Illustrator shapes

image_1Creating a landscape image is an easy matter by combining some of the shape creation tools in Adobe Illustrator. First create a new document from the File menu. For the background landscape we would create a new layer and rename it Landscape. Layers will help us to organize and edit our illustration later. Now open the Swatches panel and create a new swatch by opening the Swatch libraries form the options fly-out list. Navigate to Color Books and choose the Pantone Solid Coated library, for example. Here we have about 1000 premixed colours which are used in the printing industries. Choose a landscape colour and the Pen tool. Then press Shift to constrain the drawing to 45 and 90 degrees, and click on a few points on the canvas to create the mountains in the distance. Copy this object by pressing the Alt key (Mac: Option) and dragging the shape with the Move tool. Then vary the shape by moving the anchor points with the Direct Selection tool.

For the Foreground shape create a green rectangle and copy it above or below. Then select the Blend tool and click on both rectangles. Determine the number of Steps, thus creating a graded blend.

Create the flowers by selecting the Polygon tool and clicking once on the screen, thus opening a dialog box. Change the number of sides to 12 and the radius to 15mm, for example. Then select the Star tool and similarly click on the screen to open the options for the tool. Change the Radius 1 field to 15mm, Radius 2 to 20mm and the number of sides to 12. Go to Window, Align and click on the horizontal and vertical alignment. This gives us the head of the flower. For the leaves and stalk select the Pen tool and press Shift to constrain the movement to 45 and 90 degrees. Group these objects together by selecting and right-clicking. Copy and vary the scales.

To create the bee first create a new layer called Bee and hide the other layers. image_4Select the Star tool and click on the art-board to open the dialog box. Change the Radius 1 field to 16 and Radius 2 to 18 and number of points to 30. Now delete the fill and copy the shape. Make two more copies for the bee’s stripes. Then bring the first one to the top by right-clicking and choosing Arrange, Bring to Front. Right-click again and choose Make Clipping Mask. The legs and wings are made with the Pen tool. Add a fill colour to the wings but reduce the opacity to 75%. When complete, group the various components together. You could also save this as a Symbol by dragging the object to the Symbols panel.

The bee’s flight path is created by making five horizontal lines of a small stroke weight. Then select them and drag them into the Brushes panel, choosing New Pattern Brush and Stretch to Fit. Use this new brush with Pen, Brush or Line tools to create a wavy line.

The clouds are created on a new layer. Make a big blue rectangle for the sky, and change the fill colour to a gradient of Dark to Light Blue.

Next create a small white circle of 15 x 15 points. Then select the circle and go to Object, Transform, Move. Then choose horizontal movement of 20 points, vertical zero, and hit Copy. Select both and repeat, only double the distance. Repeat again until you have a big block of white circles. Next select the Lasso tool and draw a cloud shape on top of the circles. Then go to Select, Inverse and delete. You may need to ungroup them first.

In this way we can create quite complex and interesting illustrations using Illustrator’s most basic shape tools.