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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Vector
Design

Create a Drum Kit Illustration in Adobe Illustrator

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Difficulty:BeginnerLength:LongLanguages:
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

For starters you will learn how to setup a simple grid and how to create a set of pixel perfect shapes that will be used a simple guide. Next, you will learn how to create the first drum using basic blending and vector shape building techniques along with some basic Transform effects. Moving on you will learn how to create the drum stands and the cymbals and how to speed your work using graphic styles. Taking full advantage of the Appearance panel and using one of your saved graphic styles you will create the bass drum. Finally, you will learn how to add a simple background and some subtle shading.

1. 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 600 in the width and height boxes then click on the Advanced button. Select RGB, Screen (72ppi) and make sure that the Align New Objects to Pixel Grid box is unchecked before you click OK

Enable the Grid (View > Show Grid) and the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). For starters you will need a grid every 5px, so simply go to Edit > Preferences > Guides > Grid, enter 5 in the Gridline every box and 1 in the Subdivisions box. Try not to get discouraged by all that grid, it will ease your work and keep in mind that you can easily enable or disable it using the Control-" keyboard shortcut. You should also open the Info panel (Window > Info) for a live preview with the size and position of your shapes. Do not forget to set the unit of measurement to pixels from Edit > Preferences > Units > General. All these options will significantly increase your work speed.

2. Create a Set of Simple Shapes

Step 1

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and focus on your Toolbar. Remove the color from the stroke then select the fill and set its color at R=39 G=170 B=225. Move to your artboard and simply create a 70 x 25px rectangle, the Snap to Grid feature should ease your work. 

Focus on the top, left corner of your blue rectangle and make sure that the Rectangle Tool stays active. Set the fill color at R=0 G=161 B=75, create a 50 x 45px rectangle and place it as shown in the second image. Focus on the top, left corner of your green rectangle, set the fill color at R=127 G=63 B=152, create a 70 x 45px rectangle and place it as shown in the third image. Finally, focus on the bottom, left corner of your purple rectangle, set the fill color at R=206 G=35 B=41, create an 80px square and place it as shown in the fourth image.

Step 2

For the following steps you will need a grid every 1px, so go to Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid and enter 1 in the Gridline every box. Focus on your blue rectangle and set the fill color at R=251 G=176 B=64. Make sure that Rectangle Tool (M) is still active, create two, 74 x 5px shapes and place them as shown in the following image.

Step 3

Focus on your green rectangle, make sure that the Rectangle Tool (M) is active, create two, 54 x 5px shapes and place them as shown in the following image.

Step 4

Focus on your purple rectangle, make sure that the Rectangle Tool (M) is active, create two, 74 x 5px shapes and place them as shown in the following image.

Step 5

Focus on your red rectangle, make sure that the Rectangle Tool (M) is active, create two, 84 x 5px shapes and place them as shown in the following image.

Step 6

Select all the shapes made so far and simply hit Control-G to Group them. Move to the Layers panel (Window > Layers), open the existing layer, double-click on your newly created group and rename it "guideShapes". Also, lock your group to make sure that you won't accidentally select/move it. You will only use this set of shapes as a simple guide which will ease your work later.

3. Create the First Drum

Step 1

Return to gridline every 5px, so simply go to Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid and enter 5 in the Gridline every box. Set the fill color at R=39 G=170 B=225, pick the Rectangle Tool (M), create a new 70 x 25px shape and place it as shown in the first image. 

Switch to the Pen Tool (P), create a 5px, vertical path and place it as shown in the second image. Make sure that this new path stays selected and focus on the Appearance panel (Window > Appearance). Remove the color from the fill, select the stroke, add a random color then simply click on that "Stroke" piece of text to open the Stroke fly-out panel. Set the Weight at 2px and check the Round Cap button. 

Next, you need to replace the flat color used for the stroke with a simple, linear gradient. Return to the Appearance panel, make sure that the stroke remains selected, open the Gradient panel (Window > Gradient) and simply click on the gradient thumbnail to add the default black to white linear gradient. Keep focusing on your Gradient panel, set the Angle at 90 degrees then move to the gradient colors. Select the right slider and set the color at R=23 G=19 B=20 then select the left slider and set the color at R=111 G=111 B=111.

Step 2

Reselect your vertical path, focus on the Appearance panel, make sure that the existing stroke is selected and duplicate it using the Duplicate Selected Item button (pointed by the blue circle in the following image). Select the new stroke, replace the existing linear gradient with the one shown in the following image, set its Weight at 1px and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Drag the Move-Horizontal slider at 0.5px and click OK.

Step 3

Reselect your vertical path, focus on the Appearance panel, make sure that the entire path is selected (simply click on the "Path" piece of text from the top of the Appearance panel) and go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the properties shown in the left window (in the following image), click OK and go again to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the properties shown in the right window and click OK. Make sure that your vertical path is still selected, open the Graphic Styles panel (Window > Graphic Styles) and simply click on the New Graphic Style button to save a new graphic style. Keep focusing on the Graphic Styles panel, simply double-click on the newly saved graphic style and rename it "vPath".

Step 4

Reselect your vertical path and make two copies in front using the Control-C > Control-F keyboard shortcut. Select these new paths one by one and place them as shown in the first image. Select all three vertical paths and simply Group them (Control-G). Make sure that your new group is selected and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Check the Reflect Y box, enter "1" in the Copies box, drag the Move-Vertical slider at 17px and click OK. In the end things should look like in the second image. Move to the Layers panel, double-click on the group made in this step and rename it "vPaths".

Step 5

Disable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid) then go to Edit > Preferences > General and make sure that the Keyboard Increment is set at 1px

Make sure that your blue rectangle is selected and make two copies in front (Control-C > Control-F > Control-F). Select the top copy and move it 1px down using the down arrow button from your keyboard. Reselect both copies made in this step, open the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder) and click the Minus Front button. Bring the resulting shape to front (Shift-Control-] ), make sure that it stays selected and focus on the Appearance panel. Set the fill color at black (R=0 G=0 B=0) then simply click on that "Opacity" piece of text to open the Transparency fly-out panel. Lower the Opacity to 20% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

Step 6

Make sure that your blue rectangle is selected and make another two copies in front (Control-C > Control-F > Control-F). Select the top copy and move it 2px down. 

Reselect both copies made in this step and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Bring the resulting shape to front (Shift-Control-] ), set the fill color at black, lower its Opacity to 20% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

Step 7

Make sure that your blue rectangle is selected and make another two copies in front (Control-C > Control-F > Control-F). Select the top copy and move it 3px down. 

Reselect both copies made in this step and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Bring the resulting shape to front (Shift-Control-] ), set the fill color at black, lower its Opacity to 20% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

Step 8

Reselect the tree black rectangles made in the last three steps and Group them (Control-G). Make sure that your new group is selected and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Check the Reflect Y box, enter "1" in that Copies box, drag the Move-Vertical slider at 21px and click OK. In the end things should look like in the second image. Move to the Layers panel, double-click on the group made in this step and rename it "drumShading".

Step 9

Reselect your blue rectangle, focus on the Appearance panel, select the fill and replace the existing color with R=206 G=35 B=41

Keep focusing on the Appearance panel and add a second fill using the Add New Fill button (pointed by the blue circle in the following image). Select this new fill and add the complex, linear gradient shown in the following image. Keep in mind that the white numbers from the Gradient image stand for Location percentage. This simply means that you have to select your gradient slider, focus on the Location box (from the Gradient panel) and insert that number. You can easily add a new gradient slider for your gradient by clicking on the gradient bar. 

Return to the Appearance panel, make sure that the top fill is still selected and change its Blending Mode to Soft Light

Finally, you need to save the linear gradient used in this step. Return to the Gradient panel, click on that gradient thumbnail and simply drag it inside the Swatches panel (Window > Swatches).

Step 10

Switch to gridline every 1px and enable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). Set the fill color at R=251 G=176 B=64, pick the Rectangle Tool (M), create two, 74 x 5px shapes and place them as shown in the first image. 

Using the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the two rectangles made in this step, focus on the Corners section from the control panel and simply enter "2px" in that white box. This should turn your orange rectangles into rounded rectangles as shown in the second image.

Step 11

Disable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). Make sure that your top, orange shape is selected and make two copies in front (Control-C > Control-F > Control-F). Select the twop copy and move it 1px up. Reselect both copies made in this step and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with black, lower its Opacity to 50% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

Step 12

Make sure that your top, orange shape is selected and make another two copies in front (Control-C > Control-F > Control-F). Select the top copy and move it 1px down. 

Reselect both copies made in this step and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with black, lower its Opacity to 30% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

Step 13

Make sure that your top, orange shape is selected and go to Object > Path > Offset Path. Enter a -1px Offset and click OK. Select the resulting shape and make a copy in front (Control-C > Control-F). Select this fresh copy and move it 1px down. 

Reselect both shapes made in this step and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with white (R=255 G=255 B=255) and change its Blending Mode to Soft Light.

Step 14

Reselect your top, orange shape and replace the flat color used for the fill with your saved linear gradient. Make sure that you set its Angle at 0 degrees.

Step 15

Make sure that the remaining orange, rounded rectangle is selected and make two copies in front (Control-C > Control-F > Control-F). Select the top copy and move it 1px down. 

Reselect both copies made in this step and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with black, lower its Opacity to 30% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

Step 16

Make sure that the orange, rounded rectangle is selected and make another two copies in front (Control-C > Control-F > Control-F). Select the top copy and move it 1px up. 

Reselect both copies made in this step and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with black, lower its Opacity to 50% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

Step 17

Make sure that the orange, rounded rectangle is selected and go to Object > Path > Offset Path. Enter a -1px Offset and click OK. Select the resulting shape and make a copy in front (Control-C > Control-F). Select this fresh copy and move it 1px down. 

Reselect both shapes made in this step and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with white and change its Blending Mode to Soft Light.

Step 18

Reselect your orange rounded rectangle and replace the flat color used for the fill with your saved linear gradient. Make sure that you set its Angle at 0 degrees. Select all the shapes that make up your drum and Group them (Control-G). Move to the Layers panel and simply rename this new group "drumOne".

4. Create Another Three Drums

Step 1

Enable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). Make sure that your "drumOne" group is selected and make a copy in front (Control-C > Control-F). Select this copy and place it exactly as shown in the following images. Try to use the flat rectangles from the back as a reference. 

Move to the Layers panel, lock your "drumOne" group and and rename the group copy made in this step "drumTwo". Return to the artboard and focus on your "drumTwo" group. Pick the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the anchor points highlighted in the second image and simply drag them 20px to the left. In the end things should look like in the third image.

Step 2

Keep focusing on your "drumTwo" group and make sure that the Direct Selection Tool (A) is still active. Select the anchor points highlighted in the first image and simply drag them 20px down. In the end things should look like in the second image.

Step 3

Focus on the Layers panel and open your "drumTwo"group. Select the "drumShading" subgroup, focus on the Appearance panel and open the existing Transform effect. Simply drag the Move-Vertical slider at 41px and click OK.

Step 4

Return to gridline every 5px. Focus on the Layers panel and select the "vPaths" subgroup inside your "drumTwo" group. 

Focus on the Appearance panel, open the existing Transform effect, simply drag the Move-Vertical slider at 37px and click OK. Select these three paths one by one and position them as shown in the following image.

Step 5

Using mainly the same techniques mentioned in the last steps, create the other two drums as shown in the following image. Don't forget to use the flat rectangles in the back as a reference. Once you're done you can unclock and remove your "guideShapes" group.

5. Create the Metallic Stands

Step 1

Focus on the bottom side of your left drum and pick the Pen Tool (P). Create two, 35px, vertical paths and a 40px, vertical path and place them as shown in the first image. 

Make sure that all three paths stay selected and focus on the Appearance panel. Make sure that there's no color set for the fill then select the stroke. Set the color at black and the Weight at 4px then check the Round Cap button from the Stroke fly-out panel. 

Keep focusing on the Appearance panel, make sure that the existing stroke is still selected and duplicate using that same Duplicate Selected Item button. Select the new stroke, set the color at R=111 G=111 B=111 and decrease the Weight to 2px.

Step 2

Reselect the three vertical paths made in the previous step, focus on the Appearance panel, select the top stroke and duplicate it. Select the new stroke, set the color at R=224 G=224 B=224, decrease the Weight to 1px and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Simply drag the Move-Horizontal slider at 0.5px and click OK. Make sure that your vertical paths are still selected, focus on the Graphic Styles panel, save a new graphic style and name it "metalBar".

Step 3

Using the Pen Tool (P) add a bunch of paths roughly as shown in the first image. Make sure that all these new paths are selected and simply add the "metalBar" graphic style.

6. Create the Cymbals

Step 1

Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 120 x 10px shape, set the fill color at R=214 G=174 B=110 and place it as shown in the first image. 

Switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the bottom anchor point (highlighted by the blue circle in the first image) and simply hit the Delete button from your keyboard. 

Focus on the resulting path, select the two anchor points highlighted in the second image and simply hit Control-J

Make sure that the Direct Selection Tool is still active, reselect the left and right anchor points (highlighted in the third image), focus on the Corners section from the control panel and simply enter "1px" in that white box. In the end your shape should look like in the fourth image.

Step 2

Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 60 x 10px shape, set the fill color at R=214 G=174 B=110 and place it as shown in the first image. 

Switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A) and focus on the top side of this new rectangle. Select the left anchor point and drag it 25px to the right then select the right anchor point and drag it 25px to the left. 

Reselect the shape made in this step and make and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 2px radius, click OK and go to Object > Expand Appearance. Select the resulting shape along with the other khaki shape and click the Unite button from the Pathfinder panel.

Step 3

Disable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). Make sure that your khaki shape is selected and make two copies in front (Control-C > Control-F > Control-F). Select the top copy and move it 1px down. 

Reselect both copies made in this step and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with black, lower its Opacity to 15% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

Step 4

Make sure that your khaki shape is selected and make another two copies in front (Control-C > Control-F > Control-F). Select the top copy and move it 2px down. 

Reselect both copies made in this step and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with black, lower its Opacity to 15% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

Step 5

Make sure that your khaki shape is selected and make two copies in front (Control-C > Control-F > Control-F). Select the top copy and move it 3px down. 

Reselect both copies made in this step and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with black, lower its Opacity to 15% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

Step 6

Make sure that your khaki shape is selected and make two copies in front (Control-C > Control-F > Control-F). Select the top copy and move it 1px up. Reselect both copies made in this step and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. 

Fill the resulting shape with black, lower its Opacity to 50% and change the Blending Mode to Overlay.

Step 7

Make sure that your khaki shape is selected and make two copies in front (Control-C > Control-F > Control-F). Select the top copy and move it 2px up. 

Reselect both copies made in this step and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with white, lower its Opacity to 30% and change the Blending Mode to Overlay.

Step 8

Make sure that your khaki shape is selected, focus on the Appearance panel and add a second fill using that same Add New Fill button. Select the new fill, lower its Opacity to 70%, change the Blending Mode to Overlay and add the linear gradient shown in the first image. Don't forget that the white numbers from the Gradient image stand for Location percentage while the yellow zeros stand for Opacity percentage. This simply means that you have to select your gradient slider, focus on the Opacity box (from the Gradient panel) and insert that number. 

Return to the Appearance panel and add a third fill for this shape. Select it, change the Blending Mode to Soft Light and add the linear gradient shown in the second image.

Step 9

Select all the shapes that make up your cymbal and Group them (Control-G). Move to the Layers panel, simply rename this new group "cymbal", select it and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the following image and click OK.

Step 10

Duplicate your "cymbal" group (Control-C > Control-F). Select the copy, focus on the Appearance panel and remove the existing Transform effect. Make sure that this group copy is still selected and place it as shown in the first image.

Step 11

Enable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid) and switch to gridline every 1px. Focus on the top side of your left "cymbal" group. Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 6 x 5px shape and set its fill color at R=71 G=71 B=71

Place this new shape as shown in the first image and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 1px Radius and click OK. Make sure that the Rectangle Tool is still active, create a 1 x 5px shape, set the fill color at R=181 G=181 B=181 and place it as shown in the second image.

Using the same tool, create another two, 1 x 5px rectangles, set the fill color at R=23 G=19 B=20 and place them as shown in the third and fourth images. Reselect all the shapes made in this step and Group them (Control-G). Move to the Layers panel and simply rename this new group "cymbalSupport".

Step 12

Make sure that your "cymbalSupport" group is still selected and make two copies in front (Control-C > Control-F > Control-F). Select these copies, focus on your right "cymbal" group and place them as shown in the following image.

7. Create the Bass Drum

Step 1

Return to gridline every 5px. Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 140px circle and place it as shown in the first image. Make sure that this new shape stays selected and focus on the Appearance panel. Set the fill color at R=206 G=35 B=41 then select the stroke and set its color at R=51 G=51 B=51

Keep focusing on the stroke, open the Stroke fly-out panel, set the Weight at 5px and check the Align Stroke to Outside button. Make sure that the shape made in this step is still selected and go to Object > Path > Outline Stroke. Select the resulting group and simply hit Shift-Control-G to Ungroup it.

Step 2

Disable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). Make sure that that the dark compound path surrounding your red circle is selected and make two copies in front (Control-C > Control-F > Control-F). Select the top copy and move it 1px down. 

Reselect both copies made in this step and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Make sure that the resulting group of shapes is selected and simply hit Control-8 to turn it into a simple Compound Path. Select it, set the fill color at white and lower the Opacity to 25%.

Step 3

Make sure that that the dark compound path surrounding your red circle is selected and make two copies in front (Control-C > Control-F > Control-F). Select the top copy and move it 1px up. 

Reselect both copies made in this step and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Turn the resulting group of shapes into a Compound Path (Control-8), set its fill color at black, lower the Opacity to 30% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

Step 4

Make sure that that the dark compound path surrounding your red circle is selected and make two copies in front (Control-C > Control-F > Control-F). Select the top copy and move it 2px up. 

Reselect both copies made in this step and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Turn the resulting group of shapes into a Compound Path (Control-8), set its fill color at black, lower the Opacity to 30% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

Step 5

Reselect your red circle and focus on the Appearance panel. Select the fill and go to Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow. Enter the properties shown in the following image, click OK and return to the Appearance panel. Add a 3px stroke, set its color at R=206 G=35 B=41 and check the Align Stroke to Inside button from the Stroke fly-out panel.

Step 6

Enable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid), switch to gridline every 1px and focus on the top side of your red circle. Using the Pen Tool (P), create a 5px, vertical path, place it as shown in the first image and simply add your "vPath" graphic style from the Graphic Styles panel.

Step 7

Make sure that the vertical path made in the previous step is still selected and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the left window (in the following image), click OK and go again to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the right window and click OK.

Step 8

Return to gridline every 5px. Using the Pen Tool (P), create two, oblique paths as shown in the first image. Make sure that both paths are selected, add the "metalBar" graphic style then send them to back (Shift-Control-[ ).

8. Add Subtle Shading

Step 1

Set the fill color at black, pick the Ellipse Tool (L), create four squeezed circles and place them as shown in the first image. Send these new shapes to back (Shift-Control-[ ) and focus on the Appearance panel. Select the existing fill, lower its Opacity to 3% and go to Effect > Stylize > Feather. Enter a 15px Radius and click OK

Return to the Appearance panel and duplicate the existing fill. Select the new fill, remove the Feather effect and go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Enter a 5px Radius and click OK.

Step 2

Switch to gridline every 1px. Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create a bunch of black, 6 x 3px shapes and place them as shown in the following image. Make sure that all these squeezed circles remain selected, send the back (Shift-Control-[ ) and focus on the Appearance panel. Select the existing fill, lower its Opacity to 10% then add a second fill. Select this new fill, make sure that the color is set at black, lower its Opacity to 40% and go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Enter a 3px Radius and click OK.

9. Create the Background

Step 1

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and simply click on your artboard to open the Rectangle window. Enter 610 in the Width and  Height boxes then click the OK button. 

Make sure that the newly created shape is selected, set the fill color at R=255 G=255 B=245 and send it to back (Shift-Control-[ ). 

Next, you need to center this shape, so open the Align panel (Window > Align). Set the aligning to Artboard (open the fly out menu and go to Show Options if you can't see the Align To section as shown in the following image), make sure that your shape is selected then simply click the Horizontal Align Center and Vertical Align Center buttons. In the end your square should cover the entire artboard as shown in the following image.

Step 2

Make sure that your square is still selected, focus on the Appearance panel and add a second fill. Select it, lower the Opacity to 80% and add the radial gradient shown in the following image. Use the Gradient Tool (G) to stretch your gradient as shown below. Don't forget that the yellow zero from the Gradient image stands for Opacity percentage.

Step 3

Make sure that your square is still selected, focus on the Appearance panel and add a third fill. Select it, lower the Opacity to 40% and add the radial gradient shown in the following image.

Congratulations! You're Done!

Here is how it should look. I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial and can apply these techniques in your future projects.

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