Santa Claus Christmas Ball Tutorial Adobe Illustrator.


Creating the background

  1. Using the rectangle tool (m) draw a square across the canvas and give it a radial gradient from light blue to dark.
  2. From the Line Segment tool drop down menu, select the Polar Grid Tool.
    Click anywhere on the canvas to access the settings. We want the Concentric Dividers to be 0 because this draws circles that we don’t need.  The Radial Dividers set the number of lines that come out from the center.  For this design 25 is good.
  3. From your layers menu, select the bottom group containing the outer circle and delete it. While still selecting the radials go to Object / Expand.
    Create a very small circle at the center of the radial, select the radial and circle and Unite.
    Apply a soft white radial gradient that fades from the center out. Set layer transparency to Color Dodge.
  4. Duplicate the path, slightly rotate and make smaller. Set layer transparency to Overlay.
    Group both layers and make several copies.  Randomly resize and place across the background to create a simple starry effect.  Draw a Square covering the canvas over the stars. Select the stars and square, right click, select Make Clipping Mask.


Creating the Glass Ball.

  1. Using the Ellipse Tool (l) create a circle and apply add a radial gradient going from white to gray. Since our light source is coming from the top left, shift the gradient up and to the left. From the Appearance panel change the Fill blending mode to soft light.
    To make the ball look a little more realistic we need more light.  Add a new Fill and give it a soft white gradient and place it in the upper left.  Change the blending mode to Screen and choose a desired opacity.
    Repeat the previous step with a smaller light source and place it slightly above the previous.
    To enhance the shadows a little add a radial gradient going from transparent to light blue.  Set the Fill blending mode to Overlay and choose a desired opacity.  Lock layer.
    You should have something that looks like this.
  2. This is great, but it still doesn’t look real. It needs more reflective light and shadows. To do that we need to create crescents of variable sizes and add gradients to them.  Where there should be light add a light gradient and where there should be shadows add a dark gradient.  Play around with the transparency and opacity, use your judgment and pile the layers up.
    I added a layer mask over the crescents and named the group Light/Shadow.
    Lock group.

Creating Santa Clause

Santa’s face and hat will be part of the Christmas ball design and the moustache and beard will be placed on top.

  1. Eye: Using the ellipse tool, draw two overlapping ovals to shape the eye. Pathfinder / Minus the Front. Rotate new shape slightly. Rename layer eye.
    Draw four more ovals to create the pupil, iris and light reflection.  Copy the eye layer and paste it in front of the other elements.  Select pupil, iris, light reflection and the top eye layer, right-click, create clipping mask.
  2. Brow: Draw two overlapping circles to shape the brow. Minus the Front. Draw a rectangle covering half the crescent. Minus the Front. Rotate slightly, add a light blue gradient.
    Copy the brow, paste it behind (ctrl + b) rotate to the right, set blending mode to Multiply and drop the Opacity.
  3. Cheek: Place a circle with a red gradient under the eye.
  4. Select all layers go to Object / Transform / Reflect. Reflect a vertical copy and move into place.
  5. Hat: Draw four overlapping circles to shape the hat rim. Unite them using the pathfinder. Using the Selection Tool (v) drop the height down to almost half.

    Copy the layer and paste in front (ctrl + f) Change the color to white and shift it slightly to the left.  
    Copy the current layer and paste in front.  Add a linear gradient and set transparency to Multiply.  Copy the bottom layer and paste it on top of everything to make a clipping mask.

    Create a red oval, add a radial gradient and place it behind the rim.

  6. Unlock all the layers (alt + ctrl + 2). Select layers and align vertical centers.
    Create an oval the size of the ball and make an overall clipping mask.

    Rename group Mask and place Mask between Ball and Light/Shadow. Lock group.
  7. Nose: Create an oval in the center of the face and give it a radial gradient.
    Copy the nose and place it behind (ctrl +b), shift it up a few pixels, change color to blue and transparency layer to Multiply.
  8. Moustache: Draw four ovals. The bottom three will make up the moustache.  The base of the upper oval is the outline of the upper part of the moustache.
    Copy the top oval. Select the top oval and the first oval on the left and Minus the front.

    Press (ctrl + f) to paste the top oval. Select top oval and second oval and Minus the front.

    Press (ctrl + f) to paste the top oval. Select top oval and last oval and Minus the front.

    Add a gradient to highlight the shadows.

    Group moustache, copy, past behind, unite, shrink and rotate slightly, change transparency to multiply.

    Copy layer, paste behind, rotate slightly.
    Select moustache and shadows, Object / Transform / Reflect.  Reflect a vertical copy and move into place. Group layers and name Moustache.  Lock layer.
  9. Mouth: Draw an oval beneath the nose and give it a radial gradient.

    Copy (ctrl + c), paste behind (ctrl + b), shift it down a few pixels to create the lip, and give it a nice fleshy lip color.  Group layers and name mouth.  Place the Mouth group underneath the Moustache.  Lock layer
  10. Beard: Draw a few circles to make up the left side of the beard. Start with the top circle. Make sure it is aligned properly with the side of his face.  The bottom circle should be centered to the nose.
    Now draw a few more overlapping circles in-between and unite them.

    Object / Transform / Reflect.  Reflect a vertical copy and move into place.

    Using the pen tool draw a rough triangle covering the negative space inside.

    Select all three elements and unite.  Change name to beard.

    Copy beard, paste in front twice. (ctrl + c + f + f), stretch the top layer a little and narrow it down a little.

    Copy the top layer, name it white, and hide it.  Select the top two layers, minus the back.

    Change color to blue and change transparency to multiply.

    Show the white layer, give it a light blue gradient and change transparency to Multiply.                 
    Copy the beard layer and paste it above the white.  Select all and create a clipping mask.  Name the group Beard and place under Mouth.

  11. Glasses: Draw a blue oval. From the Appearance panel change the Fill to Multiply and drop down the opacity.  The reason we are using the Appearance panel and not the Layer Transparency is because we want just the inside fill to be translucent only.  We want the stroke to remain solid.

    Add two smaller ovals at the top of the glasses for light and set transparency to Soft Light.

    Object / Transform / Reflect.  Reflect a vertical copy and move into place. Group layers and name Glasses.  Lock layer.

  12. Top: Draw an oval, copy it and shift it down. Draw a rectangle covering both ovals.  Select the rectangle and the bottom oval and unite.

    Rename layer as top and place it behind the front oval.  Rename the front oval as cover.  Add a couple of gradients to both layers.


  13. Ribbon: Draw an S with the pen tool. Select Width Profile 1 from the Variable Width Profile.  Play around with the stroke length.
  14. Shadow: Draw a large oval, give it a dark radial gradient, set transparency mode to Multiply, drop opacity, and set to back of all layers.
  15. Unlock all the layers (alt + ctrl + 2). Select layers and align horizontal centers.

Your final image should look something like this:

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial.

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