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How to Make a Vector Photo Album and Wood Background

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Read Time: 7 min

Learn how to create a custom photo album with a wood background. Successful completion of this tutorial requires an intermediate knowledge of Adobe Illustrator. Let's get started!

Final Image Preview

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Tutorial Details

  • Program: Adobe Illustrator
  • Version: CS3
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Estimated Completion Time: 1.5 hours

Step 1

Use the Rectangle Tool (M) to draw a rectangle like the one below.

Step 2

Use the Pen Tool (P) to draw a shape that will be the curling flap of the photo album. Just concentrate on drawing the bottom curve smoothly. We'll duplicate the bottom curve to create the top curve in the next step.

Step 3

Copy and paste the entire shape and use the Pathfinder to trim the top edge to look like the bottom. In the Pathfinder Select Subtract from Shape Area followed by Expand.

Step 4

This is what you will be left with.

Step 5

Place the curl on the right edge of the rectangle shape. Using the Pen Tool, draw the shape shown in blue. Focus on making the highlighted area curve in a similar fashion as the curve above it. Use the Pathfinder to subtract the blue shape as we did in Step 3.

Step 6

Use the Rounded Rectangle Tool to draw a wide rectangle and make the ends very round. Hold the Up or Down Arrow while you draw the shape to change the radius of the corner. Use the Align Palette to align the rounded corner rectangle to the left edge of the photo album cover.

Use the Pen Tool to draw a shape that will fill in the area highlighted below. This is much easier than overlapping shapes and trying to finagle something rather than drawing it quickly by hand. After you draw the shape, use the Pathfinder to merge the shape with the cover.

Step 7

The light gray shape is what you should be left with after you successfully complete the last step.

Step 8

To make the top curve simply duplicate the cover and select Subtract From Shape Area followed by Expand in the Pathfinder palette.

Step 9

This is what you should be left with.

Step 10

We'll make the back cover of the photo album by copying the front cover and flipping it upside down using the Reflect Tool (O).

Step 11

Using the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the points highlighted below and drag them off to the right to make the shape wider. Using the Direct Selection Tool instead of the Selection Tool will garner better results as it will not stretch the entire shape, rather only the points we've selected.

Step 12

Use the Rectangle Tool to draw the blue rectangle below. Use the Align Palette so your blue shape and both covers are aligned on the left (make them flush left).

Select the blue and red shapes and in the Pathfinder select Subtract from Shape Area followed by Expand.

Step 13

This is the shape you will be left with.

Step 14

To make the inside pages copy and paste the back cover and make it slightly smaller.

Step 15

Use the Direct Selection Tool to move the points at the top of the pages downward so they look like they're inside the album.

Step 16

Give the elements of the photo album color. I've chosen to give the cover a green gradient.

Step 17

Give the inside pages a subtle tan gradient.

Step 18

To give the cover the illusion of depth, duplicate both the curl part and the cover, then stagger them slightly below their originals. Fill them with gray.

Step 19

To give the inside of the cover a very reflective surface use Illustrator's built-in swatches. Go to Window > Swatch Libraries > Gradients > Metals and select a swatch that looks good to you.

Of course you can further customize the swatch after you apply it, if it's not exactly what you were looking for; this is usually the case too. Illustrator's built in swatches simply make a great jumping-off point, they're not necessarily the perfect finished result.

Step 20

To add a little more depth, give the back inside page a shadow by going to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow.

Step 21

We'll add highlights by first drawing a tall thin white shape and giving it a blur by going to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Enter an amount that works well for your illustration. The values I show below are based on the size of the shape.

Step 22

Add other highlights and shadows by repeating the last step. When drawing shadows ensure that you set the shadow to Multiply in the Transparency Palette. This will allow the shadow to blend better with the color below it.

Step 23

Draw another rectangle shape and place it behind the cover. Blur it and set its mode to Multiply as well.

Step 24

Create an interesting pattern on the cover of the photo album by using the Artistic Ink swatches. Go to Window > Brushes Libraries > Artistic > Artistic_Ink. Drag any of the swatches onto the Artboard.

In order to further manipulate the swatches, you'll need to do two things. First, use the Direct Selection Tool and get rid of the points highlighted in yellow. Second, select the ink shape using the Selection Tool and go to Object > Ungroup until you can no longer ungroup the shape. This usually takes about four times.

Drag several different shapes onto your artboard to make a unique pattern.

Step 25

Once the shape is completely ungrouped, select it and go to Add to Shape Area followed by Expand.

Step 26

Copy and paste the cover of the photo album and place it behind the ink shapes. Use the Pathfinder and select Intersect Shape Areas followed by Expand.

Step 27

You can again use the metal swatch to give the ink shape a similar fill as the inside cover.

Step 28

To make the photos that go inside the album, start by drawing a rectangle and filling it with a dark gradient.

Step 29

Using the stroke palette give your rectangle a large stroke.

Step 30

To make the photo corners start with a rectangle shape.

Step 31

Duplicate the rectangle shape and subtract the unnecessary part using the Pathfinder. Your final shape should be a triangle.

Step 32

Stagger the triangle and subtract a notch out of the back most triangle using the Pathfinder.

Step 33

This is the shape you will be left with.

Step 34

Give the triangle a brown to dark brown fill.

Step 35

Place the pictures and photo corners beneath the the cover of the album. If need be, set the shadow of the page curl to Multiply in the Transparency Palette. Give the photo corners a shadow by copying and pasting them and changing their Opacity in the Transparency Palette.

Step 36

You can create a shadow for the entire album by blurring the shape that comprises the cover of the album.

Step 37

Last we'll create a wood background to give the illustration a bit more visual interest. Start by drawing a square and filling it with a light tan gradient.

Step 38

Some things just need a bit of manual labor, like the texture of the wood. There is no easy way to create it. Start by using the Pen Tool to draw a loop shape.

Step 39

Wood usually has a series of concentric circles that radiate outward. Continue to draw larger and more irregular shapes, the next larger than the last.

After you have a few circles drawn, make a vertical shapes on both sides of the circles that hug the edge of the circles. These vertical lines will give you a good place to create other circle areas.

Step 40

Continue to draw more varied lines. Also, throw in a few very skinny circles and make at least one or two skinny circles around or inside those. After a while you will begin to see the wood pattern taking shape.

Step 41

This is what you'll end up with. Layer this over the square shape and you're done!


You just learned how to create a custom photo album and wood background. I hope you had fun making this!

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