In the following steps, you will learn how to make a Christmas sweater design and a knitted text effect in Adobe Illustrator.
If you don't have the time to learn how to make a knit effect in Illustrator, you can always try Envato Elements, where you can find everything from Illustrator knit effects to Photoshop Christmas sweater patterns. This ugly sweater Photoshop action is the perfect example. With just a few clicks, you can create a playful sweater illustration.
What You'll Learn in This Illustrator Tutorial
- How to save and use art brushes
- How to save and use a knitted pattern
- How to create a knit effect in Illustrator
- How to create a knitted text effect
- How to make a Christmas sweater design
Follow along with us over on our Envato Tuts+ YouTube channel:
1. How to Create a New Document and Set Up a Grid
Hit Control-N to create a new document. Select Pixels from the Units drop-down menu, enter 850 in the width box and 670 in the height box, and then click that More Settings button. Select RGB for the Color Mode, set the Raster Effects to Screen (72 ppi), and then click Create Document.
Enable the Grid (View > Show Grid) and Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). You will need a grid every 1 px, so simply go to Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid, enter 1 in the Gridline every box and 1 in the Subdivisions box. Try not to get discouraged by all that grid—it will make your work easier, and keep in mind that you can easily enable or disable it using the Control-" keyboard shortcut.
You can learn more about Illustrator's grid system in this short tutorial from Andrei Stefan: Understanding Adobe Illustrator's Grid System.
You should also open the Info panel (Window > Info) for a live preview with the size and position of your shapes. Don't forget to set the unit of measurement to pixels from Edit > Preferences > Units. All these options will significantly increase your work speed. Now that everything's set up, let's learn how to make a Christmas sweater design.
2. How to Create the Knit Effect
Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and focus on your Toolbar. Remove the color from the stroke and then select the fill and set its color to black (R=0 G=0 B=0).
Move to your artboard and simply create a 2 x 9 px shape—the grid and the Snap to Grid should make it easier.
With your shape selected, open the Brushes panel (Window > Brushes) and click the New Brush button from the bottom of the panel. Check the Art Brush box and click OK to open up the Art Brush Options window where you can set the settings of your new brush.
Name it 'Black', set the colorization method to Tints to make sure that your brush will change its color whenever you change the stroke color, enter the rest of the properties shown in the following image, and then click the OK button to add your new brush in the Brushes panel.
Reselect your black shape and replace the black with R=246 G=72 B=48.
Open the Appearance panel (Window > Appearance) and add a second fill for your shape using the Add New Fill button.
Select the new fill, set the color to white (R=255 G=255 B=255), change the Blending Mode to Soft Light and the Opacity to 50%, and then go to Effect > Path Offset Path. Set the Offset to -0.5 px and click OK.
With your shape selected, click that New Brush button again from the bottom of the Brushes panel. Check the Art Brush box and click OK.
Name this new brush 'Red' and make sure that the rest of the settings are set as shown in the following image before you click OK.
Reselect your shape and replace the color used for the bottom fill with R=246 G=192 B=168, and then select the white fill and increase its Opacity to 100%.
Once again, use this shape to save it as a new Art Brush. Name it 'Pink', and keep the rest of the settings. Now that you have these three art brushes, you can delete the shape.
Using the Pen Tool (P) or the Line Tool (L), create an 8 px vertical path.
Select it, apply your 'Black' brush from the Brushes panel, and change the stroke color to R=255 G=222 B=23.
Switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the bottom anchor point, and drag it 3 px to the right, as shown in the third image.
Make sure that your yellow path is still selected and go to Object > Transform > Reflect. Check the Vertical box and click the Copy button to create a vertically flipped copy of your path.
Using the Move Tool (M), move this new path exactly as shown in the second image.
Select both yellow paths and press Control-G to Group them.
Hold down the Alt key and drag a copy of this group to the right. Select the two paths that make up this new group and apply your 'Red' art brush from the Brushes panel.
3. How to Create a Knit Effect Using a Pattern
Keep focusing on your second group, hold down the Alt key, and drag a copy to the right, as shown in the first image.
Select both groups, remember to hold down the Alt key, and drag copies below the original groups, as shown in the second image.
Select your four groups with the 'Red' brush and go to Object > Expand Appearance to turn the applied brushes into vector paths.
Switch to the Rectangle Tool (M), create an 8 x 7 px shape, and place it exactly as shown in the second image. Fill it with black and lower its Opacity to 50% just so you can better see the elements behind it.
Select your black rectangle along with the group of red shapes and select the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M).
Hold down the Alt and the Shift keys and just draw rectangular selections across the elements that lie outside your rectangle to easily remove them. Once you're done, things should look like in the second image.
Select the black rectangle to delete it, and then select the remaining group of shapes. Simply drag it inside the Swatches panel (Window > Swatches) to save it as a pattern. Once you're done, you can remove this group of shapes from your artboard.
Make sure that your rectangle stays selected and focus on the Appearance to add a second fill. Select it and apply your pattern from the Swatches panel.
Now you need to multiply your "Yellow" and "Blue" groups and use the copies to build your letters one by one.
You should be able to build most of these letters using 14 knits vertically and 8 or 9 knits horizontally. Leave 3 knits between each letter from your text. For the 'WINTER' word, your letters should look as shown in the following images.
4. How to Create the Knitted Text Effect
Duplicate your group of yellow paths and place the copy as shown below.
Add four more copies, change the stroke color to blue, and place them as shown in the following image. Select all these blue paths and Group them (Control-G).
Continue with the rest of the knitted text effect until you end up with something similar to this.
Once you're done, select all the groups that make up your knitted text effect and apply your 'Pink' art brush from the Brushes panel.
5. How to Make the Sweater Effect
Move your 'Blue' and 'Yellow' groups as shown in the first image and apply the 'Pink' art brush. You can also get rid of that group that lies outside your artboard.
Select the 'Blue' group and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Set the Move-Horizontal slider to 16 px, enter 53 in the Copies box, and click OK.
Drag a copy of your multiplied 'Blue' group as shown in the following image.
Select the 'Yellow' group and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. This time, set the Move-Horizontal slider to 16 px, enter 52 in the Copies box, and click OK.
Duplicate those three multiplied groups (Control-C > Control-V) and place the copies as shown in the following image.
6. How to Add the Fabric Texture for the Sweater Effect
Reselect the Rectangle Tool (M) and create another 850 by 670 px shape. Fill it with black and don't forget to center it.
Make sure that you keep your black rectangle selected and focus on the Appearance panel.
Select the fill, lower its Opacity to 8% and change the Blending Mode to Multiply, and then go to Effect > Artistic > Film Grain. Move those sliders to 20, 0, and 10, and then click OK.
Add a second fill for your black rectangle and select it. Keep the color set to black and change the Blending Mode to Multiply, and then go to Effect > Distort > Diffuse Glow. Move those sliders to 10, 0, and 0, and then click OK.
Add a third fill for your rectangle and select it. Change the Blending Mode to Color Burn and lower the Opacity to 15%, and then open the Gradient panel (Window > Gradient) to apply a gradient.
Just click the gradient thumbnail, set the angle to 90 degrees and focus on the gradient sliders. Double click the left one and set the color to black, and then double-click the right one, change the color to R=206 G=32 B=8, and lower the Opacity to 0%.
Go back to the Appearance panel, make sure that your top fill is still selected, and duplicate it using the button from the bottom of the panel.
Select the new fill, change the gradient type to Radial and reverse it, and then use the Gradient Tool (G) to stretch the gradient roughly as shown below.
Congratulations! You're Done!
Here is how the knit effect should look. I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial and can apply these techniques to create your own Christmas sweater in Illustrator.
Feel free to adjust the final sweater illustration and make it your own. You can find some great sources of inspiration at Envato Elements, with interesting solutions to improve your Christmas sweater in Illustrator.
Popular Sweater Effects From Envato Elements
Envato Elements is an excellent resource for knit effects, sweater effects, or sweater illustrations. Here's a short list of some of the most popular assets that you can find.
Ugly Sweater Photoshop Action (ATN, PAT)
Cut the hassle of learning how to create a Christmas sweater pattern in Photoshop and use this ugly sweater Photoshop action to easily create a sweater illustration.
Christmas Sweater Illustrator Edition (AI, EPS, PNG)
This massive collection of assets will help you create any type of Christmas sweater in Illustrator. If you're after the quickest result in Illustrator, this will be perfect for you.
Fabric Text Effects (AI)
Looking for a fast and easy-to-use knit effect in Illustrator? Try this set of 20 Graphic Styles and you'll be able to apply knitted text effects with only one click. You can also use these effects to create your own Christmas sweater in Illustrator.
Sweater Effect (PSD)
Don't have the time to learn how to make a Christmas sweater design? You can always use this ugly sweater Photoshop action. The styles are really easy to use and will save hours of your time!
Christmas Sweater Photoshop Pattern & Action (ATN, ABR, PAT)
With this Christmas sweater Photoshop pattern, you can create mesmerizing knitted text effects or any type of knit effect with just one click.
Want to Learn More?
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