A few days ago I started a two part tutorial, How to create a comical lunar scene in Illustrator, and it’s now time to complete our comical Lunar scene Illustration, so join me on the second and final part of this tutorial.
Let’s get to it
The image above is what we achieved on part one of the tutorial and the image below is our current objective.
” Come on! One more picture . . . “
As a lot of illustrations this started out with a rough sketch, two actually. Don’t ask me why but that’s kind of how I threw this idea together. First I made a really rough draft of the scene’s location I wanted to use. Note that at that point I had no precise idea on where I’d end up.
I knew I wanted to incorporate the astronauts in one way or another, and I started sketching really quickly on another scrap piece of paper.
You’ll notice that the astronaut’s sketch is a bit more detailed and much more coherent with the final illustration. This is intentional and due to the fact that we’re going to go ahead and use it in Illustrator, we saw that it wasn’t the case for our background.
Let’s jump into Illustrator and open up the file we created last time. Import your version of the rough draft or feel free to use mine by clicking on the image above. All you’ve go to do is slide it into Illustrator.
Grab the pen tool by pressing [P] and start outlining the primary shapes we’ll be using extensively. I used a thick magenta stroke and no fill to outline the shapes to make things a bit more visible. Notice that I kept going with the outlines near the bottom to give the shapes a larger height and align them properly with the bottom edge of the artboard.
Here are a total of fourteen primary shapes that will serve as a base for all further modifications. I gave them all different fill colors and no strokes so they could be easily discernible but furthermore so that I could arrange the stacking orders of each corresponding shapes. You’ll notice that they differ a bit from the outlines, this is due to the fact that after filling in the shapes I was confronted with a few perspective issues. All I did here was alter the shapes in way to correct those discrepancies. Feel free to modify them at will in hope to get the underlying base you’re looking for.
Here is where we’ll witness the importance of our primary shapes. The main technique we’ll be using is copying and pasting over our primary shapes and editing them as we go along. You’ll see that by doing so we’ll be able to create the illusion of customized strokes, thin in some areas and thicker in others. To duplicate an object you can use the shortcuts [Ctrl + C] & [Ctrl + F] to copy and paste an object directly on top of the copied one. I can assure you that you’ll know this combination by heart by the end of this tutorial.
Here is a zoomed in view of the helmet. At this stage you can see that the helmet is composed of three copies of the basic underlying shape.
First step was to duplicate the shape once and reduce it’s size. I then gave it a white and light gray radial gradient that I adjusted with the Gradient Tool. Keep in mind that our light source is emanating from the left side in our final illustration while adjusting the gradients.
This next step was to duplicate the primary shape once more and this time increase its size with the direct selection tool and send it backwards in the stacking order by right clicking on it and selecting Arrange->Send Backwards. Finally give it a fill color of white.
Repeat this technique with all primary shapes. The only gradients used are on both helmets and on both body shapes. Take your time with this step as you’ll see it will greatly influence the final outcome. Make sure to use the middle shapes as the strokes by giving them a dark gray fill color and use the bottom shapes as a subtle highlight by giving them a white fill color, same as we’ve seen with the helmet.
Now that we’ve taken care of the main body parts, let’s get in a little closer and take care of some finer details. Starting with the hand and using the Pen Tool, draw a few thin crescent shapes to represent the folding creases on the gloves. Use the stacking order to bring the fingers back on top in their logical places.
Select the shape we’ve used to represent the wrist and duplicate it 3 times. Adjust the sizes of each shape and give the top shape a lighter gray color than the one used for the strokes. Give the second one the same dark gray as the strokes and the third one a dark red color. Here is the hexadecimal value if needed : #C44652
Let’s continue the process for the arm creases, on the elbow area and the underarms, by drawing a few more crescent shapes using the Pen Tool.
Don’t forget the the other hand on Buzz Aldrin’s shoulder.
Using the same technique we’ve previously used, draw an initial underlying shape representing the visor of Neil Armstrong’s helmet. As seen in the picture above the shape is duplicated 4 times, however take this one step by step. Give the initial shape a white fill color which will serve as highlight. Duplicate it once give it a black fill color and its’ size by grabbing the lower right handle and dragging inwards to the left while holding the [Shift] key to keep the proportions intact. Duplicate it, reduce its’ size slightly and give it a fill color with the following hex value : #30395C. Repeat this process one more time and this time reduce its’ size significantly and give it a fill color of #BDCCD4.
To illustrate a subtle reflection on the helmet’s visor we’ll simply use a crescent shape on the left side and give it a fill color value of #D0E4F2.
Repeat steps 13 and 14 for Buzz Aldrin’s helmet. Make sure to respect the proportions and perspectives used in the image above. We want to give the illusion that he is staring at Neil Armstrong.
A dose of inspiration
Before moving on to step 16, let us delve into the engineering marvel which make up the pressurized suit worn by our two astronaut friends. I used an image as reference to illustrate the bells and whistles found on the front of their suits.
The crew of Apollo 11 (from left to right): Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin (“Buzz”) Aldrin. Photo credit: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.
Take note of the tissue folds, vanes and connectors on the front of the suit. This is what we’ll try to replicate on the next few steps.
Using the Pen Tool draw two distorted rectangular shapes to form the outline of our future name tag and four square to illustrate the big frontal Velcro pocket. We’re using the same technique as before, which is to start with a base shape and operate by duplications.
Using a nice bold font, with the Text Tool, write “Armstrong”. With the text object selected go to Object->Envelope Distort->Make with Mesh, select 4 rows and 4 columns. Using the Direct Selection Tool edit some anchor points to distort the text as you wish to create the illusion that it’s an integral part of the suit.
Using a combination of the Ellipse Tool and the Pen Tool we’ll take care of the vanes and valves. First off grab the Ellipse Tool, and draw out a basic oval covering a part of the main pocket then give it a fill color of #0184A0. Duplicate the oval created, adjust its’ size and nudge it right covering the right edge of the underlying oval. Finally give it a fill color of white as to complete our inset illusion. Duplicate it once more adjust its’ size and this time give it a fill of #4A6491. Wonderful, this will serve as the underlying base for the next step.
Using the same procedures as step 18 we’re going to use the Ellipse Tool to create some nifty ovals. Start with the underlying shape, which has a white fill color. Move on to the next oval right above and give it the same fill color as the main underlying shape created on step 18. Create the last two ovals and give them respectfully the following fill colors : #30395C and #F8D217.
In this step we’ll create a covered valve. Use the same technique we’ve been using for the three underlying ovals and then grab the Pen Tool. Start drawing a rounded trapezoid looking shape resembling the one in the image above. Give it a fill color of #F8D217. Duplicate the object once and, using the Direct Selection Tool, grab the top right anchor point to nudge it right. Give it a fill color of #786C0B and send it backwards in the stacking order by right clicking on it and selecting Arrange->Send Backwards. copy bot objects and paste them a bit lower on the valve to create the second lock. Don’t forget to reflect it to have a coherent overall look by right clicking on it and selecting Transform->Reflect->Horizontal->OK.
Notice that the rest of the valves are just mere copies of the ones we’ve created above. The only modifications ar ein the colors and rotation. I did, however, add some knobs on the valves placed in the middle. Just use the Pen Tool and the technique applied for the locks in step 20 to replicate them.
Let’s now take care of the feeder pipe inserted directly in the suit. Draw one object as illustrated in the image above with the Pen Tool and give it a fill color of #FFECA1. Duplicate it, grab all the anchor points except the one on the top left extremity and nudge it down a tad using the Down Arrow key. Give it a fill color of #666666.
Draw two crescent shapes to represent a couple of folds on the pipe line near the connector. The fill color used is #B3B27F. Using the Ellipse Tool make an dark gray oval using #2F3436 as the fill color. Next draw a rounded trapezoidal shape representing the metal piece connecting the pipe to the suit. Give it a fill color of #4C5E52 as this will serve as our underlying shape.
Duplicate the “metallic” shape we created last on step 23 and give it a fill color of #F8D217. Modify its’ size by altering the shape’s right most anchor points and their respective Bezier handles as necessary, to achieve the shape displayed in the image above.
We’re done with Armstrong’s suit! I know what you’re thinking, oh great we’ve got to do it all over again! Well not entirely… This is where recycling your shapes becomes a enormous time saver. Select all of the shapes we’ve created except for the name tag and copy and paste it onto Aldrin’s suit.
Reflect the objects by right clicking, as the shapes are highlighted, and choosing Transform->Reflect->Vertical->OK.
Adjust all the objects by altering their orientation, as to respect the slight difference in perspective between Aldrin and Armstrong.
For Aldrin’s name patch, all you’ve got to do is reiterate the process covered in step 17 for Armstrong.
One final item we’ve got to take care of is the American flag figuring on Aldrin’s left arm. Grab a copy of the flag you accomplished in part 1 of this tutorial. If needed reflect it by right clicking, as the flag is highlighted, and choosing Transform->Reflect->Vertical->OK.
Distort the flag at will to give the impression that it’s part of the suit by highlighting it and clicking on Object->Envelope Distort->Make with Mesh. Now just edit some anchor points and grab some handles.
The last step is to create an outline of the flag as we did with the name patches. Just grab the Pen Tool and start drawing.
Another dose of inspiration
The final element we need to take care of before integrating them into our scene is the Lunar camera taking the picture, so before moving on to step 32, lets take a look at the camera I used as reference.
This is a 16 mm camera used on Apollo Missions to get external shots from the lunar module. Photo credit: NASA
Here is little blueprint on how to reconstruct this camera in Illustrator. Keep in mind that precision wasn’t my goal here, as this is a comical illustration. That’s why we’re not going to get too crazy with the finer details and just try to grasp the overall feel of this camera. By doing so we’ll bring a subtle touch of authenticity without transforming our illustration into a high fidelity representation.
We’ll start off by drawing the pole which is supposed to hold the camera upright. Grab the Rectangle Tool and draw out a simple rectangle with a fill color of the following hex value : #333333.
Let’s add a subtle reflection by duplicating the shape using our ever so famous [Ctrl + C] & [Ctrl + F] shortcut combination and giving it a fill color of black. Now grab the Ellipse Tool and draw an oval covering about 1/3 of the rectangle. Select both the oval and the rectangle and using the Pathfinder Tool click on Divide. Now delete the remaining oval and you should have your newly created shape in front of you.
With the help of the Ellipse Tool, draw two ovals as shown in the image above. Give the first one a fill color of #666666 and the second one a fill color of #333333.
With the Pen Tool draw a distorted rectangle representing the back side of our camera. Give it a fill color of #C7B299. In this step as well as the following you can use the Rectangle Tool and edit the anchor points with the Direct Selection Tool if you find it easier.
With the Pen Tool or the Rectangle Tool and Direct Selection Tool, draw the right face of the camera. Give it a fill color of #736357.
Now take care of the top face and give it a fill color of #998675.
Grab the Ellipse Tool and start drawing some ovals, three to be exact… Use the image above as reference and give the ovals respectfully their fill colors of black and light gray. The light gray uses the following hex value #CCCCCC.
Let’s now take care of the bracket looking thingy on the side, not exactly the most technically correct vocabulary employed here, but Hey what would you call it? At any rate grab the Pen Tool, start drawing the shape, give it a black fill color.
Let’s wrap the illusion by drawing a triangular shape representing the bottom portion of the bracket going under the main body.
To give a bit more depth, duplicate the main shape and give it a fill color of #333333. Next reduce it’s size a little to finalize our bracket.
Let’s move on and add the little switch on top of our camera. Draw a trapezoidal shape and give it a fill color of #B3B3B3.
Yet again with the Pen Tool, draw the back of our switch and give it a fill color of #999999.
The final step here is to create an outline of our switch. Just use the Pen Tool to create a quick outline and give it a fill color of #666666.
Man have we come a long way! Now that all our elements are finished, let’s integrate them in our scene. You can use the [Ctrl + G] shortcut to group the objects for easier manipulation. Place them onto the scene and adjust their sizes and position at will.
This last and final step in our two part tutorial is to create some very simple talk bubbles with the use of the Pen Tool. The font I used is called “2Dumb” by Tension Type. You can find it here.
Here is the final result
For those of you interested I’ve included the Illustrator source file, make sure you follow the “Terms and conditions” in order for all files distributed on this site.
Well this concludes our 2 part tutorial. I hope you guys enjoyed it as much as I did creating it. Please don’t forget to share this if you like it! I’ll see you next time.