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Design

How to Create a Space Shuttle Scene in Sketch

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Difficulty:BeginnerLength:LongLanguages:
This post is part of a series called Astronomical Graphic Design.
How to Create a Space Observatory Badge in Adobe Illustrator
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

With this tutorial, Sketch is taking us to space. We are going to create a space shuttle launching illustration employing only vector shapes. You will also learn how to combine colors in order to create an eye-catching vector illustration. 

Fire up Sketch, and let's launch this space shuttle into space!

1. Set Up Your Document

Let's start by creating our artboard. To do this, press A on the keyboard and draw an artboard sized at 850 px by 638 px.

Set up your artboard

2. Create the Night Sky

Step 1

Select the Rectangle tool by pressing on the keyboard (or from the Insert > Shape menu in the top toolbar) and create a rectangle that is the same size as our artboard.

Create background

Step 2

Uncheck the borders, and then click on the Fill button and switch to Linear Gradient, using the Inspector Panel on the right.

Bakcground color - switch to gradient

Step 3

Select the color stop on the top and set the color to very dark blue #03121D. Move it downwards. Use the image below as a reference.

Set top color of the gradient

Step 4

Next, select the color stop at the bottom and set the color to #17569F.

Set bottom color of the gradient

3. Add Stars

Step 1

Pick up the Oval tool by pressing O on the keyboard, and draw a #9FB1BD circle 3 px by 3 px. Don't forget to turn off borders using the Inspector Panel.

Create star shape

Step 2

Continue to add more stars, as we did in the previous step. Use different sizes and colors to create a field of stars. For the really dark stars, use #122744 color, and for the brighter ones use #ffffff. Use the image below as a reference.

Stars field finished

It's good practice and I like to keep my layers organized, so select all the stars you've created and place them into a group using Command-G. Name this group "stars".

4. Add a Twinkling Star

Step 1

Invoke the Rectangle (R) tool and draw a rectangle. For the color, use #6EAAEE. Turn off borders.

Twinkle star - draw rectangle

Step 2

Give this rectangle Gaussian Blur with Amount of 1 px using the Inspector Panel.

Twinkle star - apply Gaussian blur to rectangle

Step 3

Duplicate (Command-D) this rectangle, and then choose the Rotate tool from the top toolbar and rotate the rectangle 90° clockwise. And voila, here's our twinkling star.

Twinkle star finished

Select both rectangles and place them inside the "twinkle star" group, by pressing Command-G on the keyboard.

Step 4

Duplicate the "twinkle star" group, scale the duplicate down, and move it into the upper right corner of the artboard. Finally, change the color of the rectangles to #EE991A.

Add another twinkle star in different color

5. Create Mountain Peaks

Step 1

Pick up the Triangle tool from the Insert > Shape menu in the top toolbar and make a triangle. Turn off the border and change the color to #083F6A.

Create basic mountain peak shape

Step 2

Place it as shown in the image below.

Mountain peak - position triangle

Step 3

Grab the Vector (V) tool and draw a shape that will represent snow on the mountain peak. Use #CCE4FF color and turn off borders.

Mountain peak - create snow shape

Step 4

Select this layer and the triangle by holding Command on the keyboard and clicking on these two layers in the Layers List on the left, and then click on Mask in the top toolbar, to place the snow layer inside the triangle. 

The result of this masking operation is automatically placed into a new group in the Layers List on the left. Name this group "mountain peak".

Mountain peak - masking snow

Step 5

Next, draw a rectangle over the right half of our mountain peak to create a shadow. Use #000000 for the color and turn off borders.

Mountain peak - add shadow shape

Step 6

Change the Blending to Overlay and Opacity to 20%.

Mountain peak shadow - adjust blending and opacity

Step 7

Simply drag this rectangle into the "mountain peak" group using the Layers List, to put this rectangle on top inside our mountain. Sketch will automatically apply a mask to our shadow.

Mountain peak finished

Step 8

Add more mountain peaks to the scene. Duplicate (Command-D) the "mountain peak" group. Sketch will name this group "mountain peak copy". In the Layers List, drag this "mountain peak copy" group below our original group. Move it to the left and down a bit. Use the image below as a reference.

Duplicate mountain peak

Step 9

Now, Duplicate (Command-D) the "mountain peak copy" group. The duplicated group will get the name "mountain peak copy 2". Place it below "mountain peak copy" in the Layers List.

Then, scale it down, and move it even more to the left and down. Lower the Opacity to 50%. You should have something like this:

Add one more peak by duplicating

Select the following groups: "mountain peak", "mountain peak copy", and "mountain peak copy2". Group them into a "mountains on the left" group using Command-G.

Step 10

Next, duplicate (Command-D) the "mountains on the left" group. Name this group "mountains on the right". Flip Horizontal from Layer > Transform. Move it a bit upwards and all the way to the right side of the artboard.

Mountain peaks finished

6. Add Some Clouds

Step 1

Grab the Vector (V) tool and draw three shapes for clouds. Use white (#FFFFFF) color.

Draw clouds

Step 2

Apply the following styles to the clouds:

  • cloud 1: Blending: Soft Light, Opacity: 10%
  • cloud 2: Blending: Soft LightOpacity: 10%
  • cloud 3: Blending: Soft LightOpacity: 15%
Clouds - adjust blending and opacity

Select all the clouds and group them into the "clouds" group.

7. Create the Rocket Boosters

We'll start working on the space shuttle. First we will create rocket boosters.

Step 1

Grab the Rectangle (R) tool and draw a rectangle like the one in the image below. Turn off borders and use #F8D7A2 for the color.

Create rocket booster shape

Step 2

Enter shape editing mode by pressing Enter on the keyboard, or simply Double-click on the shape. You will see a round point in each of the corners. Click between the top points to insert a point between them. Hold Command to add a point right in the middle.

Edit rocket booster shape

Step 3

Double-click on the point that we just added to turn it to a Mirrored point and move it a bit upwards.

Adjust rocket booster top

Step 4

Let's add some details. Invoke the Rectangle (R) tool and draw a rectangle. Turn off borders, and for the color use #5B290E. Then Duplicate (Command-D) this rectangle three more times.

Rocket booster - draw some details

Step 5

Near the bottom, draw one more rectangle, a bit bigger than the previous ones, and for this one use #73320C color. Make sure that there is a 1 px gap between this rectangle and the one above.

Rocket booster - draw even more details

Step 6

Next, create one more rectangle. This one is colored with #000000. We will use this rectangle to add a shadow to the rocket.

Rocket booster - draw shadow

Step 7

Change Blending to Soft Light and Opacity to 30%.

Rocket booster shadow - adjust blending and opacity

Step 8

Select all the rectangles that we've just created along with the rocket booster shape, and choose Mask from the top toolbar.

Rocket booster - mask shadow and details

Sketch will place all those layers into one group. Just rename this group "rocket shape".

Step 9

Using the Vector (V) tool, draw an orange (#F58100) trapezoid. Move it below "rocket shape" in the Layers List.

Rocket booster - engine top

Step 10

Below this trapezoid, draw another one, a bit bigger, and for this one use #F8BF00 color.

Rocket booster - engine bottom

The left rocket booster is now finished. Select those two trapezoids and the "rocket shape" group and group them into a "rocket booster" group using Command-G.

Rocket booster finished

Step 11

Add a rocket booster on the right, simply by duplicating (Command-D) the "rocket booster" group and moving it to the right. Use the image below as a reference.

Duplicate rocket booster and move it to the right

8. Create the External Tank

Step 1

Using the Rectangle (R) tool, draw a rectangle between "rocket boosters". For the color, use #D43D00. Don't forget to turn off borders.

Create external tank shape

Step 2

Double-click to start editing the shape. Add a point in the middle between the two top points, and then Double-click to turn this point to Mirrored and move it upwards.

External tank - add mirrored point

Step 3

Use two little handles on either side of the point to adjust the shape. Think of these little control points as if they are pulling the line towards themselves. Grab one handle and move it a bit away from the point.

Adjust tank shape using handles

Step 4

Let's add some details. Draw one rectangle on top to cover the top of the external tank shape. The color is #592A0C.

External tank - add details

Step 5

Next, draw a thin rectangle and use #ECA265 for the color.

External tank - add more details

Step 6

Then draw one big black (#000000) rectangle over the tank, which we'll use as the shadow.

External tank - add shadow

Step 7

Change Blending to Soft Light and Opacity to 30%.

External tank shadow - adjust blending and opacity

Step 8

Select all the rectangles that we've just created along with the rocket's external tank shape, and choose Mask from the top toolbar. Sketch will automatically place all those layers into one group. Name this group "external tank".

External tank finished

9. Create Delta Wings

Step 1

Now let's create the delta wings. Using the Vector (V) tool, draw a shape like the one in the image below. For the color, use #FC8B03.

Draw delta wing shape

Step 2

Then, using the Vector (V) tool, draw another shape that is similar to the shape that we just created, but a bit smaller. The color for this one is #FB6003.

Delta wing inner shape

Group these two layers into the "delta wing" group. You can do this by selecting these two layers in the Layers List and pressing Command-G on the keyboard.

Step 3

Duplicate (Command-D) the "delta wing" group, and then Flip Horizontal using Layer > Transform. Use the image below as a reference for the position.

Duplicate delta wing and move it to the left

Step 4

Finally change the color of the smaller shape to #FC6C04.

Change color of inner shape on the left

The delta wings are in place. Here's what we have right now.

Delta wings finished

10. Create the Space Shuttle Body

Step 1

Using the Rectangle (R) tool, draw a #FED79E colored rectangle.

Create space shuttle body

Step 2

Double-click on the shape to enter shape editing mode. Click between the two top points to insert a point between them. Hold Command to add a point right in the middle.

Space shuttle body edit - add middle point

Step 3

Double-click on that point to turn it to a Mirrored point and move it a bit upwards.

Space shuttle body edit - create nose

Step 4

Grab one handle and move it a bit away from the point, to adjust the shape of the space shuttle nose.

Space shuttle body - adjust nose

Step 5

Let's add some details. As we did for the rocket booster, draw two tiny rectangles using the Rectangle (R) tool. The color should be #E6BE81.

Space shuttle body - add details

Step 6

Then draw a bigger Rectangle (R) over the bottom part of the space shuttle body. For this rectangle, use #F5A101 color.

Space shuttle body - add detail at the bottom

Step 7

At the end, draw a black (#000000) rectangle over the right half of the shuttle body, to create a shadow.

Space shuttle body - add shadow

Step 8

Set Blending to Overlay and Opacity to 30%.

Space shuttle shadow - adjust blending and opacity

Step 9

Now select the shuttle shape, rectangles and shadow shape, and choose Mask from the top toolbar.

Space shuttle body - masking details and shadow

11. Add the Cabin Windows

Use the Vector (V) tool to create the side and main windows on the space shuttle cabin. The color is #401801.

Draw cabin window

Select these three shapes and group them into "cabin windows" using Command-G.

12. Create a Vertical Tail

Step 1

For the vertical tail, first draw a Rectangle (R). For the color, use #F8D593.

Draw vertical tail shape

Step 2

Double-click on the shape to enter shape editing mode. Add a point in the middle between the top two points and drag it up a bit.

Edit top of the vertical tail

Step 3

Then add a point in the middle between the bottom two points, using the method explained above, and move it down a bit.

Edit bottom of the vertical tail

Step 4

Let's add a shadow. Draw a Rectangle (R) over the right half of the tail. Use #000000 for the color.

Draw shadow over the tail

Step 5

Set Opacity to 30% and Blending to Soft Light.

Vertical tail shadow - adjust blending and opacity

Step 6

Select the vertical tail shape and the shadow shape and click on Mask in the top toolbar.

Vertical tail shadow - masking

This is what we have right now.

Vertical tail finished

13. Draw the Main Engines

We will use two shapes to create the main engine: a rectangle and a trapezoid.

Step 1

First let's create the top part of the main engine. Grab the Rectangle (R) tool and draw a rectangle as shown in the image below. The color is #F5A101.

Create top part of the main engine

Step 2

Then create the bottom part of the main engine. With the use of the Vector (V) tool, draw a trapezoid. Set the color to #F8BF00. Use the image below as a reference.

Create bottom part of the main engine

Group these layers into the "main engine" group.

Step 3

Duplicate (Command-D) the "main engine" group and move it to the right.

Duplicate and move main engine to the right

14. Create a Wall of Exhaust Gases

This is the last step of the tutorial, so let's finish this up.

Step 1

Draw a circle using the Oval (O) tool. Hold Alt-Shift while drawing to create a perfect circle. For the color, use #F7E4AA. Borders should be turned off.

Start drawing wall of exhaust gases using circle

Step 2

Duplicate (Command-D) the circle and move it down.

Wall of exhaust gases - duplicate circle

Step 3

Duplicate (Command-D) the circle twice, and move one to the left and the other one to the right to set the boundaries of the exhaust gases.

Wall of exhaust - left and right boundaries

Step 4

Fill in the space between the most distant circles on the left and on the right with circles. Play with the circles' sizes and positions to create a wall of exhaust gases, as in the image below.

Wall of exhaust gases - more circles

Step 5

Next, we'll connect our exhaust gases to the space shuttle. Select the Vector (V) tool and draw a shape that's a little narrower than the bottom of the left space shuttle engine and that connects the shuttle to the exhaust gases below.

Color this shape with #F7E4AA.

Wall of exhaust - left jet steam

Step 6

Do the same for the right engine.

Wall of exhaust - right jet steam

Step 7

Now let's add inner gases. Grab the Oval (O) tool, set the color to #F2CD74, and build a wall inside our wall, just as we did in the previous steps.

Wall of exhaust gases - inner gases

Step 8

Continue adding circles until you have something like this.

Wall of exhaust gases finished

Awesome Work! You're Done!

Your space shuttle illustration is now complete!

I hope you had fun while making this illustration. Now, try making your own version of a space shuttle and show us the results in the comments below.

Happy designing!

Space shuttle scene final
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