Illustrator tutorial: Gold medal

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In this tutorial we’ll be creating a gold medal in Adobe Illustrator. We’ll be using basic shapes, some palettes such as Transform, Align and Pathfinder along with Offset Path technique to gradually create our illustration. Then we’ll add highlights and shadows, making the medal look more real with the help of some effects and blending modes. Let’s get started!

Create a New document

  1. Launch Illustrator and then press (Ctrl + N) to create a New Select Pixels from the Units drop-down menu, enter 1112 in the width box and 755 in the height box then click on the Advanced button. Select RGB, Screen (72ppi) and make sure that the Align New Objects to Pixel Grid box is unchecked before you click OK.

Creating the Gold Medal

2. Pick the Ellipse Tool (L) and create a 220 by 220px black ellipse. Keep this ellipse selected and go to the Object > Path > Offset Path… Enter a -2px Offset and click OK. Then replace the existing stroke color of the newly created ellipse with red. Still having the red ellipse selected and open the Offset Path dialog box. Enter a -14px Offset and click OK. Replace the existing stroke color of the newly created ellipse with blue. Make sure that the blue ellipse is still selected, open the Offset Path dialog box again. Enter a -4px Offset and click OK, then replace the existing stroke color of the newly created ellipse with magenta.

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3. Select the magenta ellipse created in the step 2 and make two copies of it (Ctrl +C, Ctrl +F, Ctrl +F). Keep a copy of the magenta ellipse selected, hold down the Shift and click on the black ellipse created in the step 2. Open the Pathfinder palette (Window > Pathfinder) and click on the Minus Front button. Make sure that the newly created compound path is still selected, remove the stroke of it and fill this object with the linear gradient as shown in the third image. Then send the resulting compound path to back (Ctrl +Shift +Left Square Bracket)

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4. Select the blue ellipse created in the step 2 and make two copies of it (Ctrl +C, Ctrl +F, Ctrl +F). Keep a copy of the blue ellipse selected, hold down the Shift and click on the red ellipse created in the step 2. Open the Pathfinder palette (Window > Pathfinder) and click on the Minus Front button. Make sure that the newly created compound path is still selected, remove the stroke of it and fill this object with the linear gradient as shown in the third image. Then hide the resulting compound path behind the magenta and blue ellipses. Now reselect the remaining two copies of the blue and the magenta ellipses, then click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder palette. Remove the stroke of the newly created compound path and then fill this object with the linear gradient as shown in the next to last image. Finally hide the resulting compound path behind the blue and the magenta ellipses.

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5. Select the blue ellipse and replace the existing stroke color with the linear gradient like you see in the first image. Next select the magenta ellipse, remove its stroke and fill this object with the radial gradient as shown in the second image.

6. With help of the Rectangle Tool (M) and the Gradient Tool (G), create a 25 by 100px rectangle as shown in the first and the second images. Pick the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the bottom-right anchor point of the newly created rectangle and move it 7px to the left. Next select the bottom-left anchor point and move it 7px to the right. With the Selection Tool (V), select the shape created in this step, hold down the Shift, click on the first compound path created in the step 4. Release the Shift and click on the first compound path created in the step 4 again (to fixed its position). Open the Align palette (Window > Align) and click on the Horizontal Align Center button, then click on the Vertical Align Top Next reselect the shape created in this step and move it 1px down. Make sure that the shape created in this step is still selected, pick the Rotate Tool (R), hold down the Alt and click on the center of the last ellipse created in the step 5. In the Rotate dialog box, enter a 30 degrees Angle and click Copy. Then press (Ctrl +D) until you will get the results like you see in the sixth image. Now reselect and group (Ctrl +G) all shapes created in this step, then change the Blending Mode of the newly created group to Soft Light. Finally hide the resulting group behind the first compound path created in the step 4.

Creating the Gold Star

7. First, double click on the Star Tool from the Tool bar. In the Star dialog box, enter the data like you see in the first image and click OK. Make a copy (Ctrl +C, Ctrl +F) of this star, then replace the existing stroke color of the newly created star with red. With the help of the Direct Selection Tool (A) and the Shift, select anchor points highlighted with blue of the red star and then remove them. The resulting object should look like the third image below. Next using the Line Segment Tool (\) create a vertical line of length 90px, with a blue stroke and no fill. Reselect the vertical line, hold down the Shift, click on the black star, then release the Shift and click on the black star again (to fixed its position). Open the Align palette (Window > Align) and click on the Horizontal Align Center button, then click on the Vertical Align Top button. Make a copy (Ctrl +C, Ctrl +F) of the red object created in this step, then replace the existing stroke color of the copy with magenta. With the help of the Direct Selection Tool (A) and the Shift, select the top anchor point of the magenta object, drag it down and place it as shown in the sixth image. Before you continue, select and remove the blue line created in this step. Now select the red and the magenta triangles, then open the Pathfinder palette (Window > Pathfinder) and click on the Unite button. The resulting object should look like the last image below.

8. Make a copy (Ctrl +C, Ctrl +F) of the magenta object created in the step 7, then replace the existing stroke color of the copy with blue. With the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the right anchor point of the blue object and remove it. Next select the left anchor point of the magenta object and remove it. Now reselect the blue and the magenta objects, pick the Rotate Tool (R), hold down the Alt and click on the bottom anchor point of the blue object. In the Rotate dialog box, enter a 72 degrees Angle and click Copy. Then press (Ctrl +D) three times to get the results like you see in the last image.

9. Select the top blue triangle, remove its stroke and fill this object with the linear gradient like you see in the first image. Next select the top magenta triangle, remove its stroke and fill this object with the gradient as shown in the second image.

10. Likewise, repeat the same process for the remaining triangles to apply the linear gradients as shown in the images below.

11. Select the black star created in the step 7 and bring it to front (Ctrl +Shift +Right Square Bracket). Remove the stroke of this star and then fill it with black (# 000000). Keep the resulting star selected and go to the Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow… Follow the data like you see in the second image and click OK. Then send the resulting star to back (Ctrl +Shift +Left Square Bracket). Now select and group (Ctrl +G) all objects created from beginning step 7 to this time. Finally place the newly created group to the correct position like you see in the last image.

Adding the Highlights

12. Select the last ellipse created in the step 5 and make a copy (Ctrl +C, Ctrl +F) of it, then bring the copy to front (Ctrl +Shift +Right Square Bracket). Replace the existing fill color of the newly created ellipse with new radial gradient as shown in the first image. Still having the resulting ellipse selected and go to the Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow… Follow the data as shown in the second image and click OK. Next change the Blending Mode of the resulting ellipse to Multiply and reduce its Opacity to 60%.

13. Select the ellipse created in the step 12 and go to the Object > Path > Offset Path… Enter a -4px Offset and click OK. Focus on the third image, pick the Add Anchor Point Tool (+) and click on the two points highlighted with green. This will add two new anchor points for the newly created ellipse. Next with the help of the Direct Selection Tool (A) and the Shift, select the three anchor points highlighted with turquoise and remove them. The resulting shape should look like the fourth image below. Now pick the Convert Anchor Point Tool (Shift +C), click on the lower handle of the bottom-left anchor point of the newly created shape, hold mouse and drag it to the right and down. Repeat the same techniques for the lower handle of the bottom-right anchor point (but drag it to the left and down). In the end the resulting shape should look like the last image shown.

14. Reselect the shape created in the step 13 and then replace the existing fill color with new radial gradient as shown in the first image. Keep the resulting shape selected, apply a 7px Feather effect for it. Finally change the Blending Mode of this shape to Hard Light.

15. With the Pen Tool (P), create a white shape (# ffffff) like you see in the first image. Next change the Blending Mode of the newly created shape to Hard Light and reduce its Opacity to 30%. Now select and group (Ctrl +G) all objects created from beginning step 2 to this time. At this point your medal should look like in the last image.

Creating the Top Part of the Medal

16. Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a 177 by 21px black rectangle. Still having the black rectangle selected and go to the Object > Transform > Scale… Check the Non-Uniform, enter a 90 in the Horizontal box and 55 in the Vertical box, then click Copy. Replace the existing stroke color of the newly created rectangle with red. With the Direct Selection Tool (A), select anchor points of the black rectangle and click on the “Cut path at selected anchor points” icon from the Properties bar. This make the black rectangle becomes four paths. Select the two vertical paths and replace the existing stroke color with blue. Select the red rectangle and make a copy (Ctrl +C, Ctrl +F) of it, then replace the existing stroke color with black. Next pick the Direct Selection Tool (A), select anchor points of the black rectangle and click on the “Cut path at selected anchor points” icon from the Properties bar. Select the two black vertical lines and replace the existing stroke color with blue.

17. Select the two upper horizontal paths created in the step 16. Right click on the artboard and then select the Join section from the drop-down menu. Next right click on the artboard again, then select the Join section. Likewise, repeat the same techniques for the remaining two horizontal paths to connect them. Continue select the two right blue paths created in the step 16, then press (Ctrl +J) twice times to connect them. Repeat the same techniques for the remaining two blue paths to connect them.

18. Select the two black objects created in the step 17, remove their strokes and then fill these objects with the linear gradients as shown in the first image. Keep working with the Gradient Tool (G), apply the linear gradients for the two blue objects as shown in the second image. Now select the red rectangle created in the step 16 and bring it to front (Ctrl +Shift +Right Square Bracket). Make a copy (Ctrl +C, Ctrl +F) of this rectangle. Still having the copy selected, remove its stroke and fill this object with the linear gradient like you see in the next to last image. Then hide the resulting rectangle behind the red rectangle. Finally select the red rectangle and replace the existing stroke color with very soft yellow (# f9f4c6).

19. Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a 102 by 46px rectangle of blue color. Then place this rectangle to the position like you see in the first image. With the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the bottom-left anchor point of the blue rectangle and move it 16px to the right. Next select the bottom-right anchor point and move it 16px to the left. Make a copy (Ctrl +C, Ctrl +F) of the resulting blue object, then replace the existing stroke color of the copy with red. With the help of the Direct Selection Tool (A) and the Shift, select the two right anchor points of the red object and move them 11px to the left. Next select the two left anchor points and move them 11px to the right. Now select the two objects created in this step, remove their strokes and then fill these objects with the linear gradients as shown in the two next-to-last images. Next make a copy (Ctrl +C, Ctrl +F) of the smaller shape created in this step. Keep the copy selected, remove the fill color of it, then add a 1px very soft yellow stroke (# faf5c3).

20. Select the three objects created in the step 19 and send them to back (Ctrl +Shift +Left Square Bracket). Now reselect and group (Ctrl +G) all objects created from beginning step 16 to this time. Place the newly created group to the position as shown in the second image. Next send this group to back (Ctrl +Shift +Left Square Bracket). Keep the newly created group selected, hold down the Shift and click on the group created in the step 15, then press (Ctrl +G) to group them. At this point your medal should look like in the last image.

Creating the Neck Lanyard Strap for Medal

21. Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a 112 by 338px black rectangle. With the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the top-right anchor point of the newly created rectangle and then move it 2px down. Next pick the Add Anchor Point Tool (+) and add four anchor points at the top edge of the black object. Focus on the third image, pick the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the anchor point highlighted with red and move it 1px up. Next select the anchor point highlighted with blue and move it 1px down. Continue select the anchor point highlighted with magenta, then move it 2px down. Now with the help of the Direct Selection Tool (A) and the Shift, select the four newly added anchor points. Then click on the “Convert selected anchor points to smooth” icon from the Properties bar.

22. Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a 108 by 380px red rectangle. Make sure that the red rectangle is still selected, hold down the Shift, click on the black object created in the step 21. Release the Shift and click on the black object created in the step 21 again (to fixed its position). Then open the Align palette (Window > Align), click on the Horizontal Align Center button and click on the Vertical Align Center Reselect the red rectangle and make a copy (Ctrl +C, Ctrl +F) of it, then replace the existing stroke color of the copy with blue. Keep the blue rectangle selected, open the Transform palette (Window > Transform). Set the transfer reference point to center and enter a 72px in the W box. Make a copy (Ctrl +C, Ctrl +F) of the blue rectangle and replace the existing stroke color of the copy with magenta. Still having the magenta rectangle selected, go into the Transform palette and change W to 28px. Keep the magenta rectangle selected and make a copy of it, then replace the existing stroke color of the copy with black. Make sure that the black rectangle is still selected, go into the Transform palette and then change W to 24px.

23. Select the black object created in the step 21, remove its stroke and then fill this object with strong blue (# 008fd4). Now, reselect the rectangles created in the step 22 and remove their strokes, then fill these objects with the colors as shown in the images below.

24. Select the first blue shape created in the step 23 and make a copy (Ctrl +C, Ctrl +F) of it, then bring the copy to front (Ctrl +Shift +Right Square Bracket). Now select all shapes created from beginning step 23 to this time. Right click on the artboard and then select the Make Clipping Mask section from the drop-down menu. The clipping set should look like the third image below. Now with the Selection Tool (V), double click on the clipping set created in this step. Select the first blue shape created in the step 23 and make a copy of it, then bring the copy to front (Ctrl +Shift +Right Square Bracket). Replace the existing fill color of the copy with light grayish blue (# e6e7e8). Keep this shape selected and go to the Effect > Artistic > Rough Pastels… Follow the data like you see in the last image and click OK. Change the Blending Mode of the resulting shape to Multiply and reduce its Opacity to 70%. Finally, double-click on the anywhere outside of the clipping set.

25. Pick the Pencil Tool (N) and create three shapes like you see in the images below. Once your shapes are drawn, reselect the white shape, change the Blending Mode to Color Dodge and reduce its Opacity to 40%. Continue select the two dark blue shapes, change the Blending Mode to Multiply and reduce their Opacity to 20%. Next reselect the lower dark blue shape and change the Opacity to 10%. Now select three shapes created in this step and press (Ctrl +X) to cut them. Then pick the Selection Tool (V), double-click on the clipping set created in the step 24 and press (Ctrl +F) to paste the shapes were cut in this step. Finally, double-click on the anywhere outside of the clipping set. At this point your strap should look like in the last image.

26. Select the strap created in the step 25 and go to the Object > Transform > Rotate… Enter a -35 degrees Angle and click OK, then place this strap to the position as shown in the first image. Focus on the second image, pick the Add Anchor Point Tool (A) and add an anchor point in the point highlighted with red of the clipping mask of the clipping set created in the step 24. Next with the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the anchor point highlighted with black of the clipping mask and remove it. In the end your strap should look like the last image shown.

27. Next comes the left strap. Select the right strap and go to the Object > Transform > Reflect… Set the Axis to Vertical and then click Copy. Drag the copy we have just created to the left. Don’t forget to hold the Shift key on the keyboard for straight dragging. Now pick the Selection Tool (V) and double click on the left strap. Select the shape as shown in the second image and go to the Object > Transform > Rotate… Enter a 185 degrees Angle and click OK. Finally, double-click on the anywhere outside of the left strap.

28. Select the left strap and go to the Object > Transform > Rotate… Enter a 55 degrees Angle and click Copy. Keep the copy selected, hold down the Shift and click on the left strap. Release the Shift and click on the left strap again (to fixed its position). Open the Align palette (Window > Align) and click on the Vertical Align Top button. Reselect the horizontal strap and send it to back (Ctrl +Shift +Left Square Bracket). Next drag this strap to the right and place it as shown in the fourth image. Don’t forget to hold the Shift key on the keyboard for straight dragging. Now pick the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the top-right anchor point of the clipping mask of the horizontal strap. Then move it to the left and place it as shown in the last image.

29. Pick the Selection Tool (V) and double click on the horizontal strap. Select the shape as shown in the first image and remove it. Next, double-click on the anywhere outside of the horizontal strap. Now pick the Pencil Tool (N) and create two dark blue shapes (# 003a5b) like you see in the third image. Apply a 4px Gaussian Blur effect for the two newly created shapes, then change the Blending Mode to Multiply and reduce their Opacity to 50%. Keep the resulting shapes selected, press (Ctrl +X) to cut them. Then pick the Selection Tool (V), double-click on the horizontal strap and press (Ctrl +F) to paste the shapes were cut in this step. Finally, double-click on the anywhere outside of the horizontal strap.

30. Select and group (Ctrl +G) all objects created from beginning step 2 to this time. We are done with the medal for the moment.

Create the Background

31. With the help of the Rectangle Tool (M) and the Gradient Tool (G), create a 1112 by 775px blue rectangle as shown below. Next place the medal into the newly created background.

32. To give a more realistic look I’m going to be adding some shadows on some key places. Pick the Ellipse Tool (L) and create a 400 by 20px ellipse, then place it to the position as shown in the first image. Make a copy (Ctrl +C, Ctrl +F) of the newly created ellipse, then replace the existing stroke color of the copy with red. Keep the red ellipse selected, open the Transform palette (Window > Transform). Set the transfer reference point to center and change W to 246px. Now reselect the black ellipse, remove its stroke and fill this object with the radial gradient as shown in the third image. Then change the Blending Mode of the resulting ellipse to Soft Light. Continue select the red ellipse, remove its stroke and fill this object with the radial gradient as shown in the next to last image. Finally change the Blending Mode of the resulting ellipse to Soft Light.

Here is what the completed design looks like.

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