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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Illustration

How to Create a Stylized Underwater Scene


In this tutorial, we'll explain how to create some fish with the Blend Tool and how to make our custom seaweed shapes using the Twirl Tool and effects like Twist and Pucker & Bloat. Let's get started making this stylized underwater scene.

Final Image Preview

Below is the final design we will be working towards. 

Step 1

Create shapes like you see in the image below. I created four shapes. Once for the outline filled with white of the fish. Then a sickle like shape just a little smaller, then the outline filled with a blue. Next, I created a yellow filled shape about half the size of the outline. The fourth shape is again a sickle shape filled with white.

Step 2

Move the blue shape over the first white.

Step 3

Next, move the yellow over the blue and the small white over the yellow. The stacking order is important, since the blend depends on it.

Step 4

Select all four shapes and go to Object > Blend > Blend Options. Apply the settings as following: Specific Steps of 150.

Step 5

While still selected, apply the blend to the shapes by pressing the keys Command + Alt + B. This is a easy and simple way to create a fish with blends. Please be aware that colors and shapes and details are totally up to you.

Step 6

So the fish shape is done, but we need some eyes for the little guy. Create to ovals, one filled with white, the other with black. Make sure that the black one is about a third of the white oval and is placed on top of the white shape.

Step 7

Select both oval shapes and apply a blend again. As you can see, the black acting as a pupil gets blended with the white.

Step 8

Duplicate the eye blend (Command + C + B) behind the other one.

Step 9

The fish can see now but let's give it some details. Create a shape like you see in the image below with the Pen Tool (P), and fill it with yellow.

Step 10

Then create a small sickle shaped object that fits inside the yellow and fill it with white. Move it to the left edge of the yellow shape.

Step 11

Select both and apply the Blend Options you see in the images below.

Step 12

Move the just created blend shape into the middle of the fish.

Step 13

Make two more copies of the shape, scale them to about 75% of the original one.

Step 14

Next, we will be creating some fins. Draw some lines with the Pen Tool (P). I made about seven of them. Set the Stroke to at least 0.25pt. Then add a yellow Stroke color. Offset the color though, making one line 100% yellow, the other 50% yellow.

Step 15

Select all the lines and apply a blend again.

Step 16

I placed the fin on the bottom right of the fish and then made a copy, scaled it down and placed it at the top right.

Step 17

Now on to some funky seaweed. Draw a long rectangle with the Rectangle Tool (M). Fill it with a dark green to green linear gradient.

Step 18

Then choose the Twirl Tool from the Tools Palette and start randomly deforming the rectangle by clicking on the corners.

Step 19

Keep on going and deform and twirl the shape.

Step 20

When done, select it and got to Effect > Distort & Transform > Twist. Apply an angle of 55 degrees.

Step 21

Then apply the Pucker & Bloat effect and set it to 23%.

Step 22

Make a duplicate of the seaweed shape and remove the 
Twist Effect via the Appearance Palette. Just keep the Pucker & Bloat Effect.

Step 23

Now we have two seaweed shapes. Once straight and one twisted. Make a duplicate of both and put the fill to none and apply a Stroke in a dark color..

Step 24

Create a rectangle (Rectangle Tool) and fill it with a dark blue to white radial gradient. Place the gradient highlight on the top left corner.

Step 25

Start placing the seaweed shapes on top of the background.

Step 26

You can scale them, duplicate them, overlap them and make it as wild as you want it to be.

Step 27

Once you built up some crazy seaweed jungle, place the fish in the middle..

Step 28

As a nice clipping path, I created a rectangle and filled it 
with green. Then go to Object > Envelop Distort > Warp and choose the Bulge Style. Apply a vertical bend of 10%.

Step 29

After that expand the appearance and make sure that both Object and Fill are checked. Hit OK.


I selected all shapes and applied a clipping path (Command + 7) and here we have a nice underwater scene. I also copied the fishes and changes some of the colors and scaled them down. I hid some behind some dark seaweed. That's it folks. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial!

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