Design: How to Create a Christmas Card Illustration
Create a new document
Create a new document. Set the width to 800 pixels and the height to 1000 pixels. This will be our working area and a perfect size for a greeting card, no matter if it’s printed or simply a web version.
Create a sketch
Create a simple sketch consisting of four Christmas presents, a simple message and some details around it. Use a light gray color to sketch because it makes the tracing process easier. When you are done, lock it (Control + 2). If you do the sketch on a piece of paper, scan it and then import and lock the sketch.
Create a color palette
We'll need bright and warm colors against a darker and colder background. So I chose light yellow (#FFCD62), dark yellow (#FFAC00), orange (#EE562D), red (C1272D), pink (#F3676C) and green (#2E9163). The background color is dark navy blue (#323543). The bright and vivid colors will shine bright and stand out against the darker background.
Trace the sketch and add patterns
For the sketch, we'll use mostly the Pen Tool (P). The beginners might need some time to get used to it but it’s worth the wait because once you master it, you can create amazing vector art.
We'll start tracing objects starting at the bottom of the artboard and we’ll slowly move up. So, start tracing the first present. Begin with the bigger shapes and then do the smaller ones. Start with the box (2), then add the lid (3). Color them in light and dark yellow (#FFAC00) (4) and add a white ribbon (5, 6).
Now we need to add a simple pattern to the box. Duplicate the box and go to Swatches Panel and open the drop-down menu. From there go to Open Swatch Library > Patterns > Basic Graphics > Basic Graphics_Dots. From the Basic Graphics_Dots panel, choose the one labeled as 6 dpi 40% (2). Drop the opacity of the pattern to 30% (3). We are done with this object and we can move to the upper ones.
The following present is the horizontally positioned one. Trace the bigger parts and then the smaller ones. Color it green (#2E9163) with red (C1272D) ribbons.
Select the green surface and duplicate it (1). Go to Swatches Panel and open the drop-down menu. From there go to Open Swatch Library > Patterns > Basic Graphics > Basic Graphics_Lines. From the Basic Graphics_Liness panel, choose the one labeled as 6 lpi 40% (2). Drop the opacity of the pattern to 20% (3).
Let's move on to the last two presents. Starting with the left one – trace first the box and lid, then do the ribbon. Color it in orange (#EE562D) and light yellow (#FFCD62).
Duplicate the box and go to Basic Graphics_Liness panel. Choose the one labeled as 6 lpi 40% (2). Drop the opacity of the pattern to 20% (3).
This present is the last one of the sketch. Trace the box and lid first and move to tracing the ribbon. Color the box pink (#F3676C) and the ribbons orange (#EE562D).
Duplicate the box and go to the Basic Graphics_Dots panel. Choose the one labeled as 6 dpi 40% (2). Drop the opacity of the pattern to 30% (3). And with this step, we're done tracing the Christmas presents and we'll continue tracing the text message.
You can start tracing the text. The first word is JOY. Trace the letter one by one in a loose way. Don’t worry if your traced object doesn’t follow the sketch precisely. This style is loose and it doesn’t require 100% accuracy, so relax and trace away. Once you're done, color the letters in pink (#F3676C) and the inside (in this case, the heart) in the dark navy blue (#323543) we chose as a background color.
The next group of words is “TO THE”. Trace the letters and color them in green (#2E9163).
The last word to be traced is “WORLD”. Trace the letters and color them in dark yellow (#FFAC00). Color the inner parts in dark navy blue (#323543).
And at last, we have to trace the details. Start with the simple shiny stars (A). The next one is the 8 point star. To do this star, simply draw one pointy shape and multiply it 3 times and rotate them in different directions (B). The circle is the final object to be traced (C). Color the details in different colors from our color palette.
Combine all the elements
Let’s go back to the artboard. Compose the illustration, starting from the bottom. Put the yellow present in place.
Now add some more of the graphic elements. I added the green, orange and pink presents. Place them in a pile, so there is no empty space between them.
Now add the text message. Start with the pink group on top, the yellow bellow and the green in between. Position them right above the presents.
Now add the details. Start with the stars. Multiply them as much as you think you need and scatter them around the text message. Scale their size and change their color in order to add some variety.
As final details, we can add some decorative circles in different colors. Scatter them randomly among the stars you just added.
The final step of this tutorial is adding the background. Use the Rectangle Tool (M) to create an 800 pixels wide and 1000 pixel high rectangle. Color it in the dark navy blue color (#323543) and position it as a background.
Congrats, we are done! We just created a unique Christmas illustration which you can share with your loved ones. We used the basic patterns to achieve variety among the objects. You can decide if you want to send it as an e-card or to print it out and send it in the post. Both options are great and this card will surely get some smiles from the people who receive it.
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