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Illustration: Create a Pirate Telescope

Beginner level Adobe Illustrator Adobe Illustrator

How to Set Up a New Document

As we do with all of our projects, 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: 1200 px
  • Height: 640 px
  • Units: Pixels

And from the Advanced tab:

  • Color Mode: RGB
  • Raster Effects: Screen (72 ppi)

We’re going to be creating the 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.

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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 four individual layers which we will name as follows:

  • Layer 1 > background
  • Layer 2 > telescope
  • Layer 3 > stand
  • Layer 4 > overlay
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How to Create the Main Shapes of the Telescope

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 telescope. That being said, make sure you position yourself onto the second layer (locking all the other ones) and let’s get started!

Step 1

Select the Rectangle Tool (M) and create the back section of the wooden body using a 240 x 120 px rectangle, which we will color using #C67852 and then position at a distance of 300 px from the Artboard’s left edge and 220 px from its top one.

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Step 2

Add the middle section using a 248 x 248 px square (#C67852), which we will position on top of the previous shape, at a distance of 208 px from its left edge and 44 px from its bottom one.

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Step 3

Create the front section using a 160 x 324 px rectangle (#C67852), which we will position on top of the second shape, at a distance of 172 px from its left edge, and 40 px from its bottom one.

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Step 4

Add the main shape for the lens using a 160 x 288 px rectangle which we will color using #CCEAF2 and then position underneath the previous shape (right click > Arrange > Send to Back) as seen in the reference image.

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Step 5

Create the lens shield using a 96 x 384 px rectangle, which we will color using #FFE7C5 and then position on top of the front segment, at a distance of 100 px from its left edge and 20 px from its bottom one.

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Step 6

Add the main shape for the rear eyepiece using a 56 x 108 px rectangle (#FFE7C5), which we will position on top of the back segment as seen in the reference image.

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Quick tip:at this point you might be wondering why I’ve overlapped the different sections of the telescope, and the answer is because I want to give you the ability to achieve a similar if not exact final result. Now if you want to go wild and make it your own you can easily do that by taking the color values and using different Width and Height values depending on what you want to achieve.

How to Adjust the Shapes of the Telescope

Once we have the building blocks for our telescope, we can now spend a couple of moments and stylize them by adjusting the position of their anchor points until we get the desired silhouette.

Step 1

Let’s start with the lens shield, by individually selecting its anchor points using the Direct Selection Tool (A), which we will then re position as seen in the reference image using the Move tool (right click > Transform > Move > Vertical and / or Horizontal > using the indicated values).

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Step 2

Once you’re done working on the shield, move on to the front section of the wooden body and adjust it as well.

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Step 3

Select the middle section of the telescope and following the values indicated in the reference image repeat the same distortion process moving on to the next step once you’re done.

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Step 4

Move on to the front section of the wooden body and adjust it using the reference image as your main guide.

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Step 5

Finish off the distortion process by adjusting the shape of the eyepiece section and then moving on to the next step once you’re done.

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How to Add Highlights to the Telescope

Once we’ve achieved the desired silhouette, we can now add finer details to the different sections of our telescope, and we will do so starting with the highlights.

Step 1

Position yourself onto the back section of the wooden body, which we will isolate by double clicking on it, and then create a 240 x 64 px rectangle, which we will color using #E59973 and then align to the top right corner of the larger underlying shape.

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Step 2

Since we want the highlight to somewhat follow the line of the larger shape’s top edge, we will have to select its bottom-right anchor point and push it to the top using either the directional arrow keys or the Move tool (right click > Transform > Move > Vertical > and then enter the desired value as a negative number). In my case I went for a distance of 40 px, which instead of resulting in a parallel line gave me a nice diagonal one that will help maintain the rough style that I’m going for.

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Step 3

Since I only want to show the surface of the highlight that’s overlapping the wooden section, I’m going to mask it using a copy (Control-C) of the underlying shape which I will paste in front (Control-F) and then with both it and the highlight selected, I’ll simply right click > Make Clipping Mask. Once I’m done, I can easily exit Isolation Mode by pressing the Escape key.

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Step 4

Next, I’m going to quickly go over all of the remaining wooden sections and repeat the exact same process using different values, which as you can see is already adding to the character of the composition.

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Step 5

Once we’ve added the highlights to the wooden sections, we can move on to the lens cover and eyepiece and repeat the same process only this time we’ll use #FFF6E9 as our Fill color.

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Step 6

When it comes to adding the highlight to the lens we’re going to take a different approach, by creating a copy (Control-C > Control-F) of the shape that we already have, which we will then adjust by setting its color to #B5DBE8, and then individually selecting and pushing its top and right anchor points to the inside by a couple of pixels.

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Step 7

Then, we’ll want to grab the Pen Tool (P) and draw a drop-like shape which we will color using the same #CCEAF2 value.

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How to Add Shadows to the Telescope

Once we’ve finished adding all the highlights, we can now start adding the hard shadows which will help shape our little telescope.

Using a similar approach used for the highlights, create the main shapes for the shadows making sure to color them using #AA6448, and then position them inside of their respective clipping masks. Take your time, and once you’re done move on to the next step.

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How to Add Texture to the Telescope

With the shadows in place, we can continue the detailing process by adding the organic wooden texture, which we will draw using the Pen Tool.

Step 1

Grab the Pen Tool (P) and quickly draw the wooden texture lines onto the back section of the telescope using a couple of 2 px thick Strokes with the color set to #AA6448. Once you’re done, don’t forget to select and group all the lines together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut so that they won’t get separated later on.

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Step 2

Move on to the remaining sections of the wooden body and quickly draw the texture lines making sure to individually group (Control-G) and position each of them within their respective clipping masks.

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How to Add Finishing Touches to the Telescope

At this point, we’re pretty much done working on the current section of our composition, all we need to do is add a couple of finishing touches.

Step 1

Select the Pen Tool (P) and quickly draw the “x” symbol located onto the center wooden section, using #AA6448 as your Fill color.

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Step 2

With the Pen Tool (P) still selected, change the Fill color to #DDA885 and then use it to draw two diagonal detail lines to the front and back of the telescope. Once you’re done, take a couple of moments and individually select and group (Control-G) each of the different sections and their composing shapes, doing the same for the entire telescope before moving on to the next step.

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How to Create the Stand

Now that we’ve finished working on the telescope, we can lock its layer and move on to the next one (that would be the third one) where we will create the wooden stand.

Step 1

Start by creating the lower section of the stand using 536 x 40 px rectangle which we will color using #FFE7C5, and then position at a distance of 320 px from the Artboard’s left edge and 64 px from its bottom one.

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Step 2

Compared to the telescope where its composing shapes were overlapping, the stand will use shapes that have matching anchor point positions, which means that we can adjust them as soon as we have them in place.

That being said, adjust the shape of the rectangle that we’ve just created by individually selecting and re positioning some of its anchor points as seen in the reference image.

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Step 3

Add the upper section of the stand using a 536 x 56 px rectangle (#C67852), which we will position on top of the previous shape.

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Step 4

Adjust the shape that we’ve just created by first positioning its bottom-left anchor point on top of the lower shape’s top one, and then shaping it as seen in the reference image.

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Step 5

Next, we’re going to begin adding details to the base starting with the upper section’s highlight, which we will draw using #E59973 as our Fill color. As you can see the outer section of the highlight is shaped as a rectangle that has the same width as the stand’s upper section, but the bottom edge is made out of multiple anchor points that are positioned in such a way that the highlight follows the line of the underlying shape.

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Step 6

Once we have the highlight in place, we can quickly draw the wooden texture lines using a couple of 2 px thick Strokes with the color set to #AA6448. Take your time and once you’re done select and group (Control-G) all the strokes together, doing the same for the entire upper section of the stand afterwards.

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Step 7

Move over to the bottom section of the stand, and add the hard shadow using a 536 x 24 px rectangle (#AA6448) which we will center align to the larger shape’s top edge, making sure to mask it  (right click > Make Clipping Mask) afterwards using a copy (Control-C > Control-F) of it.

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Step 8

As we did with the lens cover and eyepiece, take a couple of moments and decorate the bottom section of the stand by drawing two detail lines using #DDA885 as your Fill color. Once you’re done, select and group (Control-G) all of current section’s composing shapes before moving on to the next step.

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Step 9

Next, create the main shape for the golden plate using a 156 x 48 px rectangle which we will color using #FFC76C, and then position at a distance of 176 px from the base’s left edge and 12 px from its bottom one.

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Step 10

Add the inner section using a 114 x 20 px rectangle which we will color using #EFAB48 and then position as seen in the reference image.

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Step 11

Take a couple of moments and adjust the shape of the rectangle using the values indicated within the reference image.

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Step 12

Next, add the subtle highlight using a 156 x 20 px rectangle (#FFD985), which we will then adjust so that its bottom edge follows the line of the plate’s top one, making sure to mask (right click > Make Clipping Mask) it using a copy (Control-C > Control-F) of the larger underlying shape. Once you’re done, select and group all of the plate’s composing shapes using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

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Step 13

Finish off the golden plate by drawing the hard shadow using #AA6448, making sure to position the resulting shape underneath (right clicking > Arrange > Send Backward). As soon as you’re done, make sure you select and group (Control-G) all of the plate’s composing shapes together before moving on to the next step.

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Step 14

For the next step, I want you to get a little creative and draw the two vertical leg segments using #FFE7C5 for the lighter segments, #FFC76C for the golden head sections and #EFAB48 for the inner darker ones. As we did with the golden plate, add the subtle highlights using #FFD985 as your Fill color, individually grouping (Control-G) each leg and then positioning them both behind the base of the stand (right click > Arrange > Send to Back). Once you’re done, make sure you select and group (Control-G) all of the stand’s composing shapes before moving on to the next section.

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Step 15

With the suspending legs in place, we can lock the current layer and move back to the telescope one (that would be the second layer) where we will need to draw the hard shadows projected by them, which we will color using #AA6448. Once you’re done, make sure you position the resulting shapes within the clipping masks of the underlying sections before moving on to the next section of the composition.

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How to Create the Background

At this point, we’re pretty much done working on the telescope and the stand, which means that we can now focus on the background, so make sure you position yourself onto the first layer and let’s get started.

Step 1

Grab the Pen Tool (P) and with the Fill color set to #354E60, quickly draw the background using the reference image as your main guide.

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Step 2

As soon as we have the main background shape in place, we can then draw in the little stars which we will color using #FFC76C, making sure to keep the same cartoonish / distorted style used for the rest of the composition. Once you’re done, select and group all of the stars and the background together using the Control-G keyboard shortcut.

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How to Create the Gradient Overlay

Once we’ve added the background, all we need to do now is create the gradient overlay which will help us achieve an interesting color effect.

Step 1

Start by creating a copy (Control-C) off all the main shapes of the composition (highlighted with orange), which we will then paste (Control-F) onto the overlay layer (that would be the fourth one).

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Step 2

Since we want the shapes to behave as a single larger object, we’ll have to turn them into a Compound Shape by selecting them all and then going over to the Pathfinder tool’s advanced menu, where we will click on Make Compound Shape.

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Step 3

Next, we need to apply a Linear gradient to our Compound Shape, using #ED1C24 for the left color stop and #0000FF for the right one.

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Step 4

All we need to do now is open up the Transparency panel and set the gradient’s Blending Mode to Overlay, making sure to lower its Opacity to 40%.

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Great Job Mateys!

There you have it folks, a nice an easy tutorial on how to build your very own pirate telescope using nothing more than some basic geometric shapes that we’ve adjusted here and there.

As always, I hope you had fun working on the project and most importantly managed to learn something new and useful along the way.

That being said, 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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What do you think of this tutorial?

Discussion

Edited 1 month ago
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Muchas gracias por el tutorial, bastante entretenido y he aprendido mucho, en mi caso no utilice Illustrator, utilice Affinity y realmente fue muy sencillo seguir el tutorial. gracias nuevamente y continuar con estos tutoriales.

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Thank you very much for the tutorial, quite entertaining and I learned a lot, in my case do not use Illustrator, use Affinity and it really was very easy to follow the tutorial. Thanks again and continue with these tutorials.

3 months ago

Muy buen tutorial, soy principiante en ésto de la ilustración, muchísimas gracias

Very good tutorial, I'm a beginner in this illustration, thank you very much

3 months ago

Glad to hear you liked it wh0am1 :D

Always wanted to create a cartoonish pirate telescope but never knew how? Well today's your lucky day since I'm going to take you along the entire process from start to finish and show you how easy you can create a great composition using a couple of geometric shapes that we will adjust here and there.

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