Illustrator Tutorial: Create a Halloween Owl Poster

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By: Bao Nguyen

Let’s have some fun for Halloween. In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to create a Halloween Owl Poster in Adobe Illustrator! As this tutorial is for beginners, you don’t need to be a super artist to follow it, because we will use basic shapes, some effects here and there, and your illustration is ready!

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 860 in the width box and 780 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.

Create an Owl

2. Let’s start with the head. Pick the Pen Tool (P) and create a black object like you see in the first image. Once your object is drawn, remove its stroke and then fill this object with slightly yellow (#ccb972). Continue with the Pen Tool (P), create two very dark orange shapes (#694118) like you see in the third image. Reselect the two newly created shapes and go to the Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur… Enter a 3px Radius and click OK. 3. To start the eyes, first create two green objects using the Pen Tool (P). Reselect the right, green object, remove its stroke and fill this object with the radial gradient as shown in the second image. Continue select the left, green object and remove its stroke, then fill this object with the radial gradient as shown in the third image. Now focus on the fourth image, pick the Pen Tool (P) and create two red objects. Once your objects are drawn, reselect the right, red object, remove its stroke and fill this object with the radial gradient as shown in the next to last image. Finally select the left, red object, remove its stroke and then fill this object with the radial gradient like you see in the last image.

4. Using the Line Segment Tool (\) create two red paths, with a stroke and no fill. Reselect the two newly created paths, change the stroke weight to 3px and replace the existing stroke color with (#674606). Then apply the Width Profile 5 for the resulting paths. Continue with the Pen Tool (P), create two very pale yellow shapes (#fffadb) like you see in the last image.

5. After that, add two black circles and two more tiny white shapes to highlight the eye. To get a perfect circle, use the Ellipse Tool (L) while holding the Shift button. Finally hide the four shapes created in this step behind the two last shapes created in step 3.

6. Pick the Pen Tool (P) and create a red object like you see in the first image. Once your object is drawn, remove its stroke and fill this object with very dark red (#581505). Keep the resulting shape selected and go to the Effect > Stylize > Feather… Enter a 2px Radius and click OK.

7. With the Pen Tool (P), create a red object like you see in the first image. Reselect the newly created object, remove its stroke and fill this object with very soft orange (#eee1bc). Keep working with the Pen Tool (P), create a dark orange shape (#7d6a35) as shown in the third image. With the help of the Pen Tool (P), create a very dark red shape (#581505) like you see in the last two images. Finally apply a 4px Feather effect for the newly created shape.

8. It’s time to draw the beak. Pick the Pen Tool (P) and create a soft orange shape (#f3b978) like you see in the first and the second image. Keep working with the Pen Tool (P), create a soft orange shape (#e18d4d) as shown in the third image. Reselect the newly created shape and make a copy (Ctrl +C, Ctrl +F) of it. Keep this copy selected, swap the fill and stroke colors by clicking the bent double-headed arrow next to the Fill and Stroke color swatches in the Toolbox. Change the stroke weight of the resulting object to 3px and replace the existing stroke color with dark red (#95301e). Then apply the Width Profile 1 for the resulting object. We are going to start making highlight on the beak to give it more of a 3D look. With the Pen Tool (P), create a very soft orange shape (#ead8b4) as shown in the next to last image. Finally apply a 2px Gaussian Blur effect for the newly created shape.

9. We will continue with the feathers. Pick the Pen Tool (P) and create two green curved paths like you see in the first image. Change the stroke weight of the resulting object to 5px and replace the existing stroke color with dark yellow (#918145). Then apply the Width Profile 1 for the resulting paths. Likewise, repeat the same process as the previous steps to draw more feathers. Now select all curved paths created in this step and then apply a 3px Feather effect for them. Finally hide the resulting paths behind the beak.

10. With the Pen Tool (P), create four green curved paths like you see in the first image. Reselect these four paths, change the stroke weight to 5px and replace the existing stroke color with dark yellow (#918145). Then apply the Width Profile 1 and a 3px Feather effect for the resulting paths

11. To create the body, draw a blue object using the Pen Tool (P) like in the first image. Once your object is drawn, remove its stroke and fill this object with very dark orange (#541f09). Then send the resulting shape to back (Ctrl +Shift +Left Square Bracket). Keep working with the Pen Tool (P), create a very dark red shape (#341112) like you see in the last two images. Finally hide the newly created shape behind the head.

12. To add some details, first draw two shapes like you see in the first image. Keep working with the Pen Tool (P), create some soft orange shapes (#d17630) as shown in the second image.

13. Pick the Pen Tool (P) and create two shapes like you see in the first and the second image. Reselect the two newly created shapes and go to the Effect > Stylize > Feather… Enter a 5px Radius and click OK. Then hide the resulting shapes behind the head.

14. In this step, we will create the tail. With the Pen Tool (P), create some objects like you see in the first and the second image. Once your objects are drawn, remove their strokes and fill these objects with very soft orange (#e9b998).

15. Select the shape as shown in the first image and make a copy (Ctrl +C, Ctrl +F) of it. Replace the existing fill color of the copy with strong orange (#d17630). Then reduce the size of the resulting shape as shown in the second image. Repeat the same process to add these details on the other parts of the tail. Also you can see them all in the third image. Continue select the shape as shown in the next to last image and make a copy of it. Then replace the existing fill color of the copy with very dark orange (#541f09). Likewise, repeat the same process as the previous steps to create more feathers. In the end your illustration should look like the last image shown.

16. Select all shapes created from beginning step 14 to this time and press (Ctrl +G) to group them. Then send this group to back (Ctrl +Shift +Left Square Bracket). This is how the owl should look at this stage.

17. Now we’ll create the toes. Pick the Pen Tool (P) and create a green object like you see in the first image. Remove the stroke of the newly created object and fill this object with the radial gradient as shown in the second image. Keep working with the Pen Tool (P) and the Gradient Tool (G), create a shape like you see in the third and the fourth image. Reselect the newly created shape and make a copy (Ctrl +C, Ctrl +F) of it. Still having the copy selected, swap the fill and stroke colors by clicking the bent double-headed arrow next to the Fill and Stroke color swatches in the Toolbox. Change the stroke weight of the resulting object to 2px and replace the existing stroke color with strong orange (#c0692b). Then apply the Width Profile 2 for the resulting object. Continue with the Pen Tool (P) and the Gradient Tool (G), create a shape like you see in the last two images.

18. Pick the Pen Tool (P) and create a red object like you see in the first image. Remove the stroke of the newly created object and then fill this object with the radial gradient as shown in the second image. Keep working with the Pen Tool (P) and the Gradient Tool (G), create a shape like you see in the third and the fourth image.

19. Continue to draw two more toes until you have something like this. Also you can see them all in the final image.

20. Select and group (Ctrl +G) all objects of these three toes. Keep this group selected and go to the Object > Transform > Reflect… Check the Vertical and click Copy. Drag the copy to the left and place it as shown in the second image.

21. The owl is ready and looks like this:

Create the Background
22. We’re done with the owl. It’s time for the background now. Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a 856 by 778px black rectangle. Remove the stroke of the newly created rectangle and fill this object with the radial gradient as shown in the second image. Next send the resulting rectangle to back (Ctrl +Shift +Left Square Bracket).

Create the Branch
23. Pick the Pen Tool (P) and create a red object like you see in the first image. Once your object is drawn, remove its stroke and fill this object with very dark orange (#61280e). Still having the resulting shape selected and make a copy (Ctrl +C, Ctrl +F) of it. Replace the existing fill color of the copy with dark orange (#9b6548) and then move it 9px up. Keep this shape selected and apply a 5px Gaussian Blur effect for it. Now select the first shape created in this step and make a copy (Ctrl +C, Ctrl +F) of it, then bring the copy to front (Ctrl +Shift +Right Square Bracket). Having this copy selected, hold down Shift and click on the shape with blur effect applied in this step. Right-click on the artboard and then select the Make Clipping Mask section from the drop-down menu. Now select all objects created in this step and press (Ctrl +G) to group them. Finally hide this group behind the toes.

24. With the Pen Tool (P), create a very dark orange shape (#61280e) like you see in the first and the second image. Reselect the newly created shape and make a copy (Ctrl +C, Ctrl +F) of it. Replace the existing fill color of the copy with slightly orange (#b9875f) and then move it 7px up. Keep this shape selected and apply a 3px Gaussian Blur effect for it. Now select the first shape created in this step and make a copy (Ctrl +C, Ctrl +F) of it, then bring the copy to front (Ctrl +Shift +Right Square Bracket). Having this copy selected, hold down Shift and click on the shape with blur effect applied in this step. Right-click on the artboard and then select the Make Clipping Mask section from the drop-down menu. Now select all objects created in this step and press (Ctrl +G) to group them. Finally send this group to back (Ctrl +Shift +Left Square Bracket).
With the Pen Tool (P), create a very dark orange shape (#61280e) like you see in the first and the second image.

25. Continue to draw more branches until you have something like this. Also you can see them all in the final image.

Create the Leaves
26. It’s time to draw the leaves. Pick the Pen Tool (P) and create two objects like you see in the first and the second image. Once your objects are drawn, reselect the green object, remove its stroke and fill this object with the linear gradient as shown in the third image. Continue select the yellow object, remove its stroke and fill this object with the linear gradient as shown in the last image.

27. Let’s work on creation of veins on our leaf. With the Pen Tool (P), create some curved paths like you see in the first and the second image. Once your paths are drawn, reselect the green path, change the stroke weight to 5px and replace the existing stroke color with very dark orange (#56370b). Then apply the Width Profile 5 for the resulting path. Continue select four green paths, change the stroke weight to 3px and replace the existing stroke color with very dark orange (#56370b). Then apply the Width Profile 4 for the resulting paths. Now select and group (Ctrl +G) all objects created from beginning step 26 to this time. We are done with the leaf for the moment.

28. Likewise, repeat the same process as the previous steps to draw more leaves.

Create the Moon
29. Pick the Ellipse Tool (L) and create a 558 by 558px green ellipse, then place it to the position as shown in the first image. Reselect the newly created ellipse, remove its stroke and then fill this object with the radial gradient as shown in the second image. Keep the resulting ellipse selected and go to the Effect > Stylize > Outer Glow… Follow the data like you see in the last image and click OK.

30. Select the ellipse created in step 29 and make a copy (Ctrl +C, Ctrl +F) of it. Keep this copy selected, open the Appearance panel (Window > Appearance) and remove the Outer Glow section. Still having the resulting ellipse selected and make a copy (Ctrl +C, Ctrl +F) of it, then press (Ctrl +3) to hide the copy. Now reselect the original ellipse and go to the Effect > Artistic > Sponge… Follow the data like you see in the first image and click OK. Apply a 3px Gaussian Blur for the resulting ellipse and reduce its Opacity to 90%. Before you continue, press (Ctrl +Alt +3) to show the ellipse hidden in this step. Keep this ellipse selected, hold down Shift and click on the ellipse with blur effect applied in this step. Right-click on the artboard and then select the Make Clipping Mask section from the drop-down menu.

31. Select and group (Ctrl +G) all objects of the moon. Then hide the newly created group behind the owl. At this point your illustration should look like in the next image:

Add the Text
32. Open the Character panel (Window > Type > Character), select the Tempus Sans ITC font, make it Regular, and set the size to 60px. Now pick the Type Tool (T), simply click on your artboard. Then add the “HAPPY HALLOWEEN” piece of text and set its color to very soft orange (# eee1bc). Reselect the text and go to the Effect > Warp > Arc… Follow the data like you see in the second image and click OK. Next place the resulting text to the position as shown in the last image.

33. At this point your illustration should look like in the next image:

Create some Bats
34. Pick the Pen Tool (P) and create a black curved path like you see in the first image. Reselect the newly created path and go to the Object > Transform > Reflect… Check the Vertical and click Copy. Drag the copy we have just created to the right and place it as shown in the last image. Don’t forget to hold the Shift key on the keyboard for straight dragging.

35. Select the two curved paths created in step 34, 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. Continue with the Ellipse Tool (L), create two ellipses like you see in the second image. Now reselect three black objects created from beginning step 34 to this time. Then open the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder) and click on the Minus Front button. Finally remove the stroke of the resulting object and then fill this object with very dark orange (#672d0d).

36. Likewise, repeat the same process as the previous steps to draw more bats.

37. Make some copies of the bats and place them to the positions as shown in the first image. Then scale and rotate these bats as needed.

Here is what the completed design looks like.

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