How To Create Vector Smoke in Illustrator

vector smoke

Today you’ll find out how to create vector smoke with the help of gradient meshes, Transparency panel and Warp Tool. This is a very simple technique that every beginner can master, but you will still need to work hard to get a good result. Let’s get started!

Tutorial Details: Vector Smoke

  • Program: Adobe Illustrator CS5
  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Topics Covered: Warp Tool, Gradient Mesh, Transparency panel
  • Estimated Completion Time: 30 minutes

Final Image: Vector Smoke

vector smoke

Step 1: Vector Smoke

To begin this vector smoke tutorial open your Adobe Illustrator and create a new document (Cmd / Ctrl + N). Your artboard can be of any size. We will work in the RGB color mode.

vector smoke

Step 2

Take the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a dark-blue rectangle. It will serve us as our background. As a matter of fact, background can be of any color. And now create a rectangle with a black fill (R=0, G=0, B=0).

vector smoke

Step 3

Take the Gradient Mesh Tool (U) and click on a black rectangle a couple of times herewith creating gradient mesh.

vector smoke

Step 4

Re-color a couple of inside mesh points into different shades of grey.

vector smoke

Step 5

Take the Warp Tool (Shift + R) and then click on Enter key in order to open the Warp Tool Options dialog box. Increase the size of the brush.

vector smoke

Step 6

Deform the gradient mesh as it is indicated on the figure below.

vector smoke

Step 7

Apply the Screen blending mode to the gradient mesh in the Transparency panel.

vector smoke

As you can see, black mesh points became transparent.

Step 8

And now you can continue deforming the gradient mesh in order to get better result.

vector smoke

If necessary, mesh points can be re-colored into another shade of grey which will cause the local change of transparency.

vector smoke

Step 9

Create some more gradient meshes in different shapes by using the described technique. When we put these half-transparent objects over one another we receive vector smoke.

vector smoke

Perhaps, after combining all gradient meshes you’ll need to work some more on your form and color of smoke. The last stage is definitely the most difficult but always try to get the best out of it – at least try to do better than me.

vector smoke

And there you go! Your very own smoke you can use in any kind of project.

Iaroslav Lazunov

Author: Iaroslav Lazunov

My name is Iaroslav Lazunov, I am a graphic designer from Ukraine. I am glad that I finally found a job in my life that I can share my knowledge and experiments with you in my tutorials. Follow me on Twitter or visit my blog

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