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Design

How to Create a Deep Diving Illustration in Adobe Illustrator

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

In this tutorial, let's imagine an underwater journey while drawing a deep diver and lost sea treasures in Adobe Illustrator. As usual, we will use the most common instruments and techniques.

Of course, you can skip the tutorial and just purchase the result as a part of my Deep Diver and Sea Treasure illustration on GraphicRiver.

1. How to Create a New Document

First, set up a New Document (File > New or Control/Command-N) with these settings:

  • Number of Artboards: 1
  • Width: 800
  • Height: 600
  • Units: pixels

From the Advanced tab:

  • Color Mode: RGB
  • Raster Effects: Screen
  • Preview Mode: Default
  • Uncheck Align New Objects to Pixel Grid


Creating a new document

2. How to Make an Open Chest

Step 1

Let's start building a treasure chest by taking the Rectangle Tool (M) and creating one 123 x 55 px shape and a second 45 x 55 px rectangle, filling them both with #4921a1.

Building two rectangles

Step 2

Select the rectangles with the Selection Tool (V) while holding Shift, and go to Object > Path > Offset Path. Enter 8 px into the Offset value field. Set the Fill color of the outlines to #5596eb

Adding outlines to rectangles

Step 3

Place the smaller outlined rectangle on the outer right side of the larger blue shape. Make its blue outline a bit darker (#497cc9), forming a shadow part.

Add three thin horizontal stripes (#1d0f4a) to both the larger and the smaller violet rectangles, making an imitation of wooden planks. Use a width of 123 px for the thinner stripes and 45 px for the shorter stripes.

Group (Control-G) all the pieces of the left part of the chest and do the same for the right part.

Creating chest sides and adding a texture

Step 4

Make a copy of the larger side by selecting the group with the Selection Tool (V) and dragging it up while holding down Alt. We are going to use the copy to create a lid.

Change the color of the blue outline to #82c7ff. Select the bottom edge with the Direct Selection Tool (A) and drag it to the top, placing it together with the bottom edge of the inner violet rectangle.

Add a 30 x 63 px rectangle on the outer right side of the lid. Fill it with #5596eb.

Building a chest lid from the copy of the main chest side

Step 5

Make the two right corners of the smaller rectangle rounded by selecting them with the Direct Selection Tool (A) and pulling the circle indicators to the center of the shape (1).

Keeping the rounded rectangle selected, go to Object > Path > Offset Path. Enter -8 px into the Offset value field. Set the Fill of the inner shape to #4921a1. (2)

Make a smaller copy of the rounded blue rectangle and color it with #1d0f4a, placing it on the inner right side of the large violet shape (3).

Step 6

Now let's add hasps to our lid.

Build a 12 x 22 px rectangle (#acd4ef) outside the lid and make its top fully rounded.

Select the shape and press Control-C and Control-F, creating a copy right on top of the original shape. Using the arrows on the keyboard, move the copy left by a few pixels and change its Fill to #e3eef5.

We have a gap on the top between the two anchors. Mask it by adding a small rectangle (#acd4ef) which we will send to back by going to Object > Arrange > Send Backward.

Step 7

Using the same method and the image below as a reference, add a hole to the hasp. It consists of two overlapping rounded rectangles and two smaller rectangles to hide the gaps between the larger shapes. Use #acd4ef for the lighter blue and #5596eb for the darker blue color (1).

Group (Control-G) all the pieces of this part together and place it on the top half of the hasp. Select the hole group together with the other pieces and Group (Control-G) them again.

Position the hasp on the top edge of the lid, closer to the left side. Make a second copy closer to the right side. (2) Group (Control-G) all the lid parts together and place the lid on the top of the chest (3).

Step 8

Add two small square rectangles under the top blue outline of the front side. Use the same blue color as for the outline. Make the bottoms of the rectangles rounded (1).

Place four more squares on the bottom corners on the violet sides of the chest. Use the Delete Anchor Point Tool (-) to remove one of the top anchors of each rectangle, transforming them into triangles (2).

Step 9

Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create two 4.5 x 4.5 px circles (#82c7ff) on the bottom blue outline of the chest, closer to its left and right sides. (1)

Holding down the Shift key, select the circles with the Selection Tool (V). Go to Object > Blend > Make.

Illustrator creates a smooth color transition. Fix it by choosing Object > Blend > Blend Options or double-clicking the Blend Tool. Change the Spacing option to Specified Steps, setting the value to 3. (2) 

Let’s make sure that circle row is aligned to the front side. Select our circles and the chest side and click on the front side group again, making it a Key Object. Open the Align panel (Window > Align) and click Horizontal Align Center. (3) There we have it!

Step 10

Select our blending object and go to Object > Expand. Check the Object option and uncheck the Fill option, and press OK. Now we have a group of five circles.

Make a copy of our circles group by Alt-dragging it. Rotate the row by 90 degrees with the Selection Tool (V), holding down Shift. Place the vertical row on the vertical blue areas of the chest, Delete the top and bottom circles, and make three more copies on each side (1).

Add one more circle on the bottom-right part.

Then build four 6.5 x 6.5 px circles (#82c7ff) inside the triangular corners of the chest. (2)

Spreading the smaller circles

Step 11

Our chest still looks a bit boring. Let's add a keyhole plate on the front side.

Build a 28 x 28 px rectangle (#5596eb) outside the chest. Rotate the shape by 45 degrees by dragging its top corner to the bottom with the Selection Tool (V) while holding down Shift. (1)

Create one more copy on the top of the first shape by clicking Control-C and Control-F, and drag the copy left by a few pixels. Set the color of the copy to #b6e0fc. (2)

Hide the empty space between the top and bottom corners of the copies behind the smaller rectangles. (3)

Add a simple keyhole, consisting of a circle and a rectangle (#5596eb), in the middle of the group. (4)

Select both parts of the previously created keyhole and Unite them into one shape in Pathfinder. (5)

Get two copies in front of the keyhole by using Control-C and pressing Control-F twice. Move the top shape slightly to the right. Select both copies, use the Minus Front option of the Pathfinder panel, and fill the resulting shape with #5596eb color, getting the shadow part inside the keyhole. (6)

Group (Control-G) all the parts of the keyhole plate and place it on the front side of the chest. (7)

Now it looks great!

Forming a keyhole plate

3. How to Make a Crown and Some Treasure

Step 1

Ok, now we have a chest. But we still need treasure to place inside it.

Start by taking the Pen Tool (P) and creating something that seems like a pile of coins inside the open chest lid. It can just be a simple silhouette with no details. Use #89b8d9 to color the shape.

Draw one more pile of lighter color (#b8e2ff) in front of the first one.

Then create a coin with the help of a simple rectangle (#5596eb). By copying and dragging the shape, form a few coin stacks and spread them over the top of our piles and the side of the chest. Leave an empty space in the middle of the gold piles for a crown which we are going to create later.

You can use more colors for the coins in order to add depth to your illustration.

Creating treasure pile

Step 2

Now we are going to create a royal crown.

Take the Rectangle Tool (M) and build a 35 x 4 px (#ebf6fd) rectangle. Then create a 32 x 2 px (#5596eb) stripe which we will place under the bottom of the first shape, aligning to its center. (1)

Form a 10 x 4 px rectangle (#5596eb) in front of the middle of the upper shape (2). Build one more 7 x 2 px (#ebf6fd) rounded rectangle inside the previous one, which will act as a gem (3).

Add one more rounded rectangle of the same size on the light part of the top right border. Set its color to #9cbfe4 (4). 

Keeping the rectangle selected, choose the Reflect Tool (O). Holding the Alt key, click on the middle of the bottom blue border. In the Reflect option window, set the Axis to Vertical and press Copy, reflecting the gem to the left side (5).

Building a base for a crown

Step 3

Build a 10 x 20 px (#b6e0fc) rectangle sitting on the top edge of the middle blue shape.

With the help of the Add Anchor Point Tool (+), add an anchor in the middle of the top side of the created shape. Then take the Delete Anchor Point Tool (-) and click on the top-left and top-right anchors to delete them, getting a crown spike.

Create one more spike on the right side using the Pen Tool (P). Make a mirror copy on the left side using the Reflect Tool (O), as we did in the previous step.

Forming crown spikes

Step 4

Add two more spikes (#5596eb) in the empty spaces between the previously created shapes.

Hide the sharp edges of these two spikes behind 3.5 x 3.5 px circles, which we will fill with #b6e0fc. Place three more circles of #9cbfe4 color on top of the other three spikes.

Then add a few red gems on the lighter spikes using simple circles of #ff5454 color.

Group (Control-G) all the crown parts together and put the crown on the pile of coins inside the chest.

You can go further by adding more jewelry to the treasure pile or leave the composition as it is. I added simple beads and a chain created from circles and rounded rectangles.

Finishing the crown

Step 5

Let's make our treasure shine!

Take the Star Tool and in the option window set Radius 1 to 1 px, Radius 2 to 7 px, and Points to 4, creating a four-pointed star.

Round the inner corners of the star by selecting and dragging them with the Direct Selection Tool (A). Make a few copies of the star with different sizes and corner radiuses, and spread the copies over the treasure. Set the color of some stars to #ffffff and add a few red and white circular sparkles among the stars, creating a well-balanced composition.

Group (Control-G) all the chest objects together.

Creating glowing from small stars

4. How to Make a Deep Diver

It's time to create a deep diver. The most interesting things these divers have are heavy helmets. And we are going to draw one of them right now.

Step 1

Start by building a 65 x 58 px rectangle (#82c7ff), making its top fully rounded.

Add a 22 x 22 px circle (#def1ff) on the left part of the blue shape. Make the circle's left side slightly stand out from the left edge of the main shape. Add one more 16 x 16 px circle (#4921a1) inside the first one.

Build a shadow part on the right side of the larger circle by making a copy of it behind (#4599ff) and moving it right by a few pixels.

Build a 4 x 16 px rounded rectangle with no Fill and 1.5 px weight Stroke of #82c7ff color, placing it in the middle of the circles. Rotate the shape by 45 degrees by dragging its top corner to the bottom with the Selection Tool (V) while holding down Shift. Make a mirror copy on the left side, finishing the side faceplate.

Creating a helmet basic shape and a side face plate

Step 2

Create a bigger mirror copy of the previously created round plate on the right part of the helmet for the diver's faceplate (1).

Form a small circle (#acd4ef) inside the white plate outline, placing it under the top anchor and aligning to the center of the plate (2).

Keeping the circle selected, choose the Rotate Tool (R) and then Alt-click in the middle of the faceplate. In the Rotate panel, set the Angle to 30° and click the Copy button (3). Press Control-D to repeat the last action and continue pressing Control-D to add all 12 circles around the plate (4).

Select the inner violet circle and create a smaller copy in front of it, changing the color to #5634b2 (5).

Creating a second face plate

Step 3

Create a 34 x 3.5 rectangle (#def1ff) right above the top of the helmet.

Build one more 65 x 3 px shape (#def1ff) under the bottom edge of the helmet and a thinner stripe of 65 px width (#acd4ef) below (1).

Place the upper rectangle above the top of the helmet and align to its center, creating an imitation of the upper plate side. Then put the lower rectangle under the bottom edge of the helmet and align to its center. Place a stripe on the rectangle, making it cross the center (2).

Build a 26.5 x 2.5 px rectangle with no fill and 1.5 px width stroke (#acd4ef) above the helmet. Move the bottom-left and bottom-right anchors slightly to the outer sides. Make both top corners rounded and delete the bottom edge (3). Position the resulting shape over the upper plate of the helmet, hiding the lower part behind it (4).

Adding smaller details to the helmet

Step 4

Form a 65 x 5 px rectangle (#82c7ff) below the bottom white striped border and move its bottom anchors to the left and to the right by about 2 px. Build the same striped border under our shape.

Add a hinge for the faceplate built from two rectangles and create one more small rectangle for the tube on the top-right part of the helmet. Use the same white and grey color as for other parts of the helmet.

Adding smaller details to the helmet

Step 5

Start to create the lower part of the helmet by taking the Ellipse Tool (L) and building a 72 x 83 px ellipse (#82c7ff). Draw a horizontal line which goes across the middle and side anchors of the shape. Select both shapes and Divide them, using the Pathfinder panel. Ungroup (Control-Shift-G) the shapes and delete the upper half (1).

Keeping the shape selected, go to Object > Path > Offset Path and enter 8 px into the Offset value field, getting an outline. Color it with #b8e2ff (2).

Using the Delete Anchor Point Tool (-), remove both top anchors of the outline, getting the upper edge of the outline placed right on the same level as the top edge of the semicircle (3).

Add two small 8 x 8 px circles outside the left and the right outer sides of the semicircle, making their middle and side anchors sit right on the upper edge of the semicircle (4).

By copying and dragging, spread six small circles (#4599ff) above the outline. You can form three of them on one side and use the Reflect Tool (R) to create a symmetrical copy on the other side of the border (5). Place all the objects under the main helmet group.

In order to make the helmet more detailed, I decided to add a rounded plate (#4599ff) and two small circles over it (#def1ff) (6). You can go even further, finding some references of vintage diver helmets on the internet and adding your own details.

Building a bottom part of the helmet

Step 6

Let's make the helmet more realistic by adding some shadow parts.

Select the top blue shape and Copy it, using Control-C. Click Control-Command-F twice to get two copies on top of the helmet. Move the top copy to the right, add the second copy to the selection and use the Minus Front option of the Pathfinder panel. 

Change the Blending Mode of the resulting shape to Multiply while lowering the Opacity levels to 40% in the Transparency panel, getting the shadow part.

Using the same method, add two more shadows on the lower blue sections of the helmet.

Now you can Group (Control-G) all the parts of the helmet together.

Adding shadows to the helmet

Step 7

Time to go lower and give a body to our diver.

Create an 85 x 72 px rectangle (#4599ff), merging its top side with the top edge of the semicircular helmet part and making its left side slightly extend to the left (1).

Take the Pen Tool (P) and, while holding down the Alt key, drag the right edge of the rectangle slightly to the right, transforming it from a straight line into a curve (2).

Slightly round the bottom corners (3).

Start to work on the diver weight system, which consists of a belt and straps. Form an 84 x 16.5 px horizontal rectangle (#d42d59) below the bottom edge, closer to the left side of the body shape. Build one more 13 x 27.5 px (#d42d59) vertical rectangle under the first one, slightly closer to the right part of the horizontal one (4).

Make the bottom-right corner of the vertical shape rounded. Then build one more 58 x 16.5 px rectangle (#f94675) with a fully rounded left side, placing it in front of the horizontal stripe and aligning to its right edge (5).

Add a small violet circle (#4921a1) on the rounded end for a belt hole and a vertical rectangle (#4921a1) closer to the left edge. It will act as a belt loop (6).

Creating a body and a belt

Step 8

Form a thin rope (#acd4ef) with rounded corners sitting over the top edge of the belt (1).

Then form a 10 x 66 px vertical strap (#4921a1) on the left part of the diver's body, aligning its bottom side to the bottom edge of the belt (2).

Add a 12 x 28 px rectangle (#5634b2) on the bottom part of the vertical strap, aligning it to the left side of the strap and putting its center above the central axis of the horizontal belt (3).

Make both right corners of the shape rounded. Form a thin vertical edge (#4921a1) on the left outside for the shadow part and build a smaller rectangle (#4921a1) inside the bottom strap rectangle, finishing a strap clasp (4).

Group (Control-G) the strap and clasp parts together and create a similar strap on the right part of the body. Select the helmet group and go to Object > Arrange > Bring to Front, placing the helmet in front of the straps and hiding the overlapping ends (5).

Adding straps

Step 9

Now it's time to give some legs to our diver.

Build a 36 x 115 px rectangle (#4599ff) for the left leg and slightly round its bottom-right corner. Add a 20 x 36 px rounded rectangle (#1973e1) for a knee plate (1).

Take the Pen Tool (P) and draw a simple boot shape, which we will color using #1973e1 (2).

Make the boot toe rounded and add one rectangle beneath the top edge (#d42d59) and one rectangle beneath the bottom edge for the sole (#d42d59) (3).

Add a texture to the sole by spreading a few vertical rounded rectangles of the darker red color over it (4).

Create a simple boot fastener by using a rectangle with a rounded left side (5).

Copy the fastener and rotate it by 45 degrees with the Selection Tool (V), holding down Shift. Place the copy on the boot, below the first fastener (6).

Building first leg and a boot

Step 10

Select both fasteners together with the boot shape and delete the outstanding parts by Alt-clicking on them with the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M) (1).

Create a circle (#d42d59) overlapping the boot toe and delete the outstanding part with the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M) again, forming a toecap (2).

Make a copy of the leg by Alt-dragging all its parts to the right. Hide the copy behind the left leg using Object > Arrange > Send to Back (3). 

Finishing the boot and copying the leg

Step 11

Finally, our diver is able to go somewhere, but he still needs arms and air tanks to stay alive in this mysterious underwater world. Let's help him.

Add a 22 x 105 px rectangle (#4599ff) on the left side of the diver's body and make its top-left corner rounded, forming an arm and shoulder (1).

Copy a knee plate shape and place it over the arm shape, making its right part overlap the arm. Cut off the extending piece with the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M), getting an elbow plate (2).

Create a glove from three simple rectangles on the bottom part of the arm. Use #d42d59 for the darker red color and #f94675 for the lighter color. Make the bottom corners of the vertical rectangles rounded to get the illusion of a hand inside the glove (3).

Creating the left arm

Step 12

Let's make another arm. Grab the Pen Tool (P) and draw an angled line. Make its Stroke color #4599ff and set the Weight to 25 pt.

Round the elbow corner slightly and go to Object > Expand to turn the stroke into a curve.

Create a circle (#0d6bc9) in front of the elbow and cut off the extending part, making an elbow plate.

Creating the right arm

Step 13

Start to build a glove by creating a 13.5 x 27 px (#f94675) and a 20 x 27 px (#d42d59) rectangle. Add a 31 x 31 px circle (#f94675) for the fist and a smaller circle for the thumb.

Rotate the hand and attach it to the arm.

Adding a fist

Step 14

One more thing that our diver needs is a vintage underwater lamp to illuminate his path across the seabed.

Make a 40 x 37 px rounded rectangle (#82c7ff) and add one more smaller shape inside by using the Offset Path option, setting the Offset value to -5 px. Set the color of the inner shape to #ebf6fd (1).

Add two 6 x 27 px (#82c7ff) vertical symmetrical rectangles inside the lighter shape (2).

Form a 33.5 x 37.5 px ellipse (#4599ff) below the main part, overlapping its bottom. Hide the ellipse behind the shapes (3).

Create a 37 x 4.5 px stripe (#acd4ef) which goes across the ellipse slightly above its center. Select the ellipse together with the stripe and cut off the lower extending part with the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M) (4).

Form a 10 x 15 px rectangle (#4599ff) on the top of the lamp, aligning to its middle, and move its top-left and top-right anchors by a few pixels towards the central axis (5).

Build a stripe (#5634b2) going across the middle of the previously created rectangle and remove the outstanding parts (6).

Create a 25 x 42 px rectangle on the top with no Fill, making its Stroke color #4921a1 and setting the Weight to 6 pt. Hide the bottom part of the rectangle behind the lamp and move both top anchors slightly towards the central axis. Then make the top of the shape rounded by pulling the circle indicators to the center, forming a lamp handle (7).

Group all the parts together (Control-G) and place the lamp on the right glove of the diver. Select the circular fist shape of the glove and go to Object > Arrange > Bring to Front, hiding the lamp handle behind the fist (8).

Drawing a vintage lamp

Step 15

Create an air tank by forming a 42.5 x 113 px rounded rectangle (#ba3256) for the main shape and two 42.5 x 7 px (#4921a1) horizontal rectangles for stripes (1).

Build two smaller rectangles of 5 x 7.5 px (#4599ff) and 1.5 x 7.5 px (#0d6bc9) on the diver's helmet, below the side faceplate (2). It will be the place for attaching the air tube going from the air tank to the helmet.

Grab the Pen Tool (P) and draw an angled line which goes from the top of the air tank to the center of the larger rectangle. Make its Stroke color #b8e2ff and set the Weight to 6 pt. Then make its top-left corner rounded (3).

Go to Object > Expand to turn the stroke into a curve and round its right edge by dragging the circle indicators, finishing the air tube (4).

Our diver is ready for adventures!

Creating an air tank and tube

5. How to Add a Background and Details

Step 1

Add an 800 x 600 px rectangle of #4921a1 for the background. Place our diver and treasure chest in the center part of the composition and add a rounded rectangle (#5634b2) imitating a ground level.

In order to add depth to the illustration, place a simple circle of a lighter color (#5527bd) behind the diver and draw a simple kelp silhouette over the circle, making its color similar to the background Fill.

Spread simple fish and groups of circles, imitating air bubbles, over the illustration, filling empty spaces and creating a well-balanced composition.

Adding a background and a ground level

Step 2

Make our scene more detailed and real by adding additional shadow parts on the diver's arms, body, and legs.

Imitate a lamp glowing by placing two circles of #5634b2 color in front of the lamp, changing their Blending Mode to Screen while lowering the Opacity levels to 30% in the Transparency panel. 

Working the same way, add light reflections to the chest.

Finishing the composition

Yeah! Our Deep Diving Illustration Is Ready!

Congratulations! You did really great work and can be proud of yourself.

Of course, there is no limit for perfection. You can go further by adding more details like sea creatures and plants, creating your own underwater world as I did in my Deep Diver and Sea Treasure illustration. And you can find even more inspiration on GraphicRiver.

I hope you have enjoyed the process and learned something useful along the way.

Feel free to share how your project looks or ask questions in the comments below. Stay tuned—new adventures are about to come!

The result
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