A few times a each month we revisit some of our reader’s favorite posts from throughout the history of Vectortuts+. This tutorial by Rype was first published on October 31st 2008.
In this tutorial, I will show you how to create a stylized textured vector landscape. The techniques are simple and easily translated into other illustrations. Check out Chris Spooners post 40 Stunning Vector Landscape Illustrations for more vector landscape inspiration.
Final Image Preview
Below is the final design we will be working towards.
Create a new document and create a rectangle with the Rectangle Tool (M) that is the size of your document.
Fill the new rectangle with a Linear Gradient from the Gradient Panel with no stroke. Change the first swatch on the gradient slider to a light blue and the second swatch to a darker blue.
With the Gradient Tool (G), click in the middle of the gradient and drag upwards, placing the darker part of the gradient at the top of the rectangle.
Next, we are going to start creating clouds. I like to use the Pencil Tool (N) for creating these clouds. If you are more comfortable using the Pen Tool (P), go right ahead. If you are going to use the Pencil Tool (N), I suggest changing some of the settings so you get a smoother line than the default Pencil Tool (N) settings. To change these settings, double-click on the Pencil Tool (N) in the Tools Panel to bring up the Pencil Tool Preferences dialog. Change the Fidelity to 5 and you should be set to go!
With your tool of choice, draw a stylized cloud over your gradient background.
Fill the cloud shape with a Linear Gradient with no stroke. Change the first swatch in the gradient to white and the second swatch to a light green blue color. Next, use the Gradient Tool (G) and adjust the gradient so the darker part is at the bottom of the cloud.
Create ten to fifteen more clouds like you did before. Try to keep the clouds within the top half of the document.
Place your first texture on the document by going to File >Place and choose the DSC_2504.jpg file. Now the file is in place, the file is linked to the file on your computer. You can leave it linked or embed the file by pressing the embed button. Embedding the image will make the file size much bigger than if you linked to it.
I like embedding the image so I can get the best preview image when working with the illustration. Linking is great if you want to make further changes to the image and want to keep the file size down.
Once embedded, scale the image so it fits horizontally.
With the texture still selected, choose Overlay for the blending mode from the Transparency Panel. While in the Transparency Panel, change the Opacity to 60.
Now we can start creating some hills and canyons. With your tool of choice (I used the Pencil Tool) create a mountain shape below the clouds and fill it with a brown color. When drawing the mountain shape, roughly imagine a vanishing point toward the right side of the document.
Create another mountain shape with the same color as your first mountain shape. this time make the left side of the shape meet up with the vanishing point of the first mountain.
Draw two more shape in front of the two mountain shapes with a lighter brown color than the mountains. These are going to be the top of the canyons.
Draw some edges for the canyon and change them to a dark brown color. Place the edges behind the canyons tops.
To give the canyon some more depth, draw some shadows, make them a darker brown than the canyon edges, and place them behind the canyon tops.
Draw a shape to encompass the area between the canyons and place in behind the canyon edges.
Select the mountain, canyon, and ground shapes, then Copy (Command + C) and Paste In Place (Command + F). With the copies still selected, press the Add To Shape Area button in the Pathfinder Panel and press the Expand Button.
Place the second texture you downloaded, named DSC_11053.JPG, onto your document. Embed and scale the image like you did for the previous image, though make sure you cover the mountain shape.
Bring the copied mountain to the front. Next, select the mountain copy and texture, then mask them by going to Object > Clipping Mask >Make.
With the masked texture selected, change the blending mode to Overlay from the Transparency Panel.
Now it is time to draw the river. Again I like to use the Pencil Tool (N), but use whatever tool you are most comfortable with. Make sure that the river shape ends at the same vanishing point as the mountains and canyon. When you are done drawing the river, fill it with a blue color.
Draw some some shapes within the river to give it a little movement. Make the colors darker and apply various tints of blue colors.
Select the main river shape and Copy (Command + C) and Paste In Place (Command + F). Bring the copy in front of all the other river elements. We are going to use this as the next texture mask.
Place, embed, and scale the third DSC_5865.JPG texture.
Bring the copied river shape to the front and mask the texture. Mask it and set the blending mode to Overlay from the Transparency Panel.
Draw ten to fifteen green ellipses, creating some stylized bushes.
Copy (Command + C) the bushes and Paste In Place (Command + F). With the copies still selected, go Object >Compound Path >Make. This will be used for the next mask.
Place the first DSC_2504.jpg texture files, then embed, and scale the texture. Bring the grouped copied bush shapes to the front and mask the texture. Next, set the texture to Overlay from the Transparency Panel.
Now that we have all the elements and textures done, let's crop the illustration so it looks nice and tidy. Start by creating a rectangle the size of your document.
Round the corners of the rectangle by going to Filter >Stylize >Round Corners and change the Radius to 50 px.
With the rounded rectangle selected, open the pop-up menu of the Layers Panel, and select Make Clipping Mask. All done!
Again, below is the final image.