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Design

How to Create a Wind Rose Compass Symbol Illustration in Adobe Illustrator

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Difficulty:IntermediateLength:LongLanguages:
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

In the following steps, you will learn how to create a wind rose compass symbol illustration in Adobe Illustrator. 

For starters, you will learn how to set up a simple grid, how to center shapes, and how to create the main object using a circle and the Appearance panel. Taking full advantage of the Transform effect, you will learn how to easily multiply shapes and how to create a pretty complex compass grid using only a few paths. 

Using a simple blend, the Rotate Tool and some more Transform effects, you will learn how to create the compass needles. Using neat stroke techniques and the Appearance panel, you will learn how to create the background and some tiny details. Finally, using basic blending techniques and several raster effects, you will learn how to add a subtle texture to your final design.

For more inspiration on how to adjust or improve your final illustration, you can find plenty of resources at GraphicRiver.

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

Hit Control-N to create a new document. Select Pixels from the Units drop-down menu, enter 850 in the width and height boxes and then click that More Settings button. Select RGB for the Color Mode, set the Raster Effects to Screen (72 ppi) and then click that Create Document button.

Enable the Grid (View > Show Grid) and the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). You will need a grid every 5 px, so simply go to Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid, and enter 5 in the Gridline every box and 1 in the Subdivisions box. Try not to get discouraged by all that grid—it will make your work easier, and keep in mind that you can easily enable or disable it using the Control-" keyboard shortcut.

You can learn more about Illustrator's grid system in this short tutorial from Andrei Stefan: Understanding Adobe Illustrator's Grid System.

You should also open the Info panel (Window > Info) for a live preview with the size and position of your shapes. Don't forget to set the unit of measurement to pixels from Edit > Preferences > Units. All these options will significantly increase your work speed.

setup grid

2. How to Create the Main Circle

Step 1

Pick the Ellipse Tool (L) and focus on your Toolbar. Remove the color from the stroke and then select the fill and set its color to R=226 G=228 B=243. Move to your artboard and simply create a 440 px circle—the grid and the Snap to Grid should make this easier.

Next, you need to center your shape. Open the Align panel (Window > Align) and set the alignment to artboard. If you can't see that Align To section, open the fly-out menu from the Align panel and go to Show Options. Make sure that your circle is still selected and then click the Horizontal Align Center and Vertical Align Center buttons. This should bring your circle to the center of the artboard, as shown in the following image.

circle

Step 2

Make sure that your circle stays selected and open the Appearance panel (Window > Appearance). Add a second fill using the Add New Fill button and then select it.

Set the color to R=246 G=248 B=255 and then go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a -5 px Offset and then click that OK button.

add new fill

Step 3

Make sure that your circle stays selected and keep focusing on the Appearance panel. Add a third fill and select it. Set the color to R=226 G=228 B=243 and then go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a -15 px Offset and then click that OK button.

Keep focusing on the Appearance panel and add the other three fills shown in the following image. Use the color and offset attributes indicated below.

add new fill

Step 4

Make sure that your circle is still selected and keep focusing on the Appearance panel. Select the stroke, set its color to R=28 G=35 B=61 and increase the Weight to 4 px.

stroke

Step 5

Make sure that your circle is still selected and keep focusing on the Appearance panel. Add a second stroke using the Add New Stroke button, select it and go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a -5 px Offset and then click that OK button.

add new stroke

Step 6

Make sure that your circle is still selected and keep focusing on the Appearance panel. Add a third stroke, select it and go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a -15 px Offset and then click that OK button.

Keep focusing on the Appearance panel and add the other three strokes shown in the following image. Use the color and offset attributes indicated below. In the end things should look like in the following image.

strokes

Step 7

Make sure that your circle is still selected and keep focusing on the Appearance panel. Add a new fill, drag it to the bottom of the panel, and select it.

Set the color to R=28 G=35 B=61, lower its Opacity to 20% and then go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a -20 px Offset, click that OK button, and then go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Drag the Move-Vertical slider to -45 px, click that OK button, and then go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Enter a 15 px Radius and then click that OK button.

gaussian blur

3. How to Create the Compass Grids

Step 1

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 15 x 10 px shape, fill it with R=28 G=35 B=61 and place it exactly as shown in the first image. Keep focusing on this tiny rectangle and switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select the top anchor points and simply drag them 25 px to the right. In the end things should look like in the second image.

direct selection tool

Step 2

Make sure that your tiny, dark shape is still selected and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Drag the Move-Vertical slider to 220 px, enter 1 in that Copies box, and then click that OK button.

transform

Step 3

Make sure that your tiny, dark shape is still selected and go again to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter 11 in that Copies box, set the Angle to 15 degrees, and then click that OK button.

transform

Step 4

Using the Pen Tool (P) or the Line Tool (\), create a 20 px vertical path and place it exactly as shown in the following image. Add a 2 px stroke for this path and set its color to R=28 G=35 B=61.

pen tool

Step 5

Make sure that your vertical path stays selected and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the attributes shown in the left window (in the following image), click that OK button, and then go again to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the attributes shown in the right window and then click that OK button.

transform

Step 6

Using the Pen Tool (P) or the Line Tool (\), create a 40 px vertical path and place it exactly as shown in the following image. Add a 4 px stroke for this path, set its color to R=28 G=35 B=61, and then click that Stroke piece of text to open the Stroke fly-out panel. Move to the Profile section and select Width Profile 4 from that list.

width profile

Step 7

Make sure that your vertical path stays selected and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the attributes shown in the left window (make sure that you check the Reflect Y box), click that OK button, and then go again to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the attributes shown in the right window and then click that OK button.

transform

Step 8

Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 20 px circle and place it as shown in the first image. Fill this new shape with R=226 G=228 B=243 and add a 4 px stroke. Align it to inside and set the color to R=28 G=35 B=61.

Keep focusing on this circle, pick the Anchor Point Tool (Shift-C), and simply click the four anchor points that make up your shape. This will basically turn your circle into a diamond.

diamond

Step 9

Make sure that your diamond shape is still selected and apply the two Transform effects shown in the following image.

multiply

4. How to Create the Background

Step 1

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 790 px square and fill it with R=246 G=248 B=255. Send this new shape to back (Shift-Control-[) and center it using the same commands from the Align panel.

rectangle

Step 2

Make sure that your square stays selected and focus on the Appearance panel. Add a second fill, drag it to the bottom of the panel, and select it. Set the color to R=28 G=35 B=61 and then go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a 35 px Offset and then click that OK button.

background

Step 3

Make sure that your square is still selected and focus on the Appearance panel. Select the top fill and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 95 px Radius, click that OK button, and then go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a 10 px Offset and then click that OK button.

rounded corners

Step 4

Make sure that your square is still selected and keep focusing on the Appearance panel. Select the stroke and set its color to R=28 G=35 B=61 and then go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 95 px Radius, click that OK button, and return to the Appearance panel. Open the Stroke fly-out panel, set the Weight to 10 px, and check that Dashed Line box. Enter 4 px in the first dash and gap boxes, and don't forget to check that Aligns dashes to corners and path ends... button.

dashed line

Step 5

Make sure that your square is still selected and keep focusing on the Appearance panel. Add a second stroke and select it. Set the color to R=28 G=35 B=61 and go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a -5 px Offset, click that OK button, and then go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 90 px Radius, click that OK button, and return to the Appearance panel. Open the Stroke fly-out menu for this new stroke, set the Weight to 5 px, and don't forget to check the Align Stroke to Inside button.

add new stroke

Step 6

Make sure that your square is still selected and keep focusing on the Appearance panel. Select the top stroke and duplicate it using the Duplicate Selected Item button. Focus on the new stroke and simply click the existing Offset Path effect to open it. Replace the -5 px Offset with a 5 px Offset and then click that OK button. Also, open the existing Rounded Corners effect and increase the Radius to 100 px.

add new stroke

5. How to Create the Compass Needles

Step 1

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 70 x 55 px shape and place it exactly as shown in the first image. Fill this new shape with R=226 G=228 B=243 and add a 4 px stroke. Align it to inside and set the color to R=28 G=35 B=61.

Make sure that your rectangle is still selected and go to Object > Path > Add Anchor Points. Pick the Delete Anchor Point Tool (-) and simply click the four anchor points highlighted in the first image to remove them. Switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the top-middle anchor point, and drag it 195 px up. In the end, your shape should look like in the second image.

add anchor points

Step 2

Using the Line Tool (\), create a 225 px vertical path and place it as shown in the following image. Add a 4 px stroke for this path and set its color to R=28 G=35 B=61.

line tool

Step 3

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 30 x 5 px shape, fill it with a random yellow, and place it as shown in the first image. Keep focusing on this new rectangle and switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select the right anchor points and drag them 45 px up.

Reselect the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 5 px square, fill it with a random yellow, and place it as shown in the third image. Switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the right anchor points, and drag them 10 px up. In the end things should look like in the fifth image.

yellow rectangle

Step 4

Focus on your Toolbar and simply double click the Blend Tool to open the Blend Options window. Select Specified Steps from the Spacing drop-down menu and enter 18 in that box. Reselect your yellow shapes, replace that fill color with R=28 G=35 B=61 and then hit Alt-Control-B to create a new blend. In the end, things should look like in the second image.

blend tool

Step 5

Select your blend along with the other two shapes that make up your compass needle and Group them (Control-G). Make sure that your group is selected and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Set the Angle to 90 degrees and enter 3 in that Copies box. Don't forget to check that middle-bottom reference point, and then click that OK button.

group

Step 6

Using the Pen Tool (P) , create a simple path as shown in the first image and fill it with R=246 G=248 B=255. Add a copy of this shape in the same place (Control-C > Control-F) and select it. Replace the existing fill color with R=28 G=35 B=61 and then pick the Delete Anchor Point Tool (-) and remove the anchor point highlighted in the second image.

Reselect the first shape made in this step and add a 4 px stroke. Align it to outside and set the color to R=28 G=35 B=61. Select both shapes made in this step and Group them (Control-G).

delete anchor point

Step 7

Make sure that the group made in the previous step is still selected and pick the Rotate Tool (R). Hold the Alt key from your keyboard, click exactly on the bottom anchor point to set the center point in that spot, and the Rotate window will open. Set the Angle to -90 degrees and then click that OK button. Be sure that your newly made group remains selected and simply hit Control-D twice. In the end, things should look like in the third image.

center point

Step 8

Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 170 px circle and place it as shown in the first image. Fill this new shape with R=28 G=35 B=61, lower its Opacity to 60% and then go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Enter a 15 px Radius and then click that OK button. Make sure that this blurred shape stays selected and send it behind the needles using the Control-[ keyboard shortcut.

gaussian blur

6. How to Create the Compass Center

Step 1

Pick the Ellipse Tool (L) and create a 90 px circle. Fill it with R=226 G=228 B=243 and center it. Add a 4 px stroke and set its color to R=28 G=35 B=61. Duplicate the stroke, select the copy, and go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a -20 px Offset and then click that OK button.

circle

Step 2

Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 40 px circle and center it. Add a 2 px stroke for this new shape, set its color to R=28 G=35 B=61 and then open that Stroke fly-out panel. Focus on the Profile section and select Width Profile 1. Make three copies of this circle (Control-C > Control-F) and squeeze them gradually as shown in the following image: 30 px, 20 px and 10 px.

width profile

Step 3

Using the Pen Tool (P) or the Line Tool (\), create a 10 px vertical path and place it exactly as shown in the following image. Add a 2 px stroke for this path, set its color to R=28 G=35 B=61 and then open the Stroke fly-out panel. Check the Round Cap button and then move to the Profile section and select Width Profile 4 from that list.

Make sure that your tiny path is still selected and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the attributes shown in the following image (make sure that you check the Reflect Y box) and then click that OK button.

round cap

Step 4

Make sure that your tiny path is still selected and go to again to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the attributes shown in the following image and then click that OK button.

transform

7. How to Add the Text

Step 1

Pick the Type Tool (T) and open the Character panel (Window > Type > Character). Select the Milkshake font and set the size to 50 px. Simply click on your artboard and type the text. Add the four letters shown in the following image and set their color to R=28 G=35 B=61.

type tool

Step 2

Make sure that the Type Tool (T) is still active, return to the Character panel, and set the size to 30 px. Add the other four pieces of text shown in the following image and use the same color.

character panel

8. How to Add a Grungy Texture

Step 1

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create an 810 px square and center it. Fill this new shape with R=229 G=207 B=170 and focus on the Appearance panel.

Select the fill, lower its Opacity to 50%, change the Blending Mode to Soft Light, and then go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 110 px Radius, click that OK button, and then go to Effect > Sketch > Note Paper. Enter the attributes shown in the following image and then click that OK button.

note paper

Step 2

Make sure that your 810 px square is still selected and keep focusing on the Appearance panel. Add a second fill and select it.

Set the color to R=67 G=43 B=15, lower its Opacity to 50%, change the Blending Mode to Color Burn, and then go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 105 px Radius, click that OK button, and then go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a -6 px Offset, click that OK button, and then go to Effect > Sketch > Note Paper. Enter the attributes shown in the following image and then click that OK button.

note paper

Step 3

Make sure that your 810 px square is still selected and keep focusing on the Appearance panel. Add a third fill and select it.

Set the color to black (R=0 G=0 B=0), lower its Opacity to 50% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light and then go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 110 px Radius, click that OK button, and then go to Effect > Artistic > Film Grain. Enter the attributes shown in the following image and then click that OK button.

film grain

Step 4

Make sure that your 810 px square is still selected and keep focusing on the Appearance panel. Add a fourth fill and select it.

Set the color to black, lower its Opacity to 50% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light and then go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 110 px Radius, click that OK button, and then go to Effect > Sketch > Graphic Pen. Enter the attributes shown in the following image and then click that OK button.

graphic pen

Step 5

Make sure that your 810 px square is still selected and keep focusing on the Appearance panel. Add one final fill and select it.

Replace the color with the linear gradient shown in the following image, change the Blending Mode to Color and then go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 110 px Radius and then click that OK button. Keep in mind that the yellow zero from the Gradient image stands for Opacity percentage.

linear gradient

Congratulations! You're Done!

Here is how it should look. I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial and can apply these techniques in your future projects. Don't hesitate to share your final result in the comments section.

Feel free to adjust the final design and make it your own. You can find some great sources of inspiration at GraphicRiver, with interesting solutions to improve your design.

final product
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