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Quick Tip: Create a Speech Bubbles Set with the Appearance Panel

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In the following Quick Tip you will learn how to create your own vector speech bubbles set. This tutorial is for beginners and will teach you basic shape building techniques in Illustrator plus some neat tricks to use with the Appearance panel. Let's get started!


Step 1

Create a 750 by 250px, RGB document. First, enable the Grid (View > Show Grid) and the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). Next, you'll need a grid every 5px. Go to Edit > Preferences > Guides > Grid, enter 5 in the Gridline every box and 1 in the Subdivisions box. You can also open the Info panel (Window > Info) for a live preview with the size and position of your shapes. Do not forget to replace the unit of measurement to pixels from Edit > Preferences > Unit > General. Al these options will significantly increase your work speed.


Step 2

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a 175 by 105px shape. Fill it with R=247 G=148 B=30 and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 30px radius, click OK and go to Object > Expand Appearance.


Step 3

Continue with the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 30px square and fill it with the same orange color (R=247 G=148 B=30). Switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A) and focus on this new shape. Select the bottom anchor points and go to Object > Path > Average. Check the Both button and click OK.

Now, your square should turn into a triangle. Select it and go to Effect > Warp > Arc. Enter the data shown below, click OK and go to Object > Expand Appearance. Select the resulting shape and make a copy in front (Control + C > Control + F). Go to the Layers panel, find this copy and click on the little eye icon from the left. This will make your copy invisible. You'll need this copy later.


Step 4

Select the visible shape created in the previous step and place it as shown in the first image. The Snap to Grid will ease your work. Reselect the two, visible shapes and click on the Unite button from the Pathfinder panel.


Step 5

Pick the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 175 by 135px shape and fill it with R=76 G=163 B=234. Move to the Layers panel, find that invisible shape and turn it back to visible. Select it, replace the orange with R=76 G=163 B=234 and go to Object > Transform > Rotate. Enter a -45 degrees angle and click OK.

Place the resulting shape as shown in the second image. Again, the Snap to Grid will ease your work. Reselect the two, blue shapes and click on the Unite button from the Pathfinder panel.


Step 6

Pick the Ellipse Tool (L) and draw the seven ellipses shown in the first image. Once again, the Snap to Grid will ease your work. Fill them with R=57 G=181 B=74, Unite them and turn them into a compound path (Object > Compound Path > Make).


Step 7

Return to the orange shape. Select it and press Shift + X. This will transfer the color properties from the fill to the stroke. Go to the Appearance and you should find a fill of none and a 1pt stroke. Select the stroke, align it to outside and increase the size to 3px then add R=241 G=242 B=242 for the fill.

Now, your shape should look like in the second image. Make sure that it's still selected and go to Object > Path > Outline Stroke. Go to the Layers panel and you will find a new group with two separate shape. One is the fill and the other the stroke.


Step 8

First, focus on the light grey shape. Select it and make two copies in front (Control + C > Control + F > Control + F). Select the top copy and hit the down arrow once. Thanks to the Snap to Grid your shape will move 5px down. Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with white.


Step 9

Disable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid) then go to Edit > Preferences > General and make sure that your Keyboard Increment is set at 1px. Reselect the light grey shape and make two new copies in front (Control + C > Control + F > Control + F). Select the top copy and hit the left arrow and the top arrow twice. Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shapes with R=209 G=211 B=212 and turn them into a compound path (Object > Compound Path > Make).


Step 10

Reselect the light grey shape and make two new copies in front (Control + C > Control + F > Control + F). Select the top copy and hit the left arrow and the top arrow five times. Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shapes with R=230 G=231 B=232 and turn them into a compound path (Object > Compound Path > Make).


Step 11

Reselect the light grey shape and go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the data shown below and click OK.


Step 12

Move to the orange shape. Select it, go to the Appearance panel and click on the Add New Fill button (the little white square icon). Select this new fill, make it white, lower its opacity to 40% and change the blending mode to Overlay then go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a -1px Offset and click OK. In the end your path should look like in the following image.


Step 13

Keep focusing on the orange shape. Reselect it, go to the Appearance panel and add a stroke. Make it 0.5pt wide, set the color at R=241 G=90 B=41 and go to Effect > Stylize > Outer Glow. Enter the data shown below and click OK.


Step 14

Move to the blue shape and repeat the techniques used in the last seven steps. You will only need to change the colors of the expanded stroke. In the following image you can find all the information that you'll need.

Same for the green shape.


Step 15

Finally, you can add a nice background for your speech bubbles. Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a shape the size of your artboard. Fill it with white then add a second fill and use the radial gradient shown below. The yellow zero from the gradient image stands for opacity percentage.


Step 16

Reselect the shape created in the previous step and add a third fill. You will need a nice, built-in pattern for this final fill. Go to the Swatches panel, open the fly-out menu and go to Open Swatch Library > Patterns > Basic Graphics > Basic Graphics_Textures. This will open a new window with a nice set of built-in pattern.

Make sure that your background rectangle is still selected, go to the Appearance panel and select that final fill. Lower its opacity to 7%, use the USGS 19 Land Inundation pattern and go to Effect > Artistic > Film Grain. Enter the data shown below, click OK and you're done.


Conclusion

Now your work is done. Here is how it should look. Play around with some of the Appearance settings to come up with styles of your own. I hope you enjoyed this tut.

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