Grant M Fisher
Illustrator + Designer


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[TUTORIAL] Build a Castle in Illustrator

Difficulty: Easy-Medium

In this tutorial, we're going to build a castle! We'll be making the same one that's in the image above.  I will be using Adobe Illustrator CC 2015 to create the illustration, but the same steps can be followed in any version of Illustrator CS5 or higher.

First, we want to create a new document. The easiest way is to go to File > New... A dialog box will open to let you customize the document. Set it up using the settings you see below:

The main items to adjust here are the size and the color mode. Everything else can be left as the default:

Size: 1080 x 1080
Color Mode: RGB

Once our new document is open, we want to create the base of our castle. Select the Rectangle tool (M) then click in the middle of your canvas. When you click, you'll see a dialog box to enter in exact measurements for your shape. 

Create the first shape using these dimensions:


After creating the first one, we need several more rectangles and squares to make up the top part of the castle. The objects should look like this:

Make sure that the four 100x100 squares are stacked on top of the 600x100 rectangle evenly. Use the align tool to make this a snap: Select all four items and then select the Horizontal Distribute Center button, as seen below:

Your castle should now have the base shapes in place. Next let's unite the four squares on top and the 600x100 rectangle holding them together. We'll use the Pathfinder for this. If you don't see your Pathfinder panel on the right hand side, access it by going to Window > Pathfinder.

To unite these shapes, select them all using the selection tool, and then click the Unite function, as seen below:

Now that we have the foundation of our castle in place, let's work on the door next. 

From the tools on the left hand side, select the Rounded Rectangle tool. At first, you only see the rectangle tool in the list. In order to access additional shapes, click and hold on the Rectangle tool. 

With the rounded rectangle tool selected, click in the middle of your artboard to bring up a dialog box where you can enter specific sizes for your shape. Create a shape that is 400px high, and 200 px wide, with a 100px corner radius.

This should create a pill-shaped object. We don't need the bottom part of this shape, so using your Direct Selection tool (A), select the points on the bottom, and delete them.

Keep this object still selected. We need to close the paths on this object. To do this, go to Object > Path > Join. 

Then, with the object still selected, let's change the color to a darker gray, #666666. Change the color by double clicking in the color swatch box located in the bottom left, or within the swatches panel. 

Center the door in place in the middle of the castle base we created earlier. You can align them perfectly with the Align tool (Window > Align).

Next is the flag. There are three shapes that make up this flag. Create them using the Line Segment tool (\), Ellipse tool (L), and the Rectangle tool (M).

Create the objects using the sizes below. Once you create them, position them in place to build your flag. Before placing the flag on top of the castle, I recommend selecting all three objects, and grouping them together (Ctrl +G) to make sure they stay in place.

Great job so far! We've got the basics of our castle finished! To take this illustration to the next level, let's add some details, starting with a shadow underneath the top part of the castle. 

Start by creating a simple rectangle shape that's 500 x 15. Align it just under the top portion of the castle. We want to give the shadow an angle, so using the Direct Selection tool (A), select and delete the bottom left anchor point, as seen below:

Next let's make a shadow inside the door. We'll use the Pathfinder tool for this. 

Select the door with your Selection tool (V), copy the door (ctrl + C), and Paste in Place (Edit > Paste in Place). Do this one more time to make a third shape. We have three shapes so we don't mess up the actual door. We want to move the topmost object over to the right to make the shape that we'll cut out. When you have the two top shapes overlapping, use the Pathfinder tool's Minus Front option to cut the shape away. Here's how to create the shadow:

Recolor the cut out shadow to #4d4d4d

Then, if it's not already, make sure that the shadow is directly on top of the door, aligned properly using the Align panel (Window > Align).

Your castle should look like this:

The very last step here is to add some bricks to the castle. Using the rectangle tool, create several bricks that are 75x25px in size. Scatter about seven or eight bricks around the castle to add some depth. And that's it! Your final castle illustration should look something like this:

Post your results and feedback in the comments below! Was this tutorial helpful, and most importantly easy to follow? I'd love to hear from you!

Thanks for reading!