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Quick Tip: How to Create a Detailed Box in Adobe Illustrator

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Read Time: 5 min

For this Quick Tip I'm going to show you how to create a detailed cardboard box, including dividers, from scratch. We will use the power of gradients, pattern swatches and a bit 3D magic to make this box really come to life. So let's get to it!

Step 1

Take your Rectangle Tool (M) and draw a rectangle 65 x 130 mm, use this rectangle as your base to create the flaps. When your flaps are done select your base-rectangle and while holding down Shift + Alt use one of the corner-handlers to scale it down. Use the Pen Tool (P) to create the insides of the box, and use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to shift the corners of the flaps around.

Step 2

Time for some gradients to each of the shapes. Use the image below to follow the gradients required, for the colors and angles within the Gradient panel.

Step 3

Now to finish it off we're going to add some more colors. When all the colors are done, use your Selection Tool (V) to select the left and right insides of the box. Use Cmd + C to Copy and Cmd + F to Paste in Front, then apply the color and Opacities.

Step 4

To give our box some texture we are going to use a pattern. Take your Line Segment Tool (\) and while holding down Shift draw a small horizontal line, give it a Stroke Weight of 1.2 pt. Add the color to the stroke, keep it selected and while holding down Alt + Shift drag it down leaving a small gap in between. Click on Cmd + D to Copy your last transformation until you have five strokes. Select all strokes and go to Object > Expand (keep both Fill and Stroke checked).

Apply the colors and Opacities as shown below. Copy the strokes using Cmd + C and Cmd + V and rotate one of the two by 45 degrees. Drag these line groups - one by one - to your Swatches panel to automatically create a seamless pattern.

Step 5

For our other texture we're going to use the Blob Brush Tool (Shift + B). Draw a rectangle as seen below, set your Blob Brush to a very small size using the [ key. Place random black blobs and dots inside of your rectangle and make sure it is filling the inside of your rectangle.

Select the dots and rectangle, hit Cmd + C and Cmd + F. While keeping it selected go to Object > Transform > Rotate and set the rotation to 180 degrees. Once it has been rotated set the fill to white. You can now delete the two rectangles, select all your dots and scale it down till the dots are barely visible. Now drag it to your Swatches panel as seen in the step above.

Step 6

Back to our cardboard box! Select all elements with your Selection Tool (V), then deselect the two inside shapes with the lower opacity (made in Step 3). Now use Cmd + C to Copy it. Create two new layers, and place a copy (using Cmd + F) in each one of them. Time to apply the patterns we just made!

Hide your first and third layer. Select all the elements of the box in your second layer, open the Swatches panel and select the dot pattern swatch. While keeping all elements selected set the Opacity to 20%. Hide your second layer and switch on your third layer, drag and drop the pattern accordingly (as seen below). Select all elements and set the Opacity to 10%.

Unhide all your layers, and voilà. A subtle and nearly noticeable pattern over our cardboard box has been created.

Step 7

Select the bottom of the box, hit Cmd + C and Create New Layer. Use Cmd + F to paste the bottom in the right place and give it a red stroke. Scale up the rectangle holding Shift + Alt until it's almost at the edge of our box. Use the Direct Selection Tool (A) (while holding down Shift) to select both the left and right line of the rectangle, hit Cmd + X and Cmd + F. The rectangle is now split in four.

Select the top line of the rectangle and while holding down Shift make five copies. Select all horizontal lines and use Vertical Distribute Center (make sure you have ‘Align to Selection' checked). Your horizontal lines should now be spaced accordingly. Now do the same with the vertical lines. After everything is aligned you can delete the outer lines and set the stroke to 1.5 pt Stroke Weight.

Step 8

Select your lines, hit Cmd + C, Create New Layer and hit Cmd + F. Hide this layer, we will need this later on. Select the lines of the dividers on the original layer and go to Object > Expand. While keeping all selected use the Unite function of the Pathfinder panel. Go to Effect > 3D > Extrude and Bevel and apply the settings as seen below. We now have the wireframe for our dividers.

Step 9

Draw a Rectangle (M) and give it a unique fill color. Select your Eyedropper Tool (I), click once on the rectangle with the unique color and use Click + Alt on the elements in the wireframe that we're going to use. Once all the elements have been filled, go to Select > Same > Fill Color and hit Cmd + X. Delete the wireframe group, and hit Cmd + F to Paste in Front. Now apply the gradients.

Step 10

Toggle the layer containing your lines to visible and change the stroke color. For the last step we need to add shadows to the box. Take your Pen Tool (P) and draw the shapes as seen below at 20% Opacity. Make sure to place the shadow shapes under the lines of the divider.


Your box is now done! With gradients and subtle textures, you too can create a box illustration. This has multiple uses, from a presentation style interface within a box or just simply add it within an illustration.

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