Create a Flat Notebook Illustration

In the following tutorial you will learn how to create a flat notebook illustration in Graphic for Mac.

For starters, you will learn how to setup a simple grid and how to create the main, pixel perfect shapes using the Snap to Grid feature along with some basic tools and vector shape building techniques. Taking full advantage of the Effects pane, you will learn how to add subtle shading and highlights for your shapes.

Finally, you'll learn how to to easily align shapes and paths to the pixel grid and how to ease your work with keyboard shortcuts.

Step 1

Go to File > New (Command + N) to bring up the New Document window. Select the Grid document style, set the document units to pixels, and set the document dimensions to 600 pixels wide by 600 pixels high.

Next, we'll set up the document grid. Switch to the Grid pane in the Properties panel. If the Properties panel is not currently visible, you can easily open it using the ruler icon that lies above the Layers panel. Change the grid X Spacing and Y Spacing to 5, set the Subdivisions to 0 and enable Snap to Grid (Command + Shift + ').

Keep in mind that you can quickly enable or disable the grid and the Snap to Grid feature using the Command + ' and Command + Shift + ' keyboard shortcuts.

Step 2

Focus on the Toolbar and notice that by default the fill color is set to white while the stroke color is set to black. Click the Fill color well and set it to R=65 G=85 B=115 and then click the Stroke color well. Drag the Alpha slider to 0% and this will simply make your stroke invisible.

Pick the Rounded Rectangle Tool (Shift + M), focus on your Tool Options bar and set the Corner Radius to 5 pt. Move to your canvas and create a 155 x 195 px shape- the grid and the Snap to Grid feature will ease your work.

Step 3

Set the Fill color to black (R=0 G=0 B=0) and pick the Rectangle Tool (M). Create a 5 x 195 px shape and place it exactly as shown in the first image.

Using the Move Tool (V), select this new rectangle along with your rounded rectangle. Focus on the Properties panel, move to the Path Tools pane and click that Subtract button.

Step 4

Make sure that your shape stays selected, focus on the top side of the Layers panel and simply click the leftmost icon to open the Appearance pane.

Move to the Effects pane and select the existing Stroke. Set the Width to 1 pt and the Position to Inside and then simply click the color well that stands for your Stroke. Replace the existing color with R=59 G=80 B=110 and be sure that the Alpha slider is set to 100%.

Step 5

Make sure that your shape stays selected, keep focusing on the Effects pane from the Appearance panel and simply check the box that stands for the existing Drop Shadow to activate it.

Enter 1 in the Y box and 0 in the other two boxes and then click the color well that stands for this effect. Replace the existing color with R=45 G=65 B=95 and make sure that the Alpha slider is set to 100%.

Step 6

Make sure that your shape stays selected, keep focusing on the Effects pane and add a second Drop Shadow using the plus button from the bottom, left corner of the panel.

Select this new effect, enter 2 in the Y box and 0 in the other two boxes and then click the color well. Set it to R=34 G=54 B=85 and drag the Alpha slider to 15%.

Step 7

Make sure that your shape stays selected, keep focusing on the Effects pane and add a third Drop Shadow using that same plus button. Select it and enter the attributes shown in the following image.

Step 8

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 145 x 185 px shape and place it exactly as shown in the following image. Make sure that it stays selected and focus on the Effects pane from the Appearance panel.

Focus on the Fill and select Linear Gradient from the Type drop-down menu. Set the angle to 0 degrees and then move to the gradient sliders. Select the left one and set its color to R=245 G=245 B=242 and then select the right one and se its color to R=235 G=235 B=232.

Step 9

Make sure that your gradient filled rectangle stays selected, keep focusing on the Effects pane activate that Drop Shadow effect. Select it and enter the attributes shown in the following image.

Step 10

Make sure that your gradient filled rectangle stays selected, keep focusing on the Effects pane and add a second Drop Shadow. Select it and enter the attributes shown in the following image.

Step 11

Make sure that your gradient filled rectangle stays selected, keep focusing on the Effects pane and add a third Drop Shadow. Select it and enter the attributes shown in the following image.

Step 12

Make sure that your gradient filled rectangle stays selected, keep focusing on the Effects pane and activate that Inner Shadow effect. Select it and enter the attributes shown in the following image.

Step 13

Make sure that your gradient filled rectangle stays selected, keep focusing on the Effects pane and add a second Inner Shadow. Select it and enter the attributes shown in the following image.

Step 14

Make sure that your gradient filled rectangle stays selected, keep focusing on the Effects pane and add a third Inner Shadow. Select it and enter the attributes shown in the following image.

Step 15

Make sure that your gradient filled rectangle stays selected, keep focusing on the Effects pane and add a fourth Inner Shadow. Select it and enter the attributes shown in the following image.

Step 16

Make sure that your gradient filled rectangle stays selected, keep focusing on the Effects pane and add a fifth Inner Shadow. Select it and enter the attributes shown in the following image.

Step 17

Make sure that your gradient filled rectangle stays selected, keep focusing on the Effects pane and add a sixth Inner Shadow. Select it and enter the attributes shown in the following image.

Step 18

Pick the Rounded Rectangle Tool (Shift + M), focus on the Tool Options bar and set the Corner Radius to 1 px. Move to your Toolbar, set the Fill color to R=65 G=85 B=115 and make the Stroke invisible.
Focus on the top, right corner of the existing shapes, create a 5 px rounded square and place it as shown in the first image. Switch to the Move Tool (V), hod the Alt key, simply click on your rounded square and drag it 10 px down as shown in the second image. With your newly made copy still selected hit Command + D to easily create another copy. Repeat this technique until you get the column of squares show in the third image.

Once you're done, select all those rounded squares, focus on the Path Tools pane from the Properties panel and click the Make Compound Path button. This will turn your selected shapes into a simple compound path that can be selected and moved much easier.

Step 19

Make sure that your compound path is still selected, focus on the Effects pane, activate the existing Drop Shadow and enter the attributes shown in the following image.

Step 20

Make sure that your compound path is still selected, keep focusing on the Effects pane, activate the existing Inner Shadow and enter the attributes shown in the following image.

Step 21

Using the Pen Tool (P) or the Line Tool (L), create a 110 px, horizontal path and place it as shown in the following image. Holding the Shift key will make it a lot easier for you to create a perfectly horizontal path.

Make sure that this new path stays selected and focus on the Effect pane. Make sure that there is no color set for the Fill and then select the Stroke. Drag the Width slider to 1 pt and set the color to R=31 G=120 B=181.

Step 22

Now, if you choose to export your design as an image or if you enable the Show Pixels feature (View > Show Pixels) you will notice that your horizontal line looks pretty blurred. This simply happens because the stroke applies to that line is not perfectly aligned to the pixels grid. To fix this issue, just go to Graphic > Preferences and check that Align strokes to pixel grid box. Once you're done, you can return to (View > Show Pixels) to disable the Show Pixels feature.

Step 23

Duplicate your horizontal path and drag the copy 10 px down and then use that same Command + D shortcut to add a bunch of new copies as shown in the first image. Once you're done, select all your horizontal paths and turn them into a new compound path using that same Make Compound Path button from the Path Tools pane.

Make sure that this new compound path is selected, focus on the Effects pane and drag that Opacity slider to 30%.

Step 24

Using the Pen Tool (P) or the Line Tool (L), create a 170 px, vertical path and place it as shown in the following image. Make sure that it stays selected and focus on the Effect pane.

Drag that Opacity slider to 50%, make sure that there is no color set for the Fill and then select the Stroke. Drag that Width sldier to 1 pt and set the color atot R=255 G=85 B=84.

Step 25

Using the Move Tool (V), select all the shapes made so far and simply hit Command + G to Group them. Select this new group and make a copy in the same place (Command + C > Command + Shift + V). Focus on the Layers pane, make sure that only the group copy is selected and go to Modify > Rotate and Transform > Flip Horizontal.

Now, you will need a grid every 1 px. This simply means that you need to return to the Grid pane from the Properties panel and enter 1 px in both Spacing boxes. Reselect your group copy, drag it to the right while holding the Shift button and place it as shown in the third image. Leave a 3 px gap between your two groups - once again, the grid and the Snap to Grid feature will ease your work.

Step 26

Focus on the Layers pane and open your group copy. Select the gradient filled rectangle and go to the Effects pane. Select the existing Inner Shadow effects one by one and simply inverse the Y Offset attributes.

Step 27

Go to your Toolbar, make sure that the Stroke is invisible and set the Fill color to R=169 G=198 B=217.

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 600 px square, make sure that it covers your entire canvas and simply send it to back using the Shift + Command + [ keyboard shortcut.

Step 28

Go to your Toolbar, make sure that the Stroke is still invisible and set the Fill color to R=45 G=45 B=50.

Focus on the top rounded squares and pick the Rounded Rectangle Tool (Shift + M). Create a 21 x 1 px shape and place it as shown in the first image. Duplicate this thin new, rounded rectangle, select the copy and place it 2 px below the original one. Aelect both shapes made in this step and simply turn them into a new compound path.

Select this new compound path and drag a copy 10 px below the oringinal shape. Once again, use that Command + D keyboard shortcut to create a bunch of new copies of this dark compound path as shown in the third image. Once you're done, select all the shapes made in this step and turn them into one compound path.

Step 29

Make sure that the compound path made in the previous step is still selected and focus on the Effects pane. Activate the existing Drop Shadow effect and enter the attributes shown in the following image.

Finished Design

Congratulations, you've finished the tutorial!

Hope you've enjoyed learning some of the techniques and processes presented in these steps. As always, feel free to adjust the final design and make it your own.

Graphic File: flatnotebook.idraw