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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Flat Design
Design

How to Create a Desktop Illustration in Adobe Illustrator

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

In this tutorial I will show you how to create an amazing night desktop using basic shapes and tools in Adobe Illustrator. It's very easy and fun!

If you're looking for inspiration to create your own vector scenes, why not pop over to GraphicRiver.

1. How to Create a New Document and Set Up a Grid

Press Control-N to make a New Document. Set the Units to Pixels, and enter 800 x 600 for the width and height of the document. Then in the Advanced options, select RGBScreen (72 ppi), and make sure to activate the Align New Objects to Pixel Grid box before clicking OK.

Activate the Grid (View > Show Grid) and Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). You'll need a grid every 10 px, so simply press Control-K to go to Preferences, and in Guides & Grid set Gridline every to 10 and Subdivisions to 4. Don't worry—the grid will help you work in an easy way, and it can also be enabled or disabled by pressing the keyboard shortcut Control-".

You can activate the Info panel (Window > Info) in order to have a preview of the size and position of your shapes. Remember to set the measuring unit to Pixels from Edit > Preferences > Units. This will greatly increase the speed of your work.

Set Up a Document with a canvas of 800 x 600 px

2. How to Create a Desk

Let’s start by creating what will hold all our equipment, the desk. To do this, we will use very basic shapes like rectangles and a few ellipses for the drawers.

Step 1

Start by creating the top of the desk with a 536 x 16 px rectangle using the Rectangle Tool (M). Use #61627C as the fill color.

Add a 460 x 52 px rectangle for the drawers, and use #484E69 as the fill color.

Creating the top of the desk

Step 2

Now, add the desk’s legs using two 24 x 148 px rectangles. Afterwards, apply a linear gradient and select #565C79 as the fill color. Choose 100% Opacity at the top and 0% Opacity at the bottom, as shown in the picture.

You can use the Gradient Tool (G) to make it easier.

Creating the legs of the desk and applying a gradient

Step 3

Now draw the desk’s drawers using a 208 x 32 px rectangle. Select #61627C as the fill color and change the radius of all corners to 6 px from the Transform panel.

Add the drawer’s handle creating a 12 x 12 px ellipse with the Ellipse Tool (L) and use #8C8398 as the fill color.

Group everything together, duplicate (Control-C > Control-F) the drawer, and place both of them as shown in the image below.

Adding twos drawers to the desk

3. How to Create a MacBook

Step 1

The first device on the desk will be a MacBook. Create a 184 x 10 px rectangle and enter 4 px as the corner radius for all corners. Use #7CEECE as the fill color.

Create another 48 x 8 px rectangle and change the corner radius to 4 px. Subtract this rectangle from the other one using the Minus Front utility from the Pathfinder panel. This will be the base.

Creating the base of the macbook

Step 2

For the laptop screen, create a 164 x 116 px rectangle. Set all corner radiuses to 6 px and use #7CD5C2 as the fill color. Add another 52 x 4 px rectangle under the base, use #7CBDA7 as the fill color.

Place both rectangles under the base (Object > Arrange > Send Backward).

Adding a rectangle for the cover

Step 3

Add the screen by creating a 152 x 98 px rectangle, and use #7566A6 as the fill color. Add the FaceTime camera by creating a 2 x 2 px ellipse, and select #7CBDA7 as the fill color. 

Adding another rectangle for the screen

Step 4

Add reflections to the screen using two rectangles (#FFFFFF), one of 172 x 44 px and another one of 8 x 172 px. Rotate them 45º with the Rotate Tool (R) and select 50% Opacity on the Appearance panel.

Select the laptop screen and the two rectangles and subtract the edges with the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M). Group everything together (Control-G) and position it all as shown in the image below.

Adding a highlights to the screen

4. How to Create a Mac

Step 1

Now let’s draw the Mac. Start by creating the base with a 74 x 8 px rectangle. Set the corner radius to 4 px and select #7CEECE as the fill color.

Add another 50 x 44 px rectangle (#7CD5C2) and modify the upper width with the Free Transform Tool (E) to create a trapezoid. Then, create a 10 x 20 px rectangle, set its corner radius to 6 px, and subtract it from the previous rectangle using the Minus Front utility from the Pathfinder panel.

Creating rectangles for the base of the Mac

Step 2

Let’s continue with the Mac’s monitor. Create a 222 x 130 px rectangle (#7CEECE). Enter 12 px as the corner radius.

Add the screen using a 204 x 106 px rectangle (#7566A6) and the FaceTime camera with a 4 x 4 px ellipse (#7CBDA7). 

Twos rectangles for the monitor and the screen

Step 3

Add reflections to the screen following the same procedure as for the MacBook. Add two rectangles (#FFFFFF), set their Opacity to 50%, and rotate them 45º.

Remove the edges with the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M). Group together all the Mac’s pieces (Control-G) and position it as shown in the image below.

By adding the highlights over the screen

5. How to Create a Lamp

Every desk needs a cute desk lamp to illuminate the space, so let’s go for it.

Step 1

Let’s begin by creating the base using a 78 x 12 px rectangle (#897FBA) and set the radius of the upper corners to 12 px

By creating a base for the lamp

Step 2

Now, add the first arm of the lamp using a 12 x 90 px rectangle (#7566A6) and rotate it 330° using the Transform panel. Add an 18 x 18 px ellipse (#9DA0CC) at the end of the arm.

Remember to place the arm under the base (Object > Arrange > Send Backward).

By creating arm and hinge at the lamp

Step 3

Add a second arm using a 12 x 140 px rectangle and an inclination of 55°. Place it under (Right click > Arrange > Send Backward) the hinge as shown in the image below.

Another arm tilted

Step 4

Now let’s create the lamp’s upper base using a 16 x 20 px rectangle (#9DA0CC) and set the radius of the upper corners to 8 px. Add another 70 x 44 px rectangle (#897FBA) and modify the upper width with the Free Transform Tool (E).

Finally, drag the upper vertices using Live Corners with the Direct Selection Tool (A).

By drawing lamp with rectangles

Step 5

Add the ring lamp with a 72 x 8 px rectangle (#9DA0CC) and set the corner radius to 4 px. Group everything together (Control-G) and rotate it 340°

Group together the whole body of the lamp (Control-G) and position it as shown in the image below.

Placing the lamp in the body

6. How to Create a Cup of Coffee

And for long work hours, it is always good to have a cup of coffee on the side. 

Moving on!

Step 1

Create a 36 x 52 px rectangle (#897FBA) for the cup, and modify the lower corners with the Free Transform Tool (E) using the Perspective Distort feature.

Add another 38 x 18 px rectangle for the band of the cup (#BEB2FF) and stretch the lower corners.

Creating the base body of coffee

Step 2

Now add the cup lid using a 42 x 6 px rectangle (#EDEEF0) and a 32 x 4 px rectangle (#D8D9DD). Group everything together (Control-G) and position it as shown in the image below.

Adding the cup ring and the cover

7. How to Create a Clock

We’re about to finish!

Now let’s create a clock for our workspace.

Step 1

Create a 112 x 112 px ellipse (#4E5471) for the base of the clock. Duplicate (Control-C > Control-F) the ellipse and change its size to 94 x 94 px (#61627C) using the Transform panel.

Add a 4 x 14 px rectangle (#818196) and round its corners. Then, using the Rotate Tool (R), fix the anchor point to the center of the ellipse and make three copies (Control-D) of the rectangle, each separated by 90°.

Creating the clock base with ellipses

Step 2

Now we need to create the clock’s hands, so start by creating a 4 x 46 px rectangle (#9DA0CC) as the minute hand. Round all the corners of the rectangle. Place it in the center of the dial and rotate it with the Rotate Tool (R), fixing the anchor point to the center.

Add an 8 x 46 px rectangle (#818196) as the hour hand and round its corners. Rotate it with the Rotate Tool (R).

Finally, add a 14 x 14 px ellipse (#BAB5C1) in the center of the clock. Group everything together (Control-G) and position it as shown in the image below.

Adding the hands of the clock

8. How to Create a Background

Step 1

Let’s begin by creating a few stars using a 4 x 14 px rectangle (#7CEECE) with rounded corners. Then duplicate it (Control-C > Control-F) and rotate it 90º. Group everything together (Control-G) and duplicate it six times, alternating between #7CEECE and #9DA0CC as the fill colors.

Play a little with the sizes and position it as shown in the image below.

Creating the stars for the background with rectangles

Step 2

Now let’s create an 800 x 600 px rectangle (#333656), the same size as the canvas, and send it to the back (Right click > Arrange > Send to Back).

Then, as a final detail, draw a trapezoid with the Pen Tool (P) in the lamp, and then apply a linear gradient using #00FFFF and #FFFFFF as the fill colors. Set the Opacity to 0% for the #FFFFFF color.

Adding the background and the light in the lamp

Congratulations! You're Finished!

Yeah! We have finally finished, and the result is more than fabulous. I love this kind of flat-design-style picture because it gives a minimalist feel without losing the joy.

I hope you’ve learned new things and that you put everything into practice. I’d like to see your result!

Final result
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