Create a Tranquil Waxing Moon Scene in Artboard

Night scenes with dark foreground elements and wide sky backgrounds are easy to create in Artboard. Find out how to use radial gradients to create a waxing crescent moon, and Core Image Filter effects to create stars that really shine.

Final Image

Below is the final image we will be working towards:

Tutorial Details

Program : Artboard 1.1+ for Mac OSX
Difficulty: Intermediate
Topics Covered: Style Inspector; Styles & Clip Art palette
Estimated Completion Time: 15 minutes

ATTENTION: As of Artboard 1.7, “shared” styles are no longer part of the default workflow, therefore, references to “New” and “Clone” in this tutorial are no longer current. As of Artboard 1.7, the “New” button in the Format Bar and Style Inspector becomes the “Reset” button. See the Users Guide for more information about shared styles.

Step 1

Open a new Artboard drawing. Turn on the Graphic > Snap To > Graph Paper setting in the main menu. Use the Rectangle [r] tool to draw a rectangle the size of your drawing canvas. Return to the Select [s] tool and make sure your rectangle is selected. Open the Style Inspector – Expert pane (EDIT: As of Artboard 1.3 the “Simple” and “Expert” buttons have been removed from the Style Inspector (it edits all expert styles by default).). With the rectangle selected, click “New” to create a new style. Click onto “Fill” in the components list and click the “–” to remove it. Repeat to remove the “Stroke” style component. In the Style Inspector, click the “+” button and choose “Gradient Fill” from the drop-down list of components. Click onto the first color-stop in the gradient slider to open the Colors panel. Choose a dark blue color (we’ve use RGB 7,4,95). Slide the color stop to about 35% position on the gradient slider. Click onto the last color-stop and choose a blackish-blue color (we’ve used RGB 2,0,28). In the gradient-well, rotate the gradient handle down to about 90-degrees rotation (hint: hold the Shift-key while rotating to move in 15-degree increments). Keep the style Inspector open; close the Colors panel.

Step 2

In this step we’ll create a nice waxing moon. Use the Oval [o] tool while holding the Shift-key to draw a large circle in the lower left side of your drawing canvas. Note that the previously used gradient style is still active. With the moon still selected, click “Clone” in the Style Inspector. Cloning lets you work with a copy of the previously active style without starting from scratch. Click onto “Gradient Fill” in the style component list to edit. Change the gradient to “Radial”. Click the “+” on the gradient slider and add two more color stops. Adjust the position of the four color stops to about 0%, 45%, 60% and 100% respectively. We are using a very light yellow for the first stop and progressing darker through purples to near-black. Here are the colors we’ve used:

  • color stop 1: RGB 255,255,236
  • color stop 1: RGB 15,3,73
  • color stop 1: RGB 4,3,61
  • color stop 1: RGB 20,20,19
Now the fun part – making the moon glow on its waxing side. Click on the circle controls in the gradient-well to move them toward the lower left and adjust the handles to look about like we’ve used here:

Step 3

Next we’ll create a few shining stars. Start by clicking “New” in the Style Inspector – Expert pane. Click onto “Stroke” in the components list and click the “–” to remove it. Click onto “Fill” in the components list and change the color to white. These stars are tiny so I find it easier to zoom-in a bit on the area while I draw the first one. Use the Regular Polygon [g] tool to draw a star. In the Geometry panel (it’s below the Layers list), change the star settings to 4-sides. I’ve made the star’s “Radius” 0.8cm (this will be different if you are using a drawing unit other than centimeters) and the “Inner” (radial ratio) 15%.

We have our star, now lets add a “motion blur” to make it shine. This involves a few steps but is relatively easy to accomplish. In the Style Inspector, click the “+” button and choose “Core Image Filter” from the drop-down list of components. A core image filter is a group that applies the filter effect to which ever style components are in the group. Click “+” again and add a “Color Fill” component into (visually nested under) the Core Image Filter Group in the components list (as needed, click the little arrow in front of “Core Image Filter Group” to expand the group). Click onto the fill color-well to open the Colors panel and choose a white color. Close the Colors panel. Click onto “Core Image Filter Group” in the style component list. Choose “Motion Blur” from the drop-down list. Rotate the Angle control to the right position (we understand the controls may be a bit off). Slide the Radius slider to about 30% and make sure “Clipping” is set to “None.” This adds a shining effect up-down. Now let’s add the shine sideways. Right-click onto the “Core Image Filter Group” in the style component list and choose “Copy Component”, then right-click into “Fill” in the list and choose “Paste Component” to paste the copy into the list. In this copied Core Image Filter Group, rotate the angle to the top of the control to make the shine side-to-side.

Use Edit > Copy / Paste in the main menu (alternatively, CMND-C / CMND-V keyboard shortcuts or drag the star while holding the Alt/Option-key) to make copies of the star in your sky. After adding a couple new stars, we’ve changed their radius to add variation to their size.

Step 4

Use the Bezier Path [b] tool with a black style fill to draw the foreground rolling hills. Note, you can use the Style Inspector to create the black fill, or choose it from the Styles & Clip Art palette in the Basic Fills & Strokes category. When drawing the hills, use a single-click (without drag) to create your bottom corners. If you are unfamiliar with using the Bezier Path tool, a hands-on exercise is available in the Artboard File > New From Template folder.

Step 5

We finish off our drawing with a couple of foreground elements from Artboard’s built-in clip art. Open the Styles & Clip Art palette. From the Library button, choose “Nature” category from the drop-down list. Pick the “Pine Tree – Eastern Hemlock Silhouette” clip art and drag it a couple of times onto your drawing canvas. Position as desired and use the object sizing handles to make some trees taller and skinnier and others shorter for variation. Of course, we also added a bat!

Final Image

Congratulations! You’ve completed a tranquil night-time vector background with a big waxing moon. Experiment with different colors in your gradients and different foreground elements to create awesome variations to this theme. We hope you have fun experimenting with your own designs. We’d love to see what you come up with!