1. Design & Illustration
  2. Illustration

How to Create a Honeybee on a Honeycomb in Adobe Illustrator

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating
"According to all known laws of aviation, there is no way that a bee should be able to fly. Its wings are too small to get its fat little body off the ground. The bee, of course, flies anyway. Because bees don't care what humans think is impossible." (quote from Bee Movie).

In this tutorial, you will learn how to create a stylish illustration with a  honeybee, honeycomb, and flowers. Seems as if you'll need to draw a lot, right? But you won't, because you will create everything using basic shapes which are already installed in Adobe Illustrator and will apply few effects like Roughen and Pucker & Bloat. 

You will also learn how to make a sharp corner on an ellipse and how to move anchor points. You will use the Scissors Tool to cut a path and cut unneeded parts using the Pathfinder panel. I will also show you how to make the wings transparent.

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1. Create the Bee

Step 1

The size of your new document doesn't matter—you just need to create a new one. Let's start by creating the body of our bee. Be sure to have the stroke color deleted and set up the fill color (the color code shown below). Using the Ellipse Tool (L) and while holding down the Shift key, create a circle. You need to hold the Shift key to draw an even circle.

Keeping it selected, go to Effect > Warp > Arc Upper. Then expand this shape (Object > Expand Appearance).

creating the body

Step 2

In this step, we need to combine two shapes: the one that we just created and a triangle. These shapes together will make up the body of the bee. To draw a triangle, you will use the Polygon Tool. After you click on the art board, a new dialogue window will pop up. Enter 3 Sides and any Radius. 

Place those two shapes together as you see in the image below. Select them both and press the Unite button on the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder). You just made one shape from two shapes (warped circle and triangle).

To make this new shape look a bit fluffy like the real bee, let's apply the Roughen effect. Go to Effect > Distort and Transform > Roughen and apply the options you see below.

creating the sting

Step 3

Add a brown ellipse using the Ellipse Tool (L), and place it behind the body. It's the head of the bee. You probably already have the rough effect on the head. If not, keep the head selected and apply the Roughen effect with the same options as you did for the body (Effect > Distort and Transform > Roughen).

Your options may vary—it depends on how big the head is.

creating the head

Step 4

Take the Rectangle Tool (M) and, using the same fill color as for the head, add a tiny rectangle. Place it on the left side of the head and rotate it a little bit to the left. This rectangle is already roughened, but we don’t need the roughening effect. To delete the rough effect, on the Appearance panel (Window > Appearance), grab the word “Roughen" and move it to the trash icon. Then add a tiny circle on top of it. We just created one antenna of the bee.

Let's create another antenna: select the one that you just created, and right-click > Transform > Reflect. Check Axis Vertical, Angle 90 degrees and press Copy. The right antenna is done too.

Now we need to add the Roughen effect just for the circles, using the same options as you did for the body and head. Expand every shape which has the rough effect (Object > Expand Appearance).

creating the antennas

Step 5

Let's add some stripes.

When you create a rectangle now using the Rectangle Tool (M), it will already have the rough effect. Place it over the bee's body. Holding the Shift and Alt keys together, move it down, and you will notice that now you have two rectangles. Always remember to expand the Roughen effect.

Next, we need to cut those rectangles. But first, create a copy of the body (Control-C, Control-F), and then cut it (Control-X) and place over the body (Control-F). At the moment we have two bodies, one over the other. The first one we leave as it is, and the second will be the cutter for the rectangles. 

Now select the upper body, which will be the cutter, and those two rectangles. Go to the Pathfinder panel and press the Crop button. Your image should look like below.  You can also clean up the excess rectangles: select them, and go to Object > Path > Clean Up... Be sure to have all options checked in the new dialogue window, and then press OK.

creating the stripes on the body

Step 6

On to the wings. Draw an ellipse. You will need to get a sharp corner with the help of the Convert Anchor Point Tool (Shift-C). Click on the left anchor point. Then take the Direct Selection Tool (A) and select the top and bottom anchor points. Shift them to the right. One wing is done.

creating the wing

Step 7

Place the wing on the right side of the bee's body. While keeping it selected, right-click > Transform > Reflect. Remember what you did to get the second antenna? We'll repeat everything—a new dialogue window will appear, and then you check off Axis Vertical, Angle 90 degrees and press Copy. Shift it to the left, and the left wing is done.

Do you have the Transparency panel open? If not, go to Window > Transparency. Select the two wings and make Blending Mode Screen and lower the Opacity to 70%. Now the wings should be transparent.

placing the wing and creating another one

2. Create the Honeycomb

Step 1

Hit the Polygon Tool and click on your art board. Enter 3 Sides in the new dialogue window, and press OK. While holding down the Alt key (for making a copy), drag this polygon down diagonally. You should get a copy. Create a third polygon using the same method.

creating the honey cells

Step 2

Place your honeybee over the polygons and tilt it slightly to the left.

placing the bee on the honey cells

3. Create the Flowers

Step 1

We need the Polygon Tool again. Once you have it, create a polygon with 5 Sides. After that, go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Pucker & Bloat and set the slider to 40%. Voilà! This is our flower.

Set a brown fill color (which we used for the head and stripes of the bee) and create three tiny ellipses on the flower. Group the whole flower (right-click > Group).

creating the flower

Step 2

Make two more copies of the flower and place them as shown below.

creating another two flowers

Step 3

Set a brown stroke color with no fill and draw a circle. Make a thick stroke on the Stroke panel. Place it behind the flowers.

creating the stalk of the flowers

Step 4

In this step, you can arrange the flowers nicely over the brown stroke circle. Take the Scissors Tool (C) and click on the circle, as marked in the image below.

cutting the stalk

Delete the right part of the circle by pressing the Delete button on your keyboard and you should get the same image as below. You can also check Round Cap on the Stroke panel.

how the stalk looks after cutting

Step 5

Take the Arc Tool and add two more little twigs on top. That's the branch for our flowers.

creating another stalks

Step 6

The next thing we're going to do is to create a simple bud. Make sure to have the stroke color deleted and set a brown fill color. Remember the wings we created for the bee? Take a copy of a wing and place it as shown in the second image. Select both shapes and press the Minus Front button in Pathfinder. Add an ellipse behind with the same fill color as we did for the flowers by using the Eye Dropper Tool (I). That's the bud.

creating the bud

Step 7

Create two more buds and place them on top of the branch.

placing buds

4. Create the Background

Step 1

Using the Rectangle Tool (M) and while holding down the Shift key (to create an even shape), draw a square.

creating the background

Step 2

Place the background behind everything that you created before. And that's it, dear beekeepers!

placing flowers and bee on the background

Awesome Work, You're Done!

You did a great job! You created an illustration with a honeybee using just a few basic shapes. You've learned how to use the Roughen effect and how to cut shapes using the Scissors Tool. 

You used the Polygon Tool a lot too—creating a triangle, hexagon, and pentagon. Now you even know how to make a shape transparent and how to cut a shape using another one as a cutter. I can tell you that you are good at it. Thank you for sticking with me through the whole process!

final image
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