Create a Swamp Cabin Poster (Adobe Illustrator Tutorial)

Learn all kinds of shape building tips and tricks in this Adobe Illustrator tutorial!

We’ll work with advanced gradients, pathfinder operations, effects, masking, and lots more in this intermediate to advanced level Adobe Illustrator CC tutorial.

Inspiration: Justina Lei on Behance. https://www.instagram.com/justina.lei/

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Tutorial Recording Notes:

Disclaimer: these are the actual notes I used to record this video and are written in a language you may or may not understand. Hopefully, you find them useful or cool.

  1. SETUP:
  2. New document 2560×2560
  3. Create color swatches: #3f4a45 – #2c4c40 – #4b5b55 – #29302d – #411a00 – #dcc35d – #ccc78f
  4. SCENE:
  5. Create 2560×2560 rectangle and fill with #3f4a45 – #2c4c40 gradient at 90º and limit the greenish color to the top area
  6. 2560×650 rectangle and fill with #4b5b55 and align to bottom center of document
  7. Duplicate this rectangle and add a gradient at 90º:
  8. #29302d(20%0%) – #29302d(0%42%) – #29302d(100%100%) and tweak the handles to look smooth
  9. Create three rows of mountains using the Curvature Pen and fill each row with a solid color.
  10. Use a copy of the 2560×2560 rectangle to Pathfinder and align it to the artboard. Select this rectangle and all mountains and use the Pathfinder>CROP feature to trim it up
  11. Select all the mountains and start dividing them to get individual shapes that we can color
  12. Select all mountain shapes and add a gradient: #29302d(0%0%) – #29302d and set it to 90º
  13. Use the Gradient tool and customize the amount and positioning of each shape’s gradient
  14. Draw a small rounded rectangle, about 30x115px and apply a transparent-to-black gradient to it at 90º
  15. Duplicate this rounded rectangle and resize it to 9px wide with proportions constrained and position it to become the trunk of the swamp tree
  16. Group this as our first tree.
  17. Duplicate out 14 total of these trees and use Direct Selection to adjust the shape and size of the trunks and treetops and spread them out across the horizon of the swamp and set them to Soft Light. Tweak opacity if needed.
  18. CABIN:
  19. 195×15 rectangle
  20. 70×45 rectangle as “front” of the house on the right side of the platform
  21. 100×120 rectangle as the left side of the house on left side of the platform
  22. 3x 15×25 rectangles as poles under the platform for the house
  23. ––align these poles with the “corners” of the house that you can see
  24. 92×82 rectangle and shear horizontally -37º for front roof side
  25. Line up the bottom edge of this roof with the platform and nudge upward 32px
  26. Line up the bottom right corner with the edge of the front wall and nudge to the right 30px
  27. Apply a transform that flips and nudges over to the left (reflect X, -153.791 or so, make 1 copy, etc…)
  28. Expand this artwork and ungroup
  29. Copy this left side roof and paste in front and nudge to the right 10px
  30. Create 9×30 and 12×30 rectangles and nudge together to use as the chimney (shadow side/highlight side)
  31. Add colors to all the shapes to see them all
  32. Arrange them as they ought to be
  33. Select both left pieces of roof and divide and only save the little edge piece
  34. Divide this little piece from the left side of the house. Ungroup and clean up what needs to be saved
  35. Divide the front roof from the left side of the house. Ungroup and clean up what needs to be saved
  36. Arrange roof and left side so they look correct
  37. Use the Pen Tool + Smart Guides to drag the little underhang area of the left roof
  38. Draw a 25×25 ellipse and place in center low of the left wall
  39. Create a gradient #411a00 to #ddc45d and start filling every shape we created with this gradient and use the Gradient tool to create the shading that we want
  40. Group all the shapes and set the bottom of the platform on the horizon
  41. REFLECTION:
  42. Apply a Transform to the group of trees that will flip it and move it downward (anchor point bottom center, Reflect Y, etc… )
  43. Set to 25% opacity and nudge to look perfect
  44. Apply a mask and fade the edges off
  45. Transform and flip the house group, reduce opacity to 25% and mask to fade it off a little as well
  46. SMOKE:
  47. Drag in smoke sketch & trace w/ Pen Tool & tweak with Direct Selection
  48. Trim bottom and use Direct Selection + Smart Guides to line up smoke with chimney
  49. Fill smoke with gradient #ccc78f to #ccc78f(20%opacity) and use the Gradient tool to make smoke look good
  50. Use the Star Tool and draw a triangle (arrow keys to drop points)
  51. Look to Properties panel, constrain proportions, and set the width to 200px
  52. Use the Direct Selection + CMD to round the corners a bunch (almost too much!)
  53. And then use Direct Selection to nudge the bottom middle point upward 10px and grab the Convert Anchor tool and round that indent to fit the nose
  54. Create 2x 200×200 ellipses for the eyes
  55. Position and tweak these shapes to look good
  56. Use them to punch holes in the smoke and complete the effect
  57. GRAIN:
  58. Create a 2560×2560 rectangle above the artwork and fill with 50% gray and add Effect>Artistic>Film Grain at a 20–0–10 amount
  59. Set this layer to the Soft Light blend mode