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Quick Tip: How to Create a Stacked Paper Document Illustration

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In the following tutorial you will learn how to create a stack of paper files. You will start with a simple rectangle then using multiple fills and strokes, linear gradients, patterns and some basic effects you will create the first sheet of paper. Next, using the Transform effect you will multiply your piece of paper. For the final touch you will use a handwritten font and a built-in, calligraphic brush. Let's begin!


Step 1

Create a 900 by 1100px, RGB document then pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and click on your artboard. Enter 600 in the width box and 850 in the height box the click OK. This will create a 600 by 850px shape. Fill it with R=255 G=255 B=250, remove the stroke then go to the Appearance panel. Select the existing fill and go to Effect > Stylize > Outer Glow. Enter the data shown below then click OK.


Step 2

Reselect the shape made in the previous step and go the Appearance panel. Make sure that no fill is selected then open the fly-out menu and click on Add New Fill. Obviously, this will add a second fill for your shape. Select it from the Appearance panel, set its color at R=167 G=169 B=172 then go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the data shown below then click OK.


Step 3

Reselect your shape and go to the Appearance panel. Select the fill added in the previous step and go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Enter a 8px radius, click OK then go to Effect > Warp > Arc Lower. Enter the data shown below then click OK.


Step 4

Reselect your shape, add two new fills and use the linear gradient shown in the following image. The yellow numbers from the gradient image stand for opacity percentage while the white numbers stand for location percentage. Reselect each of these two fills, lower their opacity to 25% and change the blending mode to Multiply.


Step 5

Add a fifth fill for your shape. You will need a built-in pattern for this new fill. Open the fly-out menu of the Swatches (Window > Swatches) panel and go to Open Swatch Library > Pattern > Basic Graphics > Basic Graphics_Textures. This will open a new window with some nice patterns. Reselect the newly created fill from the Appearance panel, lower its opacity to 3% and use the USGS 8 Sewage Disposal pattern.


Step 6

Reselect your shape and add a white stroke. Make it 2pt wide then go to the Stroke panel (Window > Stroke) and click on the Align to Inside button.


Step 7

Select the stroke added in the previous step and click on the Duplicate Selected Item button from the bottom of the Appearance panel. Obviously, this will add a copy of the stroke. Select this new stroke, make it 1pt wide and set its color at R=166 G=156 B=134.


Step 8

Reselect your shape, make sure that no fill or stroke is selected then go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the data shown below then click OK.


Step 9

Pick the Type Tool (T) and add some text as shown in the following image. You can use the Bradley Hand ITC font or any handwritten font that you like. Set the color of this text at R=28 G=117 B=188.


Step 10

Finally, go to the Brushes panel, open the fly-out menu and go to Open Brush Library > Artistic > Artistic_ChalkCharcoalPencil. This will open a new window with a set of built in brushes. Pick the Brush Tool (B) and draw a curved path as shown in the following image. Use the Pencil - Feather brush, set the color at R=190 G=30 B=45 and you're done.


Conclusion

Here is how your final illustration should look like.

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