Final Product What You'll Be Creating
I often talk about how powerful Adobe Illustrator’s Appearance panel is, but it’s time to put my money where my mouth is. I’m going to show you how to create a sliced segment of a kiwi fruit, with the help of the Appearance panel. The final image will consist of only four anchor points. Yup, you’ve read that right… just four anchor points. The best thing is, this tutorial is ideal for beginners as I’m going to show you each step and all the settings so you can try this out for yourself.
Take a Look at the Kiwi Fruit
The Appearance panel is awesome. If you find yourself with an exercise with a shape could be duplicated and modified, be it the fill, the stroke, a brush applied to it etc… then chances are, you could have saved yourself some anchor points and used the Appearance panel. It’s a handy panel in Illustrator which can help you create more precise designs and save space by using less anchor points. Not only that, should you create complex effects with the Appearance panel, you can save them for us later on by creating Graphic Styles.
Let’s have a look at this stock photo of a kiwi fruit. A sliced kiwi fruit is essentially a series of round shapes with varied textures, colors and sizes. This is a perfect candidate for this exercise in using the Appearance panel.
1. Create the Kiwi Seeds
The first step is to create the seeds for the kiwi fruit and the surrounding area. Let’s create a Scatter Brush for this, but first let’s create the shapes needed to do this.
From the Toolbar, select the Rounded Rectangle Tool and click on your artboard. You’ll get a dialog box and I want you to enter in the details below. This will create a long rounded shape, this will be the sounding area of the seed.
Now let’s create the basic shape for the seed. With the Ellipse Tool (L), click once on the artboard and you’ll get a dialog box. We’re going for an even circle, so enter in the details below.
With the Align panel, first select both shapes and then click on Horizontal Align Center and Vertical Align Bottom. Select the circle with the Selection Tool (V) and nudge it up about six nudges with the Up Arrow key on your keyboard so you’ve got the below result.
I’m now going to taper the shapes slightly to create a more seed like shape. First let’s work on the circle. With the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the top point of the circle and then nudge it up three with your arrow keys. Select the bottom point and then nudge it down three.
Now to work on the seed area. The Rounded Rectangle Tool creates a rectangle with four rounded corners. Due to the size of our shape, the two points which would otherwise be more visible for a larger rounded rectangle, are overlapping each other. So instead of selecting just the one point, we’re going to need to select both points.
So with the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the top two points by drawing a rectangle over them. This will select any points within the area and in this instance, we’ve selected the top two points. Nudge the points up six places. Then select the bottom two points and nudge it down by three points.
The seed itself seems a little too bit. So let’s resize it. Select the shape for the seed and the go to Object > Transform > Scale. Use the Non-Uniform options below, as we want to decrease the width/Horizontal ratio but still wish to keep the height/Vertical ratio. Click on OK once you’re done.
I’m going to add color to our shapes. First remove the stroke from both shapes and color the seed a dark brown (
#321a0a) and the surrounding a pea green (
Now to start using the Appearance panel. If you’ve not got it open, go to Window > Appearance to make it visible.
Select the seed and in the Appearance panel, click on Fill. Below the Fill will include several factors which influence the appearance of the fill. The same will be true of the Stroke. If you drill down into it, you’ll see the Opacity link to the Transparency panel. Similarly, if you clicked on Stroke it will lead you to the Stroke panel. However for now were focusing on the Fill of the seed.
In the top right hand corner, you’ve got a drill down menu, click on this and select New Fill. This will give you a new fill with the same fill color as your previously created fill. It will not duplicate any further attributes. If you have a Fill which has several attributes you wish to duplicate, then you’d use Duplicate Item. This can be used on both Fills and Stroke’s.
So back to the new Fill you’ve created. This is going to be the highlight of the seed, so I’ve changed the color to a light brown (
#a67c52). With it selected, click on the "fx" button and go to Distort & Transform > Transform and you’ll open the Transform Effect options window. I’m going to reduce the size of the filled area (the Scale portion modifies this), move the shape to the top right of the shape (the Move portion modifies this) and then Rotate the filled area to give the illusion that the seed is rounded.
If you check the Preview box, you’ll be able to see your proposed Transform Effect on the fill before you commit to it. So it’s a good idea to make sure your new fill has a different fill color to the fill below it. Once you’re happy with the below settings, click on OK.
Let’s do a similar effect on the surrounding of the seed. First create a New Fill, then color the original fill with a lighter green (
#829927). So you should have a darker green on top of a lighter green. With the darker green selected, go to fx > Distort & Transform > Transform and use the below settings. Click on OK once you’re done.
Now we’re happy with our two shapes, let’s turn them into a Scatter Brush. Select both shapes and in the Brushes panel click on New Brush. You’ll get a dialog box and select Scatter Brush. This will open the Scatter Brush Options window.
Name your brush "Kiwi Seeds". Let’s run through each of the options:
- Size: This determines the scale of the brush compared to the original shapes you’ve wanted to create the brush from. As I wish to make the seed brush smaller than what was originally created, I’ve selected 70%.
- Spacing: This determines the space between each instance of the seeds. The greatest length of your shape will be 100% Spacing. So we want it to be less than this as we want the seeds to be side by side. I’ve selected 10%.
- Scatter: This determines how far it is displaced from the center point of the shape instance. I’ve set this to be influenced on Random and between -15% and 15%, so there is a little variation in the placement.
- Rotation: This is the angle it rotates from it’s original position. I don’t want the shape to rotate, however…
- Rotation relative to: …I want the shape to rotate relative to the direction of the Path.
Once you’re happy with the settings, click on OK. I’ve then drawn a circle to test my brush and it’s how I want it. If you’re unsure of your settings, you can always apply the brush to a circle, then double-click on the brush in the Brushes panel. This will open the Scatter Brush Options window. With Preview checked, you can play around with the settings and see which fit best.
2. Create the Sliced Kiwi with One Shape
So let’s start building up our sliced kiwi fruit from one shape. With the Ellipse Tool (L) create a 100 x 130px shape. Kiwi fruits aren’t an equal circle, so let’s make ours an oval.
Apply our "Kiwi Seed" brush to the stroke and you should be left with the below.
I’m going to give the shape a grey-brown fill (
#534741) and for now hide the kiwi seeds so you can see the following part more clearly.
As the seeds are not on the edge of the kiwi fruit, we’re going to need to extend the oval beyond the seeds. While Fill is selected, click on fx > Path > Offset Path. This will open the Offset Path dialog box. In the Offset box you’ll need to enter a value (and as before you can check Preview to help). If you enter in a positive figure, this will extend your shape with an X amount of padding all around the shape. If you enter a negative figure, this will retract your shape. As we’re wanting to extend the shape, I’ve entered in the value of 90px. Click on OK once done.
Kiwi fruits are known for having a furry like skin and we’re going to need to replicate this. So while Fill is selected, go to fx > Distort & Transform > Roughen. This will create a randomly generated roughed fill. In the Options, we’re going to determine the Size of the distort, which determines the size of the waves and the Detail determines the frequency of the waves. Relative will apply the Size beyond the outside of the shape while Absolute will apply it on the boundary of the shape.
The Points will determine whether the waves are Smooth or Corners (pointed). As I’m wanting to create a fur effect, I’ve selected Corner. Click on OK once done.
I want the fur to appear more finer. So with Fill selected, click on fx > Distort & Transform > Pucker & Bloat. Pucker will contract the lines between points and Bloat will puff out the lines between points.
A Pucker will create sharper points, so I’ve often for a slight Pucker. This will be applied to each one of the waves created by the Roughen effect.
I want the furry effect to have more depth, so select your Fill and go into the drill down menu and Duplicate Item. This will duplicate the fill as well as all other effects. Change the fill to a lighter brown (
#736357). Then click on Offset Path and this will open up the Offset Path dialog box. I’m going to slightly decrease this Offset to 89px.
Although the Roughen effect is random, I do want the other color fur to be visible. So decreasing the Offset will aid this.
Duplicate Item on the light brown fill and return it to the dark brown (
#534741). We’ll click on Offset Path again and reduce the Offset to 88px for the same reason as before.
While the furry coat will show there is a skin to the fruit, I want to still have a small outline. So Duplicate Item on the last fill and highlight Pucker & Bloat and delete it. Change the fill to the light brown (
#736357). Now click onto Roughen. I’m going to make the effect less severe, so use the settings below to create a soft, smooth wave effect. Then click on Offset Path and change the Offset to 89px. This is so it overlays the fur just a little.
Duplicate Item on the last fill and reduce the Offset Path to 88px. Let’s fill this with a Radial Gradient. I’m going to add three nodes to the gradient, green (
#a2b947), lime green (
#cbd51f) and then light brown (
A word of caution with applying a gradient on a fill which has Offset Path applied. While you modify the gradient with the Gradient Tool (G), it acts as if the Offset Path is not applied. So modify the gradient to the original dimensions of the shape.
There is a texture on the flesh of the fruit which is almost as if it’s several lines leading from the seeds. We can modify the effect used for the furry skin to create a similar effect.
Duplicate Item on one of the furry fills and drag it below the "Kiwi Seeds" Stroke. First chance the Offset Path to 30px as we don’t want this effect to cover the whole area.
Click on Pucker & Bloat. Let’s turn up the Pucker to -37% increase the size of the spikes.
I want to change the frequency of the spikes, so click on Roughen and modify the settings as shown below.
Change the fill to lime green (
#cbd51f) and click on Opacity to access the Transparency panel. I’m going to change the Blending Mode to Screen and Opacity to 40%.
You can apply any effects for both the Stroke and/or the Fill. I’ve decided to extend the placement of the seeds, so I’m going to apply an Offset Path to the Stroke. Highlight the Stroke and go to fx > Path > Offset Path. I’ve Offset the Stroke by 10px as I don’t want it to be too much.
Let’s soften the transition between the seeds and the flesh of the fruit. Duplicate Item on the Stroke and change the Opacity to Blending Mode Darken and Opacity 30%. Then Duplicate Item three more times on this modified Stroke. Drag the original Stroke with no Opacity settings on top of the Appearance panel so this is the more dominate.
The Scatter Brush options specified that the Scatter of the instances were Random. This will vary the instances on the duplicate strokes to create this softer transition. You don’t need to do any changes to the Scatter Brush as long as you’ve followed the tutorial to every setting.
The core of the fruit is a lot paler than the rest of the flesh and it’s within the area of the seeds. So create a New Fill and drag the Fill below the top Stroke. Change the fill to a pale green (
I want to add a subtle shine to the top of the flesh. Duplicate Item on one of the Fills used for the smooth waves of the skin. Click the Offset Path link and change the Offset to 85px. Drag this above all the other attributes in the panel, above the seeds.
Let’s fill this fill with a pale green inverted transparent Radial gradient (
#d2d897). Use the Gradient Tool (G) to position and shape the highlight and then change the Opacity settings to Blending Mode Screen, Opacity 50%.
Although we’re assuming we’ve made a clean slice to our fruit, there will still be an element of texture to it. Duplicate Item on the Fill we’ve just done and drag it below the pale green core of the fruit. Highlight the Opacity attribute and delete it.
Let’s fill it with a pattern. In the Swatches panel, click on the drill down menu and go to Open Swatch Library > Patterns > Basic Graphics > Basic Graphics_Textures. From this, select the pattern "USGS 20 Scrub".
This texture is a little small, so let’s enlarge it. While this Fill is selected, go to Object > Transform > Scale. In the Scale dialog box, with Transform Patterns only selected, increase the Scale by 200%. Click on OK once done.
Then set the Opacity settings to Blending Mode Color Dodge and Opacity 25%.
Duplicate Item on the Fill with the pattern and drag it above the seeds attribute but below the shine. Go back into Object > Transform > Scale and change the Scale to 25%. Change the Opacity to Blending Mode Color Burn, Opacity 5%. This will create a subtle noise effect to the fruit.
Great Work, You’re Now Done!
There you have it, you’ve created a detailed slice of kiwi fruit with only one shape containing four points. If you don’t believe me, check View > Outline (Control-Y) and you’ll see it is merely an oval.
The Appearance panel is a very powerful feature of Illustrator. Take some time to explore the possibilities, it will really change the way you work.