In this tutorial we will cover the basic rules for creating a composition and learn to work with light on the image. We’ll use Illustrator tools, such as: the Opacity Mask, Envelope Distort, Texturizer, and Gradient Mesh. Find out how simple the techniques are to achieve this excellent result. Learn how to master lighting, perspective, reflection and surface texture to bring realism to your work.
There are 10 basic compositional rules
First let's talk about composition. Various visual elements of the image relate to each other and arrange a composition. The essential elements of the image include: line, shape, color, texture, volume, ratio, space, rhythm. We use some of the rules mentioned to create our composition. Let’s get down to work.
- Contrast. If you want to attract viewers to your artwork you have to use contrast. Contrast is achieved through a combination of elements different by visual properties. Color contrast is the location of light elements on the dark background and dark elements on the light background. Textural contrast is a combination of smooth and rough surfaces. Shape contrast is a combination of angular and smooth shapes etc.
- Organization. Important elements of the plot should not be chaotically located. It is better when they form simple geometrical figures. Objects direction should indicate on their relationship and focus the viewer's eye on the main object of the composition.
- Equilibrium. Objects located in different parts of the image should match in volume, size and color.
- Golden ratio. The golden ratio was known as early as in ancient Egypt; its properties were studied by Euclid and Leonardo da Vinci. Here is the simplest description of the golden ratio: the best point for the location of the object which is about 1 / 3 from the horizontal or vertical boundary of the image. The location of important objects in these visual points looks naturally and attracts the viewer’s attention.
- Diagonals. Diagonal composition is one of the most effective methods of composition. Its essence is very simple: basic objects of the image are placed on the diagonal. For example, from top left to bottom right. This method is good since such a composition continuously guides the viewer's eye through the entire image.
- Format. If we show vertical objects, such as skyscrapers, the format should be vertical, but if we show horizontal ones as for example landscape, the format should be horizontal.
- Viewpoint. The position of the viewer can strongly influence the aesthetics of an image. Not only does it influence the elements within the picture, but it also influences the viewer's interpretation of the subject.
- Direction. We are accustomed to reading from left to right, so we evaluate the image the same way. That’s why it’s better to place the semantic center on the right side of the frame. Thus the look and the object of the image as if they are moving toward each other. Always take this into account while creating a composition.
- Color spot. If there is a spot color in one part of the image, then there should be something else in another part of the image. This will attract the viewer’s attention. It may be another color spot or an action for example.
- Movement. While portraying a moving object, always leave white space in front of the object. Simply place the object as if it has just entered the frame, but is not leaving it.
Create a new document 800 by 1200 pixels in size. Create an ellipse using the Ellipse Tool (L)
Duplicate the ellipse and create a circle with a diameter as the height of the ellipses. Place the ellipse and circle in such way to form the triangle between their centers. Objects match up one for one in size; form regular simple figure according to the second and third compositional rules. Use technical colors for the present, they will be replaced later.
Transform the ellipses into the broken eggshell. Take the Scissors Tool (C) and cut the outline of the ellipses. Select and delete unnecessary part.
Now take the Pen Tool (P) and close the outline. Create another half of the shell in the same way.
Turn parts of the shell in the direction of the circle (the circle is the future yolk), and place them to stress the imaginary triangle.
Select the shell, take the Pen Tool (P) and create a row of points on the straight side of the shell. Take the Direct Selection Tool (A) and change the location of the created points creating fractures of the shell. For more realistic view add more points to break more the shell. We created a contrast of shape in this step - a combination of angular and smooth objects.
Determine the location of the light source in the composition. The direction of gradient fills and the location of shadows depend on it. I placed the light source at the top and in the center of the composition. The circle indicates the location of the light source. The angle of lighting will dictate the location of highlights, lights, shadows and penumbras. The circle will be deleted at the end, and arrows from the light source are not necessary. Let’s name the layer with the elements of composition – 'Egg'.
Under the layer Egg create a new layer - 'BG'. Create a rectangle and fill it with a linear gradient from light color (C=32, M=27, Y=31 and K=0) at the top to the dark color (C=69, M=57, Y=68 and K=54) below according to the location of the light source. This will create color contrast, the bright shell will be located on the dark background. The color of the egg is not completely white so it will be difficult to create real colors on an absolutely white background of the document. Therefore, we create color background, before the painting of our composition.
Fill the shell with radial gradient consisting of four colors. 1 (C=7, M=5, Y=4 and K=0), 2 (C=19, M=11, Y=16 and K=0), 3 (C=32, M=27, Y=31 and K=0), 4 (C=51, M=50, Y=62 and K=36). Use the Gradient Tool (G) for the correct location, move the Gradient sliders in the gradient palette to achieve a smooth transition of colors.
Create the inner part of the shell. Copy and paste in front the shape of the shell. Now with the help of the Pen Tool (P) create the shape, as shown on the picture below. Select the created shape and copy of the shell and click the Intersect from Pathfinder box. Then press Expand.
Create shadows on the inner surface of the egg using the radial gradient consisting of three colors. 1 (C=30, M=39, Y=67 and K=4), 2 (C=38, M=45, Y=72 and K=13), 3 (C=22, M=20, Y=35 and K=0) Numbers on the picture indicate: 1 - lighter area caused by the light coming through the shell, 2 - shadow, 3 - light area caused by direct light.
Create a shape to indicate the of thickness of the shell. Copy the shape of the inner surface of the egg and paste it in front. Now take the Pen Tool (P) and create the shape shown on the picture below. Select the shape and the copy of the inner surface and click the Intersect from Pathfinder box. Then press Expand. Fill the resulting items with white.
Create the texture of the shell. Copy and paste in front the shape of the shell and go to Effect > Artistic> Sponge ... with settings: Brush Size = 0; Definition = 0 and Smoothness = 1. Since the texture of the illuminated part of the shell cannot be seen apply the Opacity Mask. Copy the original shape of the shell again and paste it in front of the shape with the effect. Fill the top shape with radial black and white gradient. Select the shape with the effect and one with the black and white gradient and apply the Opacity Mask, using the Transparency palette.
Half of the shell is ready. Using the techniques described above, create the second half of the shell. It must be said that the gradient of the inner surface of the second part of the shell is different in color from the first part of the shell, as it is turned another way to the light source. Gradient colors of the inner surface of the second part of the shell: 1 (C=16, M=25, Y=65 and K=0), 2 (C=26, M=37, Y=69 and K=2), 3 (C=12, M=5, Y=7 and K=0).
Now create the yolk. Fill the circle with radial gradient from yellow (C=1, M=16, Y=100 and K=0) to light-brown color (C=0, M=79, Y=100 and K=22). Bright orange color will create a color contrast in this mostly monochrome composition
Create reflection of the light source in the yolk. The shape of the reflection depends on the shape of the light source, the shape of the object itself, and the surface on which the reflection is located. The window (square shape) is the light source I use; sphere is the surface on which the reflection is located. Take the Rectangle Tool (M) and create the shape of reflection. Then go to Object > Envelope Distort > Make with Warp ... with the settings mentioned on the picture. Now go to Object > Expand. Take the Direct Selection Tool (A) and edit the shape of the reflection. The bottom of the reflection cannot be convex, since it lies on the plane passing through the axis of the sphere. This side must be straight. Fill the reflection with linear gradient from white to yellow color (C=5, M=41, Y=100 and K=0) and set to 60% Opacity.
Not the whole reflection of the window will be visible, because it is hidden over the shell fragments. Take the Knife Tool and cut off the upper edges of the reflection in a curved trajectory and remove the unnecessary part.
Take the Pen Tool (P) and create the shape of the reflection on the front part of the yolk, fill the shape with white color and set to 50% Opacity.
Using the technique described in step 11, create the shape of the penumbra on the yolk (color C=0, M=79, Y=100 and K=22) and set the Blending Mode and Opacity as shown on the picture below. As the result we got a sharp change in color. Now make this transition smoother. Take the Mesh Tool (U) and create one point of grid. Now replace the color of the upper grid points to the white one, use the Direct Selection Tool (A) and Swatches Box. Apply this technique creating the shadow on the yolk.
Now create an egg-white. Create a new layer over the background and name it Glair. Take the Pen Tool (P) and create the shape of liquid egg-white. Try to make all the curves smooth and beautiful. Fill the shape with linear gradient from (C=66, M=56, Y=62 and K=40) to (C=45, M=40, Y=49 and K=7).
Egg-white has a heterogeneous structure, so we will try to reflect it in our artwork. Create a few ellipses over the surface of the egg-white, the fill color (C=56, M=48, Y=56 and K=29). Now take the Twirl Tool and apply the settings in the dialog box, as shown on the picture below. Experiment with the settings. Keep the tool moving during your work, and you will get an excellent result. Set 45% Opacity for the created elements. Group up the elements and block up the underlayer.
Create shadows on the white using the technique described in step 11. Color of shadows (C=74, M=67, Y=66 and K=85)
Now create a few reflexes in the shadows. Take the Pen Tool and create the shapes of reflexes.
Create a drop and bubbles on the egg-white. Create an ellipse, take the Pen Tool (P) and create the shape of the reflex. Create a bubble the same way. Group up all the elements of the bubble, copy it, paste in front and scale it, creating tiny bubbles.
Create a big bubble next to the yolk. Create an ellipse in the layer Egg. Take the Scissors Tool (C) and cut the ellipse at the intersection with the yolk. Delete unnecessary part and join with the Pen Tool (P) along the arc of the cut point. Take the Pen Tool (P) and create shapes of reflexes. Upper reflex is a reflection of the light source, and the bottom one is the reflection from the surface on which the egg is located. Copy the shape of the bubble and paste it into the Glair layer. Move this shape to make the shadow of the bubble. Copy the shape of the bubble again and paste it into the layer Egg. Shift up the copy towards the yolk and fill it with a solid yellow color (C=5, M=41, Y=100 and K=0). Thus we get the transition of bubble into the yolk
Now create shadows under the shell. Create a new layer - Shadow over the background. Take the Pen Tool (P) and create shape of the shadow. Shadow color (C=65, M=64, Y=77 and K=77). Do not forget to coordinate the location of shadows with the light source and the shape of the object. Create the shape of penumbra below the shadow. Penumbra color (C=55, M=48, Y=58 and K=20). Shadow is created by the lower part of the shell, while the penumbra is created by the upper one. Remove the transition of the colors using the technique described in step 20. Do the same with the shadows under the second part of the shell.
Get down to the background, make it grainy. Proceed to the layer BG. Duplicate the rectangle and go to Effect > Texture > Texturizer ... with the settings shown on the picture below. The combination of liquid egg-white and the rough surface gives us a great contrast of texture. In the foreground the surface roughness more visible than in the background. Apply the Opacity Mask in order to hide the roughness of the background, use the technique described in step 14.
So now we've got a perfect composition, in which we used different types of contrast: of shape, color and texture. We learned how to place the elements of an image properly according to the rules of composition. When working with light, I advise you study real objects carefully, you will learn to perceive nuances you've never noticed before. Use these observations and your artwork will look more realistic. Good luck.
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