These festive bubbles are super fun and really easy to create. Overlapping objects with semi-transparent gradient styles make great backgrounds for text and stand-out graphics. For users who want to advance their skills, this tutorial is packed with tips for quickly creating new objects, picking colors, and editing styles.
Program: Artboard 1.9+ graphic design app for Mac OS X
Topics Covered: Style Inspector – gradient fill
Estimated Completion Time: 20-30 minutes
In step 1 & 2 we draw our basic shapes and define the styles that we will use in our final graphic.
Choose the Oval tool from the tools palette, hold the SHIFT-key to maintain the aspect ratio, and draw three small circles. Select the first circle using the Select tool. In the Format Bar, uncheck the box to remove the stroke, then click onto the Fill color-well to edit the shape’s fill color. In the Colors panel, click the Sliders icon in the toolbar and choose CMYK Sliders from the drop-down list. Use the sliders to set your colors, here we use 100% magenta, and move the Opacity slider to 60%. Repeat for the cyan and yellow circles.
Next, draw a new circle to add your first gradient. With the circle still selected, open the Style Inspector. In the Style Inspector, click onto “fill” and “stroke” in the style components list and click the “-” button to remove them. Click the “+” and choose “Gradient Fill” from the style component drop-down list.
Click onto the first color-well in the gradient slider. Choose yellow with 60% opacity for the first color. To use the colors from the shapes you drew in Step 1, use the Colors panel’s “magnifying glass tool” to pick up the yellow circle’s color. Repeat for the second color in the gradient slider – magenta with 60% opacity. Rotate the gradient angle to 45-degrees and click the box to make the “Angle relative to object”.
Quick-copy your gradient circle and edit the second gradient. In the Style Inspector, click onto the Gradient Fill style component to edit. Click the second color-well in the gradient slider to change the color from magenta to cyan (use the Colors panel magnifying glass tool again to quickly pick your color). Repeat this technique for the third gradient circle with cyan and magenta.
In this step, we begin making our festive bubble graphic by making quick-copies of the circles you’ve drawn. You will use several overlapping circles of differing size.
With the Select tool active, hold the Alt/Option-key and drag several of each of the six circles you made in steps 1 & 2. Change their sizes and rotate the gradient circles to add a bit of randomness.
Use the solid colored circles for small touches of bolder color. Remember, you are layering colors that have 60% opacity – the different colors will combine for great effect. Experiment with layering the gradient circles, moving them from front to back to see how it changes the appearance of the colors.
Optionally, draw a shape to temporarily provide you with a template to lay out your pattern. Add a drawing layer under your main drawing layer and draw the shape of your template – ours is an s-shaped swoosh. On your main drawing layer, arrange your circles into a pattern to fit the shape. Later you can hide the layer containing your template.
We used circles in this tutorial. You can just as easily apply this technique to other shapes, and save your styles in the User Library as desired for future use.
Overlapping semi-transparent shapes make fun and festive backgrounds. Gradients add to this effect by providing a great palette for mixing colors. Here we’ve added a background to frame the finished graphic. Have you used similar effects in your own drawings? We’d love to see your creations.