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Using Illustrator CS5 Tools to Create a Painted House

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Read Time: 13 min

In this tutorial I will show some of the incredible new resources from Illustrator CS5: I will use the Perspective Grid tool to create a scene with perspective and paint all its elements with natural media brushes that create an excellent painting simulation with brush strokes that can be freely edited.

Step 1

Open a new document. Let's start the artwork by creating the walls of the house: click the Perspective Grid icon on the tools panel to make a grid appear in the document.

Step 2

The grid cube that appears in the document is much more than a group of orientation guides. When we drag any object to one of the faces of the grid cube that object will automatically suffer the perspective effect proportioned by the vanishing points. To activate this process you must use the icon that appears on the top of the page when the Perspective Grid tool is selected. The icon is represented by a small cube. Click on the right side of the icon cube, this will make the respective face of the document grid cube assume an orange tone, indicating that the right side of the grid is active.

Step 3

Create a rectangle filled with the hexadecimal color # F8EFF9 and drag that rectangle according to the direction shown in the example above. Perceive that when you click and drag the rectangle over the document it will automatically assume the perspective formed by the right side vanishing point.

Step 4

Click on the left face of the icon cube, the respective face of the document grid cube will assume a new color, indicating that the left side of the grid is active. Repeat the process used in the last step, creating a rectangle, but altering its fill color to the hexadecimal #FAE0FC, it's a stronger tone that creates a contrast between two pink colors. Drag this rectangle over the document according to the direction shown below.

Step 5

This process can also be used with keyboard hotkeys. To do this you can change from Perspective Grid tool to the Perspective Selection tool. To select, for example, the left side of the grid, click with the Perspective Selection tool over the object and press the "1"-key: the object will assume the left side perspective. To activate the right side you must press the "3"-key and to activate the horizontal side you must press the "2"-key.

Step 6

Use now the Add Point Tool to add a new point right in the middle of the superior part of the left wall. Then, with the Direct Selection tool, drag this point upward to form the base of the house rooftop.

Step 7

To start the construction of the rooftop activate the right side selection of the Perspective Grid and create a rectangle filled with a dark brown tone. Try to keep this rectangle width equal to the wall's width. Then, select the Shear tool and make adjustments to make the rooftop inclination.

Step 8

Position the rooftop over the house and use the Direct Selection tool to move the anchor points. With the anchor points selected you can make manual adjustments to the borders of the rooftop.

Step 9

Create a new layer below the illustration layer. Then, select the interior part of the icon cube of the Perspective Grid tool. Make a new rectangle in this new layer.

Step 10

Position the rectangle behind the house to create the other side of the rooftop. If necessary, use the Shear and Direction Selection tool, as explained previously, to make the needed adjustments.


Now create the windows and the door. To do this you can open a new file in Illustrator and make in it a rectangle with a window format. Fill it with dark blue color, like the hexadecimal #0071BC. Create other smaller rectangles filled with black color., they will be the window screens, as shown in the example below.

Step 12

To create the door make the same process changing only the sizes and positioning of the rectangles.

Step 13

Once the windows and door are created, drag one of the elements to the house document.

Step 14

Once an object is dragged to a file that has an active perspective grid the object will ignore either sides of the grid. In this case it stays ready for you to choose which grid side you want to apply it to. Verify that the Perspective Selection tool is active in the Tool panel, click with that tool on the door and press the "3"-key. Drag the door to the Grid, positioning it at the right wall.

Step 15

Do the same with the window.

Step 16

To apply a window on the left wall you can create a copy of the applied window and change the perspective angle. With the Perspective Selection tool you can select a window, press the Option (MAC) or Alt (PC) key and drag a copy of the window to the left, then press press the "1"-key and the perspective angle of the window will be changed to the left vanishing point. Position the window in the wall and, if you want, position new copies.

Step 17

Once the house format is ready you will make a scenario behind the walls, creating firstly the sky and the heavens. To do this you must put a new layer below the illustration of the house.

Step 18

Hide the visibility of the layers above and let only the background layer stay visible with the perspective grid.

Step 19

The new CS5 version brings a new group of brushes with incredible realistic characteristics. To access them click twice over the new brush icon at the Brushes panel. A new option panel will appear and in the Shape box you can choose between a variety of brushes and make many types of adjustments like, for example, adjust the types of bristles and control their density and opacity.

Step 20

Choose the Flat Fan Brush to paint the sky. In the configuration panel grow the brush size just a little bit without altering the rest of the configuration.

Step 21

Click on the Brush tool at the Tools Panel, configure the color of the brush to blue. Use the hexadecimal # 2FACC9 and make the first brush stroke a little above the horizontal line established by the perspective grid. Try to adjust the width of the brush as described previously so that it looks like the example shown below.

Step 22

Continue to develop a painting of the sky with quick brush strokes, always on the horizontal side.

Step 23

Change the color of the brush to white and overlay tones making brush strokes above previous brush strokes. Try to paint with white on the nearest parts of the horizontal line to create a deepness illusion with the sky painting.

Step 24

Now create a new brush to paint clouds. At the Brush panel drag the icon of the brush you used to paint the sky to the inferior part of the panel, at the "Create New Layer" icon. This will create a copy of the brush. Then, click twice over the icon of the copied brush and in the Brush Options change the Shape to Round Curve.

Step 25

Keep the color white and, with the new brush, create the clouds above the sky.

Step 26

Get the same brush you used to paint the sky in order to paint the ground, but change the brush color to the hexadecimal #F7EECB and paint with quick horizontal brush strokes.

Step 27

Change the tones of the brush to the hexadecimal color # DBC47B and give shorter brush strokes above the previous brush strokes. Repeat the process once more, changing the color to #BA9B42 and overlay the ground with three layers of paint.

Step 28

In a new archive create a pattern simulating a type of tiled floor like the example below, fill it with the hexadecimal color # E2D8B0.

Step 29

Drag the tiled floor to the house file and, with the Perspective Grid, apply the tiled floor to the horizontal grid.

Step 30

Select the tile floor and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Roughen. Put in the adjustments low values to create subtle distortions and irregularities at the borders of all rectangles, that will form a natural looking tile floor.

Step 31

Create mountains at the horizon with the same brush used to create the sky and the ground. Use the hexadecimal color #94C4D6.

Step 32

Now paint the grass over the mountains with the color #AECC33.

Step 33

Turn on the house visibility and turn off the Perspective Grid by pressing Shift + Option + i

Step 34

Start painting the house walls. You must disable all other layer visibilities,making only the house visible. This will facilitate the painting process. Create a new layer above the house, select the windows and the door and drag them to this new layer.

Step 35

Now that the windows and the door are separated from the walls, turn off their visibility.

Step 36

Use the Eyedropper tool to capture the pink tone of the right wall. Then, on the Color panel, manipulate the color, adding a bit of magenta saturation and apply it over the wall using the brush used to paint the sky. Make vertical and horizontal brush strokes.

Step 37

Do the same process on the other wall. Work a little more on the contrast between the rooftop and the walls to indicate the shadows. Grow or reduce the brush size as necessary.

Step 38

The same procedure must be done to the rooftop, concentrating on the rooftop borders, giving it a more organic look. On the right inferior side of the rooftop create zig zag forms to indicate the tile format.

Step 39

Activate the windows and door layer visibility and apply the same technique to give a painting aspect to all these elements.

Step 40

Make variations of tone and brush size and work a little more on the details. Enhance the illusion of depth by creating the thickness of the windows, using only a brush with a darker tone of blue to overlay the black background of the windows.

Step 41

Activate the house layer visibility to see the painting effect applied on all the elements.

Step 42

To conclude the painting effect the rooftop must look older. Start by making a rectangle filled with the hexadecimal color #E2D8B0. Click on the Free Transform tool and position the cursor above the right superior part of the rectangle, press the keys Shift + Option + Command, maintain the keys and mouse pressed and drag the mouse down. This will make the extreme right sides of the rectangle converge to the center.

Step 43

Create copies of the rectangle sequentially, with each new copy on the right side of their original form, letting a small gap between the copies. Then, activate the Brushes panel and drag these objects inside it, creating an Art Brush.

Step 44

Adjust the thickness of this new brush to 0.25pt and put it above the rooftop at an adequate tile positioning direction. Start applying the tiles at the right side going to the left until you fill the rooftop. Try to always make irregular movements to create a final result that is purposely unordered.

Step 45

Get the brush that you used to paint the skies and fill it with the color #A89A5D. Pass the brush over the extremities of the tile rows to create volume.

Step 46

Continue to work on the tiles volume with this same technique, but now overlaying the colors. Profit from the many brown tones that are already available at the Swatches panels to create more variations. Prepare a thin brush with a very dark brown tone and work on the tile details. Use the same brush with white color to work with illumination details.

Step 47

Now we are working on the floor tiles again. Hide all the other layers, only the floor tile must be visible. Open a new layer above and below the floor tile layer. Keep using the same brush and the same colors used previously on the rooftop. Start painting on the layer below with crossed dark brown lines, trying to fill the spaces between the tiles. On the layer above do the same, but use variations of brown tones and try to apply different thickness on the brush, always overlaying previous brush strokes.

Step 48

Create weathering on the floor tile borders by simply passing an eraser at the borders in a irregular form to create the illusion of erosion.

Step 49

Now it's time for the last details of our painting, the vegetation. On this step your file must be rendering slowly due to the many brush strokes. So open a new file to create all elements separately and drag then later to the house file.

Let's start with the trees, we have ready-made ones inside Illustrator. Activate the Symbols panels, access the sub-menu, choose Open Symbols > Library and choose the Nature option. In this panel we will find some elements that can be used on the illustration but that we will not use as a Symbol. Just drag the group of trees into the new document. We shall use them later as a base for the painting.

Step 50

Select the trees and go to Object > Expand , this will convert the Symbol into a group of editable objects. Now with the Eyedropper tool you must capture the green tone of the leaves and get the same brush used for the tile floors to paint over the leaves and create a painting aspect over them.

Step 51

Create variations of brush size and also variations of the green tones, overlay the green tones with some short yellow and orange brush strokes to make the painting more vibrant. You can lose some time with this work but the result is very interesting.

Step 52

Then, make a copy of all the trees and, with them selected, activate the Recolor Artwork filter, clicking over its icon localized at the Control bar. On Colors configure a color and edit it through panel adjustments to obtain a greenish blue color.

Step 53

Create copies of this group, making a small forest. Make some trees bigger or smaller and use other tools like Reflect to invert some copies, that makes tree repetition less apparent.

Step 54

Use Copy and Paste or drag the group of trees to the main scene.

Step 55

To add contrast to the trees tone make a copy of that layer and put it above the original one. On the layer above use the Transparency panel and apply the Multiply mode.

Step 56

Place the original trees on the scene and position them above all the other trees.

Step 57

To create the ground vegetation make a new layer above the trees layer and make vegetation forms with the same brush that you used for the previous tree painting step. Use the #4B002F color and configure the size to 0.25pt. Make brush strokes that represent vegetation forms over the foreground trees base.

Step 58

Then, use a variation of green and yellow tones and overlay the dark brush strokes painted previously to create a vibrant vegetation.

Step 59

Finally, activate all file visibilities and create more vegetation around and in front of the house and some others in the background with a darker blue tone to indicate depth.


You're now finished. You should have a nice house painting, using only vectors and natural media brushes! You can also use this technique to create a row of houses or an urban scene, your only limited by your imagination. Have fun!

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