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How to Create Fireworks Rockets in Adobe Illustrator

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Today we will be creating a neat icon of Fireworks Rockets. 3D Effect is a convenient tool for creating this kind of illustration, but we have to be aware of the fact that 3D effects can mess up our illustration. It can create many unnecessary anchor points and distort the shape of the illustration. In order to avoid that we will use 3D effect only to create a reference objects. The Pen Tool will help us to trace the object with just few anchor points that will allow to us manipulate the shapes easily. So, let's move from words to deeds.


Step 1

For the start we will create stripes pattern for the rockets. Select the Rectangle Tool (M) from the Tool panel and click somewhere on the Artboard. In the Rectangle Options box set dimensions to 10 x 160 pixels.


Step 2

Hold the Alt / Option key on the keyboard and click on the red rectangle. Drag the mouse to the left (don't forget to hold the Shift key for the straight dragging).


Step 3

Select both rectangles and under the Object select Blend > Make. Select now Object > Blend > Blend Options to set the number of the rectangles that the Blend Tool will create in the middle.


Step 4

Set the Spacing to Specified Steps and set the value to 4. We will get 4 new and equal rectangles in the middle.


Step 5

Expand the rectangles by selecting Object > Expand.

Now we will rotate our stripes for 45˚ (Object > Transform > Rotate). Set the Angle to 45˚ and hit the OK button.


Step 6

Now we need to turn our stripes into the symbols. To do that, drag and drop them into the Symbol Panel. Make sure to set the Type to Graphic.


Step 7

Now we can start to create our firework rockets. For the start we will be using Pen Tool (P) to create a simple path. Select it from the Tool panel and draw the open path as it shown on the picture below.


Step 8

As you can see our path actually represent just one half of the rocket shape. It will be enough to create the rest by using 3D effect Revolve (Effect > 3D > Revolve). What the effect will actually do is rotating the path around the X-axis and forming the shape of the rocket.


Step 9

In this tutorial we will be using this settings for the 3D effect. Make sure to set the Perspective. Without it our rocket will look strange and distorted.


Step 10

Let's apply our stripe pattern to the rocket. Under the Revolve Option window hit the Map Art button.

We will switch between Surface sides in order to apply our pattern on the specific side of the rocket. Make sure to tick the Preview box in order to be able to monitor the creation process. When you are switching between surfaces you will notice that the active surface has the red outline. This way you will easily find the surface you want to apply the pattern to.


Step 11

Feel free to move the pattern around (scale it up or down) until you cover the whole surface with stripes.


Step 12

We are now done with the Revolve effect. Hit the OK button and under the Object select Expand Appearance. It will turn our rocket into the editable object.


Step 13

Usually our next step would be separating all the shapes that constitute our rocket. It means we would have to repeat Ungroup (Shift + Ctrl / Command + G) until we end up with individual shapes. If you do that you will notice many flaws that 3D effect Revolve has created. Hundreds of anchor points, deformed and distorted shapes, unnecessary paths. It will take forever to clean all that stuff in order to get clean shape of the fireworks rocket.


Step 14

Instead of cleaning and fixing the shapes we are going to do a small trick. In the Layers panel, lock the group that contains our fireworks rocket. Make a New Layer by clicking Create New Layer icon on the bottom of the Layer panel.

Grab the Pen Tool (P) from the Tool panel and start tracing the rocket. Make sure to draw separate shapes.


Step 15

Now select the Ellipse Tool (L) from the Tool panel and create an ellipse.


Step 16

Also, with the Pen Tool trace the "body" of the rocket.


Step 17

We will need one more ellipse for the bottom of the rocket.


Step 18

As you can see, we need only few shapes to build our rocket. Anyway, previous 3D version has helped us a lot to create a reference object for tracing. If we compare both objects you will also see a big difference in number of shapes.


Step 19

All we need from previous version of the rocket are the stripes. Everything else we will delete.

Select the new shapes we have just created and Group them (Ctrl / Command + G). Make sure to lock that group in the Layer panel and hide it. Also, unlock the group with our previous version of the firework rocket.


Step 20

We are going to remove all the shapes beside the stripes. Ungroup (Shift + Ctrl / Command + G) the rocket, select individual shapes you want to remove in the Layer panel and hit Delete on your keyboard.


Step 21

Unlock the upper group and make it visible. Also, bring the group with the red stripes on top. You should end up with something like this.

As you can see, stripes are not fitting quite to the rocket, but we will fix that later.


Step 22

Beside this rocket we are going to create another one. Creation process will be pretty much the same but this one will look a bit different. We will make it look like it's about to fly up in the air any second. We will use the Pen Tool (P) again. Select it from the Tool panel and draw the similar path to the one we drew at the beginning of this tutorial.


Step 23

Apply 3D effect Revolve (Effect > 3D > Revolve) to this path as well.


Step 24

We will also apply the stripes to the new rocket. Enter the Map Art options and under the Surfaces select the surface you want to apply stripe pattern to.


Step 25

When you are satisfied with the look of the rocket hit the OK button. Expand the shape by selecting Object > Expand Appearance. You should end up with something like this.


Step 26

At this point we need to lock the group that contains the new rocket and to create new shapes with the Pen Tool (P). Select it from the Tool panel and start tracing.


Step 27

Select all new elements we have just created and Group them (Ctrl / Command + G). Lock that group and make in invisible. At the same time, make the visible group with our reference object and Ungroup it (Shift + Ctrl / Command + G). Remove all shapes that constitutes reference object but the red stripes.


Step 28

Unlock the group with the new shapes we have just created and make it visible. Place the group with the red stripes on the top.


Step 29

Now we can move on to more interesting part of this tutorial – coloring. We are going to use gradients with just the few shades. Ungroup (Shift + Ctrl / Command + G) the group of elements we have created by tracing the reference object and let's get started.

We will leave the lower ellipse like that for now.


Step 30

As you can see, stripes are much larger then we actually need them. Let's make them fit. Select the white shape of the rocket ("body") and duplicate it (Ctrl / Command + C, Ctrl / Command + F). Bring it to the front (Shift + Ctrl / Command + ]). Also, make sure to remove the Fill color (gradient) and the Stroke color as well. We need only the path. Select the path and the stripes (hold the Shift key on your keyboard in order to select them both) and under the Object select Clipping Mask > Make.


Step 31

Duplicate (Ctrl / Command + C, Ctrl / Command + F) the upper ellipse. Under the Right click select Isolate Selected Path. Grab the Direct Selection Tool (A) from the Tool Panel, select the anchor point as it shown on the picture below and remove it (by hitting Delete key on your keyboard).


Step 32

We have created an open path. Make sure to remove the Fill color (Color Gradient) and to set the Stroke color to #69C4F6. Also, set the Stroke Width to 0.5 pt and the Profile to Width Profile 1. This way we have created a nice edge highlight.


Step 33

At the very bottom of the rocket we need to create a small hole for the fuse and the fuse itself. Let's duplicate (Ctrl / Command + C, Ctrl / Command + F) the ellipse on the bottom of the rocket. Scale it down and place it as it shown on the picture below.


Step 34

Grab the Pen Tool (P) from the Tool panel and draw a shape like this.


Step 35

Now, duplicate (Ctrl / Command + C, Ctrl / Command + F) the yellow ellipse and scale it down. Also, make sure to bring the smaller ellipse to front (Shift + Ctrl / Command + ]).


Step 36

Select larger yellow ellipse and the green shape and under the Pathfinder panel hit the Unite button.


Step 37

Duplicate (Ctrl / Command + C, Ctrl / Command + F) the yellow ellipse again and scale it down a bit.


Step 38

Let's apply some colors now.


Step 39

You should end up with something like this.


Step 40

Let's apply nice colors to the rocket we have created earlier. This time we will use red color.


Step 41

As you can see we need to create a Clipping Mask for the red stripes here too. We are going to use the same method as we did with the blue rocket to accomplish that. Duplicate (Ctrl / Command + C, Ctrl / Command + F) the white shape. Bring it to Front (Shift + Ctrl / Command + ]) and remove the Fill color (gradient). Select the closed path and the red stripes and under the Object select Clipping Mask > Make. Also, make sure to bring red ellipse at the bottom of the rocket on the top of the red stripes (the easiest way to do that is to find groups with these shapes in the Layers panel and to arrange them). You should end up with something like this.


Step 42

We need to create the same hole for the fuse. We won't repeat all the steps again. Just use the same method we have used for the blue rocket. Apply nice red gradients.


Step 43

Select all the elements that constitutes the red rocket and Group them (Ctrl / Command + G). Under the Object select Transform > Reflect. Set the Axis to Vertical and hit the Copy button. It will create another rocket. Place it as it shown on the picture below.


Step 44

Ungroup (Shift + Ctrl / Command + G) the red rocket on the left side of the illustration. We are going to change its red color to yellow.


Step 45

Also, make sure to change the color for the fuses hole on the bottom of the rocket.


Step 46

You should end up with something like this.


Step 47

Let's adjust the shading on the bottom of the rockets. The Blend Tool will help us to do that. Let's start with the blue rocket.

First we need to duplicate the blue ellipse (Ctrl / Command + C, Ctrl / Command + F), scale it down and place it as it shown on the picture below. Set its Fill color to #003682.


Step 48

Select both ellipses and under the Object select Blend > Make. After that select Object > Blend > Blend Options and set the Specified Steps to 15 and hit the OK button.


Step 49

Let's repeat the previous step with the red and yellow ellipses as well.


Step 50

Let's create the fuse for our rockets. We need to create a simple brush that we are going to apply to the open paths. So let's get started. Grab the Pen Tool (P) from the Tool panel and create an irregular shape as it shown on the picture below. Set the Fill color to #85580D.


Step 51

Under the Object select Path > Offset Path. Set the Offset to -2 pixels and hit the OK button. It will create a new shape. Set the Fill color to #D6B16B and place it as it shown on the picture below.


Step 52

Repeat the previous step one more time. This time set the Fill color to #E3C861.


Step 53

We are going to repeat this step one more time. Set the Fill color of the new shape to #FAECCB.


Step 54

Select all four shapes we have created and Group them (Ctrl / Command + G). Holding the Alt / Option key on the keyboard click and drag the Group of the shapes we have just created. Repeat it few times, until you end up with something similar to this.

Feel free adjust the position and the angle individual segments. Don't worry if you are not able to form a straight line. Imperfections are allowed.


Step 55

Select all elements we have created and Group (Ctrl / Command + G) them. Drag and drop them into the Brushes Panel. In the New Brush window make sure to thick the Art Brush and hit the OK button. In the Art Brush Options window leave everything as it is and hit the OK button. Our brush is ready now.


Step 56

Lets draw the open paths for the fuse. Grab the Pen Tool (P) from the Tool panel and create the path as it shown on the picture below.


Step 57

In the Brushes panel select the brush we have just created. The brush will apply to our path. If it doesn't fit quite right you can always adjust the thickness of the fuse in the Stroke panel by lowering the Stroke Width.


Step 58

Expand the brush by selecting Object > Expand Appearance. Now, we need to make few more adjustments. Our fuse is not coming out of the planed hole. To make it look like it does we will have to crate the mask. So, let's duplicate (Ctrl / Command + C, Ctrl / Command + F) the smaller ellipse on the fuses hole. Under the right click select Isolated Selected Path. With Direct Selection Tool (A) select the anchor point as it shown on the picture below and remove it by hitting Delete key on your keyboard.


Step 59

Under the right click select Exit Isolation Mode and bring the open path to Front (Shift + Ctrl / Command + ]). Remove the Fill color of the open path and set the Stroke color to any color you want (color is not important). Grab the Pen Tool (P) from the Tool panel and draw a closed path around the fuse, by using the open path we have just created.


Step 60

When you are satisfied with the look of the open path remove the Stroke color too. Select both, closed path and the fuse and under the Object select Clipping Mask > Make.


Step 61

You should end up with something like this.


Step 62

Make sure to create the fuse for the other two rockets as well.


Step 63

We need to create few more sticks, something to support the fireworks rockets before they fly away up in the air. Select the Rectangle Tool (M) from the Tool Panel and create the rectangle as it shown on the picture below. Make sure to place it behind the rocket (Shift + Ctrl / Command + [).


Step 64

Apply nice linear gradient to the stick.


Step 65

Let's make two copies (Ctrl / Command + C, Ctrl / Command + V) of the stick and place it as it shown on the picture below (in order to preserve perspective align each stick with the lateral side of the rocket).


Conclusion

Today we had an opportunity to create a cute icon of the fireworks rockets. We had also an opportunity to see that 3D effects are sometimes very useful to create a final product, but if they are causing some problems we can still use those effects in a different way. Most of the time we need a reference object we could trace. 3D effects are allowing us to create a reference body as we wish. There is no need to search the Internet for the perfect image you can use to trace it. You can create it all by yourself. Just explore your options and be creative.

I hope you enjoyed reading this tutorial as much as I enjoyed creating it. Thank you for following along.

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