Make an Awesome Military Themed Vector Package


Discover how to create a shiny military themed ration package. This Adobe Illustrator tutorial is ideal for advanced users. We'll use an interesting combination of techniques to create this themed package design. Let's get started!

Final Image Preview

Below is the final image we will be working towards. Click here for a larger version. 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.

Tutorial Details

  • Program: Adobe Illustrator
  • Version: CS3
  • Difficulty: Advanced
  • Estimated Completion Time: 1.5 hours

Step 1

Using the Rectangle Tool (M) draw a rectangle like the one below.

Step 2

Select the Warp Tool (Shift + R) and drag it over the edges of the rectangle to vary the edges. You can also double-click the Warp Tool to change its settings.

Step 3

We'll make the ridges along the sides of the package by first copying and pasting the rectangle shape. Now stagger the two shapes slightly. Lastly, use the Pathfinder to subtract the large area from the thin edge.

Step 4

Use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to get rid of the leftover fragments that you don't need.

Step 5

Duplicate the ridge twice and use the Align Palette to make them perfectly spaced.

Step 6

Repeat the process to create the ridges for the other edge of the package.

Step 7

Fill the ridges with a gradient that varies from light to dark a few times. You can give each ridge a similar but not identical gradient to add some visual interest.

Step 8

Apply a Radial Gradient to the package too.

Step 9

Now we'll make shadows on the left and right side of the package. Select one of the ridges and give it a dark gray fill. Go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur and enter a value that looks good to you.

In the Transparency Palette set the mode to Multiply so the shape blends well with the colors behind it. This will be more obvious on the right side of the package, where that edge will eventually have the camouflage pattern behind it.

Step 10

To give the package the illusion of bulk and shine we'll add some highlights around the edges of it.

Use the Pen Tool to draw an arbitrary shape like the one below. Don't try to draw all the shinny areas with one shape, rather, make at least one or two shapes along each edge of the package. This will give you the opportunity to vary the intensity of the shine on each area.

Step 11

While they are comprised of more of an organic shape it's still important to have a general idea of how reflections work.

Below you'll notice that toward the edge of the package the lines are smoother. Towards the center of the package the lines taper down to a point. This suggests that the plastic has something inside it causing the plastic to protrude where the object inside meets the plastic. So, as the highlight reaches the center it is likely to come to a point. Again, there is no finite method but this technique seems to be realistic enough.

Step 12

Using the main rectangle shape as the basis, add a drop shadow by going to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Place the object behind all the other elements and on a separate layer so it's out of the way.

Step 13

Here's what your package should look like right now.

Step 14

The beauty of this simple white packaging is complemented by the military camouflage pattern. To make the pattern first draw a square.

Step 15

Duplicate the square several times. Use the Align Palette to adjust the spacing between each square so they are equally spaced apart. The objective is to make sure there is no gap between the squares. After the squares are evenly distributed, group them by going to Object > Group.

Step 16

Duplicate the rows of squares and again adjust the spacing between them so they're uniform. Try to position them so that there is no white space between any of the squares.

Step 17

Ungroup all of the squares. Select a pattern of squares and give them a different color.

Step 18

Continue giving the squares more colors.

Step 19

Since I wanted the design to spread onto the packaging from the lower right corner I decided to get rid of a few squares in the upper left corner. The squares you get rid of will be determined by the final design you want to achieve.

Step 20

Select all the squares and give them a rounded corner by going to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corner. Once you do this you may notice that there are small white gaps in between. There is an easy fix for this...

Step 21

First, make sure all the squares are ungrouped. Select them all and go to Object > Transform > Transform Each, and enter about 105 for both the Horizontal and Vertical Scale, then select OK.

Step 22

Now, your shapes are slightly larger which fills in the gaps! It's OK if all the shapes aren't touching exactly at their corners. The actual military camouflage pattern is similar in this fashion.

Step 23

We'll want the squares to have a slight distortion so they fit better when we place them over the packaging. To do this select them and go to Object > Envelope Distort > Make with Warp. Select Flag and enter a subtle variable to add some movement to the squares.

Step 24

Use the main package shape as a mask for the squares. To make a mask press Command + 7 or go to Object Clipping Mask > Make.

Step 25

Place the military pattern behind the highlights. Fill the reflections with a black to white gradient and select Screen in the Transparency Palette. This will make the reflections blend seamlessly with the color below it. Also, adjust the reflections' Opacity if need be.

Step 26

Use the Pencil Tool (N) to draw an arbitrary shape, as shown below. Fill the shape with white, give it a Gaussian Blur and adjust it's Opacity so it is almost completely see-through. This shape will create a nice overall shine for the package.

Step 27

Add the text to your package. I've used a font called ITC Franklin Gothic.

Step 28

We'll give the text a little distortion like we did with the camouflage. Select the text (either one text area at a time or all at once, it's up to you) and go to Object > Envelope Distort > Make with Warp. Under Style select Flag and adjust the sliders slightly to suit your taste.

NOTE: When you apply a warp to text you can no longer edit what the text says. Once you apply a warp to text you have to Expand it by going to Object > Expand in order to adjust gradients or colors.

Step 29

Once you get all the elements of the package in place you may want to add in a few more highlights to balance or complete the effect. I've added in a couple more gray shapes that I've blurred and some white blurred shapes to all four corners, which act as highlights.

Step 30

We'll create a rough and dirty background texture by using the chalk brushes in Illustrator. To open this panel go to Window > Brush Libraries > Artistic > Artistic_ChalkCharcoalPencil. Drag any one of the shapes onto the Artboard.

Step 31

In order to successfully edit this shape you'll need to use the Direct Selection Tool to get rid of the invisible shape around the edges. Select the points in each of the corners and delete them.

Step 32

Now, you can fill the shape with whatever colors or gradients you choose.

Step 33

Overlap the shapes in interesting and unique ways to create a completely new texture. Place the new shape behind the package and you're all set!

Final Image Preview

Here is the final package. You've just learned how to create a shiny military themed ration package! Click here for a larger version.

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