bubble-path-final

How to Create Swirling Paths of Bubbles in Artboard

Artboard gives you the power to create advanced styles that go way beyond simple fill and stroke. Here we show a simple way to create paths of bubbles for using under water or to float through the air.

Final Image

Below is the final image we will be working towards:

Tutorial Details

Program : Artboard 1.4+ for Mac OSX
Difficulty: Intermediate
Topics Covered: Style Inspector, Cloned Styles, and Path Decorators
Estimated Completion Time: about 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styles are no longer part of the default workflow, therefore, references to “New” and “Clone” in this tutorial are no longer current.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

Choose File > New from the main menu. Start by drawing a shape for the water as your background. Draw a rectangle with the Rectangle [r] tool that is large enough to fill in most of your drawing canvas. Having a background will make it easier to see the other shapes, particularly since we’ll be drawing white bubbles!

Let’s add a gradient fill to our water. Use the Select[s] tool to select the rectangle and open the Style Inspector. With the shape shape still selected, click “New” to create a new style. Click onto “Fill” in the components list then click the “-” button to remove the component. Click the “+” button in the Style Inspector and add a “Gradient Fill” style component. Click the “+” on the gradient slider to add one more color stop to the slider. Click onto each gradient slider to change its color and slide to adjust its position as shown below. We are using a blue color scheme (we’ve used RGB 29,19,61; 46,119,133; and 68,168,177 respectively). You can use different colors – just note the progression of color from darkest on the bottom, to medium, to lightest at the top. In the gradient-well, hold the SHIFT-key and move the rotation handle so the gradient angle is -90-degrees (HINT: holding the SHIFT-key constrains the angle to 15-degree increments).

advanced vector bubble on path style with Artboard

Step 2

Add a new layer by clicking the “+” at the lower left of the layers list. Make sure the new layer is above the first drawing layer in the layer list (click and drag the layer names to re-order as needed). Drawing on a new layer helps prevent accidentally selecting your background object.

Next we draw our first bubble. Hold the SHIFT-key down (to maintain your aspect ratio) and draw a smallish circle – ours is about 60-pts (it will be different if you are using a different drawing units). Click “New” in the Style Inspector to create a new style. Click onto “Fill” in the components list and click onto the fill’s color-well – the Color picker will open. Choose “snow” white from the Crayons picker and adjust the opacity slider to about 35%. Click onto “Stroke” in the components list and click onto the strokes’s color-well. Again, choose “snow” white from the Crayons picker and adjust the opacity slider to about 35%. Make the stroke width about 10-pts and choose Clipping “Inside Path” from the drop-down options.

advanced vector bubble on path style with Artboard

Step 3

Now we’ll draw the reflections on the bubble. Draw a smaller circle inside the first. With this circle still selected, click “Clone” in the Style Inspector to create a new style using the current one as a starting point. Click onto “Stroke” in the components list then click the “-” button to remove the component. Draw another even smaller circle inside the bubble and position them as shown below. This is your first bubble!

Use the Select [s] tool to select and group the shapes used in your bubble. Choose Edit > Copy from the main menu to copy the group two times (HINT: try using the CMND-C keyboard shortcut, or click and drag a copy off while holding the Option-key). Position them above the first and resize them each a bit smaller as shown below.

One last thing, ungroup the bubbles and select the main circle on the middle bubble. Click “Clone” in the Style Inspector and make the stroke width 8-pts. Repeat this for the smallest bubble making its stroke width 6-pts.

vector bubble path - advanced styles with Artboard

Step 4

Here comes the fun part – making your bubble path.

Select [s] all the shapes that make your three bubbles and choose Edit > Copy from the main menu (or CMND-C). Next, choose the Freehand Line [f] tool and draw a curved line down your drawing. With the path still selected, click “New” in the Style Inspector to create a new style. Click onto “Fill” in the components list then click the “-” button to remove the component; click onto “Stroke” in the components list then click the “-” button to remove the component. Click the “+” button in the Style Inspector and add a “Path Decorator” style component. In the Path Decorator settings, click “Paste Image” to paste in a copy of your bubbles. Cool! The bubbles are added along your path.

Now let’s adjust the Path Decorator settings. In our example, we’ve scaled the image by 50%; made the spacing 70-pts; gave it an end ramp of about 15% so the bubbles get a little smaller on the ends; and, checked “Alternating Offset” to give a more random appearance.

The really cool thing is your bubble path is now a style that you can draw with – try it! Using the Freehand Line [f] tool, draw some more curvy lines. You can now very quickly draw bubble paths all over the place. As desired, name and save your new style to your user Collection in the Library.

HINT: Since there is no Stroke or Fill with this style it will be slightly more difficult to select and adjust the path and points later – use the Select [s] tool and drag over the path will make it easier to select it.

vector bubble path advanced style in Artboard

Final Image

Now you are ready to use bubble paths in your own drawings. We’ve used ours with our happy whale scene (look familiar?). Bubbles can add interest to water, sky, and even space. Bubbles paths are an efficient way to get the look your after. Experiment with different types of bubbles and different Path Decorator settings. Most of all, have fun!

2 replies
  1. Megan
    Megan says:

    I have a few questions. First, when you have three circles that make up one bubble and you copy and paste it… Can you resize all three circles at the same time and same proportions? I had to resize each circle individually to make smaller bubbles.

    Second, on Step 4, i copied the bubbles and selected freehand but the tool only drew one bubble. So, then I had a curvy line of bubbles that were all the same size. How do get the freehand tool to draw all three sizes of bubbles?

    • mapdiva
      mapdiva says:

      Hi Megan,
      For your first question, in Step 3 you draw your first bubble (comprised of 3 circles). Select the 3 circles that make the bubble and group them. The group is your first bubble. Now copy and paste this group to add more bubbles. You can now resize the two groups to make the two smaller bubbles.

      Second, on Step 4 make sure you’ve selected all three bubbles to copy. When you create your new style in the Style Inspector then paste your bubble into “Path Decorator” image well you should see the bubbles along the path.Sorry – I know in the tutorial this is hard to see since the objects are white. From here, you can use the Style Inspector settings to adjust the size, spacing , etc of the bubbles. I like to use “Alternating Offset” to give a more random appearance.

      I hope that helps! Jill

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