Desk Illustration

In today’s tutorial I’m going to show you how to create a simple working space environment using Adobe Illustrator. The process is pretty simple as most of the steps will rely on using some of the basic shapes that come with Illustrator, with the help of which we will create almost all our illustration’s elements.

As with any new project the first thing you should do is make sure that you set up your document properly. Assuming you already have Illustrator running, go to File > New (Control-N) and create a new document with the following settings:

  • Number of Artboards: 1
  • Width: 800 px
  • Height: 600 px
  • Units: Pixels

And from the Advanced tab:

  • Color Mode: RGB
  • Raster Effects: High (300ppi)
  • Align New Objects to Pixel Grid: checked

Because layers improve our workflow by allowing us to lock and hide certain parts of the illustration, I recommend that you set up a couple of them so that while you’re moving through the creative process you won’t accidentally misplace elements. I’ve set up eight different layers and named them as follows:

  1. background
  2. delimitation line
  3. desk
  4. coffee mug
  5. macbook
  6. books
  7. trash can
  8. calendar
setting up the layers

If you are familiar with the way Illustrator works, you should know that it gives you the option to snap your design to its Pixel Grid. That means that each anchor point will be positioned at the middle intersection of four pixels.

Because there are different situations that require different grid settings, sometimes you might find yourself in the position to adjust the ones running on your version of Adobe Illustrator.

I personally have gone for the lowest and at the same time the most accurate settings, because I feel I have more control over my designs.

To change these settings, you must go to Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid. From there, a little popup will appear, where we need to adjust the following:

  • Gridline every: 1 px
  • Subdivisions: 1
setting up a custom grid

Once you’ve adjusted these settings, all you need to do in order to make everything pixel crisp is enable theSnap to Grid option located under the View menu.

Quick tip: you should know that the Snap to Grid option will transform into Snap to Pixel every time you enter Pixel Preview Mode, but that’s totally fine, as most of the times you will be going back and forward with this display mode.

If you’re used to moving things around with the help of the keyboard’s directional arrow keys, you might want to change the Keyboard Increment to 1 px to get it as precise as possible. You can do this by going to Edit > Preferences > General > Keyboard Increment.

adjusting the keyboard increment settings

If your version of AI has the value set to px, just go to Units and change the General and Stroke units toPixels and you’re good to go.

The first thing we need to do is add a background onto which all the other elements will be laid out. To do that, simply select the Rectangle Tool (M), click anywhere in Illustrator, and then enter the same width and height values as our little Artboard (800 x 600 px). Once you’ve created the shape, change its color to#999999 and then center it both vertically and horizontally to the Artboard using the Align panel.

adding a background to our illustration

Quick tip: If your version of Illustrator doesn’t have the options visible, like the Distribute Spacing and Align To, you will have to click on the small down-facing arrow located on the top right side of the panel and select Show Options from there.

Using the Rounded Rectangle Tool create a 554 x 4 px shape with a Corner Radius of 1 px. Color the line using #453F3C and then position it by entering these values (coordinates) into the Transform panel:

  • X: 400 px
  • Y: 445 px
positioning the delimitation line

Using the Rectangle Tool (M) create a 336 x 10 px shape, set its color to #797270 and then position it using these coordinates:

  • X: 384 px
  • Y: 314 px
positioning the desks base shape

Create a copy of the previously created shape (Control-C > Control-F), select it, and then give it an Offset Path effect (Effect > Path > Offset Path) of 6 px, making sure to set the Joins to Round.

creating the outline for the desks top section

Change the offset’s color to #453F3C and then send it to the back of our desk’s top section by right clicking> Arrange > Send to Back.

sending the desks outline to the back

Add a small highlight to the top section of our desk by creating a 336 x 4 px white rectangle, which we will adjust by setting its Blending Mode to Overlay and its Opacity level to 30%.

Once you’ve added the highlight, select it, the outline and the lighter section of our desk, and group them using Control-G so that the elements won’t get moved by mistake.

adjusting the top section highlight settings

Grab the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a 10 x 112 px object, which we will position towards the bottom of our desk’s outline, at about 26 px to the interior from its left side. Give the shape the same #797270 shade, and then create an outline following the same process we used for the desk’s top section.

creating the desks left leg

Add a small shadow by creating a 10 x 6 px rectangle and positioning it right next to the desk’s outline, making sure to horizontally align it to the leg. Color it black (#000000), and then change its Blending Modeto Multiply, lowering its Opacity level to 30%.

adding a top shadow to the desks leg

At about 182 px to the right of the leg, create a 98 x 112 px rectangle, which will act as our drawer base.

positioning the desks drawer base

Again, following the same process used before, add an outline and a shadow to the drawer’s base.

adding an outline and shadow to the desk drawer base

Create the first drawer by drawing one larger 82 x 36 px rounded rectangle (#453F3C) with a Corner Radiusof 3 px. Add a smaller 74 x 28 px rectangle on top of it, which we will use to create a cutout so that in the end we will have just the outline of the drawer.

Once you have both shapes selected, use Pathfinder’s Minus Front option to subtract the top one (which I’ve highlighted with red) from the one underneath.

Then add a 74 x 4 px highlight (white #FFFFFF with Blending Mode set to Overlay and Opacity set to 30%) towards the top, and a 10 x 10 px circle (#453F3C) in the middle, which will act as the handle.

creating the drawer

Select all the elements forming up our drawer, and then group them (Control-G). Once you have them grouped together, position the drawer onto the cabinet at about 24 px from its top side, making sure to horizontally align it.

positioning the first drawer onto the base

Create a secondary drawer, by selecting and then dragging the one we have towards the bottom while holding down Alt. Once you’ve created the duplicate, make sure to use the Align panel to distance it at about 8 px from the original.

positioning the second drawer onto the base

Using the Rectangle Tool (M) create a 176 x 18 px shape, color it using #797270, and position it between the drawer compartment and the desk’s leg.

creating the larger drawer

Add a 176 x 6 px rectangle (#453F3C) underneath, which will act as the drawer’s outline. Using theRectangle Tool (M), add the top and side shadows, which will have the Blending Mode set to Multiply and the Opacity lowered to 30%.

Switch to the Rounded Rectangle Tool and create a 38 x 6 px shape (#453F3C) with a 3 px Corner Radius, which we will position just under the top section shadow, making sure to align it horizontally to the drawer.

adding details to the larger drawer

Once we have created all the desk’s elements, select them and make sure to group them together usingControl-G.

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