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How to Create a Lighthouse in Adobe Illustrator

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

In today's tutorial you will learn how to create a lighthouse with the help of the most basic shapes and tools in Adobe Illustrator.

If you would like to skip the tutorial and just purchase the result together with other lighthouses and homes, just go to GraphicRiver to get my Flat Lighthouses and Sea Guide Lights.

Flat Lighthouses and Sea Guide Lights Set

1. How to Set Up a New Document

First, we need to set up a New Document (File > New or Control-N) with these settings:

  • Number of Artboards: 1
  • Width: 1200
  • Height: 1200
  • 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 a Lighthouse Tower

Step 1

Let's start creating lighthouse tower by taking the Rectangle Tool (M) and building a 220 x 460 px rectangle which we will fill with #D7DBDE.

Building a Rectangle

Step 2

Create two outstanding stripes (#2E4C66) on the central part of the shape and make them rounded by selecting and pulling the circle indicators to the middle.

Add a 220 x 23 px rectangle of the same color, placing it on the top of the main shape.

Adding Stripes

Step 3

Pick the top-right anchor point of the upper rectangle with the Direct Selection Tool (A) and press Enter to open the Move window. Set the Horizontal value to 20 px and the Vertical value to 0 px and press OK, moving our anchor to the right.

Then open the Move window for the top-left anchor and move it to the left by setting the Horizontal value to -20 px.

Add a 260 x 5 px rim (#092C4A) on top of our angled rectangle.

Forming a Ledge

Step 4

Build the upper part of the lighthouse by adding a 158 x 68 px rectangle (#092C4A) and a 158 x 100 px rectangle (#FBC318) on the top.

Let's make sure that the new shapes are perfectly aligned to the tower. Select both rectangles, add the main tower shape to the selection, and click again on the white shape, making it a Key ObjectAlign to Key Object is automatically selected in the Control panel and Align panel. In the Align panel (Window > Align) or Control panel, click on the Horizontal Align Center button, aligning both top shapes to the central axis of the tower.

Building a Lantern Window

Step 5

Copy the bottom angled rectangle and downscale it by dragging the Bounding Box corner with the Selection Tool (V) while holding down Shift and Alt, making the copy precisely sit on the top edge of the yellow part.

Set the color of the copy to #092C4A.

Adding a Ledge Above the Window

Step 6

Create a rectangle sitting on the top of the upper angled shape, making its width equal to the width of the angled shape and setting its height to about 180 px. Color it with #2E4C66.

Using the Move option window, as we did before, move the top anchors of the rectangle by about 20 px to the central axis.

Select the top anchors with the Direct Selection Tool (A) and drag the circle indicators to the middle, making the shape rounded.

Creating a Rounded Roof

Step 7

Let's create a decorative cap for the lighthouse.

Take the Ellipse Tool (L) and form a 45 x 45 px circle (#2E4C66). Add a 27 x 15 px rectangle (#092C4A) overlapping the bottom part of the circle, aligning to its middle.

Make a 36 x 4 px stripe (#2E4C66) going across the center of the rectangle and Group (Control-G) all the parts together.

Place the cap on the lighthouse top using Object > Arrange > Send Backward to hide the bottom part of the cap behind the upper part of the lighthouse.

Forming a Decorative Cap

Step 8

Now it's time to create a small waving flag on top of the lighthouse.

Form a narrow pole, hiding its bottom edge behind the circle cap. Add a small red (#D43C34) rectangle on the top and round its top-right and bottom-right anchors.

Make a copy of the rectangle, and turn it upside down by holding down Shift and dragging with the Selection Tool (V). Move it slightly towards the bottom-right, imitating the waving part of the flag. Set the color of the copy to #B52D2D and use Object > Arrange > Send Backward.

Add a small decorative ledge on the central part of the flagpole.

Creating a Flag

Step 9

Let's add a fence under the lighthouse cabin.

Start by creating a 4.5 x 34 px rectangle (#63798C) for a fence stand on the left side of the bottom ledge.

Select the stand and choose the Reflect Tool (O). Holding the Alt key, click on the middle of the yellow lighthouse window. In the Reflect option window, set the Axis to Vertical and press Copy, reflecting the shape to the right side of the ledge.

Creating a Fence

Step 10

Select both vertical shapes with the Selection Tool (V) and choose Object > Blend > Make.

By default, Illustrator creates a smooth color transition. Fix it by selecting Object > Blend > Blend Options or double-clicking the Blend Tool. Change the Spacing option to Specified Steps, setting the value to 9.

Copy the horizontal, thin upper part of the ledge, and place the copy over the top of our fence, making a parapet. Set its color to #63798C.

Creating a Fence

Step 11

Now we are going to add a few windows to our tower.

Start by creating a 52 x 74 px rectangle outside the lighthouse. Fill it with #63798C

Add one more 38 x 56.5 px rectangle inside (#2E4C66). Select it and go to Object > Path > Offset Path. Set the Offset value to -5 px, adding a smaller shape inside. Set the shape's color to #8CABC0, forming a window.

Add a narrow stripe of 5 px width dividing our window into two halves. Create one more horizontal line of the same width going across the center of the window.

Building a Window

Step 12

Select the Anchor Point Tool (Shift-C) and drag the upper edge of the window frame slightly to the top, making it curved.

Add a 57 x 8.5 px rectangle (#2E4C66) under the window for a window ledge and Group (Control-G) all the window parts together.

Position the window on the top section of white lighthouse part near the left side, and add two copies on the lower sections, aligning the first copy to the center of the tower and placing the second copy closer to the right side.

Building Windows

3. How to Create the Bottom Part of the Lighthouse

Step 1

Start to build the main bottom part of the lighthouse by forming a 497 x 183 px rectangle (#63798C) under the tower, aligning to its right edge.

Add one more 497 x 26 px shape (#2E4C66) above the bottom edge of the rectangle and create a 510 x 6.5 stripe of the same color above the top edge, aligning it to the center of the main shape with the help of the Align panel.

Adding Two Rectangles under the Tower

Step 2

Build a 90 x 163 px rectangle (#D7DBDE) in the middle of the grey part for the door. Make the top edge rounded by dragging it up with the Anchor Point Tool (Shift-C).

Form a 62 x 68.5 px rectangle on the upper half of the door for the window frame (#2E4C66). Add a window inside it by going to Object > Path > Offset Path and setting the Offset value to -5 px. Set the color of the window to #8CABC0 and add two perpendicular stripes going across its center (#2E4C66).

Move the copy of the window to the lower half of the door and add a small vertical rectangle for the door handle.

Drawing a Door

Step 3

Let's add windows on the bottom part. Make a copy of the previously created windows by Alt-dragging one of them. Change the window frame's color to #D7DBDE and add two vertical rectangles (#2E4C66) on the outer sides for the window shutters.

Group (Control-G) all the parts together and copy the window to the left side. Select both windows and Group them (Control-G). Then add a main grey shape to the selection and Alt-click on it, making it a Key Object. Use the Horizontal Align Center option of the Align panel to make the window group perfectly aligned to the large grey shape.

Forming Shuttered Windows

Step 4

Spread small, darker rectangles of different sizes over the grey wall to imitate a brick texture.

Creating Bricks

Step 5

Build a 277 x 84 px rectangle (#D7DBDE) on the left outer side of the lighthouse tower, placing it on the upper ledge of the bottom grey part.

Create one more 258 x 128.5 px rectangle of the same color above, aligning it to the left side of the previous one.

Then add one anchor point on the middle of the upper edge of the shape with the Add Anchor Point Tool (+). Delete the left and right top anchors by clicking on them with the Delete Anchor Point Tool (-), getting a triangle shape.

Adding a Rectangle and a Triangle

Step 6

Select the triangle shape and add a 10 px outline of #2E4C66 color using the Offset Path method.

Select the lower rectangle and press Control-C and Control-F, getting a copy in front of the shape. Widen the copy by dragging it to the right (or the left) with the Selection Tool (V) while holding down Alt.

Add a dark outline of the rectangle to the selection, take the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M) and, while holding down the Alt button, drag the pointer across the wide rectangle and overlapping part of the triangle to cut them off.

Forming an Outline for the Triangle

Step 7

Select the dark roof rectangle, copy it, and press Control-B, getting a copy behind the shape. Then move the copy to the right by about 120 px.

Set the color of the triangle to #63798C and add one more anchor on the left edge of the shape by clicking on it with the Add Anchor Point Tool (+).

Using the Direct Selection Tool (A), move the anchor to the left and up, making it sit on top of the roof.

Creating a Roof

Step 8

Now I'm going to show you a useful trick for creating objects like texture or inner overlapping shapes inside the main shape.

Select the side part of the roof that we've just created and choose Draw Inside drawing mode on the Tools panel, below the Color Selector Tool. A dotted open rectangle appears around our shape, showing that Draw Inside mode is active. This mode allows us to draw inside the selected shape and all the overlapping paths are clipped by the path that was selected.

Make a stripe going across the roof shape and copy it by Alt-dragging to the bottom. Create a few more copies by clicking Shift-D a few times.

To exit Draw Inside mode, double-click outside the selected area or switch to Draw Normal mode on the Tools panel. You can also use Shift-D to switch between the drawing modes.

Forming a Roof Texture

Step 9

Create a vertical decorative stripe (#2E4C66) going across the top of the roof and a horizontal stripe under it.

Add two windows under the roof by copying the shuttered window from the lower part of the lighthouse. Change the Fill of the window frames to #63798C and color the right window with #FBC318.

Adding Decorative Stripes and Two Windows

4. How to Add Shadows and Highlights to the Lighthouse

Let's make our lighthouse more vivid and real by adding some shadows and highlights.

Step 1

Select the rounded lighthouse top and Copy it with Control-C. Then paste the copy right in the front of the shape, pressing Control-F. Select the new shape with the Selection Tool (V) and, while holding down Alt, drag the edges of the bounding box toward the center of the copy, making it narrower.

Add the original rounded shape to the selection and use the Divide option of the Pathfinder panel, getting three shapes. Ungroup (Control-Shift-G) them and change the color of the left shape to #63798C and the color of the right shape to #092C4A, creating the highlight and the shadow.

Forming Shadow and Highlight on the Top

Step 2

Using the same method, add highlights and shadows to the rectangle part under the yellow lantern cabin and to the rectangle ledge below the fence.

Adding Highlights and Shadows

Step 3

Dividing and recoloring objects is not the only way we can create shadows and highlights. Let's try something different for the main tower shape.

Select the tower, copy it, and paste two copies in the front by clicking Control-F twice. Move the top selected shape to the bottom and 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.

Forming Shadow on the Tower

Step 4

In the same way, form shadows under the roof and on the grey bottom part.

Adding Shadows under the Roof and on the Bottom Part

Step 5

Add two shadows on the lantern window, creating an effect of transparent glass.

Finish off the illustration by adding shadows for smaller elements like the window shutters, ledges, and decorative cap.

Final Illustration

Awesome Work! Congratulations!

And there we have it! Nicely done!

If you need to check out the source file to see all the details or if you want to get more different lighthouse illustrations, you can grab my Flat Lighthouses and Sea Guide Lights on GraphicRiver.

I hope you have enjoyed the process and learned some useful tips and tricks for your future illustrations.

Feel free to share how your project turned out or ask questions in the comments below.

Flat Lighthouses and Sea Guide Lights Set
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