In this tutorial, we'll explain how to create leather material in Adobe Illustrator with modified patterns, gradients, and layer blends. You'll learn a simple way to create stitches and how to make shiny metals.
Final Image Preview
To begin with let's have a look at the image we'll be creating.
Open up a new document and draw a shape (similar to the one in the image below) with the Pen Tool (T). Fill it with a dark gray linear gradient and set the angle to -25 degrees. I added quite a few gradient sliders, you might find you need less or more. This is our basic shape. We will often come back to it and make copies for creating our other shapes.
Let' set up the stitches. Select the shape and go to Object > Path > Offset Path and choose -18 pt.
Select the smaller shapes that were created by the Offset Path. Also, set the fill to none and the stroke to 3pt with a light gray color. In The Stroke Palette, choose Dashed Line and enter 6pt for the Dash and Gap. With the shape still selected, got to Object > Path > Outline Stroke.
Fill the small stitches with a beige to gray linear gradient. As you can see, they look quite dull. Select the stitches and go to Object > Compound Path > Release (Alt + Shift + Command + 8). This will treat each stitch shape individually and the gradient is applied individually as well. Now add a dark gray stroke of 0.5pt to the stitch shapes. You might want to group the stitch shapes, since they are single objects now.
Make a copy of our first shape, then go to Effect > Distort and Transform > Zig Zag and apply the settings you see in the image below. This will give us our rougher edge for the leather badge. Place it on top of the first shape and the stitches. Also, set the layer mode to Screen.
Duplicate the first shape again, then set it on top, and set the Layer Mode to Screen as well.
Now duplicate the stiches and select the just duplicated shape. Choose the Subtract from Shape Area in the Shape Modes, which is inside the Pathfinder Palette. This will cut the stiches out of the shape. Apply a Drop Shadow to it by going to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Apply the settings: Mode set to Multiply, Opacity set to 75%, X Offset and Y Offset at 11pt, and Blur at 8pt. Put the drop shadow layer on top of the other shapes and set the Layer Mode to Difference.
Let's create the leather like patterns. Since Illustrator already has some good patterns, we can just use one of them and rework it a little. Open the "Basic Graphic Pattern" from the Swatch library. I chose "USGS 21 Intricate Surface" from the Texture palette. Drag an instance on to the Artboard. Scale it down to 25% via the Scale Tool (S). There will be a small shape outside of the pattern square. Delete it with the Direct Selection Tool (A). Set the Transparency to 42%, and then drag it back into the Swatches Library.
Duplicate the Shape with the stitch holes (Step 7) on top (Command + C + F), and then fill it with the new patterns that we have altered.
Let's move on to the shield. Create a new shape similar to the leather badge shape, just about 25% smaller and fill it with a linear gradient. Place the colors black and white, as shown below.
Duplicate this shape again on top (Command + C +F) and fill it with a light gray to white radial gradient. As you can see, I added many gradient sliders. Drag the Gradient Tool (G) from the top-left to the bottom-right or click once on the shapes. Duplicate the shape, change the gradient location, and set the Layer Mode to Overlay. Repeat that three times. Set the Layer Mode of the last duplicated shape to Opacity at 32%
Now make one more duplicate. Fill the shape with the pattern we used in Step 8, and then set the layer mode Opacity to 7%. This will give it a slight worn look.
Make a copy of the shield shape and fill it with black. Go to Object > Path > Offset Path, and choose -15pt. Select both shapes, and choose the Subtract from Shape Area in the Shape Modes, which is in the Pathfinder Palette. This will give us an outer rim for the shield. Fill it with a radial gradient (with white, gray, white, gray, and gray colors). Give it an Outer Glow via Effect > Stylize > Outer GLow. Apply the settings that you see in the image below, then put it on top of the shield shapes.
Let's create a starburst. Select the Star Tool and click once on the Art Board to open up the Star Palette. Set 13 for sides and click OK. Fill it with white, go to Effect > Disort & Transform > Pucker & Bloat, and set it to -156%. Then add a Gausian Blur of 20.8 px (Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur). Duplicate the starburst, scale it down, and set it on the top-left of the shield shape.
Now we'll create the metal star. There are quite a few shapes involved, and to make it easier on the eye, I'll show them in sets from left to right. The first left shape is the most bottom one, the right shape is the most top. I split it up into five sets with shapes, so stay with me.
Select the Star Tool and choose a seven pointed star. Choose a brown color as the stroke, set the weight to 15pt, and leave the fill empty. Hint: you can open up a Metal Color Palette in the Swatch Library. With the star shape selected, go to Object > Path > Outline Stroke.
Duplicate the shape and fill it with a golden linear gradient. To create the star-circle shape, duplicate a stroke shape, put a square shape behind it, and select both. Choose Divide in the Pathfinder Palette, then delete the outer shape.
Set a circle in the middle of the new star shape and select the Subtract From Shape Area in the Shape Mode Palette. Fill the shape with the "Embosses Leaves" Color from the Swatch Library (Pattern > Nature > Nature Foliage), and then lay each shape on top of each other.
Create two identical rings and fill them with a golden linear gradient. Set the second ring Layer Mode to Multiply. Overlap them with the Align Tool and set them on top of the shapes we already created.
Create three identical seven point stars. Fill them with a golden linear gradient and set the Layer Mode of all three to Multiply. Overlap all of them and put them on top of the other star shapes.
Create three circles. Two will be identical in size, one will be slightly smaller. Fill the first circle with a radial golden gradient. Fill the second with a linear golden gradient. Fill the third circle with a radial golden gradient and a light gray stroke, then Set the layer mode to Multiply. Create another thirteen point star and apply the Pucker & Bloat Tool, just like we did in Step 14. Set the Layer Mode to Overlay.>
We are almost there. Create another circle and fill it with a red linear gradient and set the Layer Mode to Multiply. Create three stars with five points each, one bigger, two identical but smaller. Fill the bigger one with a golden gradient. One smaller one with black (this will be our fake shadow) and the other one with a gray gradient. Put the shapes on top of each other.
One last thing. Remember the first brown filled star outline? We need to select it and move it slightly downwards and to the right. This will give an illusion that the star has depth. Group the star shapes together.
Move the metal star onto the metal shield. Done!