this step is still selected 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 button from your keyboard. Reselect both copies made in this step and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with white, lower its Opacity to 30% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

create water container

Step 11

Reselect the shape that connect the container with the rest of the pistol (the one edited in the previous step) and go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the attributes shown in the following image and click OK.

create water container

Step 12

Enable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid) and switch to gridline every 1px. Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 10 x 54px shape, fill it with the linear gradient shown below and place it as shown in the following image. Make sure that this new rectangle stays selected, switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A) and simply enter 2px in the Corners box.

create water container

Step 13

Disable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). Make sure that your yellow, rounded rectangle is selected 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 made in this step and click 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.

create water container

Step 14

Make sure that your yellow, rounded rectangle is selected and make another two copies in front (Control-C > Control-F > Control-F). Select the top copy and move it 1px to the left. Reselect both copies made in this step and click 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.

create water container

Step 15

Make sure that your yellow, rounded rectangle is selected and make a copy in front (Control-C > Control-F). Select this copy, move it 1px to the right then duplicate it (Control-C > Control-F). Select this new copy and move it 1px to the right. Reselect both shapes made in this step and click 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.

create water container

Step 16

Enable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 2 x 3px shape, fill it with the linear gradient shown below and place it as shown in the following iamge.

create water container

5. Add Subtle Shading and Highlights

Step 1

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 2 x 15px shape, make it black and place it as shown in the first image. Make sure that this new rectangle is selected, lower its Opacity to 30% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

Using the same tool, create a 1 x 15px shape, make it black and place it as shown in the second image. Make sure that this new rectangle stays selected, lower its Opacity to 50% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

Reselect both rectangles made in this step and Group them (Control-G). Select this new group and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Check the Reflect X box, enter 1 in the Copies box, drag the Move-Horizontal slider at 68px and then click OK.

subtle shading highlights

Step 2

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 1 x 50px shape, make it black and place it as shown in the first image. Make sure that this new rectangle is selected, lower its Opacity to 25% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

Using the same tool, create a 3 x 50px shape, make it black and place it as shown in the second image. Make sure that this new rectangle stays selected, lower its Opacity to 15% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

Reselect both rectangles made in this step and Group them (Control-G). Select this new group and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the attributes shown in the following image and click OK.

subtle shading highlights

Step 3

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 1 x 20px shape, make it black and place it as shown in the first image. Make sure that this new rectangle stays selected, lower its Opacity to 15% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

Using the same tool, create a 2 x 20px shape, make it black and place it as shown in the second image. Make sure that this new rectangle stays selected, lower its Opacity to 15% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

Reselect both rectangles made in this step and Group them (Control-G). Select this new group and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the attributes shown in the following image and click OK.

subtle shading highlights

Step 4

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 2 x 20px and a 1 x 20px shape, fill both shapes with black and place them as shown in the first two images. Make sure that both rectangles stay selected, lower the Opacity to 15% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

Using the same tool, create a 2 x 15px and a 1 x 15px shape, fill both shapes with black and place them as shown in the third and fourth images. Make sure that both rectangles stay selected, lower the Opacity to 15% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

Using that same Rectangle Tool (M), create a 2 x 20px and a 1 x 20px shape, fill both shapes with black and place them as shown in the fifth and sixth images. Make sure that both rectangles stay selected, lower the Opacity to 10% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

subtle shading highlights

Step 5

Reselect all the shapes made so far and duplicate them (Control-C > Control-F). Make sure that all these copies are selected and simply click the Unite button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with R=245 G=160 B=0.

subtle shading highlights

Step 6

Make sure that the orange shape made in the previous step is still selected, send it to back (Shift-Control-[ ) and focus on the Appearance panel. Add a 1pt, black stroke, lower its Opacity to 5% and check the Align Stroke to Outside button from the Stroke fly-out panel. Return to the Appearance panel, select the existing fill and go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the attributes shown in the following image and click OK.

subtle shading highlights

Congratulations! You're Done!

Here is how it should look. I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial and can apply these techniques in your future projects.

final
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