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Design

How to Create a Coloring Book Style Illustration in Adobe Illustrator

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

These days when you enter bookstores, craft stores, or even grocery stores, you can easily find a section of coloring books for adults. Did you ever think about creating your own coloring page? I am telling you; it’s really fun. 


We will create a set of houses together, and you’ll learn some tricks for creating buildings, which you can also use in your future projects as an illustrator. But remember, your result of this tutorial can't be sold on microstock sites.

We will create buildings with details, and you will find out how helpful the Grid is. You will also see that you can use just a few simple tools like the Rectangle Tool, Line Segment Tool (\), Arc Tool or Ellipse Tool to create a beautiful and an original image.

I adore adult coloring books. I don’t always finish them, but let me tell you, I’m a serious collector! If you want to get some ideas, or just need ready-to-use coloring pages, browse Envato Market—it will brighten your mind!


Let’s get started!

1. Create the First House

Step 1

Let’s start by creating a new document in Adobe Illustrator with a size of 850 x 850 px. In this tutorial, we will see how useful the Grid is while drawing illustrations. Press Control-K to activate the Preferences dialogue window. Select Guides & Grid in the pop-up menu and enter the Grid options shown below. Press OK. To see this grid, you need to right-click your mouse > Show Grid. Another very, very helpful tool is to enable Snap to Grid (go to View > Snap to Grid).


grid options window

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a rectangle with 24 cells in width and 46 cells in height with no fill and black stroke (2 px Weight on the Stroke panel). This will be the facade of the building.

creating the house facade

Step 2

For the roof, create another rectangle by using the Rectangle Tool (M) with a width slightly larger than the facade rectangle. In the image below you can see exactly how many cells you need to draw. After that, select the top left anchor point on the roof with the Direct Selection Tool (A) and move it to the right by pressing the Right Arrow button on your keyboard twice.

creating the roof

Step 3

Let’s add some tiles on our roof. Here, we will use the Arc Tool. I checked the Round Cap on the Stroke panel, but it's optional. Zoom in your image until the individual cells are visible on your grid. Draw an arc from the top left corner to the bottom right corner of a single cell. You will see how easily the arc attaches to the corner of a cell. 

Now draw another arc from the top right corner of the next cell to the bottom left corner to connect with the first arc. You will get a half circle. Continue to draw the tiles in this manner until you fill up the entire roof.

creating the tiles on roof

Step 4

Let’s add a window using the Rectangle Tool (M).

creating the window

Step 5

Using the Line Segment Tool (\), draw three lines for the window frame.

creating the window frame

Step 6

Add another rectangle below the window frame (Rectangle Tool (M)) for the window sill. To modify the window sill, select the bottom left anchor point on the rectangle with the Direct Selection Tool (A) and move it to the right, just one grid cell, by pressing the Right Arrow button on your keyboard. Make the same modification for the bottom right corner of the window sill but in the opposite direction.

creating the window 2

Step 7

Now let’s add some plants on the window sill. To have more freedom in creating this element, we have to disable the Snap to Grid: go to View > and remove the selected Snap to Grid mark. 
Using the Ellipse Tool (L), hold down the Shift key and draw a bunch of circles that intersect with each other. You don't need to change the stroke color to red; I did this just to highlight this for the tutorial.

creating the plants on the window

Finally, unite these circles by selecting all of them and hitting the Unite button on the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder).

creating the plants 2

Step 8

Let’s go ahead and enable the Snap to Grid again: View > Snap to Grid.
 Make three more copies of the window that we created. Hold down the Alt button and move it to the right. You will get a copy. Then make two more.

creating another windows

Step 9

In this step, we will make the stairs by adding two rectangles that are one cell in height on the grid, and 12 and 16 cells in width. Place them in the middle of the building.

creating the steps

Step 10

For the door, let’s start with a rectangle. Keep it selected and go to Effect > Warp > Arc Upper. In the new window, adjust the options to the ones you see in the second image below. While this effect is still active, let's draw a long rectangle which is one cell in height—you will get it warped. After that, you need to delete this effect from the Appearance panel (Window > Appearance) by dragging it to the trash icon. Add one more rectangle to finish our door.

creating the door
warp options window

Step 11

Using the Rounded Rectangle Tool, add a small rounded rectangle (1×2). On top of this shape, place a square which overlaps half of the rounded rectangle. Then cut it: select both shapes and use the Minus Front button in Pathfinder, and you will get the shape shown below. We will use it as a building decoration.

creating the house decor

Place this shape on the left side of the building.

placing the house decor

Step 12

Holding the Alt button, move this shape down one cell. While the newly created shape is selected, press the Control-D buttons to repeat the previous step and create the third shape exactly the same distance from the previous one. Repeat this action by pressing Control-D until the entire left side of the wall is covered by the decoration shapes.


To repeat the same operations for the other side of the wall, select all the decorations from the left side, right-click the mouse > and select Transform > Reflect. A dialogue window will pop up, where you should enter Axis Vertical, Angle 90 degrees, and press Copy. Move those copies to the right.

creating the house decor 2

Step 13

Let’s add a sign on the side of the building.


For this, we will use the Spiral Tool. If you don't see it, hold the Line Segment Tool (\) for a few seconds—a pop-up menu will appear. Select the Spiral Tool then. Click on your art board and a new dialogue window will appear, asking you about the Radius of your spiral, Decay and Segments. I recommend playing with different Decay and Segments to find out what you like the most. 


After creating the spiral, straighten one end by using the Direct Selection Tool (A). Simply select the last anchor point and move the handles to straighten the end of the spiral. Finally, attach this spiral to the building.
 Add another spiral, two lines (Line Segment Tool (\)), and one ellipse (Ellipse Tool (L)), and place them together to finish off the signage.

creating the signage

2. Create the Second House

Step 1

Using the Rectangle Tool (M) to draw two rectangles: a large one (54×28) and a small one on top (2×30)

creating the facade and roof

Step 2

Create the ellipse with the Ellipse Tool (L) and add a rectangle over it. Select these two shapes and by pressing the Minus Front on the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder), you will get a cut of the ellipse, a semi-ellipse shape.

creating the semi-ellipse

Step 3

Now create a smaller semi-ellipse and place it inside the original one. To do this, copy the original shape in front (Control-C, Control-F) and shrink the newly created shape while holding down the Alt and Shift keys at the same time (shrinking symmetrically to the center). 
Place these two shapes on top of the thin rectangle. Then by using the Line Segment Tool (\), add three lines in the small semi-ellipse shape.

creating the roof 2

Step 4

To make the window and its sill, use the Rectangle Tool (M). To create sections on the window frames, use the Line Segment Tool (\).

creating the window

Step 5

Make five more copies of the window shape (move the original shape to the side while holding the Alt key). Place them symmetrically as presented below.

creating another windows

Step 6

Draw two lines between the windows (Line Segment Tool (\)) and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Zig Zag... to change their shape. Play with the Zig Zag options; you don't need to know the precise options.

decorating the house

Step 7

For the fence, make one circle inside a single cell of the grid. Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a rectangle (3×1) and make a sideways diamond with the Line Segment Tool (\). Place these three shapes as shown in the image below and group them together: select, then right-click > Group. 


Create a copy of this group: holding the Alt button, move the group to the right until the copy is attached to the original image. This action will create a copy of the group, horizontally aligned. While the newly created group is selected, press the Control-D buttons to repeat the previous step and create another copy the same distance from the previous one. Repeat pressing Control-D a few more times. 


creating the fence

Select the entire fence, group it (right-click > Group) and place it in the front of the building.

placing the fence

3. Create the Third House

Step 1

Draw a rectangle (44×34). Make a section for the roof by drawing a line with the Line Segment Tool (\).

creating the facade and roof

Step 2

To make the windows on the roof, use the rectangle shape and lines from the Line Segment Tool (\). Add a triangle by pressing the Polygon Tool. After you click on the art board, a new dialogue window will pop up. Enter 3 Sides and any Radius. You can adjust the size of the rectangle. When drawing the triangle, disable the Snap to Grid: go to View > and remove the selected Snap to Grid mark. 

Make another smaller triangle and place it inside the bigger one. The triangles must have a white fill color because they will be in front of the roof (otherwise you will see the roof through the window). 
Enable the Snap to Grid again: View > Snap to Grid; and place all parts together as in the image below. 

creating the window

Step 3

Place it on the roof. Make two more copies of the window.

creating another windows

Step 4

By using the Rectangle Tool (M), add two chimneys on the roof.

creating the chimneys

Step 5

Let’s add four windows. Use the Rectangle Tool (M) and the Line Segment Tool (\) to create a simple window. Make three copies and place them symmetrically.

creating lower windows

Step 6

Now we will add the stairs and a door. For the small roof over the door, we will create it using the Line Segment Tool (\). In this case, it is better to use the lines instead of the triangle shape as we don't need to disable the Snap to Grid.

creating the door and steps

Step 7

To add the stair railing, use the Line Segment Tool (\) for the straight lines and the Spiral Tool for the decorated top rail. Select the Spiral Tool and choose Radius, Decay and Segments settings that you like. On the created spiral, move the last anchor point to the door (use the Direct Selection Tool (A) and play with the handles of the anchor points for a good result).

creating the door and steps 2

Step 8

Now we will create a large window with an awning. First make the ellipse with the Ellipse Tool (L), add a rectangle over it and apply Minus Front on the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder) while the two shapes are selected. You will get a cut of the ellipse.
 Attach a rectangle to this shape and add three lines along its sides. 

To decorate the window, add a cut of the rounded rectangle (you can take it from the decoration of the first building) and multiply it along the side of the semi-ellipse. After that, use the Arc Tool to make six lines inside this shape. To finalize the window, add a few lines inside the rectangle, creating an illusion of reflected glass.


creating the big window

Place the window as shown in the image below.

placing the big window

Step 9

To create a potted plant, we will draw a circle (use the Ellipse Tool (L)) while holding the Shift key), a line (Line Segment Tool (\), you can increase the stroke Weight just for it), and a trapezoid (Rectangle Tool (M) and shifting the bottom anchor points with the Direct Selection Tool (A)).

creating the tree

The circle and the trapezoid have to be filled with a white color, since the plant will be placed in front of the house.

placing the tree

Step 10

Create a zigzag shape on the bottom of the roof by using the Line Segment Tool (\) and making two lines. Group these two lines and make a copy of this group (hold the Alt and Shift buttons and move the group to the right until the copy is attached to the original object). 

While the newly created group is selected, press Control-D to repeat the previous step and create another copy exactly the same distance from the previous one. Repeat pressing Control-D until the entire line is filled with zigzag shapes.

decorating the house

4. Create the Fourth House

Step 1

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), draw a rectangle (44×34) and move up the bottom left anchor point. For this, use the Direct Selection Tool (A).
 On top of the roof, we will make a decoration, which consists of three lines. Draw these lines in the directions presented by the arrows in the image below (first the Line Segment Tool (\)—upward direction; second, the Arc Tool—towards left; third, the Line Segment Tool (\)—downward direction). Group these three lines, make a few copies of this shape, and place them on top of the roof.

creating the house and roof

Step 2

Using the Rounded Rectangle Tool, create the decoration in the bottom of the building by filling a part of the wall using different sized rounded rectangles.

decorating the house

Step 3

Make a circular window by using the Ellipse Tool (L) while holding the Shift key. Add two perpendicular lines created by the Line Segment Tool (\).

creating the window

Step 4

To make another window, use the Rectangle Tool (M) and the Line Segment Tool (\).

creating the lower window

Step 5

Copy the created window and move it up. 
Using the Rectangle Tool (M) and the Line Segment Tool (\), make another window.

creating another windows

5. Create the Fifth House

Step 1

One big rectangle and a few long and narrow rectangles over it will start our fifth house. Then press Unite in the Pathfinder panel.

creating the facade

Step 2

Use the Rectangle Tool (M) and the Line Segment Tool (\) to draw the window. After that, create two more.

creating the lower windows

Step 3

Draw rectangles and lines to create the upper window.

creating the upper window

Step 4

Now we want to create a street light hanging on the side of the wall.

First, use the Spiral Tool to draw the curly line, and then move the last anchor point to connect to the wall of the house. Add another curl on the top. Add two rectangles and two lines. Move the anchor points inside. Add two more lines to make it look more like a street lamp. Our fifth house is done!

creating the street light

6. Place Them All Together

And now, the most exciting part: putting all our houses together (of course, if you didn’t do it before!).

placing all houses together

Conclusion

This tutorial was longer than usual, but I am sure that by now you are an expert in using the Rectangle Tool, Line Segment Tool (\), Arc Tool, Ellipse Tool, in adjusting the anchor points with using the Direct Selection Tool (A), and more.


You figured out how the process can be sped up and simplified by using the Grid. You don’t have to focus on the boring process of attaching the lines or shapes to certain points and can save your time for the creative processes.

I hope the techniques you learned today will be helpful for your future projects, and one day you and I will get to see your own coloring book for adults and kids in the store.
 Good luck!

Final Design
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