Deer in Headlights Artwork – Illustrator CC Tutorial

Learn about gradients, blend modes, shapes, transforming, and much more in this Adobe Illustrator tutorial!

We’ll create a really cool silhouette artwork of a deer staring down a car speeding toward it and learn to use blend modes, colors, advanced gradients, path manipulation, and even the Magic Wand tool to create this complex-looking effect.

Inspired by Made by Marko (Instagram)

Tags: illustrator tutorial, adobe illustrator tutorial, adobe illustrator, graphic design, illustrator, illustrator tutorials, how to, adobe, tutorial, illustrator cc, graphic design tutorials, vector illustration, adobe illustrator cc, adobe illustrator tutorials, adobe illustrator cc tutorials, silhouette, tutvid, nathaniel dodson, AI

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. New document 2560×1440
  2. Create background filled with color #10002e
  3. Create a new layer
  4. ROAD–
  5. Place a 600x50px rectangle with any fill color
  6. Use the Direct Selection tool and nudge both top anchors inward while holding Shift 24x
  7. Duplicate this shape (change the fill to see it) and set the reference point to top center in the Properties>Transform
  8. Set width 1000 and height to 200
  9. Turn on Snap to Point and use the Direct Selection arrow to click the top anchor points together with the top anchors of the smaller shape
  10. Create a new rectangle 15x185px and fill with any color
  11. Select top left anchor with Direct selection and nudge 1x to the left
  12. Select top right anchor and nudge 8x to the left
  13. Shear this shape -1º on the horizontal axis
  14. Duplicate the shape and flip it horizontally
  15. Nudge into place where it looks good and group both of these shapes.
  16. Center stripes in middle of road
  17. Fill stripes with #f9ffb8 and mask the front side so it fades away
  18. Select first road layer we made (smaller shape) and fill with gradient: white, 0%opac, 30%location — white, 100%opac, 100%location and set the angle to 90º
  19. Reduce opacity of overall shape to 25% opacity and duplicate the shape and set to Overlay blend mode and back to 100%
  20. Fill the larger road shape with a gradient: #8c33e8, 30%opac, and 0%location — #8c33e8, 0%opac, 85%location set angle to 90º
  21. Set the stripes group to Soft Light blend mode
  22. Select all parts of the road and Group it up
  23. GRILLE–
  24. Grab rounded rectangle tool and create a 42x12px rounded rectangle with 3px corners and use the Properties panel to make both bottom corners 9px and center this shape over the road and place it slightly above the road
  25. Fill the shape with a White-Black-White gradient and set it to Screen and 60% opacity
  26. Create a row of black rectangles and distribute them across the grille, group them up, and mask the top and bottom and then set the group to Soft Light blend mode at 25% opacity
  27. HEADLIGHTS–
  28. Create a 16×13 ellipse filled with white, blurred 5px, and Color Dodge blend mode
  29. Duplicate/paste behind that shape and enlarge to around 20px wide and change blur to 20px, fill to #29a1ff and keep Color Dodge
  30. Duplicate/paste behind that shape and scale up until it’s about 65px across, change the fill to #ff91ff and set to Overlay
  31. Duplicate the blue shape above and move it below all these shapes and change to Normal blend mode and set fill to white
  32. Duplicate the pink shape and move it below all the headlight shapes and scale down until it’s about 26px and leave it as Overlay blend mode
  33. Duplicate the top white shape, drag it below all the headlight shapes and get rid of the Gaussian blur
  34. Hide all the other headlight layers temporarily
  35. Use the Crystallize and Scallop tools to make this shape burst and then scale up until this is about 130px wide, set to Overlay @ 45% and 5px blur
  36. Duplicate the top white shape and drag this shape to just above that shape we just made use the crystallize tool again and with one press and drag to the top right to create the headlight flare we want
  37. Set to Overlay @ 75% opacity and 6px blur
  38. Duplicate the top white shape again and move it down above both the flare shapes we just made and lock up both those layers
  39. Use the Crystallize and Scallop tools again and make a flare. Set this to 35% Color Dodge and 5px blur
  40. Group these shapes together and duplicate to make the second headlight
  41. Create 240x160px ellipse and fill with #da91ff and blur 55px and set to Soft Light @ 40% and drag this into place until it looks good
  42. HEADLIGHT REFLECTION–
  43. Create 140x180px ellipse and fill with gradient:
  44. white @ 100%location – white @ 33%location – black @ 66%location
  45. Use the gradient tool to drag in a gradient that has a sharp white top edge
  46. Set to Screen @ 95% opacity and 45px blur and then drag into place, shape, rotate, and adjust gradient until it looks perfect
  47. Duplicate and flip the headlight reflection over to the left side of the road
  48. DEER–
  49. Use the Paintbrush with a low smoothing setting and quickly trace over a deer or your choice of animal, movie character, mythical beast, or other and fill with #10002e
  50. Place the deer on the road and change size/shape until it’s just right
  51. MOUNTAINS–
  52. Create 900×100 rectangle fill with #150240 color and Roughen this shape: 1 and 1 with corner edges
  53. Duplicate this shape and paste behind, fill with #291052 and edit the roughen: 2 and 1 with corner edges
  54. Duplicate this shape and paste behind, fill with #3d1f7a and edit the roughen: 1 and 2
  55. Expand the appearance for all three shapes
  56. Use the Wrinkle tool and add tiny detail to the tops of all these shapes
  57. Group all three of these shapes together and create a mask to fade both sides of this shape
  58. Add a horizon line shape to this mask to cut away the bottom of the trees/hills
  59. NIGHT SKY–
  60. Create 650×650 ellipse and sample the gradient from the road and set to 90º and tweak the gradient to get the shadow near the horizon
  61. Create a mask on this shape and copy up the horizon mask from the tree/shills layer
  62. Blur the sky gradient ellipse 100px
  63. Grab the brush tool and set fill to a very light yellow (almost white)
  64. Dot in some stars and use the bracket keys to adjust the size of new stars
  65. Use the magic wand with the tolerance at 1 to select the stars and blur 2px and reduce the opacity to 60%
  66. Group the stars together and duplicate this group a few times, resize, rotate and randomize the stars in the sky.
  67. Create an ellipse, dark gray, duplicate it and the duplicate that again and move this ellipse up and to the left and Minus Front and fill the front crescent moon shape with a light yellow. Reduce opacity until it’s blended well.