In this quick tip tutorial Im going to show you how to create a quick and easy abstract technology background. Well take advantage of the Appearance Panel to speed up the process and keep the objects fully editable. Using the basic shape tools, some gradients and the blend tool, you will be able to create a nice looking abstract vector backgrounds. Lets get started!
1. Open up a new document and set the dimensions of the Artboard to 800 x 600px. Select the Rectangle Tool (M) from the Tools Panel on the left and draw a rectangular shape with the following dimensions: width – 800px, height – 600px. Activate the Gradient Panel and fill the selected object with linear gradients as shown below: dark blue (R=0 G=56 B=82), medium blue (R=19 G=135 B=171) and light blue (R=128 G=196 B=223).
2. Its time to create our first abstract element. Pick the Ellipse Tool (L) and draw a perfect circle, which dimensions should be set to about 540 x 540px. Do not fill the shape, but apply only a stroke to it (Stroke Weight: 60pt). In the Color Panel set the stroke color to white (R=255 G=255 B=255). While the object is still selected, in the Stroke Panel click on the Dashed Line box and check it off. Adjust the dash length and the gap length in the boxes below. In the Appearance Panel, click on the toggling arrow on the left to reveal the content of the “Stroke” attribute. Lower the opacity down to about 50%.
3. Turn on the Appearance Panel and from the fly-out menu choose option “Add New Stroke”. Once done, a new “Stroke” attribute will appear in the Appearance Panel, just above the “Stroke” attribute we have created in the previous step. The Stroke Weight should be set to about 60pt. Open up the Color Panel and use the white color (R=255 G=255 B=255) for the active attribute. Make sure the Stroke Panel is open and click on the Dashed Line box and adjust the gap length and dash length given in that box. We need to offset this stroke inward a couple of points. First, go to Effect > Path > Offset Path… and select an offset of approximately -32px and hit OK. When done, click the Opacity button and change it to 50%.
4. Select the “Stroke” we created in the previous step and click the Duplicate Selected Item button to create another “Stroke”. As you can see, we duplicated a “Stroke” attribute along with the content hidden within it. First, make sure you set the stroke color to white (R=255 G=255 B=255). Then, change the Stroke Weight to 40pt. Click on the Offset Path effect to bring up the dialog box and we are free to edit the effect. Now enter -70 in the Offset field and confirm with OK.
5. Its time to create a new “Stroke”. Duplicate the previous attribute the way we did in the step 4. So far, we have four “Stroke” attributes and an empty “Fill” attribute. The color of the stroke should be set to pure white (R=255 G=255 B=255). Keep the line solid (not dashed) and set the Stroke Weight to 2pt. Open up the Offset Path and change the offset value to -52px. When done, make sure to lower the opacity down to 50%. Now move the abstract element to the left side of the background.
6. Lets make several copies of the abstract element we have just created. Open up the Transform Panel and click on the options in the upper right. You need to make sure “Scale Strokes & Effects” are checked. Now, make a copy of the object and scale it down a bit, so it nicely fits inside the previous object (refer to the image). In the Transparency Panel reduce the opacity to 50%. Make another copy and place it as shown below. Go to the Transparency Panel again and lower the opacity down to 25%.
7. We are going to create another abstract element. Grab the Rectangle Tool (M), draw a rectangle and set the dimensions to 80 x 80px. When done, place the object on the left side of the background we created in step 1 (refer to the image). In the Color Panel, set the stroke color to pure white (R=255 G=255 B=255). Duplicate the previous object and place it on the other side of the background. Select both rectangles, and go to Object > Blend > Make (Alt+Ctrl+B) to multiply the objects. To modify the settings, double-click on the Blend Tool (W) from the Tools Panel in order to open the Blend Options. Select Specified Steps from the Spacing drop-down menu, type 7 and confirm with OK. When done, reduce the opacity to 50% in the Transparency Panel.
8. Open up the Brushes Panel and in the fly-out menu go to Open Brush Library > Arrows > Arrows_Standard to open the brush library. Find the Arrow 1.11 and drag it to the work area. Scale up the arrow a little bit, and Ungroup (Shift+Ctrl+G) it. There is an invisible bounding box that surrounds the brush, so you need to find it and delete it to get the result we want. Once done, go to Color Panel and set the color of the arrow to white (R=255 G= 255 B= 255). Keep the object selected, and in the Brushes Panel click on the New Brush button. Pick the Scatter Brush option to open the dialog box. When the Scatter Brush Options appear, enter the values shown on the image below and click OK. Grab the Line Segment Tool (\) and create a path along the background surface. Open up the Brushes Panel and choose the brush we have created earlier. In the Transparency Panel change the Opacity to 35%. You should get something like the image shown below.
9. Using the Ellipse Tool (L) draw one big circle and one small circle. Just remember to hold shift to constrain the ellipses proportions to a circle. Select both circles and go to Object > Blend > Make (Alt+Ctrl+B) to multiply the objects. Now double-click on the Blend Tool (W) and adjust the blend to about 20 steps. While the objects still selected, go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform… and apply the shown values and hit OK. Open up the Transparency Panel and lower the opacity down to 35%.
10. Create two large circles using the Ellipse Tool (L) and place them inside the abstract elements we have created earlier. Now, go to the Gradient Panel and fill the selected objects with radial gradients as shown below: light blue (R=128 G=196 B=223) and pure black (R=0 G=0 B=0). Keep the objects selected, and in the Transparency Panel set the Blending Mode to Screen (Opacity 100%). Make a copy of the rectangle from Step 1 and place it on top using the Bring to Front (Shift+Ctrl+]) command. Select all the objects created so far and go to Object > Clipping Mask > Make (Ctrl+7) to mask out the parts that exceed the boundaries of the rectangle. Were done with the tutorial now. I hope you liked it.
View the list of all 101 Illustrator special effects tricks at 101 Illustrator Special Effects.