Since its release, Illustrator has grown to become the designer’s right hand man when it comes to creating premier vector graphics and elements. There’s so much you can do with the tool that it can be difficult to know where to start.
Here, we round up some of the best Adobe Illustrator tutorials, covering everything from illustration to logo design, adding depth to your typography and much more. With so many to choose from, you’re sure to find a project to inspire you!
- Also read: Adobe unveils new version of Illustrator
In this video tutorial presented by Angie Taylor you’ll learn how to set up a new Illustrator document. She looks at options in the New Document dialog box like Width and Height, Color Mode, and Transparency Grid.
This tutorial explores the various options for selecting items in Illustrator, including the Selection and Direct Selection tools, the Select Similar options, and the Layers panel.
The Pen and Pencil tools are very useful but require a little practice to get comfortable with. This video tutorial explains how to start using the Pen tool to create clouds and the Pencil tool to create hills.
In this video tutorial you’ll see how to use Illustrator’s shape tools to create primitive shapes that you can use as the basis for objects. You’ll also learn how to use the Shape Builder tool to combine shapes.
In this episode of the Adobe Creative Suite video podcast, Terry White shows you how to get Started with Adobe Illustrator CS6.
In this video, artist Mordy Golding explains five tips to make drawing easier in Adobe Illustrator CS5. These are great tips for beginners as well as experienced users that are new to CS5.
Get to know the toolbox
As enjoyable as it might be, choosing a colour palette for a new brand or design can prove time-consuming. In this Illustrator tutorial, Lee Barnes demonstrates how you can use the Live Color tool to create a colour group for a logo or brand mark.
The warp tools, also known as the liquify tools, are not dissimilar to Photoshop’s Liquify tool but instead are set out into seven different categories. Master their art with this Illustrator tutorial.
Illustrator comes with a selection of default brushes but it’s really easy to create your own too. This tutorial explains how…
If you’re unfamiliar with the process of creating graphs in Adobe Illustrator, this article will help in giving you some insight into the work-flow. You’ll be a pro in no time!
This quick video tutorial will show how you to use a basic gradient as an opacity mask over text. Once you know this method, you can utilise it in different ways to benefit your designs – as an easy-to-use alternative to a clipping mask, for example.
Using Illustrator with finesse and perfecting the finer details can take practice. This tutorial looks at a selection of transparency and gradient tools and uses them to create a lifelike but contemporary animal study. The techniques covered can be applied to any subject matter that requires a striking dynamic look or an elegant subtle shine.
This is a must for beginners. Here, you’ll learn how to overlap crescents to create a ring shape, which is then rotated at 45 degrees.
Retain the hand-drawn, linear quality of your artwork in Adobe Illustrator. Artist Anna Wray shows you how to get to grips with the Image Trace tool.
Add texture in Illustrator
Adding extra depth to an image can be a quick process that utilises some simple tools. In this Illustrator tutorial, Jeffrey Bowman explains how to use grids, gradients and textures to add depth to illustrations.
This Illustrator tutorial shows you how to create a leather texture of different colours. This is a basic tutorial to follow and will take around 30 minutes to complete.
Adding texture to your vector is a great way to give it more dimension and perspective. In this easy to follow video, Illustrator expert Alexandra Cecilio explains how to get the most out of textures.
Today designers and illustrators strive to add that retro/vintage style to their work with textures. This Illustrator tutorial covers the process of creating a cute kids-style illustration complete with a vector sponge stamp effect.
In this Illustrator tutorial you will learn how to create random vector sand and pebble textures that could come in handy. It’s a pretty simple process that shouldn’t take longer than an hour.
Here, you’ll learn how to create a realistic vector denim texture. This Illustrator tutorial is easier than it might seem, and can be done by those who are taking their first steps into the world of vector graphics.
Create detailed illustrations
In this Illustrator tutorial, you start with a bunch of concentric circles and some basic vector shape building techniques. Once you create the starting shapes you’ll continue with some Pathfinder options, several Warp and Gaussian Blur effects plus some basic masking techniques.
In the following Adobe Illustrator tutorial you will learn how to create a detailed scanner illustration. You’ll start with a bunch of simple shapes, some basic vector shape building techniques and a host of effects.
Here, you will learn how to create a detailed printer illustration using simple rectangle shapes. Some basic vector shape building techniques will come in handy for this one.
This 45-minute video explores how to convert a scanned drawing into vector artwork in Adobe Illustrator.
This Illustrator tutorial is less focused on drawing skills and more into the tools, so this shouldn’t be that hard for beginners. You execute it using a mouse or even a track pad.
In this Illustrator tutorial, Nils Davey, from Binary & The Brain, guides you through the process of making pop art-style vector graphics
Pretty patterns in Illustrator
In this 15-minute Illustrator tutorial, Andy Buckle explains how to use the new pattern-creation tools to create a seamlessly repeating design for use in your websites.
This quick tip utilises how you can use the pattern feature in order to construct seamless vector patterns. This Illustrator tutorial is a great starting point for gaining an understanding of how the new pattern tool feature works.
Follow this step by step Illustrator tutorial to create the popular retro style pattern design made up of lots of colourful squares and triangles. The process is quite simple, making this a good tutorial for newcomers.
Becca Allen shows you how you can use a few tools in Illustrator to turn a flat vector pattern swatch into a 3D object.
Create this softer, cuter image of the hit series with this simple Illustrator tutorial. You’ll be using the pencil and pen tool as well as ellipse tool for this creation.
Follow this step-by-step Illustrator tutorial to create a cool vector Yeti character. You’ll use as many basic shapes as possible to achieve that quirky style of illustration, then bring the character to life with a palette of cold colours.
This tutorial is half a case-study and half a tutorial, so you may notice some fast pacing on some parts. But if you’re used to Marcos Torres’ illustration tutorials, you’ll be fine!
Here, you’ll learn how to draw a snail using tools such as the Pen Tool, Selection Tool, Direct Selection Tool, Ellipse Tool and Gradient Tool. Some shapes will be created with the help of the Pathfinder panel.
For this Illustrator tutorial (whose title is self-explanatory), Marcos Torres recommend that you install the San Locisco, The Black Bureau and Ghetto Wolves fonts. You can get them at Legacy of Defeat.
Follow this in-depth look at the process of designing type for a vintage style postcard. This Adobe Illustrator tutorial delves into clipping masks, using bitmap images, working with layers and type effects.
In this Illustrator tutorial you’ll discover how to customise a typeface and then use Photoshop to create a stunning vintage detailed typographic design.
Get vintage inspired with this ’50s Ad poster. You’ll be creating images as well as vintage typography.
You’ll learn the steps to create this cool, ancient-style typography using dry soil texture and floral brushset in Photoshop. You will also discvoer the techniques for creating some really cool light strips for your image.
Make your colours pop
Here, you’ll learn how to create volume in vector illustrations using a few colours per object. Bring a sketch of a beautiful tropical bird to life using vectors and a handy colouring process. Summer is officially here, so celebrate with this colourful tutorial.
This tutorial focuses on creating a vibrant, poppy portrait in Adobe Illustrator, using bright colours, transparent gradients, and a sense of whimsy, you’ll be constructing facial features and candy hair in no time.
This is a useful Illustrator tutorial for any graphic designer, as you’ll be suing some advanced techniques to get an amazing drawing portrait. Not to worry though, you’ll only be using basic tools.
Get gamey with Mario and Sonic
This is a more advanced Illustrator tutorial, so a previous knowledge of the software (and the character) will be helpful. It can all be crafted using a mouse, although using a tablet will make the process quicker.
The mesh tool is one of the hardest tools to master, but if you want to achieve a 3D look in your illustrations, you have to really understand how to use this tool properly. In this Illustrator tutorial, you’ll be creating Toad from Mario to practise your skills.
This Illustrator tutorial is for beginners but it’s a great way to practise your skills in the software. You’ll be creating the Mario face using some simple and easy to create shapes.
This Illustrator tutorial takes a look at how to create a T-shirt graphic (pictured above) with a cool, retro feel. There’s only a few simple steps. Form simple vector shapes with the Pen tool and then add textures to create that retro aesthetic.
Learn how to use halftone patterns and to add a retro, hand-printed effect in this Illustrator tutorial. You’ll be one step closer to mastering the Illustrator Brush libraries.
See how you can strip a concept back to basics and create versatile graphic shapes that work in different contexts. This Illustrator tutorial will help you improve your skills with the Pen and Pathfinder tools. It will also show you how best to work with bold, simple colour palettes.
Create abstract illustrations
This is one of the more effective Illustrator tutorials we’ve come across. Focusing on the Ellipse and Lasso tools, see how you can create a sense of depth in your designs by using drop shadows. The result? An elaborate, eye-catching and abstract illustration.
Learn how to import textures into Illustrator; use custom presets in Live Trace; and successfully apply textured effects to vector images. You’ll, be pleased with the results.
Ever tried a digital collage or ‘digicollage’? Today is as good a day as any. Follow BECHA as she walks through a process for developing a distinct aesthetic that combines textures, photos and elements.
Create vector icons in a flash
If you’ve ever wanted to create your own set of emoticons, this is the perfect place to start! The Illustrator tutorial is for beginners to intermediate and it will work for CS3 and up.
Continuing with the icon theme, we now present an Illustrator tutorial from Alexey Botkov. He’ll show you how to make a cartoon-esque brain icon for OS X and Vista.
This easy step by step Illustrator tutorial by Ryan of Vectips shows you how to create a retro television icon just with some basic shapes and gradients.
If you’re already familiar with the 3D effects in Illustrator, then this is a great way to test those skills and take them up a notch. Here, you’ll learn how transparencies can make all the difference.
Here you’ll learn how to create a neat icon of Fireworks Rockets. 3D Effect is a convenient tool for creating this kind of illustration, but we have to be aware of the fact that 3D effects can mess up our illustration. This tutorial will show you how to avoid that.
Here you’ll draw sketchy weather icons on a paper note with a clip. First you’ll illustrate a background with the Appearance panel and then you’ll create weather symbols and a paper note with a clip before finishing it off with some text.
Give your graphics some edge
This is a Photoshop and Illustrator tutorial double-header. Join Spanish illustrator Marti Sati as he shows you how to how to add a sense of motion to your work by combining vector illustrations with Photoshop’s Pen tool. By the end you’ll have a head-turning kaleidoscopic effect.
Luke O’Neill demonstrates how you can quickly and easily add a layer of gloss to various graphic elements. Think slick, shiny graphic buttons and icons…
In another one of our favourite Illustrator tutorials, Ruslan Khasanov shows you how to manipulate vector line work and gradients to bring an unusual sense of movement to your work.
Beto Garza demonstrates how to use custom Art Brushes, Graphic Styles and Blends to turn a rough sketch into an impactful wildlife illustration. Once you’ve picked up the basics, give it your own twist!
Follow this tutorial by Iaroslav Lazunov and by controlling the transparency of gradient meshes with the help of blending modes, and by adjusting color transition between mesh points and changing its opacity, you’ll make a brush that you can use to create an impressive pearl necklace in seconds!
Using Adobe Illustrator CS6
In this Adobe Creative Suite podcast, Terry White shows the 10 things beginners will want to know how to do to get started with Illustrator CS6.
Brought to you by Lynda.com, you’ll get to grips with some of the new tools in Adobe Illustrator CS6. The video will show you how to apply a gradient swatch to a stroke that is surrounding an object.
Here, you’ll learn how to master artwork techniques in the new realms of CS6. This handy video tutorial is easy to follow and uses processes that are simple enough for beginners.
Another great Illustrator tutorial brought to you by Lynda.com, which shows you how to create repeatable patterns in different styles and configurations using the new Pattern Options tool.
Work with lettering
This is makes a great weekend project. Follow along as Steven Bonner works through the process of building a grid that will form the basis of your design. He then shows you how to draw, colour and light your letters to create an amazing 3D architectural scene.
Celebrated Russian illustrator Zutto reveals how you can make a balanced character composition and add shading using vectors.
We’ve got more Illustrator tutorials than you can shake a vector stick at and we’re adding new ones all the time. In this one, Junichi Tsuneoka explains how to create a unique character, build up its background and incorporating custom type to make a stunning composition.
Text effect tutorials
In this Illustrator tutorial, you’ll learn how to create a bending 3D text effect that will make any design stand out. There’s plenty of skills to soak up here!
Sweeten up your design with this tasty text effect. You’ll need to be at an intermediate level as you will be using the Blend Tool; effects like Roughen and Chrome; different Blending modes and also the 3D Extrude and Bevel effect to create perfect chocolate squares.
Get creative with this cute Illustrator tutorial. It involves intermediate vector shape building skills so make sure you’ve got those down before you go any further!
Inspired by BBC1’s mosaic idents – recently given a 2014 refresh – this tutorial by Andrei Marius shows you how to create a colourful text effect made up of lots of little pieces.
Work smarter and faster
Do you ever wish that you could work faster? In this Illustrator tutorial, Jonny Wan shows you how he created a promotional poster for Ford. See how the Pathfinder panel played a key part in speeding up his workflow, ultimately giving him more time to incorporate client feedback and amendments.
Experimentation is key to remaining creative (and sane). Find out how to create artwork that has a solid foundation, yet still enables you to mess around along the way. This process might even speed up your workflow and help you get better results in the other Illustrator tutorials.
Learn how to merge a few found images and to mix them in with vector shapes to create a unique editorial illustration.
Create complex and comic graphic design
William Beachy shows you how his company created this comic book style flyer. Starting with a pencil sketch and then imported into Illustrator, you should be a dab hand at drawing.
Heinritzh Sales explains the process of creating a complex style drawing in Illustrator. It will consist of a number of layers and a fair few steps, so you’ll need to be at an intermediate level for this one.
Many images that look complicated are really made using simple effects. Get to grips with gradients by layering and building up small, straightforward segments, always varying them to prevent monotony.
Texturise your vectors
Whether it’s for an ad campaign, product, publication or identity, a unique typeface can help define a brand, message and tone of voice – giving the client something unique. In this Illustrator tutorial we’ll look at the creative process of designing a new display typeface.
Used sparingly, raster effects can help you achieve results in your Illustrator vectors that you’d normally have to cross over to Photoshop to get. If you experiment with them, they can add a dramatic difference and new dimension to your images.
In this Illustrator tutorial, see how Amy Martino designs a fashion illustration (using a vector drawing created in Illustrator) that’s editable as a Smart Object in Photoshop. As a bonus, she also explains how to create and apply textures to Photoshop images to add character.
Get it right with colour and graphic assets
The right colour palette can turn a good image into a great image, but it isn’t always easy to select the best combination for your work. Learn how to get the most out of Adobe’s Kuler, a web-hosted community-based colour scheme editor.
Whether it’s vector experimentation in Illustrator, manipulation in Photoshop or tinkering around with a 3D application, if you make something interesting then make sure that you categorise it and keep it. You might be able to reuse it (or elements of it) in other projects. Here Anthony Neil Dart demonstrates a practical way to utilise your graphic asset library.
Tom Mac reveals how to create a drip-effect portrait using Illustrator’s Pen tool and some clever object layering techniques.
Abstract and experimental effects
Steven Bonner has done some cracking Illustrator tutorials for our friends at Computer Arts. In this one, he shows you how to layer an image for a realistic 3D effect and how your use of colour can increase relevance and impact.
In this Illustrator tutorial, graphic designer Dines reveals how to create an imposing mixed-media image using limited shades.
In another one of our favourite Illustrator tutorials, learn how to use the Liquify tool creatively; how to combine stock imagery with custom marks; and to create an illustration from type.
Play around with ambigrams and logos
Graphic artist and ambigram pioneer John Langdon reveals how to bring rotational symmetry to your work.
In this typography tutorial, Designer Chandler Van De Water shows you how to use Adobe Illustrator CS5 to creatively manipulate letterforms in combination with unique shapes and negative space. The result? A solid, recognisable logo mark.
Watch how Steven Bonner harnesses the power of the Appearance panel in Adobe Illustrator. See how easy it is? It’s a wonder we ever worried about it.
A monogram is a symbol made by combining and overlapping two or more letters; it can be straightforward and functional or a lot more ornamental in appearance. Here Chris Comella demonstrates how he made a monogram for his colleague’s business card.
Make your creations STAND OUT
Alex Gill walks through how to combine Illustrator’s 3D capabilities with Photoshop work. Learn how to manage layers more efficiently and the best ways to add subtle lighting techniques.
Steven Bonner explains how to add a new dimension to your work with Illustrator’s powerful 3D tools.
Learn how to combine photos and custom artwork with style. This tutorial walks you through using your digital camera and scanner, how to introduce Smart Object/Smart Filter workflow, and playing with Illustrator’s Warp tools.
Make your text leap off the page – in the style of Marvel’s logo for The Avengers – by creating a path in Illustrator, then importing it to Photoshop and applying effects and texture.
Branding and bristle brush techniques
Chandler Van De Water shows you how to manipulate the glyphs from a font to create a unique, appropriate letterform style.
Top illustrator and web designer Paddy Donnelly shows us how to use Illustrator CS5’s Bristle Brush feature to create monsters…
Sebastin Litmanovich tells you how to create a set of vector icons using a logo as a starting point. You’ll learn how to combine and rearrange the shapes of an existing logo or typeface into new forms.
Steven Bonner looks at how to use Illustrator’s Blend tool to create smooth and curved blends, blend by specific distances and to blend different transparencies and shapes.
Liked this? Read these!
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Keep regularly checking back for more updated tutorials and don’t forget to let us know your thoughts in the comments box below.