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Advanced Adobe Illustrator Tutorial (Free Course)

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In this Adobe Illustrator advanced course, we’ll create a variety of different graphics, in various styles, using a range of tools and advanced Illustrator techniques. 

You’re sure to learn something new, whether that be alternative ways of using Illustrator’s 3D features, working with custom lettering, or other pro tips like isolating rounded corners, using compound paths, and upping your gradient game with colour swatches.

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Advanced Adobe Illustrator Course for Free

Watch the full Adobe Illustrator course here. You can jump to a specific lesson from this course in Illustrator using the chapter links below, and don’t forget to subscribe to the Tuts+ YouTube channel for advanced Illustrator tutorials!

1. Set Up an Advanced Course Illustrator Workspace

To kick things off, we’re going to start our Adobe Illustrator advanced course with features and tools in mind. Go to the bottom of the toolbar and hit the Edit Toolbar menu, so we can make sure we have the Advanced Toolbar enabled.

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advanced toolsetadvanced toolsetadvanced toolset

Over to the right of my workspace, I have the Properties and Layer panels open, and I’ve docked Swatches, Gradients, Appearance, and 3D & Materials to one side. You can find all these panels, and many more, under the Window menu.

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With all this ready, we can get started with our Adobe Illustrator course for free! 

2. Create a Cute Video Game Character

In this first exercise of our Adobe Illustrator course, we’re going to be using some advanced shape manipulation to create a character called “Ori” from a video game. It’s a great game, and Ori’s a very cute character. This is a great way to start this free Illustrator course. 

ori video game characterori video game characterori video game character

Some of the skills you’ll learn in this free Illustrator course include use of the shape and polygon tools, isolating rounded corners, using compound paths, and (this one is a life-changer) how to use global colour swatches in gradients.

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Isolate round corners to create perfect, but unusual forms
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Using swatches for gradients can save so much time!

3. Create a 3D Isometric Mail Icon

For this exercise, we’re going to begin working with the pathfinder and shape tools, plus more colour swatches and gradients, to create a 2D icon (see the image on the left). Then we’ll take Illustrator’s excellent new 3D panel and make ourselves a 3D isometric version (image on the right).

isometric mail iconisometric mail iconisometric mail icon

We’ll use the Extrude tool within the 3D options, and the Isometric Top preset gives us this perfect set of rotation angles.

When working with 3D designs in Illustrator, make sure you clean up any stray points or weird lines in your vector work first.

4. Vector Graphics With Textures and Depth of Field

Depth of field can give your illustrations real dimension, so in this Adobe Illustrator training tutorial, we’ll use blurring and texture effects to create a genuine sense of depth.

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We’ll create the noise by laying a dark block over our illustration, then applying a raster grain filter to it. Various options within the texture menu allow us to set how stippled we want things, and then by using blend modes and transparency we make our image underneath look as smooth or rough as we like.

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5. 3D Stylized Lettering With the Blend Tool

This section is one of the best from our Adobe Illustrator course. In this next-level Adobe Illustrator training course, I’ll show you an approach you probably haven’t used before, leveraging the Blend tool to create a 3D stylized text effect.

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We’ll start by finding a suitable script font, and then we’ll trace it with the Pen Tool to effectively give our letters a spine. To make sure the paths are absolutely spot on, we’ll use the Smooth Tool (one of my favourites) to sculpt our characters to perfection. Even if you’re not particularly skilled with bezier handles, you can always rescue your curves with the Smooth Tool!

the smooth tool will give you perfect curvesthe smooth tool will give you perfect curvesthe smooth tool will give you perfect curves
Perfect curves with Illustrator’s Smooth Tool!

Then, for the really cool bit, we’ll create a blend between two ellipse objects and replace our letters’ spines with those blends. The size of each ellipse determines the width of the resultant stroke, so we can start off small and get thicker. Again, we’ll be using global swatches to enable easy colour changing across the whole design.

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replace spinereplace spinereplace spine

6. Cool Gradients Using the Mesh Tool

Gradients and organic forms can be so useful in illustration and design, whether you’re creating interesting backgrounds or faux 3D effects, and Adobe Illustrator has all kinds of tools to help you experiment with them. In this part of our advanced Illustrator tutorials, we’ll create some cool freeform gradients.

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We’ll use the Mesh Tool to create our gradients, and this is a fun one because whenever I do this, I never quite know what I’m going to get.

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Whether you follow all these advanced Adobe Illustrator techniques and tutorials or just pick the ones which most appeal to you, this free Illustrator course should give you some brand new advanced Illustrator techniques to take your Illustrator skills to the next level. Share your creations with us on social media, don’t forget to like and subscribe, and I look forward to seeing you in the next one!

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