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Design

How to Create a Dark Gravestone Illustration in Adobe Illustrator

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

In this tutorial you'll learn how to create a dark gravestone illustration in Adobe Illustrator. For starters you will learn how to set up a simple grid and how to create the main shapes using basic tools along with the Pathfinder panel and the Live Corners feature.

Next, using basic blending techniques and some raster effects, you will learn how to add shading and some grungy textures for your shapes. Taking full advantage of the Stroke panel and using a group of simple effects, you will learn how to create the little cracks and how to easily mask them.

Moving on, you'll create the base of the gravestone and add a tiny candle with some flowers. Finally, you will learn how create the dark background using two simple squares and the Appearance panel.

If you're inspired by this tutorial, why not join our Tuts+ Halloween Community Challenge?

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 (72 ppi), 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). You will need a grid every 5 px, so simply go to Edit > Preferences > Guides > Grid, 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. 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 Main Shapes and Add Subtle Shading

Step 1

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and focus on your Toolbar. Remove the color from the stroke, then select the fill and set its color at R=109 G=110 B=113. Move to your artboard and create a 150 x 230 px rectangle.

create main shapes

Step 2

Focus on the top side of your rectangle and grab the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select both anchor points, move to the top bar, and enter 70 px in the Corners box. In the end your shape should look like the second image.

This feature is only available for CC users. The best solution to replace this effect would be the Round Any Corner script that can found in this article: 20 Free and Useful Adobe Illustrator Scripts. Save it to your hard drive, return to Illustrator and grab the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select those anchor points and go to File > Scripts > Other Script. Open the Round Any Corner Script, enter a 70 px radius, and click OK. The end result might look a bit different, but it won't be very noticeable. Feel free to try a different value for the radius. In some cases you will have to increase/decrease the value mentioned in the Corners box.

create main shapes

Step 3

Replace the existing fill color with a simple red, and grab the Ellipse Tool (L). Create two 40 px circles and place them as shown here.

create main shapes

Step 4

Using the Selection Tool (V), select all three shapes made so far, open the Pathfinder panel (Windows > Pathfinder) and click Minus Front. The resulting shape should look like image 2.

create main shapes

Step 5

Focus on the top side of your shape and reselect the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select the four anchor points highlighted in the first image, move to the top bar, and enter 10 px in that Corners box. Move to the Layers panel (Window > Layers), double click on the name of the existing shape and rename it "backSide".

create main shapes

Step 6

Make sure that your "backSide" shape is selected, open the Gradient panel (Window > Gradient), and click on the gradient thumbnail to add the default black-to-white linear gradient. Keep focusing on your Gradient panel, set the angle at 90 degrees, and then move to the gradient colors. Select the left slider and set the color at R=109 G=110 B=113. Then select the right slider and set the color at R=147 G=149 B=152.

create main shapes

Step 7

Disable the Snap to Grid option (View > Snap to Grid), and then go to Edit > Preferences > General and make sure that the Keyboard Increment is set at 1 px. Make sure that your "backSide" shape is selected, and make two copies in front (Control-C, Control-F, Control-F). Select the top copy and move it 1 px down using the down arrow button from your keyboard. Reselect both copies made in this step and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel.

Make sure that the resulting group of shapes is selected and simply hit Control-8 (or go to Object > Compound Path > Make) to turn it into a compound path. Select this compound path and focus on the Appearance panel (Window > Appearance). Set the fill color at black (R=0 G=0 B=0) and then click on Opacity to open the Transparency fly-out panel. Lower the Opacity to 10% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

create main shapes

Step 8

Make sure that your "backSide" shape is selected and make two copies in front (Control-C, Control-F, Control-F). Select the top copy and move it 2 px down. Reselect both copies made in this step and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Turn the resulting group of shapes into a compound path (Control-8), make it black, lower its Opacity to 10% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

create main shapes

Step 9

Make sure that your "backSide" shape is selected and make two copies in front (Control-C, Control-F, Control-F). Select the top copy and move it 3 px down. Reselect both copies made in this step and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Turn the resulting group of shapes into a compound path (Control-8), make it black, lower its Opacity to 10%, and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

create main shapes

Step 10

Make sure that your "backSide" shape is selected and make two copies in front (Control-C, Control-F, Control-F). Select the top copy and move it 6 px down. Reselect both copies made in this step and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Turn the resulting group of shapes into a compound path (Control-8), make it black, lower its Opacity to 10%, and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

create main shapes

Step 11

Reselect your "backSide" shape and go to Object > Path > Offset Path. Enter a -10 px Offset and click OK. Select the resulting shape, focus on the Gradient panel and simply replace the existing linear gradient with the one shown in the following image. Move to the Layers panel, find the shape made in this step, and rename it "frontSide".

create main shapes

Step 12

Enable Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). Focus on the bottom side of your "frontSide" shape and grab the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select both anchor points and simply drag them 10 px down as shown in the second image. Once again, the Snap to Grid feature will come in handy.

create main shapes

3. Add Subtle Textures

Step 1

Reselect your "backSide" shape, focus on the Appearance panel, select the existing fill, and go to Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow. Enter the properties shown in the following image and click OK.

add textures

Step 2

Making sure that your "backSide" shape is still selected, focus on the Appearance panel and add a second fill using Add New Fill. Select this new fill, set the fill color at black, lower its Opacity to 5%, change the Blending Mode to Multiply, and go to Effect > Artistic > Film Grain. Enter the properties shown in the following image and click OK.

add textures

Step 3

Select your "frontSide" shape, focus on the Appearance panel, and add a second fill using that same Add New Fill button. Select this new fill, set the color at black, lower its Opacity to 5%, change the Blending Mode to Multiply and go to Effect > Artistic > Film Grain. Enter the properties shown in the following image and click OK.

add textures

4. Create the Cracks

Step 1

Disable the Grid (View > Hide Grid) and the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). Using the Pen Tool (P) or the Brush Tool (B), create three simple paths roughly as shown in the following image. Select all these new paths and focus on the Appearance panel. Make sure that there's no color set for the fill and add a simple, 1 px, black stroke.

create cracks

Step 2

Make sure that your black paths are still selected and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Zig Zag. Enter the properties shown in the following image and click OK.

create cracks

Step 3

Make sure that your black paths are still selected, focus on the Appearance panel and simply click on Stroke to open the Stroke fly-out panel. Increase the Weight to 5 px and select Width Profile 4 from the Profile drop-down menu. Simply click the Flip Along button if you wish to inverse the orientation of the path.

create cracks

Step 4

Make sure that your black paths are still selected and focus on the Appearance panel. Select the stroke, move to the Gradient panel and add the linear gradient shown in the following image. You will have to inverse the angle of the linear gradient used for your left path. This can be done pretty quickly using the Reverse Gradient button from the Gradient panel.

create cracks

Step 5

Make sure that your three paths are still selected and go to Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow. Enter the properties shown in the following image, click OK, and go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the attributes shown below and click OK.

create cracks

5. Add a Grungier Texture

Step 1

Reselect your "backSide" shape, make a copy in front (Control-C, Control-F), and bring it to front (Shift-Control-]). Make sure that this copy stays selected and focus on the Appearance panel. First, simply remove the black fill using the Delete Selected Item button located in the bottom-left corner of the panel.

Next, open the Inner Glow applied for the remaining fill and replace the existing attributes with the ones shown in the following image. Return to the Appearance panel and make sure that your fill is still selected. Lower its Opacity to 20%, change the Blending Mode to Multiply and replace the existing fill color with the radial gradient shown below. Focus on your artboard and use the Gradient Tool (T) to stretch that gradient as shown in the following image. Also, keep in mind that the yellow zero from the Gradient image stands for Opacity percentage. This simply means that you have to select that gradient slider, focus on the Opacity box (from the Gradient panel) and set it at 0%. Finally, move to the Layers panel, find the shape made in this step, and rename it "texture".

grungier texture

Step 2

Make sure that your "texture" shape is still selected, focus on the Appearance panel, and add a second fill using that same Add New Fill button. Select this new fill, set the color at black, lower its Opacity to 50%, change the Blending Mode to Soft Light, and go to Effect > Artistic > Sponge. Enter the properties shown in the top window (in the following image), click OK and go again to Effect > Artistic > Sponge. Enter the properties shown in the bottom window and click OK.

grungier texture

6. Mask Your Shapes and Add the Text

Step 1

Select all the shapes made so far and hit Control-G to Group them. Move to the Layers panel, rename this new group "Gravestone" and then open it. Select your "texture" shape, make a copy in front (Control-C ,Control-F), and drag it outside the group, to the top of the Layers panel.

Make sure that this copy stays selected and simply hit the D button from your keyboard to replace the existing Appearance attributes with the default ones (white fill and a 1 px, black stroke). Focus on the Appearance panel, remove that black stroke, and keep the white fill.

Now, select this white shape along with your "Gravestone" group, open the Transparency panel (Window > Transparency), and click the Make Mask button. If you're not an Illustrator CC user, you need to open the fly-out menu of the Transparency panel and click the Make Opacity Mask command. In the end things should look like the fourth image.

mask shapes add text

Step 2

Grab the Type Tool (T), click on your artboard, and add the "R.I.P." text. Set its color at R=70 G=70 B=70 and use the Viner Hand ITC font with the size set at 25 px.

Make sure that your piece of text stays selected and go to Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow. Enter the properties shown in the following image, click OK, and go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the attributes shown below and click OK.

mask shapes add text

7. Create the Base of the Gravestone

Step 1

Enable the Grid (View > Show Grid) and Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 160 x 10 px shape, fill it with the linear gradient shown below, and place it as shown in the first image. Focus on the top side of this new rectangle and switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select both anchor points and simply enter 5 px in the Corners box. Move to the Layers panel, find the shape made in this step, and rename it "base".

create base gravestone

Step 2

Disable Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). Make sure that your "base" shape is selected and make two copies in front (Control-C, Control-F, Control-F). Select the top copy and move it 1 px down. Reselect both shapes made in this step and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with black, lower its Opacity to 20%, and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

create base gravestone

Step 3

Make sure that your "base" shape is selected and go to Object > Path > Offset Path. Enter a -1 px Offset and click OK. Select the resulting shape and make a copy in front (Control-C, Control-F). Select this copy and move it 1 px down. Reselect both shapes made in this step and click the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with white, lower its Opacity to 10%, and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

create base gravestone

Step 4

Make sure that your "base" shape stays selected, focus on the Appearance panel, and add a second fill using that same Add New Fill button. Select this new fill, set the color at black, lower its Opacity to 30%, and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

Keep focusing on the Appearance panel and add a third fill for your shape. Select it, set the color at black, lower its Opacity to 5%, change the Blending Mode to Multiply and go to Effect > Artistic > Film Grain. Enter the properties shown in the following image and click OK.

create base gravestone

Step 5

Reselect your "base" shape, focus on the Appearance panel, make sure that the entire path is selected (simply click on that "Path" piece of text from the top of the Appearance panel), and go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the properties shown in the left window (in the following image), click OK, and go again to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the attributes shown in the right window and click OK.

create base gravestone

8. Add a Candle and Some Flowers

Step 1

For this step you'll need a candle image. Simply download the Ai file attached to Cheryl's awesome tutorial, copy the candle (Control-C), and paste it (Control-V) inside your document.

Group (Control-G) all the shapes that make up your candle, then resize and place it roughly as shown in the following image. Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 10 px circle and place it as shown. Set its fill color at R=247 G=148 B=30 and go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Enter a 10 px Radius and click OK.

add candle flowers

Step 2

Next, we'll take some flowers from this article: 70+ Free Graphics: Vintage Vector Flowers and Floral Ornament Sets. Download the Flowers ABC file and open it. Copy the group of blue flowers and paste inside your document.

add candle flowers

Step 3

Focus on your flowers, keep the shapes highlighted in the first image, and delete the rest. Select the remaining flowers and Group them (Control-G).

add candle flowers

Step 4

Contract your group of flowers, place it on the gravestone, and then add the three Drop Shadow effects (Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow) shown below.

add candle flowers

9. Create the Background

Step 1

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and click on your artboard to open the Rectangle window. Enter 620 in the Width and  Height boxes, then click the OK button. Make sure that the resulting shape stays selected, send it to back (Shift-Control-[), and set the fill color at R=167 G=169 B=172. Move to the Layers panel and rename this new rectangle "Background".

Next, you will need to center your "Background" shape, so open the Align panel (Window > Align). Set the aligning to Artboard (open the fly out menu and go to Show Options if you can't see the Align To section shown here), make sure that your shape is selected, and click the Horizontal Align Center and Vertical Align Center buttons. In the end your square should cover the entire artboard.

create background

Step 2

Make sure that your "Background" shape is still selected, focus on the Appearance panel and add a second fill. Select this new fill and add the radial gradient shown in the following image. Don't forget that the yellow zero from the Gradient image stands for Opacity percentage.

create background

Step 3

Make sure that your "Background" shape is still selected, focus on the Appearance panel, and add a second fill. Select this new fill, set the color at black, lower its Opacity to 5%, change the Blending Mode to Multiply, and go to Effect > Artistic > Film Grain. Enter the properties shown below, and click OK.

create background

Step 4

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a new 620 px square, and center it using the Horizontal Align Center and Vertical Align Center buttons from the Align panel. Makng sure that this new shape stays selected, fill it with the linear gradient shown below, lower its Opacity to 80%, and change the Blending Mode to Color Burn.

create background

Congratulations! You're Done!

Here is how it should look. I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial and can apply these techniques in your future projects.

Once you've created your gravestone, why not join our Designers Graveyard?

final result
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