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Create a Portal Without a Portal Gun in Adobe Illustrator

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Welcome to the Vector Enrichment Center! The purpose of this test is to check if some people are able to create portals without the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device, more commonly known as Portal Gun. Our sources report that Adobe Illustrator can be equally effective when using brushes and blurs. Cake, and grief counseling, will be available at the conclusion of the test. 

1. Create a Hole in the Wall

Step 1

If you need a background for this test, you can download it here. Use Ellipse Tool (L) to draw a base for the portal. Name the layer "base".


Step 2

While still selected, go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Adjust the options to create a subtle shadow as shown below.


Step 3

Create New Layer and draw another black ellipse, a bit bigger than the previous one (you can also duplicate and resize the first one, but you'll need to remove the shadow in Appearance panel). Select it and go to Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow. Adjust the options to create a strong, orange glow. Name the layer "inner glow".


Step 4

Select the glowing ellipse and go to Object > Expand Appearance, then Object > Create Gradient Mesh. Create 2 Rows and Columns, and click OK.


Step 5

Select the central point with Direct Selection Tool (A) and change its Opacity to 0%. When you converted your ellipse to Gradient Mesh, you in fact created a new object. You need to remove the original (drill down into the group inside the "inner glow" layer to find it). Now everything you'll put between these two ellipses - "base" and "inner glow" - will be visible.


2. Create a Glow on Your Portal

Step 1

Draw another ellipse (or copy the first one and remove the shadow). Use no fill, and align the stroke to inside. It should be thick and bright colored.


Step 2

We're going to create waves now. Select the ellipse and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Roughen. With the settings below, you'll create an irregular waved outline to your portal.


Step 3

Select the waved ellipse and put a gradient on it. The lower part should be yellow and fully visible, the upper should be orange and transparent.


Step 4

Duplicate the waved ellipse and hide the copied one for a moment. Select the original and go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Move the slider until the edges of the ellipse disappear. Click OK and make the copy visible again.


Step 5

Duplicate the "inner glow" gradient mesh shape and move it above all the layers. We're going to manipulate the points on the mesh, so do the following:

  • Select the upper point with Direct Selection Tool (A) and change its color to deep, reddish orange
  • Select the lower point with Direct Selection Tool (A) and change its color to bright, yellowish orange

Step 6

Select whole ellipse and change its Blending Mode to Hue. Now it's in fire!


3. Add Some Flames to the Portal

Step 1

Time for flames! You can create a simple brush for it. It's really easy:

  • Draw a small black ellipse as shown below with no stroke.
  • Click New Brush icon in the Brushes panel.
  • Select Art Brush from the pop up.
  • Select Tints for Colorization Method.

Step 2

Create a layer under the waved ellipses and draw yellow-orange flames with your new brush and the Paintbrush Tool (B). Their color should fit the waved ring around them. Change their Opacity to 90% - it will make the shades more varied without changing color all the time.


Step 3

This is where magic happens! Select all the flames and go to Effect > Blur > Radial Blur. Change the options for realistic flames.


Step 4

Create another layer under the first flames and draw some more of them, this time using more red-orange and 60% Opacity.


Step 5

Add some Radial Blur magic again.


Step 6

Draw even deeper orange flames around the top of the portal.


Step 7

I'm sure you know what to do, use the Radial Blur effect again.


4. Let's Add Some Sparks

Step 1

Draw some dashes around the outside of the portal in orange. Then select them all, go to Object > Path > Outline Stroke and press Control + 8 to create a Compound Path. Now they're all one shape.


Step 2

Now you can use Radial Blur again to create this nice effect:


Step 3

You can use Gaussian Blur on the "inner glow" layer to blend it into the wall.


5. Modify Your Portal to Create a Blue Portal

OK, the orange portal is done, but it's useless without the blue one, right? Luckily, there's an easy way to change colors. Select everything except the "base" layer (it needs to remain black). Go to Edit > Edit Colors > Adjust Color Balance. Change the values as given below and click OK. It's done!


I'm Making a Note Here: Huge Success.

Congratulations, the test is now over. As you can see, you don't need Portal Gun to create portals! Oh, we promised cake. Well, you know how that goes...

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