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This article is from January 25, 2010, and is no longer current.

Recreate a Beatles Rock Band Ad in Illustrator

In my article “Add Energy and Interest with Layered Images,” I showed you how to mimic the look of online advertisements for the SoCo Music Experience, a music festival sponsored by Southern Comfort. In this tutorial, we’ll tackle another real-world example: promotional materials for the Beatles Rock Band game. Using Adobe Illustrator, you’ll learn how to create a similar design with a comparable color scheme.
Step 1
A few months ago, I noticed an advertisement for the Xbox 360 game Beatles Rock Band on Pandora, a music-streaming Web site.

As you can see, the ad at the bottom of the Web page featured flowing shapes with gradient shades of color.
To begin to create something like it, open Illustrator. I copied and pasted the original screen grab into Illustrator so I could use it as a reference.

Step 2
Let’s make the clouds on the left side of the ad. Click-and-hold the Rectangle tool on the Tools bar to bring up the dropdown menu. Click the Ellipse tool.

Step 3
Click-and-drag with the Ellipse tool (L) and hold shift to maintain a circle proportion. Draw out many overlapping circles. To see where the circles are as you draw them, set the Stroke to black.

Step 4
Click-and-drag around the circle area with the Selection tool (V) to select them. Then go to Window > Pathfinder to bring up the Pathfinder panel, and click on the Add to shape area button. (In the Mac version of Illustrator CS4, the button is called Unite.)

Step 5
Then click on Expand. This causes the shape of circles to now resemble the cloud shape with a surrounding border.

Step 6
Set the Stroke to None by clicking the double-sided arrow on the bottom of the Tools bar to switch it with the Fill, and then set the Fill to gradient by clicking the Gradient panel when the Fill is selected. Make sure the gradient Type is Linear.

Step 7
Click the Gradient tool on the Tools bar and click-and-drag over the clouds from bottom to top to set the gradient vertically. Hold Shift for a perfect line.

Step 8
Make sure the Gradients panel and the Swatches panel are both open. (Go to Windows > Swatches to open the Swatches panel if necessary.) Click-and-drag from the Swatches panel to either side of the gradient in the Gradients panel to change your gradient from black and white to light blue and dark blue.

Step 9
Now you need to add the white background of the clouds that you see in the game ad. With the clouds selected with a Selection tool, go to Edit > Copy and then Edit > Paste in Front. Now you have two clouds.
Click on the cloud in front and go to Object > Transform > Scale. Set it to 110%. Then with the Selection tool, click-and-drag a corner and move the larger background cloud so it surrounds the original. Change the Fill of the new cloud to White and go to Object > Arrange > Send Backward to put it behind the blue gradient cloud. In my example, I’ve added an orange rectangle as a background so you can see the white cloud shape.

Step 10
It’s time to add another cloud in front. Hold Shift and click both the blue gradient and white cloud, and then hold Option (PC: Alt) and click-and-drag the clouds to duplicate them. Then hover the Selection tool near the corner of the cloud and click-and-drag to rotate it. Move it in front of the original cloud.

Step 11
Move the clouds to the side for now so you can concentrate on making the red swoosh on the left-hand side of the ad. Select the Pen tool and use it to create a shape like this:

If you’d like a little coaching on the Pen tool, check out “Learn the Mating Habits of Adobe’s Pen Tool” and “Understanding the Zen of the Pen.”
Step 12
Hold Option (PC: Alt) and click-and-drag the shape to duplicate it. Repeat this step for a few shapes. Change their Fill colors to shades of red, with the darkest shade at the top.

Step 13
To create the blue swooshes on the right of the Beatles Rock Band game ad, repeat steps 11 and 12. If you prefer, you can duplicate the red swooshes and change their shape, size, and colors. Then add a darker blue cloud on the right by following steps 2 through 6, or copy one of the lighter-blue clouds and change the fill gradient.
Finally, add a slight drop shadow to the two white clouds. Choose the Selection tool, click on the two white clouds, and go to Filter > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Set the X Offset and Y Offset to -2.

Once you click OK, your illustration will look like this:

Congratulations on adding a new technique to your Illustrator toolbox!

  • Anonymous says:

    2 other methods to recreate the “red” blend using the blend tool
    1 draw a curved line, assign a large stroke and dark color, drag and copy the stroke straight below, assign a lighter color, use the blend tool, specify steps, say 5 and watch the blend of banded color appear. OR with the cloud shape, copy the shape, rescale it smaller, change the color and using the blend specify steps 3 or 5 and watch the banded colors appear.

  • ChadNeuman says:

    Yep good point Guest, the blend tool is another fun technique which could be implemented in this technique as well. Making the first and last shape to the correct length and shape is important, and then adding blend with just a few steps could blend it with certain hues in between the two. Of course there wouldn’t be as much customization with the hues, but it’s a trade-off for an automatic blend with the colors calculated to be the same “distance” in hue from each other.

  • Anonymous says:

    This stuff looks hard

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