How To Create An Undersea Abstract Wallpaper In Illustrator

    written by Philip Brunner

    In this tutorial I will show you how you can use some common tools to create a quick and unique wallpaper. I created an undersea abstract image for my own desktop and Geek-tool needs; however, with these quick tips you can design whatever you want for your own desktop.

    Here is preview of what we are going to create. Visually stimulating but not to distracting.

    illustrator tutorial

    Step 1

    First: open illustrator and set the dimensions of a new document to fit your screen. My screen dimensions are 1920 x 1200 px so this is what I set my document to. Fill the background with black.
    Now, create several radial gradients similar to the image below. Re-size and move toward the middle of the document and positioning them to express light from above and reflecting off the bottom. Set the transparency of each gradient to screen.

    illustrator tutorial

    Adjust them until you get something like this.

    illustrator tutorial

    It doesn’t need to be perfect, you can always move them around later.

    Step 2

    Now for the fun part. Create a rectangle about 50px high and around 500px wide using bright colored gradient.

    illustrator tutorial

    Duplicate the rectangle several times and change the transparency on a few individual rectangles to overlay, soft-light and hard-light. Align them horizontally and then use the transform each option.

    illustrator tutorial

    Go to Object -> Transform each and mess around a bit until you get a “forced randomness” LOL

    illustrator tutorial

    Something like this will be fine.

    Step 3

    Now bust out your handy dandy Pucker Tool and mess around with it. Run through, drag and pull on the gradients until you get an esthetically pleasing abstraction. This is how I adjusted my Pucker Tool. It’s O.K. to laugh.

    illustrator tutorial

    After all that puckering around, you should have something like this, or at least close to it.

    illustrator tutorial

    O.K. now we are going to make another one; but, solid black for this one and a little bit bigger.  We are going to use this one behind the gradated piece to show depth.

    illustrator tutorial

    Place them in the document and adjust until they look good to you.

    illustrator tutorial

    Step 4

    O.K. now for the bottom of the sea. A bunch o’ seaweed or lost city, which ever you prefer. I prefer the lost city so thats what we are going to make now.
    To make a city we just throw in a bunch of rectangular shapes along a horizontal path like so.

    illustrator tutorial

    And continue until we have something like this, and then we just unite the object using the pathfinder tool.

    illustrator tutorial

    Now we will add some character and degradation to the watered city by using the Scallop and and Wrinkle Tools.

    illustrator tutorial

    Now just run the Wrinkle tool above the city.

    illustrator tutorial

    And pull out the Scallop Tool and use these adjustments.

    illustrator tutorial

    And you should have something like this, or not.

    illustrator tutorial

    Now place your city at the bottom of the sea.

    illustrator tutorial

    Step 5

    Next up…bubbles. Make a few different sized circles, fill with black and place them randomly and lower the opacity to about 40%. We have to turn these into a scatter brush so take your new circles and drop them into the brush palette and set the scatter brush options as shown below.

    illustrator tutorial

    Take your new bubbles brush a  draw out 4 groups of bubbles, 2 groups need to be white to balance out the darker ones for depth.

    illustrator tutorial

    Add one set to the top and the other to the bottom of your sea giving you a pretty nice look.

    illustrator tutorial

    Step 6

    We need some fish, so we are going to Warp one out of a circle, just because we can.

    Go get yourself a circle and set your warp tool Scotty.

    illustrator tutorial

    This is our fish, well not yet, but it can be. Start by dragging the warp tool from inside the circle outwards and shape the tail until it’s recognized as one.

    illustrator tutorial

    keep going.

    illustrator tutorial

    Almost.

    illustrator tutorial

    Now we have to adjust the Warp Tool a little and finish him off.

    illustrator tutorial

    If your crazy enough to do this, than it should look like this.

    illustrator tutorial

    I wouldn’t really recommend doing it this way if your not use to the Warp Tool, You can easily use the pen tool. Now duplicate the fish, flip horizontally and adjust the opacity on one of them for some depth again.
    After placing your fish and positioning them until you are happy you may want to add some seaweed to your city or submarines, whatever you like, just have fun.

    illustrator tutorial

    Download

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    Authored by

    Makes paradigm shifts daily. Thinks mud pies are still cool and climbs really, really tall hills. Drop him a line on Twitter.

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27 Comments
ADD COMMENT
  • Jean-Baptiste Jung says:

    February 22, 2010

    Beautiful result!

  • Richie says:

    February 22, 2010

    I like it, Beautiful result. Doing something like this in Illustrator without any stock imagery is really stunning. I would love to see more of Philip’s tutorials.

    Also, I’m bad at Illustrator :P .. so, this will be a perfect way to strengthen my basics.

    Thanks a lot, Philip and Great work

  • Mia says:

    February 22, 2010

    This is simply a beautiful aquatic masterpiece ! Now I’m wishing I was a mermaid :D Love the nocturnally -abstract atmosphere . Thank you for sharing this & your efforts . Stunning work ! :)

    M.

  • Ankit Bathija says:

    February 22, 2010

    Really really helpful for a beginner in Illustrator. Thanks a lot for sharing this tutorial with me. Keep the great work going…

  • Rocky says:

    February 22, 2010

    its look so beautiful.. nice job..

  • Mihai O. says:

    February 22, 2010

    Great tutorial :)

  • Divyesh Ardeshana says:

    February 22, 2010

    gr8 help & gr8 work :)

  • adone says:

    February 22, 2010

    Fresh effect!!! More Illustrator tutorials, please.

  • Simone D'Amico says:

    February 22, 2010

    Nice work!

  • Konstantin says:

    February 22, 2010

    Awesome tutorial, thanks for sharing!

    ~ @kovshenin

  • jared thompson says:

    February 22, 2010

    cool little tutorial you have going there!

  • webbografico says:

    February 22, 2010

    very nice… I really like dark background and this one is amazing

  • Bob Hays (@purplehayz) says:

    February 22, 2010

    Wow, interesting way to achieve the result; as always a clear and useful tutorial; thanks and have fun! – Bob

  • designi1 says:

    February 22, 2010

    nice tut!!! final artwort is great :D

  • Chris Thurman says:

    February 22, 2010

    Very nice techniques to learn. Great tutorial!

  • logolitic says:

    February 22, 2010

    very nice tutorial, take a look to my tutorials: http://www.logolitic.com

  • Philip Brunner says:

    February 22, 2010

    I want to thank everyone for the wonderful comments. I appreciate it!

  • Teylor Feliz says:

    February 22, 2010

    Nice tutorial!!!

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Ian Patrick Buss says:

    February 23, 2010

    wow! Beautiful post!

  • Kawsar Ali says:

    February 23, 2010

    That looks cool. Nice job.

  • Zeemp says:

    February 23, 2010

    I loved this wallpaper colors!

  • Inky says:

    February 23, 2010

    You make the shark look so easy!

  • mupet says:

    February 23, 2010

    Really really beautiful, great tutorials

  • Michelle says:

    February 24, 2010

    amazing :) thank you

  • Nikhil says:

    February 25, 2010

    Awesome!
    Looks fantastic!
    Great to learn new tools,
    thanks

  • Philip Brunner says:

    February 26, 2010

    Thanks guys!

  • webtreats says:

    July 27, 2010

    awesome picture and thanks for sharing this great tutorial!