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Adobe Illustrator Tutorial: Creating a Tattered Parchment

Today, in this all new Adobe Illustrator tutorial, we will be learning how to create a very popular illustration; old tattered parchment. There are many beautiful illustrations that seem to be complicated to create, but they are actually not. This is the main purpose of this tutorial, to show you how easily some of these can be achieved. We will deform some basic shapes and objects, combine them, and perfectly complete the whole illustration with some decorative elements and gradients.

This is what we will be creating.

Setting Up the Elements for the Basic Shape

We will start with some simple rectangles. Grab the Rectangle Tool (M) from the Tool Panel and create rectangles as shown in the picture below. Just make sure to create the lower rectangle slightly larger than the upper.

Now we need to distort the rectangles a little bit. To do that we will need a few extra anchor points. Grab the Add Anchor Point Tool (+) from the Tool Panel and add anchor points in the middle of each rectangle.

Select the Direct Selection Tool (A) from the Tool Panel, select the each individual anchor points (we have just added) and nudge them towards center, as shown below.

With the Convert Anchor Point Tool (Shift + C) try to make new corners less sharp. Just click on the anchor point and drag its handle downwards (or to the right, depending on which anchor point you are editing). You should end up with something like this.

You will notice that some parts of the rectangles have changed position. Make sure to correct all the flaws that may cause any problems with the smoothness.

Grab the Ellipse Tool (L) from the Tool Panel and create ellipses as pictured below. Make sure to match the edges properly.

Now we will make some adjustments to the ellipses we have just created. The point is to create the effect of rolled up parchment on the ends.

First select the lower parts of the illustration (the purple shape with two green ellipses) and bring them to the Front (Shift + Ctrl / Cmd + ]). This way it will look like the upper part of the parchment is folded back and the lower part is rolled up the front.

Now select the upper part of the illustration (the red shape and two ellipses) and under the Pathfinder Panel hit the Unite button. It will turn the shapes into one object. Make sure the new object stays behind the yellow shape.

Lets adjust the upper part of the yellow shape. We have to make both shapes (green and yellow) look connected. To do this we will need the Direct Selection Tool (A) again. Select it in the Tool Panel and select the left upper anchor point. We will move it to the left (where the green shape starts to curve).

As you can see, we didn’t accomplish all we needed with previous step. We will try harder to make it look like rolled up parchment. With the Direct Selection Tool (A) select the lower part of the handle and place it as shown in the picture below. This will give the impression of rolled effect we were looking for.

Repeat the previous step for the right side of the illustration as well.

You should end up with something like this.

Now it’s time to adjust lower part of the illustration.

Duplicate (Ctrl / Cmd + C, Ctrl / Cmd + F) both green ellipses. Select the purple shape and the copy of the green ellipse on the left, then under the Pathfinder Panel hit the Minus Front button.

Now we have one green ellipse left on each side. Remove the Fill color and set the Stroke color to any color you wish (color is not important).

Now we need to remove some anchor points. With the Direct Selection Tool (A) select two anchor points and remove them by hitting the Delete key on your keyboard.

You should end up with something like this.

Repeat the previous step for the ellipse on the right side as well.

Now we need to connect the paths on both sides and use them to create a new shape. To do that grab the Pen Tool (P) from the Tool Panel and just click on the end points of those paths.

Remove the Stroke color and set the Fill color to any solid color. Grab the Add Anchor Point Tool (+) from the Tool Panel and add the anchor point to the new shape as it’s shown below.

With the Direct Selection Tool (A) grab the new anchor point and move it downwards, in order to hide the unwanted part of the green shape.

Basically, this is the shape of our parchment. Feel free to play around with position of the anchor points, add new ones or remove some (if needed). You might improve the look.

Creating the Rips

We are moving on on the next step, creating the rips in the sides of the parchment. We will need to create small shapes that we will be using to cut from the parchment in several places. The creation process is quite simple. Grab the Arc Tool from the Tool Panel and click somewhere on the Artboard. The Arc Segment Tool Options window will popup.

Leave all settings at the default and hit the OK button. This way we have created a curved path. Make sure to set the Stroke color (to any color you like), and the value for stroke to 10 pt. We will also have to change the shape of the stroke. Under the Stroke Panel (if the Stroke Panel isn’t visible you will find it under Window > Stroke) set the Profile to Width Profile 5. This way you can create different shapes. Just try to experiment with Stroke settings to get the look you want.

To be able to create the rips we will need to expand the Stroke we have just created. Select the arc, and under Object select Expand Appearance.

Place the new shape, we have just created, where the end just partially covers the edge of the parchment. Feel free to rotate it, if needed. Select the new shape and the yellow shape (parchment), and under the Pathfinder Panel hit the Minus Front button. It will create a small rip.

Repeat this step a few times to create several more rips. Just place them randomly all over the folded parchment. You should end up with something like this.

Applying Gradients

Get ready to apply some nicely colored gradients to our folded parchment. We will combine linear and radial gradients in order to create a nice realistic look. So let’s get started.

For the largest part of the parchment we will be using a radial gradient. The radial gradient will help us create a nice color transition, especially in the upper segment. We will be using a large radius on the radial gradient in order to follow the shape of the page.

We will use similar gradients for the other parts of the illustration as well

Creating the Details

There is one interesting detail we can create. Since the parchment is old, some of the parts can be ripped a bit more then others. So let’s create one of them.

Since we have a few ripped edges pick one to adjust a bit more. Grab the Line Tool (/) from the Tool Panel and create a straight line as shown in the image.

Select the largest part of the parchment and the line we have just created, and under the Pathfinder Panel hit the Divide button. It will cut off the small part of the parchment.

Rotate the small segment and place it as shown in the picture below (you can change it’s Fill color just to avoid any mistakes).

Now we need to adjust the edges in order to make it look like this part is really connected to the large part of the parchment. With the Direct Selection Tool (A) adjust the position of the anchor points and their handles until you reach a desirable look.

We will need to adjust the left edge of the large part of the parchment as well. To try to make it less sharp.

Now let’s try to connect those parts in order to make them look like one solid piece. Feel free to add and remove anchor points and change the positions and angles of their handles if needed. Just try different things until you create something you really like.

Our illustration will look much better after we apply a nice gradient.

To make the whole illustration even more authentic we will create a small shadow underneath the folded segment we have just created.

Duplicate (Ctrl / Cmd + C, Ctrl / Cmd + F) the large part of the parchment. Grab the Ellipse Tool (L) from the Tool Panel and create an ellipse as pictured.

Select the large part of the parchment and the ellipse we have just created, and under the Pathfinder Panel hit the Intersect button. It will create an irregular shape that will follow the left edge of the illustration.

Make sure to place the folded segment of the parchment on the top (Shift + Ctrl / Cmd + ]). Beside that try to adjust the red shape a little bit, in order to blend the shadow nicely with the rest of the illustration. You can do this part after applying the radial gradient if it’s more comfortable for you.

To create a shadow we will be using the radial gradient with a really big radius. This will allow us to manipulate the shadow the way we want it.

Under the Transparency Panel set the Blend Mode to Darken. It will make the white color transparent and the dark color will become a nice shadow.

You should end up with something like this.

Creating the Ornament Brush

In this part of the tutorial we will create a nice ornament brush that will be applied to both sides of the parchment.

Grab the Rectangle Tool (M) from the Tool Panel and create a square (don’t forget to hold the Shift key on the keyboard in order to create a perfect square). Make sure to rotate it 45 degrees.

Under Object select Path > Offset Path. Set the value for Offset to -35. It will create a smaller rectangle in the middle of the big one.

Select both rectangles and under the Pathfinder Panel hit the Minus Front button. It will create a hole in the middle of the larger rectangle.

Duplicate (Ctrl / Cmd + C, Ctrl / Cmd + F) the new shape, scale it down a little bit and place it as it is shown below.

Repeat the previous step to create a smaller element for the left side as well.

Grab the Pen Tool (P) from the Tool Panel and create a random path.

Under the Stroke Panel set the value for Stroke to 50 and Profile to Width Profile 1. Don’t forget to expand the new shape (to turn it into an editable object). Select Object > Expand Appearance. Group (Ctrl / Cmd + G) all the elements.

Duplicate (Ctrl /Cmd + C, Ctrl / Cmd + F) the group of elements we have just created a few times and place the copies as pictured below.

Drag and drop the group in to the Brush Panel. Make sure to check the Art Brush option in Brush Panel.

Inside the Art Brush Options make sure to set the Colorization Method to Tint and hit the OK button.

Now we need to apply the brush to our rolled up parchment. We will need the Pen Tool (P) for that. Grab it from the Tool Panel and draw the path as like it has been done in the below. Just try to adjust it to follow the parchment’s edge.

When you are satisfied with the path apply the brush we have created in the previous step. After applying the brush feel free to adjust the Stroke size and the position of the path as you desire.

Now, grab the Add Anchor Point Tool (+) from the Tool Panel and add anchor points as shown in the following picture.

With the Delete Anchor Point Tool (-) remove the end anchor point.

We will do the same thing for the lower part of the brush.

Let’s create the same ornament for the right side of the illustration. Select the path with the applied brush and under Object select Transform. Set the Axis to Vertical and hit the Copy button. It will create another path as a mirror image. Place it on the right side of the parchment.

As you can see we have to make a few adjustments to both sides of the illustration. To be able to do that we need to turn both paths into editable objects. Select them both, and under Object select Expand Appearance.

We will try to fix the left side first. Ungroup (Shift + Ctrl / Cmd + G) the ornament. Now we need to trim some elements and we will start with the one placed exactly over the ripped part of the parchment. Duplicate (Ctrl / Cmd + C, Ctrl / Cmd + F) the large shape of the parchemnt. Select the copy and the squared element from the ornament brush and under the Pathfinder Panel hit the Intersect button.

The other squared element that overlaps the parchment we will simply place underneath the fold from the tear in the side.

We will repeat this for other parts of the illustration as needed.

After adjusting all of the parts of the ornamentation you should end up with something like this.

Now we can apply a nice color to our ornament, a bit darker than the color of the parchment. Group (Ctrl / Cmd + G) all of the elements of the ornamentation on each side of the parchment and apply a nice linear gradient to them.

We can also create a small shadow on the lower part of the parchment. Select the lower part of the parchment which rolls up and duplicate it (Ctrl / Cmd + C, Ctrl / Cmd + F). Then move the copy a bit upwards. Duplicate (Ctrl / Cmd + C, Ctrl / Cmd + F) the large shape of the parchment as well. Select both copies and under the Pathfinder Panel hit the Intersect button.

Place the new shape underneath the rolled up part of the parchment and change its Fill color to #A17640. Feel free to adjust the shape of the shadow if needed.

And voila! We are done.

Conclusion

Today we have shown one of the easiest ways to create a rolled up piece of antique parchment. There are many other things you can try to create or even tweak in order to improve on the illustration. Parchment thickness is one of them. Just be creative and feel free to use a different approach in the creation process. Feel free to leave your thoughts and alterations .

 

Noupe

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