In this tutorial we’ll follow an exciting process of creating flat medieval weapons for games! We’ll be working with basic geometric shapes and using various functions and tools of Adobe Illustrator to transform and modify the shapes.
By the end of this tutorial you’ll be able to create not only a fantasy longsword, heavy warhammer and a battle axe, but you can also use the described techniques to create the whole set of medieval weapons or fantasy assets for your game! Feel free to browse the Envato Market for references of medieval weapons, and then let’s start!
1. Create a Sharp Sword
Let’s start by creating a New Document of 800 x 600 px size and make a greyish-blue rectangle of the same size, using the Rectangle Tool (M) to form a background.
Let’s start shaping our sword from a rectangle of 30 x 280 px size. Fill the shape with a gentle linear gradient, consisting of three colors: pale blue, light yellow and light pink, creating an effect of a metal surface. Use the Gradient Tool (G) to place it vertically.
Using proper colors is one of the most important things that makes your illustration vivid and enlivens it! If you want to apply the same color palette as in this tutorial, feel free to use the Eyedropper Tool (I) and hold Shift to pick the color from any spot on your screen. This way you’ll be able to pick the colors directly from these screenshots!
This also works for gradients: select a gradient slider in the Gradient panel, take the Eyedropper Tool (I), hold Shift and pick the needed color, thus changing the color of the slider. This tip can really speed up your work. Convenient, isn’t it?
Go to Object > Path > Add Anchor Points. Use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to select the new anchor point in the middle of the top edge and drag it up, shaping the pointed tip of the blade.
Go to Object > Path > Offset Path and set the Offset value to -7 px, forming a smaller shape inside.
Copy the shape and Paste in Back (Control-C > Control-B). Move it a few pixels to the left, using the arrow keys, and switch the Blending Mode to Multiply in the Transparency panel, forming a gentle shadow.
Repeat the same action once again, but this time move the copy a few pixels to the right. Switch the Blending Mode to Screen, making a bright highlight.
Now let’s merge the tips of all three shapes at one point. Take the Lasso Tool (Q) and select the points. Head to the Align panel and check that you've chosen Align to Selection. Finally, click Horizontal Align Center and Vertical Align Center to align all the points at one point.
Now let’s shape the groove of the sword. Use the Line Segment Tool (\) and hold Shift to make a vertical line across the central ridge of the sword. Apply a white color for the Stroke and change the Profile to Width Profile 1 in the Stroke panel to make the line pointed.
Let’s align the shapes. Select the line and the sword base beneath it. Click the sword once again to make it a Key Object (it will be marked with a thicker selection). Head to the Align panel and click Horizontal Align Center and Vertical Align Center to align the shapes.
Let’s start shaping the cross-guard from a 90 x 10 px rectangle. Fill it with dark greyish-purple gradient and place the gradient diagonally, using the Gradient Tool (G).
Copy the shape and Paste in Front (Control-C > Control-F). Squash the shape to make it narrower and make the colors of the gradient a bit darker.
Copy the bigger rectangle and Paste in Back (Control-C > Control-B). Move the copy down a bit and make it darker. Repeat the same action, moving the new copy up and making it lighter to make the guard more three-dimensional and detailed.
Let’s add more elements to the guard. Add a small vertical rectangle of 7 x 23 px size at the left side of the guard. Fill it with linear gradient of the same colors as the guard, but make it somewhat darker.
Add a small 13 x 13 px circle, placing it beneath the rectangle (Shift-Control-[).
Select the top left and bottom left anchor points of the rectangle with the Direct Selection Tool (A) and use the Live Corners feature to make the corners slightly rounded by pulling the circle markers.
Group (Control-G) the rectangle and the circle. Double-click the Reflect Tool (O) and select the Vertical Axis. Click the Copy button to make a mirrored copy and place it on the opposite side of the guard.
Let’s add a simple, elegant grip to our sword. Make a rectangle of 30 x 85 px size, using the same dark color palette. Create a couple of rectangle copies on top and make them narrower, forming the stripes of darker and lighter colors.
Copy the decorative element from the tip of the guard, make it larger, and attach it to the bottom of the grip.
Let’s finish up the grip by adding one more element. Make a thin rectangle across the grip, as shown in the screenshot below. Select its top and bottom left anchor points with the Direct Selection Tool (A) and drag them up, making the shape skewed.
Use the Reflect Tool (O) to flip the shape over the Vertical Axis and make a Copy. Now we have two crossed metal stripes, decorating the guard.
Let’s add some highlights to the metal surface of our sword to make it more realistic. Use the Rectangle Tool (M) to make a set of horizontal stripes. Fill them with blue color and switch the Blending Mode to Screen.
Place the stripes over the blade of the sword, rotating them about 30 degrees.
Now select the blade shape together with the stripes and take the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M). Hold Alt and click the unneeded pieces outside the blade to delete them.
Finally, let’s add a few finishing touches to the blade of our sword. Zoom in and use the Pen Tool (P) to add three anchor points at the right edge of the blade. Select the middle point with the Direct Selection Tool (A) and move it to the opposite side, forming a notch. Add more notches to the blade, making it look more aged and chipped, as if it has already been used in battles.
There we have it! Our sword is ready. Let’s move on and make a heavy warhammer!
2. Draw a Golden Warhammer
Let’s start rendering the top part of our hammer. Use the Rectangle Tool (M) and make a 60 x 95 px shape, filling it with a golden linear gradient, using the gentle tints of yellow and orange colors. Place the gradient diagonally.
Add two more narrow rectangles, placing them at the left part of the larger shape. Adjust the colors, creating a shiny metal look: make the dark part of the bottom rectangle slightly darker than that of the top shape. And make the light-yellow part of the bottom shape brighter than that of the top shape, creating a nice contrast and adding dimension to the shapes.
Add two more groups of rectangles, decorating the hammer.
Now we’ll create the center of the hammer’s top. Make a 45 x 85 px rectangle, filling it with dark-purple linear gradient. Duplicate (Control-C > Control-F) the shape and shrink it to 20 x 85 px, making the rectangle narrower. Make the color of the gradient a bit lighter.
Duplicate the new shape and rotate it 90 degrees, making a cross. Adjust the width of the shape to make it fit the large rectangle. Select the crossing stripes and Unite them in the Pathfinder, merging them into a single shape.
Add two more stripes beneath the cross, filling them with darker gradient to create a subtle shadow.
Let’s make a shiny gem to decorate our hammer. Use the Polygon Tool and set the number of Sides to 6, forming a hexagon of about 8 x 8 px size. Fill it with linear gradient from rose-pink to darker pink. Duplicate the shape and shrink it to make a smaller hexagon inside. Make the colors of the gradient a bit lighter, making the shape pop out.
Add a dark stripe at the left side of our hammer. And let’s attach the rubies! Place the gem on top of the shape, hold Alt-Shift, and drag it down to make a copy. Press Control-D multiple times to repeat our last action, making more copies.
Decorate the dark part of the hammer with a large gem as well.
Let’s use the Reflect Tool (O) to flip the golden part of our hammer to the opposite side.
Make a couple of brown stripes with the Rectangle Tool (M) and set the Blending Mode to Screen. Place them over the golden base of the hammer and use the Shape Builder Tool (M) while holding Alt to delete the unneeded pieces.
Add a few notches to the dark parts of the hammer to make it chipped.
Let’s add a shiny golden handle to our hammer. Form a 15 x 180 px rectangle and fill it with vertical linear gradient from yellow to orange, giving it a shiny metal look. Add another rectangle beneath, making it a bit wider and making the colors of the gradient brighter, creating a nice contrast between the shapes.
Let’s add a grip to the handle. Create a group of dark-purple rectangles of the same type we did for the guard of our sword. Set their size to 55 x 15 px.
Add another dark rectangle of 40 x 125 px for the grip. Place three thin vertical stripes above the grip to make it textured. Add a decorative element to the bottom of the grip. You can copy one from our sword or make a new one, using the Rectangle Tool (M) and the Ellipse Tool (L).
Copy the crisscrossed element from the grip of the sword and apply it to the grip of the hammer.
Now the handle looks massive and detailed!
And that’s it for our golden warhammer! Let’s move on to the axe!
3. Render a Heavy Battle Axe!
Let’s start making the head of the axe with double blades. Use the Ellipse Tool (L) to make a 195 x 195 px circle, filling it with gentle linear gradient. I’m using the same colors as for the blade of our sword.
Add two smaller circles, covering the top and bottom parts of the first circle. Align all three shapes to the Vertical Center and use the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M) while holding Alt to cut out the circles.
Duplicate the blade twice (Control-C > Control-F > Control-F) and squash the top copy, making it narrower. Select the top shape and the one beneath it and use the Minus Front function of Pathfinder to cut the shapes, forming the edges of the blades. Switch the remaining pieces into Multiply Blending Mode, making them somewhat darker.
Let’s render a decorative element in the center of the blade. Combine three geometric shapes as shown in the screenshot below, rotating a square 45 degrees and placing two crossing ovals on top of it. Select all three shapes and Unite them in Pathfinder.
Fill the created shape with golden linear gradient.
Keeping the shape selected, go to Object > Path > Offset Path and apply a -5 px Offset value. Adjust the color of the top shape, making it slightly lighter to add dimension.
Add another smaller shape on top and fill it with dark-purple gradient. Decorate the shape with a bright gem, duplicating it from the hammer.
Now let’s form the wooden haft of our battle axe. I’m using the blade of the sword to shape the half and switch the colors of the gradient to dark brown, depicting a wooden surface.
We also need to add a massive grip to the handle, but no need to make a new one! Let’s use the one we’ve made for the hammer and change the colors of its parts from dark purple to golden.
Copy a horizontal stripe from the grip and add a couple of those to the top part of the haft to make them hold the blade.
Work at the blade a little bit more, adding a few notches and bright reflections to the metal surface. Now our battle axe looks complete!
Let’s add one final detail to give the whole weapon's composition a finished look. Use the Ellipse Tool (L) to make a 120 x 15 px oval and fill it with radial gradient from blue in the center to white at the edges. Squash the gradient using the Gradient Tool (G).
Switch the Blending Mode of the shape to Multiple, forming a subtle shadow.
Congratulations! Our Set of Medieval Weapons Is Ready!
Great job! We’ve just finished designing our set of flat fantasy weapons. Let’s place them in a row and add a shadow beneath each weapon to make everything look complete.
I hope you’ve enjoyed following this tutorial and discovered some useful tips and tricks that will help you to expand the set, creating more weapons of different kinds, such as spikes, staves, daggers, and more. Check out this Medieval Fantasy Weapons Pack if you want to get the source file and to see what other types of weapons can be created using this technique.
Have fun, and feel free to share your results!