In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to make beautiful Christmas card using the Mesh tool to draw a glowing background and some nice candles. You will explore the capabilities of simple illustrator tools such as Gradients, Mesh, Brush and Effects. You will also learn how to make use of Symbol libraries when you are creating any graphic. This saves a lot of time and you can achieve stunning effects in no time.
Create a Background
1. Open a new document with 600x500px in RGB color mode. Select the Rectangle tool (M) and create a rectangle of 500x400px. Fill in black (#000000) color to the rectangle. Select Mesh tool (U) and add mesh points as shown in the image below. Now select the mesh points one by one with the Direct Selection tool (A) and fill colors as shown here. The colors which I have used are Yellow (#FFA400), Magenta (#FF1F80), Purple (#FF1FE0) & Black (#000000).
2. Name this layer as ‘Background Mesh’ and lock the layer in the Layers panel.
Creating a Candle
3. Select Ellipse tool (L) and draw an oval shape of 137px x 122px. With the Rectangle tool (M) draw a small rectangle to crop the base of the oval. Select both the objects and click Window > Align and select ‘Horizontal align center’. Go to Pathfinder panel (Ctrl+Shift+F9) and select ‘Minus Front’. This will trim the bottom of the circle to a flat base.
4. With the shape still selected, fill it with white (#FFFFFF) color. Go to Object > Create Gradient Mesh and set the values as shown.
5. With the Mesh tool (U) selected, select the mesh points of the object and fill the colors as below. Here we have the basic shape of the candle.
6. Let’s move on to add a candle texture. To do that, select the Pen tool (P) and draw two curved lines of color #3A2201 and #FFFFFF (for white color line set the Opacity 50% or less) respectively and place them one after other on some distance.
7. Group them (Ctrl+G) together and duplicate the set 6-7 times. To duplicate the set select the object, hold down the ‘Alt’ Key and Drag the object on the desired distance. Keeping the new object selected press Ctrl+D a few times to repeat the last duplication action. Now group (Ctrl+G) all the set of lines. This is how it should look:
8. We need to clip these lines inside the candle shape that we created already. To do that, select the candle shape and go to Object > Path> Offset Path and set the values as shown below.
9. This will get you the outline of the original object. Select the oval shape outline and the lines we created and right click the object. Select ‘Make Clipping Mask’.
10. Set the Opacity (Ctrl+Shift+F10) to 20% to the clipped object. This is how it will look after clipping the lines inside the candle shape.
11. Repeat the steps to add more such line texture to the object. The final effect should look like below.
12. Select the Ellipse tool (L) and draw an oval shape on top of the basic candle shape that we created. Fill the Linear Gradient (Ctrl+F9) from top # FFCC73 to bottom # CE9A32.
13. Now let’s create a flame to complete the candle. With the Pen tool (P) draw a curved line (wick) and set the stroke (Ctrl+F10) thickness 3pt. With the line selected go to Object > Path > Outline Stroke. We now can fill Gradient in the stroke. The gradient colors which I have used here are #FFCC73 and #000000.
14. Select the Ellipse tool (L) and draw a small oval shape on the tip of the line. Fill the Radial Gradient (Ctrl+F9) using #FFF345 and #FF8E45 colors. We now have the candle wick ready.
15. Select the Pen tool (P) and draw a shape as shown below. Fill it with the Radial Gradient (Ctrl+F9) of #FFFFFF and #FFC873 colors.
16. Select the Pen tool (P) and draw a shape as shown over the flame and align it to the bottom of the flame. Fill #FCEFC3 color to the shape. Keep the shape selected go to Object > Create Gradient Mesh and set the values as shown.
17. With the help of Mesh tool (U) select the mesh points one by one and fill the colors as below. Set the Opacity (Ctrl+Shift+F10) of this layer to 80% for this shape.
18. To create glow around the flame, draw an oval shape of #FCD29A color and go to Effect > Blur> Gaussian Blur and set the Radius to 3.2px. Place this blurred oval behind the flame.
19. The candle is now ready and here is how it looks.
20. Now let’s create the candle shadow. Select the Ellipse (L) tool and draw an oval shape behind the candle. Fill it with the transparent gradient as shown below. Adjust the gradient sliders per your requirements.
21. We will create one more shadow and place it behind the candle. To do that, draw an oval shape with the Ellipse tool (L). Fill # be8b39 color and go to Effect > Stylize> Drop Shadow and set the values as shown below.
22. Now group (Ctrl+G) all the candle parts and the bottom shadow. We will now duplicate the candle. To duplicate, hold down the ‘Alt’ key and drag the object. Resize the second candle to the smaller size and place it behind the first candle. Arrange both the candles and here is how it should appear.
23. We will now add some drop shadows to make it stand out from the background. To do that, draw 2 oval shapes side by side which is around the size of the candle. Keep both the shapes selected go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set the Radius 20px.
24. This is how the candles will look like after composing all the elements together.
Adding Decorations to the background
25. Now let’s create a floral pattern onto our original colourful mesh background that we created in step #1. Go to Window > Symbol Libraries > Florid Vector Pack. I have chosen ‘Florid Vector Pack 16’ here but you can always use the pattern of your own choice. Drag and drop the pattern on the canvas and arrange it as shown in the image. You may want to Rotate (R) them a bit.
26. We need to clip awat the unwanted area of the pattern. To clip the pattern inside the object repeat the steps shown in step #8 & #9. After clipping the pattern, set the Opacity (Ctrl+Shift+F10) to 15%. The image should look like below.
27. We will now add a sparkle effect to the background. Select Paint Brush tool (B) and draw a line as shown. Define brush as ‘Dot Rings’ and keep the Opacity to 20%.
28. We will now create hanging lights in the background. To do that select Paint Brush tool (B) and draw a line. Define brush as ‘Hand drawn brush vector pack 05’. Set the Opacity (Ctrl+Shift+F10) 30% to the line.
29. To create glow on the tip of the line, draw a circle with the Ellipse tool (L) of white (#FFFFFF) color. Keeping the circle selected go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set the Radius to 5px. Set the Opacity 40% or less.
30. Now Group (Ctrl+G) the line and the circle and make 14-15 duplications. Arrange all the lights as shown in the below image on random distance. You may set the Opacity 20% to the lights which are far behind.
Adding the Text on the Card
31. Now the final thing is to add the text on the card. Select the Type tool (T) and type in the text that you want. Fill the White (#FFFFFF) color to the text and align it to the left. To add little glow behind, make a copy of the text and go to Type > Create Outlines (Ctrl+Shift+O). Keep the text still selected, go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian blur and set the Radius 6Px.
32. After composing all the elements together we have the final Christmas card ready. Merry Christmas!!
Hope you have enjoyed this tutorial and find it useful.
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