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Design

Create a Winter House Illustration in Adobe Illustrator

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

In the following steps you will learn how to create a detailed winter house illustration in Adobe Illustrator. 

For starters you will learn how to set up a simple grid, how to create a simple pattern and how to save and use graphic styles. Taking full advantage of the Snap to Grid feature and the Transform effect, you will learn how to create the windows. 

Using the Brush Tool and basic vector shape and building techniques you will learn how to add snow, shading and highlights. Finally, you will learn how to spread some snowflakes using a simple scatter brush.

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 and 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 5 px, so simply go to Edit > Preferences > Guides > Grid, and enter 5 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 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 > General. All these options will significantly increase your work speed.

setup grid

2. Create the First Wall

Step 1

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 R=55 G=46 B=46. Move to your artboard, create a 150 x 20 px shape and place it exactly as shown in the following image—the grid and the Snap to Grid feature will make your work easier.

first rectangle

Step 2

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 150 x 10 px shape and place it as shown in the following image. Make sure that this new rectangle stays selected and focus on the Appearance panel (Window > Appearance).

First, set the fill color to black (R=0 G=0 B=0) and then click that "Opacity" piece of text to open the Transparency fly-out panel. Change the Blending Mode to Soft Light and lower the Opacity to 10%.

second rectangle

Step 3

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create two 5 px squares, fill both shapes with black, and place them one below the other as shown in the following image. Select the top square and lower its Opacity to 30%, and then select the bottom one and lower its Opacity to 10%.

tiny squares

Step 4

Reselect both squares made in the previous step and simply drag them inside the Swatches panel (Window > Swatches) to turn them into a pattern.

Once you can see this pattern inside your Swatches panel, remove the two tiny squares from your artboard.

pattern

Step 5

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 150 x 170 px shape, place it exactly as shown in the following image and set the fill color to R=207 G=156 B=104.

brown rectangle

Step 6

Make sure that your brown rectangle is still selected, focus on the Appearance panel and add a second fill using the Add New Fill button.

Select this new fill, make it black, lower its Opacity to 10%, change the Blending Mode to Soft Light and then go to Effect > Texture > Texturizer. Enter the attributes shown below and then click the OK button.

second fill

Step 7

Make sure that your brown rectangle is still selected, keep focusing on the Appearance panel, and add a third fill using that same Add New Fill button.

Select this new fill, make it black, lower its Opacity to 10%, change the Blending Mode to Soft Light and then go to Effect > Sketch > Graphic Pen. Enter the attributes shown below and then click the OK button.

graphic pen

Step 8

Reselect your brown rectangle, keep focusing on the Appearance panel and add a fourth fill using that same Add New Fill button. Select this new fill, change its Blending Mode to Overlay and simply add your pattern from the Swatches panel. Here's a more complex wooden pattern from Envato Market that can be used to achieve a somewhat similar effect.

Make sure that your brown rectangle stays still selected, open the Graphic Styles panel (Window > Graphic Styles) and simply click the New Graphic Style button.

add pettern

3. Create the Small Window

Step 1

Now, you will need a grid every 1 px, so go to Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid and enter 1 in the Gridline every box.

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 36 x 50 px shape, fill it with R=151 G=99 B=66 and then go to Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow. Enter the attributes shown below and then click the OK button.

inner glow

Step 2

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 28 x 40 px shape, fill it with R=143 G=88 B=52 and place it exactly as shown in the following image.

rectangle

Step 3

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 26 x 40 px shape, fill it with R=96 G=73 B=65 and place it exactly as shown in the following image.

rectangle

Step 4

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 1 x 8 px shape, fill it with R=123 G=66 B=29 and place it exactly as shown in the following image.

Create a second, 1 x 8 px shape and fill it with black. Place it as shown below, lower its Opacity to 20% and don't forget to change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

rectangles

Step 5

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 26 x 1 px shape, fill it with R=151 G=99 B=66 and place it exactly as shown in the following image. Focus on the left side of this new rectangle and switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select the top anchor points an simply drag it 1 px to the right. In the end your shape should look like in the second image.

Make a copy of this new shape (Control-C > Control-F) and select it. Flip it horizontally using the Reflect Tool (O), replace the existing fill color with R=93 G=48 B=6 and then place it as shown in the third image.

direct selection tool

Step 6

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 10 x 8 px shape, make it white and place it as shown in the first image. Switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the two anchor points that make up the bottom side of this new rectangle, and simply drag them 16 px to the right. In the end your white shape should look like in the second image.

Make sure that it stays selected and focus on the Appearance panel. Change the Blending Mode to Soft Light and lower the Opacity to 10%.

white rectangle

Step 7

Select all the shapes highlighted in the following image, Group them (Control-G) and then go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Drag the Move-Vertical slider to 10 px, enter 3 in that Copies box and then click the OK button.

transform effect

Step 8

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create an 18 x 50 px shape, fill it with R=188 G=112 B=76 and place it as shown in the following image.

rectangle

Step 9

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create the column of 14 x 1 px rectangles shown in the following image and then fill these shapes with the colors shown below.

rectangles column

Step 10

Duplicate the column of rectangles made in the previous step (Control-C > Control-V), select these copies and place them as shown in the following image.

rectangles column copy

Step 11

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 2 x 46 px and a 1 x 46 px shape. Fill both rectangles with black, place them as shown in the following image and then focus on the Appearance panel. Lower the Opacity to 15% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

rectangles

Step 12

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 14 x 2 px shape, fill it with R=188 G=112 B=76 and place it exactly as shown in the following image.

rectangle

Step 13

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 3 x 50 px and a 1 x 50 px shape. Fill both rectangles with black, place them as shown in the following image and then focus on the Appearance panel. Lower the Opacity to 10% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

black rectangles

Step 14

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 2 x 50 px and a 1 x 50 px shape. Fill both rectangles with black, place them as shown in the following image and then focus on the Appearance panel. Lower the Opacity to 10% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

black rectangle

Step 15

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create an 18 px square, place it as shown below and focus on the Appearance panel. Lower the Opacity to 50%, change the Blending Mode to Soft Light and then replace the existing fill color with the linear gradient shown in the following image. Keep in mind that the yellow numbers from the Gradient image stand for Opacity percentage.

linear gradient

Step 16

Select all the shapes highlighted in the following image, Group them (Control-G) and then go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Drag the Move-Horizontal slider to 55 px, check the Reflect X box, enter 1 in that Copies box and then click the OK button.

reflect

Step 17

Select all the shapes that make up your window and Group them (Control-G). Focus on your artboard and place this new group exactly as shown in the following image.

Move to the Layers panel (Window > Layers), open the existing layer, simply double click on the group made in this step and rename it "SmallWindow".

place

4. Create the Large Window

Step 1

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 67 x 61 px shape, make it white and place it exactly as shown in the following image.

white rectangle

Step 2

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 65 x 59 px shape, make it black and place it exactly as shown in the following image.

black rectangle

Step 3

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 63 x 58 px shape and place it exactly as shown in the following image. Fill this new rectangle with R=151 G=99 B=66 and then go to Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow. Enter the attributes shown below and then click the OK button.

inner glow

Step 4

Reselect that black rectangle, lower its Opacity to 50% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light and then select that white rectangle, lower its Opacity to 20% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

white and black

Step 5

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), add a 2 px, black margin along the left, right and top edges of your brown rectangle as shown in the first image. Select these three rectangles and unite them using the Unite button from the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder). Make sure that the resulting shape stays selected, lower its Opacity to 10% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

black margins

Step 6

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 24 x 48 px shape, fill it with R=143 G=88 B=52 and place it exactly as shown in the following image.

rectangle

Step 7

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 10 px square, fill it with R=96 G=73 B=65 and place it exactly as shown in the following image.

rectangle

Step 8

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 1 x 10 px shape, fill it with R=123 G=66 B=29 and place it exactly as shown in the first image.

Create a second, 1 x 10 px shape and fill it with black. Place it as shown below, lower its Opacity to 20% and don't forget to change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

Using the Pen Tool (P), create the two shapes shown in the second image and fill them with the colors indicated.

rectangle

Step 9

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 3 x 10 px shape, make it white and place it as shown in the first image. Switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the two anchor points that make up the bottom side of this new rectangle and simply drag them 7 px to the right.

Make sure that your white shape stays selected and focus on the Appearance panel. Change the Blending Mode to Soft Light and lower the Opacity to 10%.

white rectangle

Step 10

Select all the shapes highlighted in the following image, Group them (Control-G) and then go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Drag the Move-Horizontal slider to 12 px, enter 1 in that Copies box, click the OK button and then go again to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. This time drag the Move-Vertical slider to 12 px, enter 3 in that Copies box and then click the OK button.

transform effect

Step 11

Select all the shapes highlighted in the following image, Group them (Control-G) and then go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the attributes shown below, click the OK button and then go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Drag the Move-Horizontal slider to 29 px, check the Reflect X box, enter 1 in that Copies box and then click the OK button.

transform effect

Step 12

Select all the shapes that make up your new window and Group them (Control-G). Move to the Layers panel, find this new group and rename it "LargeWindow".

groups

5. Create the Roof

Step 1

Return to gridline every 5 px, so simply go to Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid and enter 5 in the Gridline every box.

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 165 x 10 px shape and fill it with R=83 G=55 B=59. Place this new rectangle as shown in the following image and then go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the attributes shown in the following image and then click the OK button.

drop shadow

Step 2

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 165 x 5 px shape, fill it with R=53 G=37 B=45 and place it exactly as shown in the following image.

rectangle

Step 3

Switch to gridline every 1 px, so go to Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid and enter 1 in the Gridline every box.

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 165 x 2 px shape and place it exactly as shown in the following image. Fill this new rectangle with white, lower its Opacity to 25% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

rectangle

Step 4

Return to gridline every 5 px, so simply go to Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid and enter 5 in the Gridline every box.

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 165 x 10 px shape and pick a random pink for the fill color. Place this new rectangle as shown in the following image and then add the four Drop Shadow effects (Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow) shown in the following image. Make sure that this pink rectangle stays selected, move to the Graphic Styles panel and click again that New Graphic Style button.

pink rectangle

Step 5

Make a copy of that large, brown rectangle that makes up the wall (Control-C > Control-F), bring it to front (Shift-Control-]) and then simply hit the D button from your keyboard to replace the existing Appearance attributes with the default ones (white fill and black stroke).

Get rid of that black stroke and then select your white rectangle along with the pink one. Open the Transparency panel (Window > Transparency) and then click the Make Mask button. In the end your masked shape should look like in the second image.

mask

Step 6

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 295 x 65 px shape, fill it with a random blue 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 50 px to the right and then select the right anchor point and drag it 25 px to the left.

blue rectangle

Step 7

Make sure that your blue rectangle is still selected and go to Effect > Warp > Arc Upper. Enter the attributes shown in the following image, click the OK button and then go to Object > Expand Appearance. Select the resulting shape and replace the existing fill color with the linear gradient shown below.

warp

6. Create the Second Wall

Step 1

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 200 x 15 px shape, fill it with R=65 G=56 B=56 and place it exactly as shown in the first image.

Using the same tool, create a 200 x 5 px shape, fill it with black and place it exactly as shown in the second image, and then lower its Opacity to 10% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

rectangles

Step 2

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 200 x 175 px shape, fill it with a random blue and place it as shown in the first image. Focus on the left side of this new rectangle, pick the Add Anchor Point Tool (+) and use the click button to easily add a new anchor point exactly as shown in the first image.

Keep focusing on this blue shape, switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the top left anchor point and drag it 80 px up and 135 px to the right. In the end your blue shape should look like in the second image.

add anchor point

Step 3

Make sure that your blue shape is still selected, go to the Graphic Styles panel and simply add the first graphic style that you saved.

use graphic style

7. Add More Windows and a Second Roof

Step 1

Switch to gridline every 1 px, so go to Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid and enter 1 in the Gridline every box.

Duplicate your "SmallWindow" group (Control-C > Control-V), select the copy and place it exactly as shown in the following image.

duplicate group

Step 2

Make two copies of your "LargeWindow" group and place them exactly as shown in the following image.

duplicate group

Step 3

Return to gridline every 5 px, so simply go to Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid and enter 5 in the Gridline every box.

Using the Pen Tool (P), create the two shapes shown below and fill them both with R=83 G=55 B=59.

pen tool

Step 4

Using the Pen Tool (P), create the two shapes shown below and fill them both with R=53 G=37 B=45.

pen tool

Step 5

Duplicate the two shapes highlighted in the first image, bring the copies to front (Shift-Control-]) and then Unite them using that same Unite button from the Pathfinder panel.

Make sure that the resulting shape stays selected, move to the Graphic Styles panel and simply add your second graphic style.

pink rectangle

Step 6

Make a copy of that new wall shape, bring it to front (Shift-Control-]) and replace the existing Appearance attributes with a simple white fill. Select this white shape along with the new, pink shape and simply click the Make Mask button from the Transparency panel. In the end things should look like in the second image.

mask

8. Create the Ground and Some Snow

Step 1

Focus on the Layers panel, double click on the existing layer and rename it "house", and then add a second layer using the Add New Layer button.

Name this new layer "snow", make sure that it stays selected and don't forget to lock your "house" layer to be sure that you won't accidentally select/move its contents.

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 610 x 165 px shape, fill it with R=210 G=230 B=244 and place it exactly as shown in the following image.

blue rectangle

Step 2

Disable the grid (Control-') and the Snap to Grid (Shift-Control-').

Select your blue rectangle and make a copy in front (Control-C > Control-F). Using the Brush Tool (B) or the Pen Tool (P), create a new path roughly as shown in the first image.

Select this fresh path along with the copy of your blue rectangle and click the Intersect button from the Pathfinder panel. Make sure that the resulting shape stays selected and focus on the Appearance panel. Set the fill color to black, lower the Opacity to 25% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

brush tool

Step 3

Create a new copy of your blue rectangle (Control-C > Control-F) and then create a path roughly as shown in the first image. Select it along with the fresh copy of your blue shape and click the Intersect button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the newly made shape with black, lower its Opacity to 20% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

shading

Step 4

Create a new copy of your blue rectangle (Control-C > Control-F) and then create a path roughly as shown in the first image. Select it along with the fresh copy of your blue shape and click the Intersect button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the newly made shape with black, lower its Opacity to 15% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

shading

Step 5

Use the same techniques mentioned in the last three steps to create the four shapes shown in the following image.

shading and highlights

Step 6

Using the Brush Tool (B), create a subtle, wavy path roughly as shown in the first image. Fill it with R=184 G=215 B=235.

snow

Step 7

Using the Brush Tool (B), add some smooth shapes that will make up the snow lying on the roof and windows as shown in the following image. Fill these new shapes with R=184 G=215 B=235.

snow

Step 8

Keep focusing on the snow added in the previous step and add some subtle white paths as shown in the following image.

snow highlights

9. Create the Background

Step 1

Focus on the Layers panel, lock your "snow" layer, and then add a third layer using that same Add New Layer button. Drag this new layer to the bottom of the panel, name it "bg" and make sure that it stays selected.

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 610 px square, make sure that it covers your entire artboard and fill it with R=70 G=85 B=101.

sky

Step 2

Reselect the rectangle that makes up the sky and make a copy in front (Control-C > Control-F). Using the Brush Tool (B), draw some simple paths that will make up the clouds, roughly as shown in the first image. Make sure that all these paths are selected and turn them into a simple compound path using the Control-8 keyboard shortcut. Select this compound path along with the copy made in the beginning of the step and click the Intersect button from the Pathfinder panel.

Turn the resulting group of shapes into a new compound path (Control-8) and then focus on the Appearance panel. Make sure that the fill color is set to white, lower the Opacity to 10% and change the Blending Mode to Overlay.

clouds

Step 3

Use that same Brush Tool and the Intersect option from the Pathfinder panel to add three new shapes roughly as shown in the following images. Fill all these shapes with white, lower their Opacity to 15% and change the Blending Mode to Overlay.

clouds

Step 4

Using the Brush Tool (B), create a new wavy path roughly as shown in the first image. Fill it with R=174 G=205 B=225.

snow

10. Save a Scatter Brush and Use It to Add Snowflakes

Step 1

Enable the Grid (Control-') and the Snap to Grid (Shift-Control-') and then switch to gridline every 1 px, so go to Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid and enter 1 in the Gridline every box.

Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 2 px circle and make it white. Make sure that this tiny new shape stays selected, open the Brushes panel (Window > Brushes) and click the New Brush button. Check the Scatter Brush button and click OK. Enter all the attributes shown in the following image and then click the OK button.

scatter brush

Step 2

Disable the Grid (Control-') and the Snap to Grid (Shift-Control-').

Pick the Brush Tool (B), select your scatter brush from the Brushes panel, and draw a bunch of horizontal paths as shown in the first image. Make sure that all these paths are selected, Group them (Control-G) and then change the Blending Mode to Overlay.

snowflakes

Step 3

Focus on the Layers panel, lock your "bg" layer and then add a fourth layer using that same Add New Layer button. Drag this new layer in the top of the panel, name it "snowflakes" and make sure that it stays selected.

Pick the Brush Tool (B), reselect your scatter brush from the Brushes panel and draw a new set of horizontal paths as shown in the first image. Make sure that all these paths are selected, Group them (Control-G) and then lower the Opacity to 60%.

Feel free to add some complex snowflakes once you're done spreading these tiny snowflakes. You'll find a lot of snowflake vectors on Envato Market.

snowflakes

Step 4

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 610 px square and make sure that it covers your entire artboard. Fill it with R=28 G=64 B=116, lower its Opacity to 50% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

recolor

Congratulations! You're Done!

Here is how it should look. Feel free to enrich your final illustration with a snowman, maybe a Christmas tree or a complex winter landscape from Envato Maket. I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial and can apply these techniques in your future projects.

final result
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