How to Design a Picturesque Coastal Landscape using Illustrator and Photoshop

In store for you this week is a brand new tutorial depicting the entire illustrating process of a picturesque Coastal Landscape using Illustrator and Photoshop.

The final Picturesque Coastal Landscape using Illustrator and Photoshop

Coastal Illustration Final Preview

The picture above is the final illustration we’ll be recreating so let’s get to it! Feel free to click on the pic to get a higher resolution preview.

Step 1

Coastal Illustration Step 1

First step is to open up Illustrator and choose a document size. Given that I didn’t really have any precise use for this design, excluding the tutorial of course, I wasn’t bothered with the constraint of a particular document size. I chose to use a web based document with a resolution of 2000px x 600px to obtain the correct aspect ratio. You’re free to do as you wish, but make sure to use a resolution combination allowing for a clearly identifiable landscape layout.

Step 2

Coastal Illustration Step 2

As with all illustrative processes, you need to start with a rough draft or a sketch of the scene you’d like to obtain. I wanted to keep this illustration simple to reproduce, and that’s why I opted for a simple draft created in Illustrator directly. We can look at it as a non-precise wire frame, since we’ll be using it to create the basic shapes of our final illustration. I initially wanted to illustrate a little beach area, which I gave up on, so please ignore that guideline.

Step 3

Coastal Illustration Step 3

Select all the wire frame paths created in the previous step and paste them in a new layer. With the paths still selected alter their transparency to a lower value and finally lock the layer. On the underlying layer use the pen tool recreate the three shapes using the overlying guidelines. The colors don’t matter much in this step, I just used them to differentiate the shapes freshly created. For the sky background you can use the Rectangle Tool and give it the same resolution as the Artboard you’re using. You’ll notice that due to the abstract nature of my guides I subtly changed some edges to better correspond with my needs.

Step 4

Coastal Illustration Step 4

Grab the Ellipse Tool and draw up a nice round sun. Exaggerate the size a bit so that we can apply a radial gradient fill using #F3EDA0 as the center color. Add another point on the gradient, I used a 60% location and used the following Hex value #F9F7C2. Add one final point representing the extremity of our circle and give it an opacity value of zero. Finally place the gradient location slider between the last two points, near the mid color value. I used a location value of 25%.

Step 5

Coastal Illustration Step 5

Select the background rectangular shape used as the sky and give it a radial gradient using #C1E9F4 as the center Hex value and #2899A5 as the outer value. Using the Gradient Tool distort the radial gradient as necessary to imitate the picture above. The effect we’re looking for is a subtle gradient from a light to a darker shade of blue throughout the sky in correlation with the sun’s actual position.

Step 6

Coastal Illustration Step 6

Let’s move on to the land masses. Give the first one a vertical linear gradient and use the following colors from top to bottom : #BDD92, #555B1F, #112C32. place the colors as seen in the picture giving us a margin on the bottom for the water we’ll be illustrating later.

Step 7

Coastal Illustration Step 7

We’ll take care of this second land mass using a linear gradient with a 45° inclination. Use #BDD92 as the top color and #555B1F as the bottom one. Oversize the gradient to give us a nice and smooth result in coherence with the sun’s light source.

Step 8

Coastal Illustration Step 8

For the rocky area of the land mass, use the Pen Tool to draw some overlapping paths directly on the shape you created. I used pink paths for clarity but the color doesn’t concern us in any way as we’re just using them as dividers for our underlying shape. Once you’ve got your paths, select them all along with the rock shape and use the Pathfinder Tool to Divide it into the fragments we’re interested in.

Step 9

Coastal Illustration Step 9

Now that we’ve got our individual pieces all available we’re ready to alter their fill colors. Give one out of every shape a strong brown fill color, #1D190B for example, and the other ones a vertical linear gradient using #473B1B as the top color and #0F130A as the bottom one.

Step 10

Coastal Illustration Step 10

What good would a coastal landscape be without the sea? A poor representation is what I say… Let’s remedy the situation using the Pen Tool to draw a shape resembling the one in the pic above. Give it a vertical linear gradient once more and use some varying light to dark blue colors. Give it a white 0.5pt stroke and call it quits.

Step 11

Coastal Illustration Step 11

This step may take some time but I’m not going to delve into the finer details of each individual shape. I think it’s sufficient to say that to recreate the entire body of water, all you’ve got to do is alter the first shape created using different colors in the gradients and strokes used. Alter the size of each copies and stack in the correct order, the smallest being in front etc… Extremely simple technique but can be a bit time consuming to get the desired effect.

Step 12

Coastal Illustration Step 12

Once you’ve obtained what you were after it’s time to select the shapes and group them using the [Ctrl + G] keyboard shortcut.

Step 13

Coastal Illustration Step 13

All right now we’re cruising! Let’s take care of the finer details in the illustration, first being the lighthouse at the top of the cliff. In the image above I’ve given you a progress view on how I obtained the final lighthouse shapes. There really isn’t anything technically challenging in this step, as you can see all I have done is use a bit of symmetry associated with the Pathfinder Tool to unite the desired shapes once refelcted. However make sure not to unite all of the final shapes as we’ll be using their individual characteristics for fill coloring.

Step 14

Coastal Illustration Step 14

Same as the step above, I give yo a progress view of all the intermediary steps involved with the coloring process and finishing touches. Most of the steps are clearly depicted in the picture so no need to get too precise on the description. Firstly here’s a list of the Hex values for the colors used in the gradients starting from the base of the lighthouse to the top (first lighthouse in the pic as reference):

  1. #C6B098 as the center color of the gradient and #AD8C64 for both extremities
  2. #FFFFFF as the center color of the gradient and #CCCCCC for both extremities
  3. #4D4D4D as the center color of the gradient and #000000 for both extremities
  4. #F3EDA0 as a solid fill color for the light source
  5. Concerning the two top shapes use the same values as mentioned on the 3rd item in the list
  6. Concerning the the red stripes used later down the road, use #D36E47 as the center color of the gradient and #892B0F for both extremities

The finer details comprise the stripes, the oval windows, the door and the final lighting effect. For the stripes nothing too complex, just use the same technique seen in step 8 and 9 of this tut. The two oval windows are, well you guessed it, oval shapes. Use a radial gradient from white to light gray and apply it to each one. The door can be designed with the Pen Tool and includes three shapes, a rectangular shape with a fill color of #603813 for the door, an underlying shape with a fill color of white to represent the extremities, and an overlying hat looking shape with a fill color of #892B0F. For the lighting effect on the lighthouse modify the colors on the right extremities of the gradients used to a darker tone of color. Finally just add some thin black strokes on the primary light source to illustrate the glass borders and that’s all there is to it!

Step 15

Coastal Illustration Step 15

Once you’ve got yourself a nifty little lighthouse, group all the shapes and import the object into the final composition. Draw up a nice little oval with the Ellipse Tool and give it a black fill color and a transparency value of 5%. Place it under the lighthouse and distort it using the shape’s bounding box at will to give the impression of a subtle shadow with it’s orientation resulting from our primary light source. Now using the Pen Too design a little pathway with a solid fill color of #BDD921.

Step 16

Coastal Illustration Step 16

Well we’re making good progress here. All that’s left in Illustrator are the clouds and trees. Let’s start with the clouds and draw a perfectly round circle with the Ellipse Tool by holding the [Shift] key down while dragging out. Give it a white fill color and a 2pt stroke with a color of #CCCCCC. With the Spiral Tool draw a nice little spiral and give it the same stroke values previously mentioned.

Step 17

Coastal Illustration Step 17

Select the initial oval shape we created and with a simple [Ctrl + C] and [Ctrl + F] magic, duplicate it. Remove it’ stroke and and give it a fill color of #8CD4D9. Now nudge it down to the bottom left a tad and place it behind our object in the stacking order by right clicking on the object and selecting Arrange->Bring to Back.

Step 18

Coastal Illustration Step 18

Paste a new copy of the object just created. Reduce its’ size and place it on the top right corner of its’ underlying parent.

Step 19

Coastal Illustration Step 19

Here again snatch a new copy of the object created in the step above, increase its’ size a bit and nudge it down and to the left. Select the two white filled ovals serving as bases and unite them using the Pathfinder Tool. Now do the same for the underlying blue filled ovals and you’ve got yourself a cute and puffy geometrical looking cloud..

Step 20

Coastal Illustration Step 20

Well you know how it goes, the more the merrier right? Design some varying versions of the cloud illustrated in the steps above and incorporate them in the final composition.

Step 21

Coastal Illustration Step 21

Final steps in Illustrator, and an ecologically friendly one I might add, the TREES yay! Okay I may be overly enthusiastic here but you gotta boost yourself any way you can am I right? So with the Pen Tool start with the two basic shapes highlighted in the pic above. Give the top shape a horizontal linear gradient using the color #BDD921 for the left and #0F130A for the right. For the trunk use a small radial gradient using the color #85632B as the center and #3E1905 for the outer limit. Move the gradient to the left and top of the trunk as seen in the picture.

Step 22

Coastal Illustration Step 22

Let’s give our trees a bit more depth by drawing an overlying shape and giving it a horizontal linear gradient using the color #9DB926 for the left and #34581C for the right side.

Step 23

Coastal Illustration Step 23

Finally add a subtle drop shadow just as we did for the lighthouse but using a slightly higher transparency value. Now place it beneath the tree in the stacking order.

Step 24

Coastal Illustration Step 24

The more the merrier applies to our trees as well. Have fun making copies of your initial shape and altering their characteristics. Place some of them in the back of the underlying landmass shape to create a more credible depth perception illusion.

Step 25

Coastal Illustration Step 25

Time to jump in Photoshop! We won’t be importing the entire design at once as we’ll be attributing different textures to different objects for a much more interesting result. In your newly created Photoshop document, go ahead and import the background sky object as a smart object and center it on the canvas. Using the same canvas dimensions as the Illustrator art board will greatly improve the importing and placement process. If you don’t know the Lost & Taken website by now, well, you should! Grab this texture and place it onto a new layer in the PS document. Attach the texture to the underlying layer by [Alt] + Clicking on the separation crack of the two layers. Now give the layer a blending mode of Color Burn. No distortion of the texture should be necessary, but you can still move it around at will to get some more details out of it.

Step 26

Coastal Illustration Step 26

Time to import the second smart object. In Illustrator select all the objects corresponding to the land masses and place them in Photoshop as shown in the pic above. Grab this texture from L&T and repeat the process described in the step above.

Step 27

Coastal Illustration Step 27

Import the sun into a new layer placed between the landmass and the sky smart object. There’s no need for any texture on the sun since I decided to keep it clean of any noise or texture to amplify the lighting effect.

Step 28

Coastal Illustration Step 28

Import all the objects making up the body of water and repeat the technique we’ve seen thus far using this texture.

Step 29

Coastal Illustration Step 29

Repeat the same process for all the clouds using the same texture used with the sea but this time use Darken as the different blending mode.

Step 30

Coastal Illustration Step 30

The last and final step is to amplify the vignette effect on the sky. To do so, select the sky smart object in the layer window and then go to Filter->Distort->Lens Correction. In the newly opened window, insert -25 as the vignette amount and keep all other values unchanged.


Coastal Illustration Final Preview

This concludes our tutorial. Below is a zip file containing the Illustrator EPS file. Make sure you follow the “Terms and conditions” in order for all files distributed on this site.


I truly hope you enjoyed this tut and I’d love to hear your thoughts, so don’t be shy and feed me a comment or two.

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