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Graphic Design: Create Jack card illustration

Intermediate level Adobe Illustrator Adobe Illustrator

Create a new document

Step 1

Create a new document. Set the width to 50 pixels and the height to 800 pixels. This size is good enough for a vertically position card illustration.

Create a sketch

We need an idea of how this illustration will look like. A sketch is the perfect blueprint for the construction of the illustration. In our case, we will need to vertically divide the artboard in two equal parts and sketch in the upper part.

Step 1

Draw a simple drawing of the Jack – a man’s figure consisting of head and an arm, with an axe and a heart on the sides.

Step 2

Copy the sketch, rotate it for 180° and place it on the other half of the artboard. This step completes our sketch and we have a very basic draft of the illustration we are about to do.

Create a color palette

We will try the traditional approach on this card illustration – a white background and a colorfull character. The colors are mostly warm (dark yellow, orange, red, shades of pink and beige) and two shades of turquoise as opposite, cool colors. Of course, these are my suggestions so feel free to change and adjust them to your vision.

Start composing the illustration

To build the illustration, we will use mostly the basic tools – the Ellipse Tool (L), the Rectangle Tool (M) and then Rounded Rectangle Tool. The combination of these simple tools will give us a clean and geometric style which allows many details.

Step 1

Use the Rounded Rectangle Tool to create a simple rounded rectangle (1). Use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to delete the top anchor points (2). Color this shape in beige color (#fcdbb4). This is the base for the face. Use the Rectangle Tool (M) to create a nose shape (3) and add it to the face shape (4). Position it behind the face (5).

Step 2

Create the mouth by using the Ellipse Tool (L). Create a simple circle (1a). Cut out the top (2a) and the right (3a) anchor points, leaving only ¼ of the original circle. Position the mouth over the face. Once we are done with the mouth, we can construct the eye. Just draw a simple circle and color it blue (#0071bc) and add an orange (#fbb000) rectangle over it (1b). Cut the top left anchor point of the rectangle – this will convert it into a triangle which will represent the eyebrow (2b). Place them over the face (3b).

Step 3

Next, we will need to create a crown. Draw a dark yellow (#fbb000) rectangle (1). Use the Pen Tool (P) to add 3 anchor points on top of the rectangle (2) and pull them down to the half of the rectangle (3). Draw another short and long rectangle, color it orange (#f15a24) (4) and position it at the bottom of the crown (5). Position the whole crown over the head (6).

Step 4

We will need to add hair to the head. Use the Pen Tool (P) to create a simple hair shape (1) and color it dark yellow (#fbca00) (2). Then, draw one thick curvy line, expand and multiply it 9 to 10 times. Place those lines over the hair (3). Use the Unite command from the Pathfinder’s panel to merge them into one object and then create a compound path (Object > Compund Path > Create). Copy (Control + C) and Paste in Front (Control + F) the hair object. Select the lines and the hair and use the Intersect command from the Pathfinder’s panel (4). You will get a new group of lines, perfectly aligned to the hair shape. Color them orange (#f7931e) (5).

Step 5

The next object to be made is the collar. Draw a simple circle (1) and one rectangle with a diamond shape (2). Select them both and position them one over another, so they overlap at least 50%. Use the Intersect command from the Pathfinder’s panel and you will get a new shape which we will use as our Jack’s collar (4).

Step 6

Color the collar pink (#ff0074). Then duplicate it and make the copy slightly smaller, towards the sharp edge. Color it red (#b60007) (1). Repeat this step again and color it pink (2), and then again and color it red (3). Repeat this step one more time and position the collar behind the head (4).

Step 7

Now we need an arm. Create one long, horizontal rounded rectangle and color it dark yellow (#fbb000) (1). Cut out the left corner (2). Draw 6 vertical orange (#f15a24) rectangles and position them over the first object (3). Adjust their height to match the height of the arm shape (4).

Step 8

We will need to fill the stripes of the sleeve with details. Use the Rectangle Tool (M) and the Ellipse Tool (L) to create a diamond and a heart shape (1a). Multiply them several times. Position the hearts over the red stripes and color them in slightly darker red. Position the diamonds over the yellow parts and color them in slightly brighter yellow color (2a).

To finish the arm as a whole group, we will need a hand. Create 5 rounded rectangles (1b). Position 4 of them as fingers and 1 of them as a palm (2b). Group them (Control + G). Position them at the left side of the sleeve (3b).

Step 9

Now is time to combine the 3 parts we made so far. Place them one over the other starting with the hand, then the collar and place the head on top of them all. Now we have the Jack as a whole piece.

Step 10

Postion the Jack’s group on the upper half of the artboard. Now we can move on creating the rest of the details.

Step 11

The axe is the next object to be done. Create a circle and color it in turquoise (#00a99d) (1). Multiply it twice and position the copies over the top and the bottom of the circle. Use the Unite command from the Pathfinder’s panel to merge them into one object and then create a compound path (Object > Compund Path > Create). Select the copies and the original circle and use the Intersect command from the Pathfinder’s panel (2). You will get a blade-like shape (3).

Step 12

Create a rectangle and position it on the left side of the blade. Select both shapes and use the Minus Front command from the Pathfinder’s panel (1). Then, draw a circle with thicker outline and expand it. Color it slightly lighter turquoise and position it over the blade shape. Select both shapes and use the Intersect command from the Pathfinder’s panel (2). Add 7 tiny circles as details to the new shape over the blade (3).

Step 13

In order to complete the axe, we’ll need a stick for the blade. Draw one thin rectangle and color it beige (#fcdbb4) (1). Create one pink (#fca1b4) rectangle and rotate it for 45°. Multiply it 8 times and position the duplicates parallel with equal space from each other. Use the Unite command from the Pathfinder’s panel to merge them into one object and then create a compound path (Object > Compund Path > Create). Copy (Control + C) and Paste in Front (Control + F) the stick. Select the striped group and the stick and use the Intersect command from the Pathfinder’s panel (2). You will get a striped stick (3) which you can combine with the blade (4). Group all of the objects.

Step 14

Position the group on the left side of the artboard, aligning with the Jack’s elbow. As you can notice, we are slowly filling the upper half of the artboard.

Step 15

Now let’s go back to using the Ellipse Tool (L), the Rectangle Tool (M), the Star Tool and the Rounded Rectangle Tool. Use these tools to create few simple shapes – a heart, a circle, a triangle, a star, a drop and an arrow. Color them in the warm colors from our color palette.

Step 16

Create a rectangle with the Width of 430 pixels and the Height of 740 pixels. Use a thicker outline of 10 pt and position it centrally over the artboard. It should frame the whole illustration so we can move on filling the frame with the details we just created.

Step 17

First, add the red heart right above the hand. It’s the standard place for the card symbol so we have to make sure we do this first.

Step 18

Start adding the rest of the objects. Add the yellow arrow below the heart, the orange triangles over the crown, the orange circles next to the axe. Make a smaller copy of the heart and add it above the axe. And don’t forget to add a “J” letter above the heart, in the top left corner.

Step 19

Add the stars around the axe. Also fill the empty area above the heart with the yellow drop shapes. The upper half is full! Group (Control + G) all of the objects along with the Jack figure.

Step 20

Copy the group and paste it outside the artboard. Rotate it for 180° so the whole group turns upside down.

Step 21

Place the rotated group on the lower half of the artboard and center it. We are almost at the end. There is a gap between both groups, right at the middle so let’s fill it.

Step 22

As a final step, create one horizontal rectangle and color it red. Place it behind both groups, center it and adjust its size. Align it so it begins and it ends at the end of the sleeves.


Well done! You just created complex illustration made out of many simple shapes. With the help of the Pathfinder tools we managed to combine those shapes into a Jack card and with the simple trick of mirroring we made a fun illustration which you can use in any direction you like.  

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4 months ago

Excelente. Muchas gracias!!

Excellent. Thank you very much!!

I guess everybody likes the amusing look of the card design – especially when it comes to the Jack, the Queen or the King. They are full of details and their versatile design makes them amazing to look at. In this tutorial we will learn how to make a modern version of the Jack – one of the 3 illustrated playing cards.

Tut Details

Intermediate level 2h 4,580 views



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