How To Create A Beautiful Windmill Illustration Using Illustrator
TimothyBlake • March 7th, 2011
Windmills have been around for centuries and although their construction evolved through time the idea remains the same. Let this tutorial be a tribute to those old fashioned windmills that are hardly met these days.
Open Adobe Ilustrator and create a new file of any size you like, mine is 600 by 800px. Select the Pen Tool (P) and try to achieve a shape as you see below.
It can also be achieved by editing a rectangle but I found it much easier to just draw it. Next, create a copy of it by Alt-draging and reflect it.
Create a trapeze between these two paths by clicking on the anchor points.
Press Ctrl + [ twice to move this path under the previous two.
Now, since the middle part of the building is ready we’ll start creating the bottom part. Press M to selec the Rectangle Tool and draw a rectangle under the mid part. Make a copy of this path (Ctrl + C and Ctrl + F).
Select the whole middle part, press Ctrl + C and then Ctrl + B to create a copy of these paths and then click the Unite button in the Pathfinder panel. You won’t see any changes for now. Hold down the Shift key and press the Down arrow key once to move the newly create path by 10px down.
With this path selected, hold down the Shift key and select the copy of the bottom part. Press the intersect button in the pathfinder panel.
We will use this path later for shadow.
We move on to the top part of the mill. Select the Ellipse Tool (E) and create an ellipse somewhere at the top.
Now draw another much bigger and wider ellipse intersecting the first one.
Select them both and press the Minus Front button in the Pathfiner panel. You should end up with somehting like this:
Make this path smaller and place in properly.
Use the same technique as in step 2 to create a shadow for this path.
Now, I’m going to add some details to the bottom part of the mill. Let’s draw a door! Select the rounded Rectangle Tool and draw a path as you see in the image below:
Copy the bottom rectangle, select it and the rounded rectangle at the same time and then press the Intersect button in the Pathfidner panel.
With the resulting path selected go to Object > Path > Offset Path and enter -6px as offset value (this may vary depending on the size of you image) .
Don’t forget to draw the door handle.
Use Rectangle Tool to draw the shape of a window near the door.
Apply the Offset Path effect with a smaller offset value and then use the Line tool (\) to draw a cross on it.
Maybe at this point everything looks too childish, but it will change when we’ll start adding colors.
Good, now it’s time to draw the windblades which are making the windmill to look like a windmill. Start by drawing a circle on the top of the mill.
Now, somewhere on your artboard where you have free space draw a very long rounded rectangle and fill it with a gradient from #D2A67C to #FDC693. We are coloring the windblades while creating them so we will not need to spend time coloring each one later.
The create a smaller but thicker rectangle on it and give it a gradient fill from #BE1E2D to #CD4E27.
Select the Rectangular Grid Tool located in the Line Tool menu and draw a grid as you see in the image. Use tehe deafult grid setting, they should work fine. Give the grid a stroke of any color, for now.
With grid selected go to Object > Expand and hit Enter. Press the Unite button in Pathfinder’s panel. Now apply a gradient from #A97C50 to #FBB040.
We have our windblade ready! Slightly rotate it and place it on the mill.
Now with your blade selected, use the Rotate Tool (R), hold down the Alt key, and click in the center of that circle we’ve cerated before starting with the blade. In the dialog box appered enter 90 as degree value and click Copy.
Press Ctrl + D twice to create another two copies roateted at 90 degrees.
You can now edit the gradient angles for some paths according to the ligh source.
We’ll now start coloring the rest of the mill. Select the top part path remove the stroke and apply the same red gradient as you used for the second path of the windblade but, change the angle this time.
Color that small circle behind the blade with #FBB040 and also remove the stroke. Actually no paths will have strokes in the illustration so, remove them when filling with colors.
Apply a Drop Shadow to this path with these settings:
Draw an even smaller circle on the top of everthing filled with white and with the same Drop Shadow effect.
Select all three paths of the middle part of the building and fill tehm all with a gradient from #C49A6C to #8B5E3C. Now, edit the angles for the each path to give them a more realistic look.
Use Pen Tool to create a path behind the roof of the mill and fill it with a dark red color like #7A0511.
Select the path under the roof that we left for shadow and fill it with vertical gradient from # 3C2415 to # FBB040.
Now we are going to create the planks and this is the most time-consuming part of the whole tutorial. Select the Line Segment Tool and start drawing parallel lines among the middle path.
Select the path behind them, press Ctrl + C, Ctrl + F and then Ctrl + Shift + ] to make it the to path. Select all lines and the newly created path, right click and select Make Clipping Mask. You should end with something like this:
Select the resulting group and press the Divide button the in Pathfinder panel to obtain a lot of rectangles. Righ click once again and select Ungroup.
Now you can apply a gradient to each individual plank, I set the and to 85 degrees. If you have problems with applying gradients for each path try to switch to radial gradient and then back to linear.
Repeat this procedure for the left and the righ sides. I set the angle to 75 for the left side.
78 degrees for the right side and lovation set to 82.
Remove the stroke from the outer frame of the window and fill that path with #FBB040. For the inner path and lines set brown as stroke color.
Select the inner path once again and give it a gradient from white to a light brown with angle ~45 degrees.
Apply a Drop Shadow to the outer path and the place two copies of the window on the middle part of the mill.
Select the path that was reserved for the shadow of the bottom part, apply a ~4.5 gaussian Blur effect, set the blending mode to Multiply and then reduce the opacity to 40%.
Now select the bottom part itself and apply a linear gradient from a dark brown (#3C2415) to # F15A29.
Color the door frame with # FBB040, use the same color to stroke the bigger path of the handle and stroke & fill for the smaller one.
Use # A97C50 as fill color for the second door path and for bigger handle path.
Create some shadows for the handle and door.
Use pen Tool to create that additional path under the middle part of the mill and fill it with a dark brown.
Last thing we need is, to add shadows on the roof of the windmill. Make a copy of the roof path, then a copy of the upper right windblade, paste it in the back and slightly rotate it cw.
Select this path and the roof copy and press the Intesect button in the Pathfinder panel. Set the blending mode for the resulting path to Multiply and opacity to 40%.
Repeat this procedure for the rest of the blades.
About The Authour
This tutorial was written by Ilie Ciorba a great illustrator who runs a great blog http://www.vectelligence.com/.