1. Design & Illustration
  2. Roundups

16 Non Pen Tool Tutorials to Try Out on Vectortuts+

Read Time:7 minsLanguages:

The Pen Tool is the tool people will most associate with vector. It can take a while to master and due to this some people maybe put off learning more. However vectoring is not just about this tool. After a discussion on our Vectortuts+ Facebook page, we've decided to put together a post with tutorials which don't use the Pen Tool to show you the variety of projects you can complete without the need of the Pen Tool.

16 Non Pen Tool Tutorials to Try Out

  • How to Create a Scratchboard Effect Bear Portrait

    This tutorial is aimed at those who are beginners with Adobe Illustrator CS (and later versions) and who also have access to a graphics tablet. In this Basix tutorial we’ll be showing you how to create your own scratchboard effect bear portrait, along the way giving you helpful hints on how to make the whole process easier.

  • How to Create a Simple Web Button Set Using the Appearance Panel

    In the following tutorial you will learn how to create your own web buttons set. First, using the Rectangle Tool along with some Pathfinder and Offset options plus a Rounded Corners effect you will create the three starting shapes. Next, a linear gradient plus some Film Grain and Drop Shadow effects will complete the overall button. Finally, some text and a new Drop Shadow effect will help you finish the work.

  • How to Make a Retro Icon Style using the Appearance Panel

    In the following Quick tip you will learn how to create a retro icon style. You will use a standard web symbol and the Appearance Panel to create a retro style that can be re-used on everything from icons to text. This is the perfect tutorial for beginners wanting to learn more about the Appearance Panel.

  • Design a Vector Audio Speaker Icon In Illustrator

    In this intermediate tutorial, we’ll show you how to create a vector speaker icon. When you break down the elements you’ll find it fairly easy. We’ll be using some ellipses with gradients, the Grid Tool, and the Mesh Tool to create this icon design.

  • How to Create a Golden, Vector Compass in Illustrator

    In this tutorial we will take you through the steps and techniques of creating a golden compass. For this tutorial we used just Adobe Illustrator and a heavy dose of ingenuity.

  • How to Create an Hourglass Icon in About an Hour

    With simple shapes, gradients, and vector textures, this simple tutorial will show beginning illustrators how to create an hourglass icon. We’ll be using Illustrator CS4 for this tutorial, but those of you with older version should be able to follow along as well.

  • Create a Vibrant 3D Pixel Type Treatment

    In this tutorial, we will show you how to create a fun 3D pixel font type treatment. Using a free font, gradients, and Illustrator 3D filter, you will easily create a type treatment that you can apply to many other fonts.

  • Make an Aurora Borealis Design in Illustrator

    To recreate the light patterns of the Aurora Borealis you’d probably turn to Photoshop’s filters and effects. Use Illustrator however, and you’ll not only achieve a stunning end result, but you’ll also benefit from the flexibility of working with vectors. This is an intermediate level tutorial rewarding you with an attractive desktop wallpaper for your efforts!

  • How to Make a Delicious Vector Orange in 9 Decisive Steps

    Learn how to create a semi-realistic vector orange with simple shapes, tools and multiple effects. This tutorial is possible for a beginner to complete, though is aimed at an intermediate Illustrator user.

  • How to Design a Set of Multicolored Buddy Icons

    In this Illustrator tutorial, we’ll show you how to create a set of multicolored buddy icons. This tutorial uses some basic shapes, gradients, Feather, and Illustrator’s powerful Live Color feature. These techniques are easily translated into other designs and illustrations.

  • How to Create Funky 3D Springs in Illustrator

    Many of us have done this before in Auto CAD, 3D Max or Maya. In this tutorial, we will learn how to create 3D springs in Illustrator. We’ll be using the 3D Revolve Tool and some manual effort to obtain this quality vector result. Hope you find it interesting!

  • Learn How to Create Realistic Vector Fire

    For this tutorial, we wanted to do something simpler then my previous tutorials. This is not just a beginners tutorial though. This tutorial shows the simplicity and power that Illustrator possesses. In turn, this tutorial’s techniques can be applied to many other elements other than fire.

  • Create an iPhone Style Vector Phone Illustration

    Today, we’ll show you how to quickly create a mockup of an iPhone in Illustrator. Surprisingly, this process is very easy in Illustrator. Once you’re done, you’ll have a scalable, layerable, and fully editable graphic to place in any of your designs.

  • How to Create an Alarm Clock Icon

    With simple shapes and gradients, this easy tutorial will show you how to create an alarm clock icon. We’ll be using Illustrator CS4 for this tutorial, but those of you with older version should be able to follow along as well.

  • How to Create a Mosaic Portrait from a Photograph

    This is a fun way to turn a photograph into an interesting vector portrait. Get sophisticated results with just a few easy steps, then modify it using a wide range of Illustrator’s live effects.

  • How to Create a Vector Sketchbook

    In this tutorial, we will show you how to create a customizable vector sketchbook. This intermediate tutorial uses some basic shapes, Shear transforms, and Effects to create a leather texture.

A Little Pen Tool

Feeling a little more confident? Perhaps check out these tutorials which use only a little bit of the Pen Tool. This may be just the one shape or possible adding or removing points with the Pen Tool. Have a look over these tutorials and see if you can take those baby steps with the Pen Tool.

  • How to Make a Repeating Japanese Wave Pattern in Adobe Illustrator

    Repeating patterns can be confusing to make and sometimes creating a quick and easy pattern will leave you with a result that is less than professional. In this basic Quick Tip tutorial you will learn how easy it is to use the Appearance Panel and an arch shape to create a harmonious Japanese Wave Pattern.

  • Create a Super Happy Octopus Character

    In Illustrator it’s really easy to create fun characters with some simple shapes and the Pathfinder Panel. In the following tutorial we will explain how to create a Happy Octopus Character. You can use these techniques and elements to create whatever character you want!

  • Create a Glowing Abstract Light Vector Graphic

    In the following tutorial, we’ll show you how to create a glowing light abstract vector graphic. The great thing about this tutorial is it doesn’t use any raster effects. The final illustration is all vector! In this tutorial, you’ll utilize blends, different blend modes, and gradient meshes. Moreover, these techniques are real easy to apply to other illustrations.

  • Let’s Make a Playful Yet Robust 3D Letter Design

    This tutorial is perfect for the advanced beginner who wants to take her skills to the next level. We’ll explore how to create 3D text and use depth-of-field to enhance a design.

  • How to Create a Gearbox Settings Icon Using Simple Shapes

    Utilizing only simple, predefined shapes, as well as tools like the Pathfinder and transformations, entire illustrations can be created from scratch. In this tutorial, we’ll create an icon suitable for portraying options, settings, preferences, etc., similar to OS X’s system preferences icon.

  • How to Create Sheet Rolls with Custom Spirals

    In this tutorial, we’ll explain how to make custom spirals (apart from the default spiral tool), and use them creatively in making rolls of paper. So far, we came to know that the spiral tool does not allow a uniform decay (equal spacing) between each wind of a spiral. In this tutorial, we will expose some basic tricks to do so.

  • How to Create a Caramel Ripple Effect

    In this tutorial, we will create a hot chocolate caramel effect using some distort tools and the 3D revolve tool. This is a simple and effective technique to obtain a quality vector ripple effect quickly.


Of course, if you do want to get more into vector, it might be worth learning how to use the Pen Tool. Why not check out our reader favourite Illustrator's Pen Tool: The Comprehensive Guide, which also includes a fun Pen Tool exercise at the end. Many people find this addition very helpful, so it's worth checking out.

There is the other option of using the Pencil Tool which is much more free hand than the controlled curves of the Pen Tool. This is only really an option for those with a steady hand and perhaps a graphics tablet, however it still is an option. Try it out and tell us how you got on!

One subscription.
Unlimited Downloads.
Get unlimited downloads