In today’s tutorial I’m going
to show you how to create a simple working space environment using Adobe
Illustrator. The process is pretty simple as most of the steps will rely on
using some of the basic shapes that come with Illustrator, with the help of
which we will create almost all our illustration’s elements.
1. Create a New Document
As with any new project the first thing you
should do is make sure that you set up your document properly. Assuming you
already have Illustrator running, go to File > New (Control-N) and create a new document with the
- Number of Artboards: 1
- Width: 800 px
- Height: 600 px
- Units: Pixels
And from the Advanced tab:
- Color Mode: RGB
- Raster Effects: High (300ppi)
- Align New Objects to Pixel Grid: checked
2. Layer Your Artwork
Because layers improve our workflow by allowing us to lock and hide certain parts of the illustration, I recommend that you set up a couple of them so that while you’re moving through the creative process you won’t accidentally misplace elements. I’ve set up eight different layers and named them as follows:
- delimitation line
- coffee mug
- trash can
3. Setting Up a Custom Grid
If you are familiar with the way Illustrator works, you should know that it gives you the option to snap your design to its Pixel Grid. That means that each anchor point will be positioned at the middle intersection of four pixels.
Because there are different situations that require different grid settings, sometimes you might find yourself in the position to adjust the ones running on your version of Adobe Illustrator.
I personally have gone for the lowest and at the same time the most accurate settings, because I feel I have more control over my designs.
To change these settings, you must go to Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid. From there, a little popup will appear, where we need to adjust the following:
- Gridline every: 1 px
- Subdivisions: 1
Once you’ve adjusted these settings, all you need to do in order to make everything pixel crisp is enable the Snap to Grid option located under the View menu.
Quick tip: you should know that the Snap to Grid option will transform into Snap to Pixel every time you enter Pixel Preview Mode, but that’s totally fine, as most of the times you will be going back and forward with this display mode.
If you’re used to moving things around with the help of the keyboard’s directional arrow keys, you might want to change the Keyboard Increment to 1 px to get it as precise as possible. You can do this by going to Edit > Preferences > General > Keyboard Increment.
If your version of AI has the value set to px, just go to Units and change the General and Stroke units to Pixels and you’re good to go.
4. Creating the Background
The first thing we need to do is add a
background onto which all the other elements will be laid out. To do that,
simply select the Rectangle Tool (M), click
anywhere in Illustrator, and then enter the same width and height values as our
little Artboard (800 x 600 px). Once you’ve created the shape, change its color to
#999999 and then center it both vertically and horizontally to the Artboard using the Align panel.
Quick tip: If your version of Illustrator doesn’t have the options visible, like the Distribute Spacing and Align To, you will have to click on the small down-facing arrow located on the top right side of the panel and select Show Options from there.
5. Adding the Delimitation Line
Using the Rounded
Rectangle Tool create a 554 x 4 px shape
with a Corner Radius of 1 px. Color the line using
#453F3C and then position it by entering
these values (coordinates) into the Transform
- X: 400 px
- Y: 445 px
6. Creating the Desk
Using the Rectangle
Tool (M) create a 336 x 10 px
shape, set its color to
#797270 and then position it using these coordinates:
- X: 384 px
- Y: 314 px
Create a copy of the previously created shape (Control-C > Control-F), select it, and then give it an Offset Path effect (Effect > Path > Offset Path) of 6 px, making sure to set the Joins to Round.
Change the offset’s color to
#453F3C and then
send it to the back of our desk’s top section by right clicking > Arrange > Send to Back.
Add a small highlight to the top section of our desk by creating a 336 x 4 px white rectangle, which we will adjust by setting its Blending Mode to Overlay and its Opacity level to 30%.
Once you’ve added the highlight, select it, the outline and the lighter section of our desk, and group them using Control-G so that the elements won’t get moved by mistake.
Grab the Rectangle
Tool (M) and create a 10 x 112 px object,
which we will position towards the bottom of our desk’s outline, at about 26 px to the interior from its left
side. Give the shape the same
#797270 shade, and then create an outline
following the same process we used for the desk’s top section.
Add a small shadow by creating a 10 x 6 px rectangle and positioning it
right next to the desk’s outline, making sure to horizontally align it to the
leg. Color it black (
#000000), and then change its Blending Mode to Multiply, lowering
its Opacity level to 30%.
At about 182 px to the right of the leg, create a 98 x 112 px rectangle, which will act as our drawer base.
Again, following the same process used before, add an outline and a shadow to the drawer’s base.
Create the first drawer by drawing one larger 82 x 36 px rounded rectangle (
#453F3C) with a Corner Radius of 3 px. Add a smaller 74 x 28
px rectangle on top of it, which we will use to create a cutout so that in
the end we will have just the outline of the drawer.
Once you have both shapes selected, use Pathfinder’s Minus Front option to subtract the top one (which I’ve highlighted with red) from the one underneath.
Then add a 74 x 4 px highlight (white
#FFFFFF with Blending Mode set to Overlay and Opacity set to 30%) towards the top, and a 10 x 10 px circle (
#453F3C) in the middle, which
will act as the handle.
Select all the elements forming up our drawer, and then group them (Control-G). Once you have them grouped together, position the drawer onto the cabinet at about 24 px from its top side, making sure to horizontally align it.
Create a secondary drawer, by selecting and then dragging the one we have towards the bottom while holding down Alt. Once you’ve created the duplicate, make sure to use the Align panel to distance it at about 8 px from the original.
Using the Rectangle
Tool (M) create a 176 x 18 px shape,
color it using
#797270, and position it between the drawer compartment
and the desk’s leg.
Add a 176
x 6 px rectangle (
#453F3C) underneath, which will act as the drawer’s
outline. Using the Rectangle Tool (M), add
the top and side shadows, which will have the Blending Mode set to Multiply
and the Opacity lowered to 30%.
Switch to the Rounded Rectangle Tool and create a 38 x 6 px shape (
#453F3C) with a 3 px Corner Radius, which we will position just under the top
section shadow, making sure to align it horizontally to the drawer.
Once we have created all the desk’s elements, select them and make sure to group them together using Control-G.
7. Creating the Coffee Mug
Move onto the coffee mug layer, and using the Rounded Rectangle Tool create a 14 x 18 px shape with a Corner Radius of 2 px. Set its color to
#CCC4C4, and then using the Direct Selection Tool (A) remove its
top-center anchor points by selecting them and then pressing Delete.
As soon as you remove the
anchors, press Control-J to unite
the remaining ones. Next, use the Offset
Path effect to create an outline of 6
px, making sure to position it under the mug itself. Add a 14 x 2 px highlight (white
#FFFFFF with Blending Mode set to Overlay and Opacity level set to 60%) and position it towards the top
Create the handle by drawing a 7 x 14 px rounded rectangle with a Corner Radius of 2 px. Flip its fill with its stroke (Shift-X) and then change the stroke’s weight to 4 px.
If you’re using the CC (Creative Cloud) version of Illustrator, you can add rounded corners to any anchor points, by selecting it with the Direct Selection Tool (A) and then adding the desired value into the Corner Type option. If you’re using an older version of AI then try to use the Pen Tool (P) to draw the desired sections.
To create the coffee flavored steam coming out of the mug, you will have to be creative and draw a couple of rounded rectangles of different sizes and widths. For example, I created the base using an 18 x 4 px (2 px Corner Radius) shape, and then created a smaller 11 x 2 px one which has its left and right sections cut out using a 2 x 2 px circle.
Then I added another 16 x 4 px (2 px Corner Radius) shape on top, and then I varied the size of both my
round lines and cutout ones, making sure to color them using
#797270. When you have something that you like, simply group
all of its elements (Control-G) and
send them to the back of the mug using the Arrange
> Send to Back function.
Group both the coffee mug and the steam (Control-G) and then position them on top of the desk, towards the left side at about 14 px from the edge.
8. Creating the MacBook
Start by creating a 126 x 6 px rounded rectangle with a 2 px Corner Radius. Color the shape using
#E2E0E0 and then use
the Direct Selection Tool (A) to select
and remove (Delete) its top-middle
anchor points, uniting the remaining ones (Control‑J).
Using the Offset Path effect, create an outline of 6 px and make sure to send it to the back of our MacBook’s base. Then add a subtle highlight towards the top by creating a 128 x 3 px rectangle, which we will position onto the main shape, and then mask by pasting a copy of that onto it and then right clicking and choosing Make Clipping Mask.
Finish the base of the MacBook by adding a 28 x 8 px rounded rectangle (
with a Corner Radius of 2 px on top of all the other elements,
making sure to horizontally align it to the top section of the outline. As always
make sure to group all the elements using Control-G.
Position the MacBook’s base onto the desk, towards the left side, at a distance of 14 px from the mug’s handle.
Start working on the screen section of the
device, by creating a 106 x 72 px rounded
#CCC4C4) with a Corner Radius
of 6 px. Remove its
bottom-centered anchor points using the Direct
Selection Tool (A), and then create a copy onto which you will apply an Offset Path effect of 6 px.
Send the resulting outline to the
back (right click > Arrange > Send
to Back) and make sure to change its color to
Grab the Rectangle
Tool (M) and create a 94 x 54 px shape
which will act as the screen. Change the color to
#453F3C and make sure to
position it right in the center of the top section lid.
Now, let’s start adding some details by creating a 106 x 3 px black rectangle and positioning it right at the bottom side of the lid. Change the shape’s Blending Mode to Multiply, and then lower its Opacity to 30%.
Move towards the top section of the lid, and
using the Ellipse Tool (L) create a 4 x 4 px circle which will act as our
webcam. Color the shape using the same outline shade
#453F3C, and then position
it towards the center of the top side of the lid.
Create another 108 x 4 px white rectangle which will act as a highlight, and position it towards the top side of the lid so that it covers half of the webcam circle. Change the shape’s Blending Mode to Overlay and lower its Opacity level to about 60%.
Once you have the rectangle positioned in place, create a copy of the entire lid (not the outline) and paste it on top of highlight, and then with both selected right click > Make Clipping Mask.
Quick tip: In case you’re wondering why the shape is wider than our actual lid, I found that creating larger shapes and then masking their surface to that of the shape underneath creates a more reliable option for when you decide to scale your artwork.
Finish up the MacBook by creating two diagonal highlights (one narrower and one slightly wider) and positioning them towards the center of the screen. I’ve created one 4 x 108 px rectangle for the first and another 8 x 108 px for the wider one.
Then I grouped (Control-G) and rotated them at a 45 angle towards the right by pressing R and then dragging their top sections to the right. I then colored them white, setting their Blending Mode to Overlay and their Opacity to 30%.
After positioning them onto the screen, I created a copy (Control-C) of the display, and pasted (Control-F) it on top of the highlights, and used that to create a Clipping Mask.
The result is a nice looking MacBook that anybody would love to use.
9. Creating the Books
Because essentially all the books have the same width, height and outline, we will create the first one, and then create variations based on it to get the rest.
Grab the Rectangle
Tool (M) and draw a 60 x 8 px shape, which we will color using
#B86F52. Create a copy of the object (Control-C > Control-F) and then give
it a 6 px outline using the Offset Path effect, making sure to set
the Joins to Round. Group the two and then position them on top of the desk,
towards the right side at about 51 px from
Mode by double clicking on the book (or right click > Isolate Selected Group) and using the Rectangle Tool (M) create a 60 x 2 px black shape. Set its Blending Mode to Multiply while lowering its Opacity
to 30%. Then create a bunch of
decorative elements using rectangles of different widths, coloring all of them
#453F3C. Once you’re done, simply press Escape to exit Isolation
Make a copy of the book that we’ve just created (Control-C > Control-F) and then move it towards the top left side using the Move tool. To do that, simply select the duplicate right click > Transform > Move and enter -7 px for the Horizontal value field and -14 px for the Vertical one.
Select the second book and enter Isolation Mode so that you can tweak
its appearance, by changing the color of the cover to
#797270 and modifying the
decorative elements to something different.
Create the third and last book by using the same trick with the Move tool. First, create a duplicate from the first book and then position it by entering 5 px into the Horizontal value field and -28 px into the Vertical one.
you’ve done that, change the cover’s color to
#F78764, play around with the
decorations, and then make sure to change the top section shadow to a highlight
by coloring it white and then setting its Blending Mode to Overlay and its Opacity to 30%.
10. Creating the Trash Can
Make sure you’re on the trash can layer, and using
the Rounded Rectangle Tool create a 46 x 68 px shape with a Corner Radius of 6 px. Color the object using
#453F3C, and then using the Direct Selection Tool (A) remove its
top middle anchor points.
Next, add a 34 x 66 px rectangle (highlighted with red) with a Corner Radius of 2 px on top, leaving a gap of 6 px between it and the bottom side of the previously created object.
With both of the shapes selected, use Pathfinder’s Minus Front option to create a cutout which will act as our trash can interior. Create another shape that covers the top rounded corners and remove these also, so that in the end your shape resembles a tall “U"-like shape.
Once you have your base shape, add a bunch of
rectangles: 12 vertical (with the Height
set to 2 px) and eight horizontal
(with the Width set to 2 px), spacing them at 2 px from one another. Color them using
#797270 and then make sure to send them to the back of the trash can’s outline (right click > Arrange > Send to Back).
11. Creating the Calendar
Start by creating a 64 x 56 px rectangle with a Corner
Radius of 2 px. Color the shape
#E2E0E0, duplicate it (Control-C
> Control-F), and then create an outline by applying an Offset Path effect of 6 px to the copy, making sure to change
its color to
#453F3C and send it to the back afterwards (right click > Arrange > Send to Back).
With both of the objects selected, press Control-G to group them, and then position them using these coordinates into the Transform panel:
- X: 469 px
- Y: 199 px
Mode by double clicking on the calendar, and then create a copy of the
lighter section and color it using
#797270. Using the Direct Selection Tool (A) select its bottom middle anchor points
and remove them by pressing Delete.
Unite the remaining anchors using Control-J, and then with the bottom ones selected, right
click > Transform > Move. Enter -46 px into the Vertical value
field, leaving the Horizontal one set to 0
Add a 64
x 4 px rectangle underneath the previously created shape and color it using
Add a 4 px tall highlight and shadow to give it the same visual treatment as we used on the other objects.
Using the Ellipse
Tool (L) create two 4 x 4 px circles,
color them using
#453F3C, and then distance them at 40 px from one another, making sure to group (Control‑G) and then horizontally and vertically align them to the
darker top section of our calendar.
Create four rows of seven 4 x 4 px squares (
#453F3C), distancing both the elements and the rows at 4 px from one another. Remove the first
square of the top row and the last one of the bottom row, and then apply some
different colors (
#797270 for the slightly lighter ones and
#F78764 for the
orange highlighted one) to some of the day indicators to make it more
interesting. Group all the squares together (Control-G) and then both vertically and horizontally center them to
the lower empty section of our calendar.
Finish off the calendar by creating a 2 x 2 px circle (
#E2E0E0) with a 2 px outline (
#453F3C) which will act
as our wall pin. Then using the Pen
Tool (P) trace the string starting from the left bullet hole’s center,
going up to the center of the pin and then back down to the second bullet hole,
setting the stroke to 2 px.
And It’s a Wrap!
That's it! If you followed each step correctly you should now have a cute looking desk scenery, which you can further tweak by adding or rearranging objects depending on your personal taste. I hope you had fun doing this little illustration, but most importantly I hope you learned something new along the way.