1. Design & Illustration
  2. Hexels

Create an Isometric Vector Art Island With Hexels and Illustrator

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

With this tutorial I'd like to show you how to create a piece of isometric art using Hexels by Marmoset and Illustrator. Read on to learn about Hexels' fast pace to iterate concepts and easy-to-create neat textures.

To follow the tutorial with ease, I recommend that you download the resources provided with the tutorial, have Hexels and a graphic tablet ready to draw, and Illustrator open. When you do, scroll down to begin.

1. Iterate Concepts With Hexels

Step 1

With Hexels open and the graphics tablet wired, create a new file (Command-N). Then click on Modes (Command-2) and select Trixel, and check Rotate 90.

Modes - define your grid

Then, select the Glow tab (Command-3) and uncheck Enabled.

Glow - add an effect to your illustration

Finally, go to the Document tab (Command-4), change the Width to 36 and the Height to 48, and check Trim Canvas Border.

Document - settings of your file

Step 2

First, we'll create a color set for the illustration. Select the Color tab (Command-1) and pick a color for the floor (#FFCC66), the right wall (#CB4425), the left wall (#F29946), and the sea (#66FFB3) Paint them in a corner with the Brush Tool (B) to save them with an Opacity set to 100%.

Feel free to use your own color set.

Now, you can paint a concept using the set of colors. Select the Color Drop (I) and use the Brush Tool (B) to paint.

To save a concept, select File > Export (Command-E) and choose a Resolution near 600 in Width and 450 in Height, Best quality and press OK to save your concept.

Export - Can export the file to any resolution

You can choose to use your concepts or the one I gave you with the resource folder.

2. Import Your Concept Into Illustrator

Step 1

Open the file "" and Open (Command-O) to open your concept. Then Copy (Command-C) and Paste In Front (Command-F) in the file "" in the Layer Reference.

Toggle on the Smart Guide (View > Smart Guide) and lock the guides (View > Guides > Lock).

Save the file, File > Save as (Command-Shift-S), to have a file of your own island.

Step 2

Select the Layer Land, pick the Pen Tool (P), and choose no Fill and a black Stroke of 1 pixel to create the outline of the floor, right wall and left wall.

Oultine of the land

Group (Command-G) the floor items, the right wall items and the left wall items. Select the floor group, pick the Eyedropper Tool (I) and use your reference to match the color. Repeat the action for the right wall and left wall.

Add a background, select the Rectangle Tool (M), click on an empty space to create a 600 x 450 background in the Layer Sea, and use the Eyedropper Tool (I) to fill the sea with its color.

Land and Sea colored

Step 3

Create the reflection of the water in the layer Reflection_land. Pick the Pen Tool (P) and use the grid to create a depth of -2 for the right walls and left walls of the same color for each wall.

Group the reflection right walls, and change the Transparency (Window > Transparency) to Multiply 50%.

Repeat the action for the left walls with a Transparency to Overlay 50%.


Save (Command-S) your work and open Hexel to create the textures.

3. Create the Textures Using Hexels

Step 1

Select File > New to create a new document. Then click on the Modes tab (Command-2) and select Trixel, and check Rotate 90.

Modes - define your grid

Then, select the Glow tab and check Enabled.

Glow - add an effect to your illustration

Finally, go to the Document tab (Command-4) and change the Width to 48 and the Height to 48, and check Wrapped (Tileable) Canvas.

Document - Settings of your file

Use the Brush Tool (B) and the color white (#FFFFFF) with low Opacity (10%) to paint a texture pattern. Select the Eraser Tool (E) with low Opacity (10%) to adjust the tone of the texture.

To save a texture, select File > Export (Command-E) and choose a Width and Height higher than 600 pixelBest quality and press OK to save your concept.

You can then go to Modes (Command-3) and change the mode to produce several textures with the same black & white pattern.

Texture made in Hexel

You can move forward using either your own textures or the ones I created.

4. Import the Texture Into Illustrator

Step 1

Open your textures. Then Copy and Paste In Front in the layer Texture_sea and Texture_land.

Step 2

Select the floor group and Copy and Paste In Front in the layer Texture_land.

Mask layout - Land on top of the texture

Select the floor group and the floor texture, go to Transparency, press Make Mask and choose Overlay 100%.

Result after masking

Repeat the action with the sea with Transparency set to Overlay 40%.

End result with all textures

5. Add Details

Step 1

Select the floor group and Copy and Paste In Front in the layer Ripple_sea. Then, using the grid guide, move the floor to -1 depth.

Select no Fill and a white Stroke of 1 pixel. Go to Effect > Path > Offset Path and set the Offset to 5 pixel, the Joins to Miter and the Miter limit to 3. Finally, change the Transparency to Overlay 40%.

Ripple Effect

Step 2

Select the floor group and Copy and Paste in Front in the layer Gradient_sea.

Select the Gradient and create a Linear Gradient at 45 degree, with a start color (#115E4D) and an end color (#005978) and a Transparency set to Overlay 60%.

Gradient to add variations in color scheme

Step 3

Select the sea gradient you just made and Copy and Paste In Front in the layer Mood_light.

Change the gradient to a start color (#D3E169) with Opacity 80% and an end color (#8C3331) with Opacity 0% and a Transparency set to Overlay.

Reinforcing the source of light

Step 4

Select the floor group and Copy and Paste in the layer Highlight_land.

Then remove the fill, and add a gradient stroke. In the Gradient panel, set the Gradient to Linear and 45 degree, a start color (#FFFFFF) with Opacity 100% and an end color (#FFFFFF) with Opacity 0%, and change the Transparency to Overlay 80%.

Adding a subtle indication of the light source

Step 5

Use the Pen Tool (P) to create a fish using the grid as a reference in the layer fish.

Color the fish (#652C90) and set the Transparency to Multiply 20%.

Close up on the fish

6. Populate the Scene

Now we will craft a beach towel, a parasol, a ball and a palm tree to fill the land we created together. We'll craft each item in Illustrator and use color variations, patterns and details to bring some differences to each of them.

Step 1

Let's start with a ball, something we can have fun playing with. Use the Ellipse Tool (L) to create a 24 px circle.

Create a pattern / texture to bring up some varieties. In this case, use the Pen Tool (P) to create three different patterns.

To create a mask, Copy and Paste in Front the ball, select both the circle and the pattern, and go to Transparency and press Make Mask.

Use the Ellipse Tool (L) to create a highlight, set the Transparency to Overlay 80% and the Pen Tool (P) to show that the ball is underwater with a Transparency to Multiply 40%.

Finally, let's add the same wave effect as we did for the land. Select the ripple sea effect from the layer Ripple_Sea. Open the Graphic Styles window and drag and drop one of the effects in the window. You successfully saved the ripple effect.

Now, use the Ellipse Tool (L) around the circle and click on the graphic style you just saved. We'll need a mask to cover the higher part of the ball. Copy and Paste In Front the ball, and use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to change the shape so that the circle covers only the top of the ball. Go to Transparency to Make a Mask.

Process behind the ball item

Step 2

Then, we create a towel to lay down on this beautiful day. Use the Pen Tool (P) to create a towel and a simple pattern.

Use the Pen Tool (P) to create four small strokes at each end of the towel. Then, use the Blend Tool (W) to fill the gap between two strokes, double-click on the Blend Tool Icon to change the Spacing to Specified, and input 14.

Copy and Paste In Front three copies of the towel. Select a towel, use Recolor Artwork (next to the Opacity window, below the menu bar) and switch to the Edit Tab to change the color quickly.

Process and declinaison of the beach towel

Step 3

Now we'll add a parasol to protect ourselves from the fiery sun. Use the Polygon Tool (found within the Rectangle Tool or Ellipse Tool, in the action bar) to create a base at 24 px Radius and 12 Sides. Then, change the Width to 48 px and Height to 24 px. Use the Pen Tool (P) to add a stick below the parasol.

Add a pattern to the parasol, using the Pen Tool (P) to create stripes, as shown in the picture below.

Finish the parasol by adding light. Use the Ellipse Tool (L) to cover the parasol. To create a mask, Copy and Paste in Front the parasol, select both the parasol and the light, and go to Transparency to Make a Mask with Overlay 80%.

Then, repeat the same steps as for the towel. Copy and Paste in Front three copies of the parasol. Select a parasol, use Recolor Artwork (next to the Opacity window, below the menu bar) and switch to the Edit tab to change the color quickly.

Process of a parasol

Step 4

Finally, let's create a palm tree to add a touch of life to this illustration.

Start by creating the shape, using the Pen Tool (P) to create the leaf and the trunk.

Then the patterns: use the Pen Tool (P) to create a pattern for the tree. Use the Pen Tool (P) to create holes and Pathfinder > Subtract to cut the leaf.

Finish with the light: use the Pen Tool (P) to create an area of light. To create a mask, Copy and Paste in Front the trunk or leaf, select both the trunk or leaf and the light, and go to Transparency to make a mask with Overlay 80%.

Process of a palm tree

Great Job, You're Done!

In this tutorial, I showed you how to create an isometric island using the strength of Hexels by Marmoset with Illustrator.

I hope that you enjoyed this tutorial and can use what you've learned for your own projects. Please, feel free to comment and show me your results.

Final result
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