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Illustration: Create a Bookworm

Beginner level Adobe Illustrator Adobe Illustrator
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1. How to Set Up a New Document

As we do with all of our projects, we’re going to start by setting up a New Document (File > New or Control-N) which we will adjust using the following settings:

  • Number of Artboards: 1
  • Width: 800 px
  • Height: 600 px
  • Units: Pixels

And from the Advanced tab:

  • Color Mode: RGB
  • Raster Effects: Screen (72 ppi)
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Even though today we won’t be working on icons, we’ll be creating the entire illustration using a Pixel Perfect Workflow, so I highly recommend you take a moment and read this in depth tutorial that will get you up to speed in no time.

2. How to Set Up the Layers

Since we want to be able to isolate our composition and focus on its different composing sections, it would be a good idea to layer our project file in order to completely streamline our workflow.

That being said, open up the Layers panel, and let’s create three individual layers which we will name as follows:

  • layer 1 > background
  • layer 2 > book stack
  • layer 3 > bookworm
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3. How to Create the Background

As soon as we’ve finished layering our document, we can start working on the actual illustration, and we will do so by creating the main shapes for the background. That being said, make sure you position yourself onto the first layer locking all the other ones, and let’s get started!

Step 1

Create the main shape for the foreground line using a 480 x 4 px rounded rectangle with a 2 px Corner Radius, which we will color using #615972 and then position at a distance of 134 px from the center of the Artboard’s bottom edge.

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Step 2

Grab the Pen Tool (P), and then using the reference image as your main guide, quickly draw the organic background making sure to position it on top of the foreground line, setting its Fill color to #F77A61.

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Step 3

Since at this point we’re pretty much done working on the background, we can select and group its two composing shapes together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut, and then lock the current layer so that we can move on to the next section of our composition.

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4. How to Create the Book Stack

Assuming we’ve finished working on the background, we can move on to the next layer (that would be the second one) where we will gradually create our little book stack.

Step 1

Start working on the bottom book’s side section, by creating a 208 x 64 px rectangle, which we will color using #A3798D and then position onto the foreground line, at a distance of 52 px from its right edge.

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Step 2

Adjust the shape that we’ve just created by setting the Radius of its right corners to 32 px from within the Transform panel’s Rectangle Properties.

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Step 3

Add the main shape for the bottom section of the book’s cover using a 192 x 64 px rectangle (#BC93A8) which we will adjust by setting the Radius of its right corners to 32 px, positioning the resulting shape onto the side section as seen in the reference image, so that their anchor points overlap.

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Step 4

Create the cover’s endpoints using two 8 x 8 px squares (#BC93A8), which we will adjust by setting the Radius of their left corners to 4 px. Once you’re done, position the resulting shapes onto the left side of the current section, making sure to unite all three of them into a single larger shape using Pathfinder’s Unite Shape Mode.

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Step 5

Add the inner section of the book using a 184 x 48 px rectangle, which we will color using #FFF1E1, and then adjust by setting the Radius of its right corners to 24 px positioning the resulting shape as seen in the reference image.

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Step 6

Create the two horizontal detail lines using a 48 x 4 px rectangle (#F9D6B9), followed by a smaller 36 x 4 px one (#F9D6B9) stacked on top at a distance of just 4 px, which we will adjust by setting the Radius of their right corners to 2 px. Once you’re done, group (Control-G) and position the two onto the left side of the inner section, at a distance of 8 px from its bottom edge.

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Step 7

Move on back to the book’s side section, and add a few decorative elements using a 28 x 28 px circle (#615972) distanced at 8 px from a 92 x 8 px rounded rectangle (#615972) with a 4 px Corner Radius, which we will group (Control-G) and position as seen in the reference image. Once you’re done, make sure you select and group (Control-G) all of the book’s composing shapes before moving on to the next one.

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Step 8

Start working on the middle book by creating the main shape for its side section using a 200 x 48 px rectangle (#998FC9), which we will adjust by setting the Radius of its right corners to 24 px from within the Transform panel’s Rectangle Properties. Once you’re done, position the resulting shape on top of the larger book, at a distance of 20 px from its right edge.

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Step 9

As we did with the larger book, create the bottom section using a 152 x 48 px rectangle (#B0ABD8) with a 24 px right corner Radius, to the left side of which we will add two 8 x 8 px squares (#B0ABD8) with a 4 px left corner Radius. Once you’re done, unite all three shapes into a single larger one using Pathfinder’s Unite Shape Mode, positioning the resulting shape as seen in the reference image.

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Step 10

Add the inner section using a 144 x 32 px rectangle (#FFF1E1), with a 16 px right corner Radius, which we will position onto the previous shape as seen in the reference image.

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Step 11

Next, we’re going to create the two horizontal detail lines using a 48 x 4 px rectangle (#F9D6B9), followed by a smaller 36 x 4 px one (#F9D6B9) stacked on top at a distance of just 4 px, which we will adjust by setting the Radius of their right corners to 2 px. Once you’re done, group (Control-G) and position the two onto the left side of the inner section, at a distance of 8 px from its bottom edge.

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Step 12

Move on to the side of the book and add the dummy text line using 40 x 8 px rounded rectangle (#615972) with a 4 px Corner Radius, distanced at 8 px from another wider 80 x 8 px one (#615972) which we will group (Control-G) and then position as seen in the reference image. Once you’re done, don’t forget to select and group (Control-G) all of the current book’s composing shapes before moving on to the next one.

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Step 13

Start working on the open book by creating the main shape for its right section using a 156 x 20 px rectangle, which we will color using #FFBC6C and then position on top of the previous one, at a distance of 28 px from its right edge.

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Step 14

Adjust the shape that we’ve just created, by selecting its top anchor points using the Direct Selection Tool (A) and then pushing them to the right side by a distance of 60 px using the Move tool (right click > Transform > Move > Horizontal > -60 px).

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Step 15

Add the spine using a 168 x 8 px rectangle (#FFBC6C), which we will adjust by setting the Radius of its top-right corner to 8 px. Once you’re done position the resulting shape on top of the previous section as seen in the reference image.

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Step 16

Create the bottom section of the book’s cover using a 144 x 120 px rectangle (#FFD37B) which we will adjust by individually selecting and pushing its top anchor points to the inside by a distance of 60 px using the Move tool (right click > Transform > Move > Horizontal > + / - 60 px depending on which side you start with). Once you’re done, position the resulting shape onto the left edge of the book’s side section as seen in the reference image.

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Step 17

Continue adjusting the shape by adding a new anchor point to the center of its top edge using the Add Anchor Point Tool (+), which we will then push to the outside by a distance of 8 px (right click > Transform > Move > Vertical > -8 px) making sure to convert it to smooth using the Convert selected anchor points to smooth tool. Take a couple of moments and adjust the curvature of the resulting tip using the two horizontal handles, moving on to the next step once you’re done.

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Step 18

Add the book’s inner section using a 128 x 116 px rectangle (#FFF1E1), which we will adjust by individually selecting and pushing its top anchor points to the inside by a distance of 58 px (right click > Transform > Move > Horizontal > + / - 58 px depending on which side you start with), center aligning the resulting shape to the current section’s bottom edge.

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Step 19

Continue adjusting the shape by adding a new anchor point to the center of its top edge, which we will push to the inside by a distance of 2 px using either the directional arrow keys or the Move tool (right click > Transform > Move > Vertical > 2 px), and then adjusting its curvature by first converting it to smooth, and then re positioning its handles's endpoints.

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Step 20

Next, we’re going to start working on the inner darker section of the book, by creating a 2 x 2 px circle which we will color using #615972 and then position at a distance of 4 px from the previous shape’s top anchor point.

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Step 21

Open up the shape that we’ve just created by selecting its bottom anchor point using the Direct Selection Tool (A) and then removing it by pressing Delete. Then, using the reference image as your main guide, draw a new path bending its side sections towards the inside. Take your time and once you’re done move on to the next step.

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Step 22

With the Pen Tool (P) still selected, move on back to the side section of the book and then use it to quickly draw the letter “W”, coloring the resulting shape using #615972. Once you’re done, make sure to select and group (Control-G) all of the book’s composing shapes, before moving on to the next step.

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5. How to Create the Bookmark

Now that we have all the books in place, we can quickly add the bookmark sign, which we will create using a couple of easy steps.

Step 1

Start working on the sign’s upper section, by creating two 8 x 8 px circles which we will color using #615972, and then horizontally distance at 16 px from one another, positioning them onto the bottom section of the middle book as seen in the reference image.

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Step 2

Open up the paths of the shapes that we’ve just created, by selecting their right and bottom anchor points using the Direct Selection Tool (A) and then immediately removing them by pressing Delete. Once you’re done, select the resulting paths’ top anchor points and join them together using the Control-J keyboard shortcut.

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Step 3

Finish off the shape by drawing its lower path using the Pen Tool (P), following the reference image as your main guide. As always, don’t forget to select and group (Control-G) both the books and the bookmark together before moving on to the next section.

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6. How to Create the Bookworm

As soon as you’ve finished creating the bookmark, we can lock the current layer and then move on to the third and last one where we will gradually put together our little wise worm.

Step 1

Start working on the worm by creating the main shape for its lower body using a 112 x 36 px rectangle which we will color using #FFC7AE, and then position onto the middle book as seen in the reference image.

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Step 2

Add the upper body using a smaller 36 x 72 px rectangle (#FFC7AE), which we will position on top of the previous shape, making sure to align it to its left edge.

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Step 3

Unite the two shapes into a single larger one using Pathfinder’s Unite Shape Mode, making sure to remove the extra anchor point created onto the left edge of the resulting shape where the two rectangles intersected using the Delete Anchor Point Tool (-).

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Step 4

Adjust the shape that we’ve just created by setting the Radius of its bottom-left corner to 56 px and its inner one to 20 px by individually selecting them using the Direct Selection Tool (A), and then using the Live Corners tool. Once you’re done, repeat the same process for the head by selecting its top anchor points and setting their Radius to 18 px.

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Step 5

Continue adjusting the shape, by selecting its bottom-right anchor point using the Direct Selection Tool (A) and then pushing it to the outside by a distance of 12 px using the Move tool (right click > Transform > Move > Horizontal > 12 px).

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Step 6

Next, we’re going to grab the Pen Tool (P) and draw the little ring segments onto the worm’s body using #EFA689 as our Fill color, making sure to select and group (Control-G) all of them together before moving on to the next step.

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Step 7

Since we want the rings to remain confined to the surface of the larger body, we’ll have to mask them using a copy (Control-C) of the underlying shape, which we will paste in front (Control-F) and then with both it and the rings selected simply right click > Make Clipping Mask. Before you move on to the next step, don’t forget to select and group both the rings and the body together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

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Step 8

Create the little hat using a 16 x 8 px ellipse (#615972), onto the upper half of which we’ll add an 8 x 16 px rectangle (#615972) with a 2 px top corner Radius, which we will group (Control-G), and then position onto the head, making sure to send them to the back afterwards (right click > Arrange > Send to Back).

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Step 9

Start working on the glasses by creating the left lens using a 28 x 28 px circle (#66CCB9) with a 40% Opacity for its fill shape, and another 28 x 28 px circle with a 4 px thick Stroke (#615972) for its frame, which we will group (Control-G) and then position as seen in the reference image.

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Step 10

Add the right lens using a larger 48 x 48 px circle (#66CCB9) with a 40% Opacity for its fill shape, followed by a 48 x 48 px circle with a 4 px thick Stroke (#615972) for its frame, which we will group (Control-G) and then position onto the opposite side of the head so that it overlaps the smaller one.

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Step 11

Add the little string segment using an 8 x 48 px rectangle with a 4 px thick Stroke (#615972), which we will position onto the larger lens’s outer edge, and then adjust by opening up its path and then setting the Radius of its bottom corners to 4 px.

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Step 12

Create the eyes using two 8 x 8 px circles with a 4 px thick Stroke (#615972), which we will adjust by selecting their top anchor points using the Direct Selection Tool (A) and then removing them by pressing Delete, positioning the resulting shapes as seen in the reference image. Once you’re done, select and group both the eyes and the glasses together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

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Step 13

Start working on the wooden pipe by creating the upper section of its stem using a 4 x 8 px rectangle (#D68167), vertically stacked on top of an 8 x 4 px rounded rectangle (#B26A59) with a 2 pxCorner Radius, which we will position underneath the smaller lens.

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Step 14

Add the main shape for its shank using a 4 x 12 px rectangle (#D68167), underneath which we’ll add the heel using a 56 x 28 px rectangle (#D68167) followed by a 28 x 12 px bowl, which we will position as seen in the reference image.

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Step 15

Unite the rectangles that we’ve just created into a single larger shape using Pathfinder’s Unite Shape Mode, adjusting its curvature by setting the Radius of its bottom corners to 28 px and its inner facing ones to 12 px using the Live Corners tool.

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Step 16

Next, add a 36 x 8 px rounded rectangle (#B26A59) with a 4 px Corner Radius to the upper section of the bowl, making sure to select and group all of its composing shapes afterwards using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

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Step 17

Create the smoke using a couple of different sized circles with the Fill color set to #FFF1E1, making sure to group (Control-G) and position them underneath the pipe as seen in the reference image (right click > Arrange > Send Backward).

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Step 18

Finish off the worm and with it the project itself, by adding the little mustache using two 12 x 12 px squares positioned next to one another, which we will adjust by setting the Radius of their top-outer corners to 12 px, and their bottom-inner facing ones to 8 px. Once you’re done, simply group (Control-G) and position the resulting shapes onto the lower section of the glasses, making sure to select and group (Control-G) all of the worm’s composing shapes before hitting that save button.

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Great Work!

As always I hope you had fun working on this little project, and if you have any questions feel free to post them within the comments section and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!


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In today’s tutorial we’re going to take a look behind the process of creating a funny bookworm illustration, and learn to recreate the composition using nothing more than some basic geometric shapes and tools. So, assuming you already have Illustrator up and running, take a quick sip of that fresh bean juice and let’s get started!

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