Illustrator Tutorial: A Simple Map with Markers

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By: Bao Nguyen

In the following tutorial, you will learn how to create a simple map with markers in Adobe Illustrator. First, using basic tools and the Pathfinder options, you will learn how to create the map. Next, using a bunch of ellipses and gradients, you will create the markers with different colors. 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 900 in the width box and 600 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 the Map

2. Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a 362 by 301px blue rectangle. With the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the top-left anchor point of the newly created rectangle and move it 159px to the right. Focus on the third image, pick the Add Anchor Point Tool (+) and click on the two points highlighted with red. This will add two new anchor points for the blue object. Now with the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the upper anchor point you just added and move it 56px Next select the lower anchor point and move it 19px down. Finally select the bottom-right anchor point of the blue object and then move it 7px down.

3. Reselect the blue object created in the step 2, pick the Reflect Tool (O) and hold down Alt, then click on the right side of the blue object. In the Reflect dialog box, check the Vertical and click Copy. Now select the two blue objects, then open the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder) and click on the Unite The resulting object should look like the last image below.

4. Pick the Ellipse Tool (L) and create a 146 by 26px black ellipse. Select the blue object created in the step 3 and go to the Object > Path > Offset Path… Enter a -7px Offset and click OK, then replace the existing stroke color of the newly created object with red. Now with the help of the Direct Selection Tool (A) and the Shift, select five upper anchor points of the red object and move them 3px Next select the top-left anchor point of the red object and move it 2px to the left. Continue select the top-right anchor point and move it 2px to the right.

5. Pick the Ellipse Tool (L) and create a 146 by 26px black ellipse. Select the red object created in the step 4 and make a copy (Ctrl +C, Ctrl +F) of it. Keep the copy selected, remove its stroke and fill this object with grayish orange (# bebbb9). Now reselect the blue and the remaining red object, then open the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder) and click on the Minus Front Finally remove the stroke of the resulting compound path and then fill it with the linear gradient as shown in the last image.

6. We are going to create the river. Pick the Pen Tool (P) and create an object like you see in the first image. Once your object is drawn, remove its stroke and fill this object with pure blue (# 00adef). Still having the pure blue shape selected and make a copy (Ctrl +C, Ctrl +F) of it. Remove the fill color of the copy and then add a 6px white stroke (# ffffff) for it. Focus on the next to last image, with the help of the Direct Selection Tool (A) and the Shift, select four anchor points highlighted with red. Then click on the “Cut path at selected anchor points” icon from the Properties This make the white object becomes four paths. Reselect the two shorter paths and remove them.

7. Next come the main roads. Pick the Pencil Tool (N) and create two black curved paths like you see in the first image. Once your paths are drawn, reselect them, then right click on the artboard and select the Join section from the drop-down menu. Next right click on the artboard again, then select the Join Likewise, repeat the same process as the previous steps to draw more objects. In the end your objects should look roughly like the last image.

8. With the help of the Selection Tool (V) and the Shift, select all objects created in the step 7 (except the blue object). Then open the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder) and click on the Unite Keep the resulting object selected, hold down the Shift and click on the blue object. Remove the strokes of these objects and then fill them with soft yellow (# f9f980). Still having the resulting shapes selected and go to the Object > Path > Offset Path… Enter a -2px Offset and click OK. Remove the fill colors of the resulting shapes and then add a 1px dark lime green stroke (# 377f2a) for them. Finally select the two objects like you see in the next to last image and then hide them behind the river shape created in the step 6.

9. We will continue with the small roads. Pick the Pencil Tool (N) and create two black curved paths like you see in the first image. Reselect the two newly created paths, then right click on the artboard and select the Join section from the drop-down menu. Next right click on the artboard again, then select the Join Likewise, repeat the same process as the previous steps to draw more objects. You should end up with something like in the fourth image. Once your objects are drawn, reselect all objects created in this step. Then open the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder) and click on the Unite button. Keep the resulting object selected, replace the existing stroke color with grayish orange (# d5d0cb) and then fill this object with light grayish orange (# fefaf8). Finally hide the resulting shape behind the river and the main roads.

10. With the help of the Pencil Tool (N), create three objects like you see in the images below. Once your objects are drawn, reselect them and then click on the Unite button from the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder). Keep the resulting object selected, pick the Eyedropper Tool (I) and click on the shape created in the step 9. This will copy all existing appearances from the shape created in the step 9 onto the object created in this step. Finally hide the resulting shape behind the river and the main roads.

11. Likewise, repeat the same process as the previous steps to draw more small roads.

12. Now, follow the sequence of images and draw small roads similar to the ones from below.

13. At this point your map should look like in the next image:

14. We also need to add the parks and the lake in our map. Pick the Pen Tool (P) and create some red objects like you see in the images below. Reselect all objects created in this step, remove their strokes and fill these objects with green (# 8ec63f). Next hide the resulting shapes behind the river and the roads.

15. Next comes the lake. Pick the Pen Tool (P) and create a pure blue shape (# 00adef) like you see in the first and the second image. Next hide the newly created shape behind the roads.

16. Before you continue, select the compound path created in the step 5 and bring it to front (Ctrl +Shift +Right Square Bracket). Continue select the grayish orange shape created in the step 5 and make a copy (Ctrl +C, Ctrl +F) of it, then bring the copy to front. Remove the fill color of this copy and add a 1px red stroke for it. Now focus on the third image and select six anchor points highlighted with blue. Then click on the “Cut path at selected anchor points” icon from the Properties This make the red object becomes six paths.

17. Select the left path created in the step 16, right click on the artboard and then select the Join section from the drop-down menu. The resulting object should look like the second image below. Focus on the third image and select the two red paths. Right click on the artboard and then select the Join section from the drop-down menu. Next right click on the artboard again and select the Join Then replace the existing stroke color of the resulting object with blue. Continue select the two paths like you see in the fifth image and press (Ctrl +J) twice to connect these paths. The resulting object should look like the sixth image below. Finally select the right path created in the step 16 and press (Ctrl +J) once, then replace the existing stroke color of the resulting object with blue.

18.  Select the two blue objects created in the step 17, remove their strokes and fill these objects with grayish blue (# d1d3d4). Having the newly created shapes selected, press (Ctrl +X) to cut them. Then pick the Selection Tool (V), click on the grayish orange shape created in the step 5 and press (Ctrl +F) to paste the shapes were cut in this step. Next select the right red object created in the step 17, remove its stroke and fill this object with grayish orange (# bfbcb5). Continue select the remaining red object created in the step 17, remove its stroke and then fill this object with grayish orange (# c0bdb8). Now reselect the two newly created shapes and open the Transparency panel (Window > Transparency). Then change the Blending Mode to Multiply and reduce the Opacity to 50%.

19. At this point your map should looks like in the next image:

Create the Markers

20. We’re done with the map. It’s time for the markers now. Pick the Ellipse Tool (L) and create three ellipses with dimensions: 94 by 94px, 80 by 80px and 68 by 68px. Reselect the three newly created ellipses, open the Align panel (Window > Align) and click on the Horizontal Align Center button, then click on the Vertical Align Center Now select the bottom anchor point of the black ellipse and move it 39px down. Next pick the Direct Selection Tool (A) along with the Shift, shorten the handles of the bottom anchor point of the black object. Keep working with the Direct Selection Tool, extend the lower handles of the right and the left anchor point of the black object. The resulting object should look like the last image below.

21. Select the black object created in the step 20, remove its stroke and fill this object with the linear gradient as shown in the first image. Continue select the red ellipse and remove its stroke, then fill this object with the linear gradient as shown in the second image. Finally select the blue ellipse, remove its stroke and fill this object with the radial gradient as shown in the last image.

22. We are going to start create highlight and shadow for the marker to give it more of a 3D look. With the help of the Pen Tool (P) and the Gradient Tool (G), create a white shape like you see in the first and the second image. Still having the newly created shape selected, change the Blending Mode to Soft Light. Now pick the Ellipse Tool (L) and create an 81 by 4.5px red ellipse, then place it to the position as shown in the fourth image. Reselect the red ellipse, remove its stroke and fill this object with the radial gradient as shown in the next to last image. Keep the resulting ellipse selected and go to the Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur… Enter a 3px Radius and click OK. Then hide the resulting ellipse behind the marker. Finally select and group (Ctrl +G) all objects created from beginning step 20 to this time. The green marker is done!

23. We will continue with other markers. Select the green marker and make four copies of it, then place the copies to new positions. Now pick the Direct Selection Tool (A) and click on the green ellipse of a copy of the green marker. Open the Gradient panel (Window > Gradient) and then replace the existing colors of the gradient stops as shown in the second image. We are done with the violet marker for the moment. Now, follow the sequence of images and repeat the same process for the three remaining copies of the green marker to create other markers. Also you can see them all in the last image.

24. Place the markers onto the map. Then scale and rotate these markers as needed. You should end up with something like in the image below.

25. To give a more realistic look I’m going to be adding shadow for the map. With the help of the Pen Tool (P) and the Gradient Tool (G), create a black shape like you see in the first and the second image. Apply an 8px Gaussian Blur effect for the newly created shape, then change the Blending Mode to Multiply and reduce its Opacity to 60%. Finally hide the resulting shape behind the map.

26. We’re done with the map. It’s time for the background now. Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a 900 by 600px dark grayish orange rectangle (# b2afad). Then send the newly created rectangle to back (Ctrl +Shift +Left Square Bracket). The last thing to do is place the map into the newly created background.

Here is what the completed design looks like:

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