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How to Draw a Spooky Halloween Background in Adobe Illustrator

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Final product imageFinal product imageFinal product image
What You'll Be Creating

In this tutorial, you will learn how to use the Mesh Tool and Image Trace in Adobe Illustrator to create a spooky vector Halloween background!

If you want to skip the tutorial and just use this background with some other awesome elements, purchase the Scary Halloween Banners With Pumpkins and Moon from GraphicRiver!

Scary Halloween Banners with Pumpkins and MoonScary Halloween Banners with Pumpkins and MoonScary Halloween Banners with Pumpkins and Moon
Scary Halloween Banners

1. How to Draw the Sky

Step 1

Let's begin by using Mesh for a bit!

Start by drawing a rectangle and filling it with #354459 color. Next, you have two options: you can either create a Mesh grid for this shape by manually placing nodes with the Mesh Tool (U), or you can create it automatically with Object > Create Gradient Mesh (6 Rows, 5 Columns).

Once your Mesh grid is done, begin coloring it by selecting the top row of nodes and changing their color to #1E2937.

Finish this step by coloring the nodes selected in the screenshot below with black (#000000).

draw mesh skydraw mesh skydraw mesh sky

Step 2

Finish the background by coloring the indicated nodes with the colors shown. You will need these:

  1. #6A7A93
  2. #B6BECF
  3. #23313F
finish mesh skyfinish mesh skyfinish mesh sky

Step 3

The one element we are missing from the sky is the moon. As it is very difficult to draw such a complex thing from scratch, I'd like to turn to Image Trace.

In the sidebar of this tutorial, you will find the Download Attachment button. Press it and, when the zip file downloads, unzip the archive. One of the files, moon.jpg, is an isolated photo of the moon (taken by me) that we will be using in this step.

Open the photo in Adobe Illustrator and bring up the Image Trace panel (Window > Image Trace). Use Grayscale mode with Grays: 20.

Click Trace to begin the tracing process.

trace moontrace moontrace moon

Step 4

When the Tracing finishes, go to Object > Expand to fully turn this photo into a vector object.

expand moonexpand moonexpand moon

Step 5

Ungroup the image to get rid of all unnecessary parts (such as the grey border on the left).

Once you're done, draw a #FAFAFA circle to put it under our traced moon.

add background to moonadd background to moonadd background to moon

Step 6

Draw another circle of the same size, now filled with #FBF9EA.

Set its Transparency to Multiply and its Opacity to 90%. Overlay it on top of the traced result.

add foreground to moonadd foreground to moonadd foreground to moon

Step 7

Draw a circle with a Radial Gradient (#F9F5E1 - #E3E0CD - #000000).

draw gradientdraw gradientdraw gradient

Step 8

Draw another, bigger circle with a Radial Gradient (#F0EEDD - #D8D8C7 - #000000).

draw gradientdraw gradientdraw gradient

Step 9

Set the Transparency of both objects to Screen.

change transparencychange transparencychange transparency

Step 10

Place the smaller gradient circle on top of the bigger one, and then place our traced moon on top. It should look like this:

put moon togetherput moon togetherput moon together

2. How to Draw the Trees

Now that our moon and sky are done, set them aside for the time being. Let's work on drawing the silhouettes of the trees!

Step 1

Open another photo from the archive you downloaded, branch.jpg. Trace it using the Black and White mode with a Threshold of 118.

trace branchtrace branchtrace branch

Step 2

Use Object > Expand on the result.

expand branchexpand branchexpand branch

Step 3

Create a reflected copy of the branch with Object > Transform > Reflect. Then draw a trunk for the tree using the Pen Tool (P).

reflect branch draw trunkreflect branch draw trunkreflect branch draw trunk

Step 4

Add branches to the trunk as indicated in the screenshot below.

add branchesadd branchesadd branches

Step 5

Continue adding branches.

add branchesadd branchesadd branches

Step 6

Add two final branches to finish off the tree.

finish treefinish treefinish tree

Group the tree (Control-G) and set it aside for now.

Step 7

To draw the pine tree, follow my outline with the Pen Tool. Reflect the half of the tree with Object > Transform > Reflect and Unite the two copies in the Pathfinder panel.

draw pine treedraw pine treedraw pine tree

3. How to Draw the Other Silhouettes

Step 1

Starting with the haunted manor, draw an outline of it as accurately as possible and fill it with black. Draw a few mismatched rectangles to represent windows.

draw house and windowsdraw house and windowsdraw house and windows

Step 2

Place the windows all around the house. Select all elements and use Minus Front in the Pathfinder panel to 'cut out' the windows in the building.

add windowsadd windowsadd windows

Step 3

Draw two lines in a cross shape, and then apply Profile 1 to them in the Stroke panel.

draw crossdraw crossdraw cross

Step 4

Use Object > Expand Appearance, and then use the Pathfinder panel to Unite both paths. Finally, create a smaller copy of the cross.


Step 5

Place the crosses over the windows of the house, and Unite it all in the Pathfinder panel.

add crossesadd crossesadd crosses

Step 6

Draw an ellipse with a Radial Gradient (#FFFFFF - #BD9942 - #000000).

Set its Transparency to Screen.

draw gradient lightdraw gradient lightdraw gradient light

Step 7

Place these ellipses behind the window openings of the house. They represent lights.

add lightsadd lightsadd lights

Step 8

Draw the final silhouette: a bat.

Again, draw a half with the Pen Tool (P), and then Reflect and Unite.

draw batdraw batdraw bat

Step 9

Place all the silhouettes we have drawn so far to create a background.

place backgroundplace backgroundplace background

Step 10

Place it all on top of the sky with the moon!

and moon and skyand moon and skyand moon and sky

4. How to Finish the Background

Step 1

Let's create some mist for the background! Draw two ellipses, one filled with #EEEEEE, and one with a Radial, white to black gradient.

draw ellipsesdraw ellipsesdraw ellipses

Step 2

Line up the two objects, setting the gradient ellipse on top of the grey one.

In the Transparency panel, choose Make Mask.

make transparency maskmake transparency maskmake transparency mask

Step 3

Change the Opacity of the result to 50% and its Transparency to Screen.

change opacitychange opacitychange opacity

Step 4

Place a couple of these on top of the background, creating some mist.

add mistadd mistadd mist

Step 5

Draw a star. Use a circle with #FFFFB3 to #000000 Radial Gradient, an Opacity of 70%, and Screen Transparency mode.

draw stardraw stardraw star

Step 6

Place stars all around the background, wherever you want!

add starsadd starsadd stars

Step 7

Finally, let's 'crop' the background! Draw an outline of a rectangle that would 'frame' everything you want in the picture.

Set it on top of our background, and then select all the elements and choose Make Clipping Mask after right-clicking.

make a clipping maskmake a clipping maskmake a clipping mask

Step 8

Our Halloween background is finished!

final resultfinal resultfinal result

Awesome Work, You're Now Done!

What now? You can try any of my other tutorials from my profile, or check out my portfolio on GraphicRiver, as well as the original vector we recreated in this tutorial.

I hope you enjoyed the tutorial and I would be super happy to see any results in the comments below!

Scary Halloween BannersScary Halloween BannersScary Halloween Banners
Scary Halloween Banners
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