How to create a sky and clouds background in Adobe Illustrator

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Learn from Laura Martin, one of our favorite instructors, how to create this awesome sky background!

Hi everyone I'm Laura Martin. Today I'm going to show you how to create a realistic sky background with clouds in Adobe Illustrator. So first let's open the program and we'll open a new document of whatever size you like. I've made mine 800 x 800 pixels. The next thing to do is open the swatch panel and also the layers panel. You can find them both here in Window. We're going to create two layers, one for the background which we'll call "Sky", and the other for the clouds. We're going to use a very simple color palette for the sky background. I've chosen these four colors: a darker color, a sort of middle tone and two lighter colors. Now I'm going to show you how to create the background using the gradient mesh. So let's go to the Sky layer and using the Rectangle tool we'll make a square the same size as our document. Align it horizontally and vertically, remove the stroke and now we're going to color it with the mesh tool. So select the mesh tool here or press U on your keyboard and make a few anchor points on your square. With the Direct Selection tool, I'm going to select this row here and lower these points a little. OK, it's time to add some color. Let's start with this neutral blue and then we'll add some lights and shading. So again with the Direct Selection tool, select some of the points at the top and apply the darker color. Do the same with some of the other points, but this time apply the lightest color. And we'll start to spread out over the square selecting points and applying color. You can do this individually, so only selecting one point at a time, or you can select various points at the same time. So our background is pretty much done. Remember that you can add as many anchor points as you like by selecting the mesh tool and clicking anywhere on the square, and then use the Direct Selection tool to select a point and apply a color. You can also apply color to a point using a color in the mesh, so for example I could select this point and with the Eyedropper tool I'll click on the color I want. This color here between these two isn't a color that we have in our palette, so this way our gradient becomes more varied. okay so I'm happy for now with the background let's lock the layer and go to our clouds layer I'm going to show you two different ways to make a realistic cloud one with the ellipse tool and the other by creating a brush okay so let's make the first type of cloud select the ellipse tool here or press L on your keyboard make your ellipse more or less like this and choose a white fill color lower the opacity to 70% we're now going to apply two effects to get that cloud shape we want go to effect stylize scribble when we click on scribble this options window views input these values just copy it exactly as I have it here if you click on preview you can see how the shape changes when you modify the different options now let's apply the second effect so we'll again go to stylize but this time feather let's see how it looks with a radius of about 36 pixels okay so this looks a bit more a cloud let's give it a go Jim blur and there we go so as you can see if I make a copy and change the size and the shape of the ellipse then the cloud also changes shape and I get a different looking round you can make another copy so this is one way to make real looking clouds now let's see another way which is making a brush we first need to make a shape and you can do this with whichever tool you like pen tool the paintbrush tool the pencil tool in this case I'm going to use the pencil tool and I'm going to make it a regular shape just something like this and give it a white fill color set the opacity to 30% now open the brushes panel by going to window brushes and drag this shape onto the panel creating a new brush let's select the type of brush we want we'll choose scatter brush okay and input these values again just copy them exactly as I have them so our brush is ready now we can select the paintbrush tool and do something like this apply a Gaussian blur let's make another one down here and then we have another way of making clouds you can play around with the opacity levels here in the appearance panel you can change the gorgon blur make it higher or lower now we're going to make a clipping mask so our clouds stay inside our artboard we can delete this shape here now so with the rectangle tool will again make a square the same size as the artboard align it horizontally and vertically select all the objects and we'll make the clipping mask so to make the clipping mask you can do as I just did go to objects clipping mask make or you can use the shortcut on your keyboard which as you can see here for me is command 7 or control 7 so there we have it our realistic sky and clouds background is done I hope you
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