Summer is a great season to uncover your
bike and go cycling down the road! There is still a whole summer month ahead,
so let’s take a ride through the exciting process of creating of a
flat-style children's bicycle in Adobe Illustrator, using simple shapes, options from the Stroke panel, and various Pathfinder operations. Let’s start!
1. Render the Wheel of the Bicycle
We’ll start from the essential part of the bike: the wheel. And firstly we’ll form a tire. Use the Ellipse Tool (L) to make a 150 x 150 px circle. Switch the Fill color to None and the Stroke color to dark-violet in the Colors panel. Head to the Stroke panel and set the Weight to 8 pt.
Let’s convert our circle to curves and add a gentle shadow to it, making the tire more three-dimensional. Go to Object > Expand > Stroke. Now we have a ring-shaped Compound Path.
Copy the shape and Paste it in Front twice (Control-C > Control-F > Control-F). Select the top shape and move it to the right a bit using the right arrow key (I’ve switched the top shape to outlines, so that it's clearly visible in the screenshot below).
And here’s a trick. Select the shape that we’ve moved and the one beneath it. Use the Minus Front function of Pathfinder to cut the shapes, so that we have only two pieces left. Switch the Blending Mode to Multiply in the Transparency panel and adjust the color, turning the shapes into a subtle shadow. We’ll be using this method further on, adding semi-transparent shadows to other parts of our bicycle as well.
Copy the shape that we’ve created and place the duplicate inside the first shape, making it smaller. Change the color of the inner shape to light beige, creating the rim.
Now we need to add some spokes. Make a vertical line with the Line Segment Tool (\), holding down the Shift key. Set the Stroke Weight to 3 pt and the color to the same beige as we have on the rim. Keeping the line selected, double-click the Rotate Tool (R) icon in the Tools panel. In the pop-up Rotate Options window, set the Rotate Angle value to 90 degrees to place our line horizontally. Click the Copy button to make two crossing lines.
Let’s multiply the spokes. Select the crossing lines and open the Rotate Options window again. Set the Angle value to 360/20. This way Adobe Illustrator will automatically calculate the proper angle degree for 20 copies. Click the Copy button and then repeat our last action by pressing Control-D several times, making more copies of the spokes.
Let’s add a wheel fender. Make a circle of the same size as our wheel and put it on top, covering the wheel. Swap Fill and Stroke (Shift-X) colors and set the Stroke Weight to 8 pt, making a thick outline.
Now take the Scissors Tool (С) and click on the left and right anchor points. This way we’re splitting the shape into two equal halves. Delete the lower half. As for the upper half, set the Weight to 8 pt, and the Cap and Corner to middle positions in the Stroke panel.
Object > Expand the fender, fill it with a girlish pink color and add the shadow in the say way as we did previously, using the Minus Front function of Pathfinder. Place a small 25 x 25 px circle inside the wheel, using the Align panel to Align it to Key Object, placing it right in the center of the wheel.
2. Add More Parts to Our Bicycle
Let’s depict a panel that covers the chainstay. Take the Rectangle Tool (M), make a narrow turquoise rectangle and place it horizontally. Select the upper right anchor point with the Direct Selection Tool (A) and move it up a bit by pressing the up arrow key multiple times or by holding down the Shift key and pressing the up arrow key to move it to a larger distance. Repeat the same for the lower right anchor point.
Use the Live Corners feature of Adobe Illustrator CC to make the corners rounded: select the shape and as you see the tiny circle indicators next to each corner, pull any of them to its maximum. If you’re using earlier versions of the program, feel free to apply Effect > Stylize > Round Corners.
Select the pink circle on the wheel, hold down both Alt and Shift and drag the circle to the right to create a copy. Make the copy circle a bit larger and add another one on top. You can also make the corners in the right part of the turquoise shape more rounded by selecting all the anchor points of the right side and using the Live Corners function again to increase the roundness.
Use the Line Segment Tool (\) or the Pen Tool (P) to draw a small diagonal stroke with 5 pt Stroke Weight for the crank arm. Add a pedal on top of it with the Rectangle Tool (M) or Rounded Rectangle Tool.
Draw a thick line with 10 pt Stroke Weight for the seat tube. And add another thinner line, almost perpendicular to the seat tube, forming a triangle. Form a pink seat on top with the help of the Rounded Rectangle Tool.
Now select the wheel, hold down Alt and Shift and drag to create a copy, making the front wheel. Let’s rotate the fender of the front wheel a bit. Select the fender, take the Rotate Tool (R), place the pivot point in the center of the front wheel (Alt-click in the center) and release the mouse key to open the Rotate Options window. Set the Angle value to 20 degrees.
Add the head tube in the front of our bicycle by holding Alt-Shift and copying the seat tube, so that the lines are parallel.
Now it’s time to add a stem and a handlebar to our bicycle! Draw a polyline with sharp corner with the help of the Pen Tool (P). Select the anchor point at the corner and Convert it to Smooth from the control bar on top. Duplicate the created stem and change the color of the copy to pink. Keeping the shape selected, use the Eraser Tool (Shift-E) to delete most of the copy, leaving only a small piece for the handle.
Add two more tubes connecting both parts of the bicycle. Bend the top tube with the Curvature Tool (Shift-`), forming a smooth arch.
Let’s add some minor details to give our image a finished look! Select the chainstay covering and go to Object > Path > Offset Path. Set the Offset value to -5 px, thus creating a new shape inside the selected one. Make the shape darker and add some more elements to the bicycle to your liking.
To make a simple and clean composition, put a light-beige rectangle in the bottom of the Layers panel for the background and add a few darker spots on the ground around the wheels.
Finally, let’s form the clouds that we can place in the top area of our image. Use the Ellipse Tool (L) to make a row of white circles, overlapping each other. Keeping the circles selected, take the Eraser Tool (Shift-E), hold down the Alt key, and drag the Eraser Tool above the bottom part of the cloud, making a white rectangle. When you release the mouse button, all the unwanted parts are gone. Our fluffy cloud is ready!
Let’s Go Cycling!
Great job, guys! We’ve finished making a flat children’s bicycle, using simple yet effective techniques. I hope you’ve enjoyed this quick tutorial and will come back for more. Stay tuned and keep creating beautiful things!