How to create a travel themed illustration in Adobe Illustrator

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Now with the winter weather behind us, we can start planning our spring and summer journeys without any obstacles. But what should we pack? In this tutorial, we'll make a visual list of most of all our travel necessities. We'll try to keep the style simple by building objects using the basic shape tools – the rectangle, the rounded rectangle and the ellipse tool.

1. Create a new document

Step 1

Create a new document. Set the width to 1000 pixels and the height to 500 pixels. We are using wider landscape format because this is banner friendly.

2. Create a color palette

Step 1

Before you start working on the illustration, take a moment to define the color palette. If you want to create a minimalistic illustration, try using pastel tones of your favorite colors. I went for a few warm colors (yellow, red and brown) and two cooler shades of turquoise green which we will use mostly on the background. We'll also use white for many of our objects.

3. Create the objects

This illustration will be the combination of many objects juxtaposed in balance and harmony. We'll use one key and central object – a suitcase and the rest of the objects will be placed around it.

Step 1 - Background

Using the Rectangle Tool, create a rectangle with the same size as the artboard – 1000 pixels wide and 500 pixels high. Color it dark turquoise.

Step 2 – Suitcase

Using the rounded rectangle tool, create the main parts of the suitcase – the body and the handle. Color the body white and the handle in brown. Remember to use the colors from the already defined color palette. 

Step 3

Create a small rectangle and rotate it 45˚. Place it over one of the edges of the suitcase and copy and paste both of them. Use the Intersect command from the Pathfinder’s panel. You will get the protective edge of the suitcase. Multiply it 3 times and arrange those shapes over the other angles.  

Step 4 – Camera

A camera is an essential part of every trip, so let’s make one. First create the main and bigger shapes and then move on to the smaller ones. Use the Rectangle Tool to create the body and then the Rounded Rectangle Tool, to create the flash. Color them brown and white. Carry on creating the smaller parts of the camera until you are satisfied with all the details.

Step 5 – Glasses

We’ll start making one lens and then we’ll simply duplicate it. Create a rounded rectangle and cut out the top curved line – this will be the frame of the lens. Multiply it and resize it into a slightly smaller shape which will be the lens. Color the frame white and the lens dark gray (2). To create the reflection in the lens, create two diagonal rectangles and place them over the lens (3). Use the Intersect command of the Pathfinder’s panel to cut the diagonal rectangles in the lens shape (4). Multiply the lens group (5) and add the temples (6).

Step 6 – Coffee and perfume

The coffee illustration consists of 4 rectangle shapes. First, make the main cup, then the holder and the lid (2). Color it brown, orange and red. Add texture to the holder by creating 10-12 thin rectangles and position them over it (3). Select them and turn them into a compound path. Use the Pathfinder commands if you like to get a perfect position.

The perfume bottle is made mostly by using the Rounded Rectangle Tool. Create a round corner shape and delete the bottom part (1). Create a circle and cut it in half to cover the bottom of the perfume bottle (2). We will use a simple heart shape as a label – create the heart by combining 2 circles and one triangle shape (3). Color the bottle white with shades of gray.

Step 7 – Cap

The basic shape of the cap consists of a rounded rectangle cut in half. Duplicate the upper part and use the Intersect command on the Pathfinder panel to get the middle area. To create the peak, draw a circle and rectangle and overlap them at the bottom of the circle. Use the Intersect command on the Pathfinder panel (4). Color the peak brown, and the cap red and white. Draw a small circle and use it as a top button of the cap.

Step 8 – Phone and energy bar

These two objects are easier to create. Both of them have a rounded rectangle as a basic shape and a few smaller simple shapes on the inside. Color them brown and orange.

Step 9 – MP3 player

Feel free to use the phone object you created previously for this one. Just shrink its size and use the Pen Tool (P) to create the headphones. Color it orange and white.

Step 10 – Water bottle

Create a rounded rectangle and go to Effects > Warp > Bulge. Choose the Vertical axis and set the Bend value at -12. Click ok.

Create the label by adding a rectangle in the middle of the bottle (1). Add few smaller rounded rectangles as details (2). Color the bottle in light turquoise, white and light grey (3).

Step 11 – Wristwatch

Create two rounded rectangles which will be the straps of the watch. Create the face by adding two circles between them. Add the details and color them brown, orange and white. 

Step 12 – Toothpaste and toothbrush

The toothpaste is made out of merging a circle and a rectangle. Use a smaller rounded rectangle as a cap. The toothbrush is made entirely of rectangles. Color them light grey and white.

Step 13 – Passport

Combine two rectangles to create the passport and color them red and gray. Add another gray rectangle on the cover. Create a globe-like object by intersecting 9 circles and using the Pathfinder panel. Color the globe lines white.

Step 14 – Book and neck pillow

Create the book the same way you did the passport in the previous step.

You can easily create the neck pillow by making a thick curvy line. Expand the stroke and add a dotted line on the inside which will follow the same shape as the pillow. Color it red.

These are the last objects we are creating so we can say the hard part is over. Moving on to arranging them in an illustration full of harmony and balance.

4. Arrange the objects

Now that we have all the objects, we can arrange them in a neat, minimalistic way.

Step 1

First, we'll need a boundary box in which we'll arrange the composition. So make a rectangle with a slightly smaller size than the art board. Select the Rectangle tool (M) and click on the art board. In the dialogue box, enter 850 pixels as a width value and 300 pixels as a height value. Position the rectangle centrally and make it into a guide (View > Guides > Make Guides).

Place the suitcase in a central position inside the guide’s frame.

Step 2

Continue adding objects in the corners of the guides. Add the toothbrush with the toothpaste, the phone, the camera, the passport, the neck pillow and the energy bars.

Step 3

Add some more objects like the bottle of water, the cap, the perfume, the coffee and the MP3 player. Try to position them close to one another and to prevent creating too much empty space between them.

Step 4

Finish the group by adding the watch, the book, and the sunglasses. Now the image looks full of plenty of objects but it has some gaps which we're going to fill with a few basic shapes in the next step.

Step 5

Create a few simple shapes which we'll use as fillers for the empty space in the illustration. I made a yellow star, a red triangle and white star and circle.

Step 6

Multiply the new objects and arrange them all over the illustration where gaps are appearing. This is the last step of this tutorial and now you have a cute, minimalistic travel illustration.

End result

Well done! You created a visual list of things to pack before your journey! The best thing about this type of illustration is that you can use the objects separately as icons for many purposes such as infographics, web design and posters. Now go and pack your real suitcase!

Now you can show the world what you have learned.

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