How to Create a Flat, Minimalist Rock Card Using Adobe Illustrator

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

Today I’m going to show you how we can create a flat, minimalist rock card using some of Illustrator’s basic tools such as the Ellipse Tool and Rectangle Tool combined with the power of the Pen and Direct Selection Tools. Buckle up, and let’s get started!
Truth be told, I was and probably still am deeply fond of rock music. From the crazy riffs of Pantera to the grungy sounds of Pearl Jam and Nirvana, this culture has always held a big influence over my growing-up years and probably that’s why I still come back to it time and time again. Since I am sure that most of you out there have at least one rock song close to your heart, I decided it would be nice to create a rock-inspired card that could be used for personal projects.
Since I hope you already have Illustrator up and rocking, let’s start by creating aNew Document by either pressing Control-N or by going to File > New. Once the popup windows shows up, adjust the document’s settings as follows:
  • Number of Artboards: 1
  • Width: 562 px
  • Height: 638 px
  • Units: Pixels
And from the Advanced tab:
  • Color Mode: RGB
  • Raster Effects: High (300 ppi)
  • Align New Objects to Pixel Grid: checked

setting up a new document

Once we have created our New Document it’s time to layer it so that we can create a nice, tidy workspace which in the end will let us focus on each section of the illustration one step at a time. So, open up the Layers panel, and create four layers, naming them as follows:
  1. tiles
  2. amp
  3. guitar
  4. textures

setting up the layers

Since Illustrator allows the use of Grids, you should know that it gives you the option to snap your design to its Pixel Grid. That means that each anchor point will be positioned at the middle intersection of four pixels.
Because there are different situations that require different grid settings, sometimes you might need to adjust the ones running on your version of Adobe Illustrator.
I personally have gone for the lowest and at the same time the most accurate settings, because I feel I have more control over my designs.
To change these settings, you must go to Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid. From there, a little popup will appear, where we need to adjust the following:
  • Gridline every: 1 px
  • Subdivisions: 1

adjusting the grid settings

Once you’ve adjusted these settings, all you need to do in order to make everything pixel crisp is enable the Snap to Grid option located under the View menu.
Quick tip: You should know that the Snap to Grid option will transform into Snap to Pixel every time you enter Pixel Preview Mode, but that’s totally fine, as most of the time you will be going back and forward with this display mode.
You can read more about the Grid and how it works by going over some of my other tutorials on the subject:
Also, if you’re used to moving things around with the help of the keyboard’s directional arrow keys, you might want to change the Keyboard Increment to 1 pxto get it as precise as possible. You can do this by going to Edit > Preferences > General > Keyboard Increment.

adjusting the keyboard increment settings

If your version of AI has the value set to pt (points), just go to Units and change theGeneral and Stroke units to Pixels and you’re good to go.
The first thing we need to create are the three tiles onto which we will layer our entire design.
Position yourself onto the tiles layer, and using the Rectangle Tool (M) create three rectangles with the following values:
  • Left tile: size: 256 x 586 px / fill color: #DAD9D8
  • Bottom right tile: size: 244 x 256 px / fill color: #B5B2B1
  • Top right tile: size: 244 x 320 px / fill color: #453F3C

creating the tiles

Quick tip: It doesn’t matter where you’ve positioned the objects since we will first create all three tiles and then group and align them to the Artboard.
Since we want the shapes to be spaced out evenly from one another, we need to select two at a time and make our way to our desired positions by using theAlign panel's Distribute Spacing option.
So, let’s start by selecting the left and bottom right tiles, and then click on the first one to set it as our Key Object, enter 10 in the value field and space them out by pressing on the Horizontal Distribute Space button. Since we want the bottom sections of the two to be aligned, use the Vertical Align Bottom option to do just that.

aligning the first two tiles

Repeat the same process but this time select the left and the top right tiles, making sure to mark the first one as our Key Object. Once you’ve distanced the two, you will need to align their top sections, so you will use the Vertical Align Top option (instead of the Bottom one).

aligning the second two tiles

Since we now have all three tiles distanced and aligned correctly to each other, we need to group them (Control-G) and then both vertically and horizontally align them to the center of our Artboard using the Horizontal and Vertical Align Centeroptions.

aligning the tiles to the Artboard

Quick tip: Make sure that the Align To option is set on Align to Artboard, otherwise nothing will happen.
Lock the tiles layer for now, and move up onto the amp one where we will create our powerful little box one step at a time.
Also, in case you’re wondering about the reference amplifier that I used to create the illustration, you should know it was a Marshall MG10CD, which I recommend you look up on Google Images so that you have a sense of how the object looks.
Start simple by creating the amp’s base shape. Using the Rounded Rectangle Toolcreate a 170 x 170 px object with a 10 px Corner Radius. Color the shape using#686360 and position it towards the center of the bottom right tile. Don’t bother about exact placement since we will center the amp to its tile once all of its elements are added.

creating the amps base shape

Since almost each one of our shapes will have its own outline, we will be using theOffset Path Effect to do just that, but keep in mind that we will be applying the effect to a duplicate of the object.
So, first create a copy (Control-C > Control-F) of our amp’s main body, change its color to #453F3C and then go to Effect > Path > Offset Path where you will enter6 px in the popup box.

creating the outline for the amp

Once the Offset is made, you will have to push the outline to the back of our lighter shape by right clicking and using the Arrange > Send to Back option.

positioning the outline underneath the amp

Since the plastic body of the amp has a rough finish to it, we will reproduce that feeling by applying a Grain texture to the smaller object that we created in step 1. 
First create a copy of the shape (Control-C > Control-F), change its color to something darker (#453F3C) and then with it selected go to Effect > Texture > Grain. A preview pane will pop up, giving you a bunch of options that we will adjust as follows:
  • Intensity: 74
  • Contrast: 50
  • Grain Type: Sprinkles

amp texture grain settings

Since the texture isn’t quite what we wanted it to be, we will have to adjust itsBlending Mode and Opacity level. So with the texture selected, open up theTransparency panel, and set the Blending Mode to Multiply, lowering its Opacityto 50%. At this point, you can select all three shapes (the body, outline and texture) and group them together (Control-G) so that you won’t accidentally move them around.

adjusting the blending mode and opacity for the amp texture

Once you’ve applied the texture it’s time to start working on the front of our amp (the gains, and actual speaker). First grab the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a larger142 x 146 px shape (#453F3C) that will act as an outline and a smaller 130 x 134 px one (#56514E) which will holster the main controls panel and the speaker, and then group the two together (Control-G).
If you take a close look at a reference picture of the amp, you will notice that the bottom section of plastic is taller than the top one, which means that we have to position the two shapes that we’ve just created towards the top, leaving a gap of20 px between them and the bottom section of the amp’s outline.

positioning the front face of the amp

Quick Tip: You can position the front by either aligning the grouped shapes to the bottom of the amp’s main outline and then moving them using the up arrow 20 times, or by drawing a quick rectangle underneath the amp and then using the Distribute Spacing option found in the Align panel.
Start working on the controls panel by creating a 130 x 34 px rectangle, which we will color using #D8CD6A. Then position the shape on top of the front fill shape, so that their top sections are fully aligned.

creating the front gold panel for the controls

Add a subtle texture to the gold panel by creating a duplicate of it, onto which we will apply a Grain Texture Effect that will have the same settings as the one used for the amp’s main body:
  • Intensity: 74
  • Contrast: 50
  • Grain Type: Sprinkles
Once the texture is created, change its Blending Mode to Multiply, lowering itsOpacity to 60%.

applying the texture to the front gold panel

Start working on the left side of the panel by creating the input jack for the guitar. Using the Ellipse Tool (L) create a 10 x 10 px circle which will act as the jack’s outline, and then color it using #453F3C.
Quick Tip: In order to get total control of the Pixel Grid I recommend turning on Pixel Preview mode (Alt-Control-Y), which will allow you to have total control of the positioning of your objects onto the Artboard, thus making it easier to understand and repeat the process used to create and position most of the elements used in this illustration.

creating the outline for the guitar output jack

Finish off the jack input by adding a lighter (#56514E6 x 6 px circle on top of the outline, which we will duplicate (Control-C > Control-F) and adjust by removing its bottom anchor point so that we cut it in half. 
Change the duplicate’s Blending Mode to Overlay, lowering its Opacity level to20%. Finally add a 4 x 4 px circle which we will color using the same dark tint used for the outline (#453F3C), and make sure to select and group all the elements of the input using Control-G.

creating the guitar input jack

Since the line in and headphones jacks are basically identical to the guitar input, we will be duplicating the one we already have and moving the two copies towards the right side.

positioning the input jacks

Next, we will start working on the volume, gain and contour knobs. Using the Ellipse Tool (L) create a 10 x 10 px base which will act the outline. Then add a smaller 6 x 6 px circle on top, which we will color using #E5D66A
Duplicate this last shape, change its color to white (#FFFFFF), and then flip its fill with its stroke (Shift-X) making sure to align the stroke towards the inside, giving it aWeight of 1 px. Expand this ring like shape (Object > Expand > Fill and Stroke) and then create a copy on top of it (Control-C > Control-F). 
Now, using a rectangle, first remove the bottom half of the ring (the copy) and then the top half (the original) changing the Blending Modes and Opacity levels as follows:
  • Top half: Blending Mode: Overlay / Opacity Level: 40%
  • Bottom half: Blending Mode: Multiply / Opacity Level: 14%
Finish off the knob by adding a small 1 x 1 px circle towards the top right side of the gold colored shape, and as always don’t forget to group all of the elements together (Control-G) so that you won’t accidentally move things around.

creating the amps volume knob

Position the gold plated volume knob on the right side of our guitar input at a distance of 4 px, slightly moving it towards the top side by about 4 px.

placing the volume knob onto the gold plate

Create a copy of the volume knob by selecting it and then dragging to the right while holding down Alt-Shift. Once the copy is created, select both it and the original, and then distance the two at about 6 px from one another. Then create two more copies using the second knob as the original, distancing them at a smaller 4 px gap.

adding the rest of the volume knobs to the amp

Next grab the Rounded Rectangle Tool and create a 6 x 6 px shape with a Corner Radius of 2 px, coloring it #453F3C. Then draw a 2 x 2 px square, color it using#56514E, and both vertically and horizontally align it to the center of the previously created shape. Group the two (Control-G) and then position them between the first two gold plated knobs, aligning the base to that of the guitar input jack.

creating the od button

Moving on to the right side of the front panel, we need to add the little power LED. We will do so by creating a 6 x 6 px base (#453F3C) on top of which we will add a smaller 2 x 2 px red circle (#D66B6B).

placing the power led

Since every device has a power button, we need to add one to our little amp too. Using the Rounded Rectangle Tool, create a 10 x 14 px shape with a Corner Radius of 2 px. Color the shape using #453F3C and then position it at about 8 pxfrom the power LED indicator, vertically aligning it to the center of the last golden plated knob. 
Then create a smaller 6 x 10 px rectangle with a 1 px Corner Radius, coloring it using #686360. Repeat the same process of creating the top highlight and bottom shadow as we did for the volume knobs, adding a 10 x 2 px rectangle (#453F3C) towards the center to give it some depth.

creating the power button

Once we’ve finished creating the input jacks, the knobs and the power button, we need to take care of the indicator decals that go on top and under each of the elements. Simply take a couple of looks at the reference image and using theRectangle Tool (M) create a bunch of simple decals, coloring all of them #453F3C.

adding decals to the front controls panel

Once all of the buttons, decals and jacks are added, we need to cast a bunch of highlights onto the golden plate. Simply create three shapes with different widths, color them white, rotate them at a 45° angle (press R and drag towards the right), and then change their Blending Modes to Overlay and their Opacity levels to30%
Using the golden plate underneath (the plate not the texture), create a copy on top of the grouped highlights and make a Clipping Mask (right click > Make Clipping Mask) to hide the sections that go outside the plate’s area.
Add a subtle shadow towards the top side of the gold plate, by creating a 130 x 4 pxrectangle, which we will color black (#000000). Adjust its Blending Mode to Multiply while lowering its Opacity level to 10%.

adding the top shadow to the front panel

Once we’ve finished the front control panel, we can move down to the lower section of the amp, and start building the actual speaker. First add a 130 x 6 px divider (#453F3C) and position it right underneath the golden plate.

adding the horizontal divider to the bottom of the controls panel

Next let’s start working on the speaker itself, by creating an 88 x 88 px circle, which we will color using #453F3C and center both vertically and horizontally to the space between the divider and the lower section of the amp’s front (the rectangle outline).

creating the speakers main outline

Once we have the base for our speaker, we need to start layering different sized circles on top of one another, and applying the highlight-shadow ring style to them so that we give it some dimension.

adding details to the speaker

Once you’ve created all the speaker’s elements, group them together (Control-G) so that you can easily manage them later, in case you move things around at some point.

speaker finished

Now all we need to add to the front of the amp is the front-facing grille that goes over the speaker unit itself. Simply create a bunch of vertical (2 x 94 px) and horizontal (2 x 130 px) rectangles with a gap of 2 px between each element, and then color them using #453F3C.

placing the horizontal grille elements

Once you have the grille finished, add a top, left and right shadow, by creating three black rectangles with the following dimensions:
  • Left shadow: 4 x 90 px
  • Top shadow: 130 x 4 px
  • Right shadow: 4 x 90 px
Position them in place and then change their Blending Modes to Multiply, lowering the Opacity to 20%.

adding shadows to the front grille

Since we’ve more or less finished working on the amp’s front side, we need to start working on the corner pieces that bind the skeleton/frame sections together.
We will start by creating a 32 x 32 px circle (#686360), which we will cut in half twice so that we remove the right and bottom halves. Then we will select the bottom right anchor point using the Direct Selection Tool (A), and using the Round Corners Effect (Effect > Stylize > Round Corners) we will apply a smooth 4 pxroundness to it. 
We then have to expand the shape (Object > Expand Appearance), duplicate it and apply an Offset Path Effect of 6 px to the copy (Effect > Path > Offset Path), making sure to set the Joins to Round. Finally apply some visual treatment to the corner piece such as the texture, top highlight, screw, and then group them (Control-G).

creating the amps corners

Position the corner so that the top and left screws sections go outside the amp’s main outline by 3 px.

placing the top left amp corner

Create three copies of the corner piece that we already have, and depending on their positions flip them either vertically (for the right sided ones) or horizontally (for the bottom ones).

placing the rest of the amps corners

Add two 142 x 4 px white rectangles (#FFFFFF) to the top and bottom parts of the amp, and change their Blending Modes to Overlay, lowering their Opacity levels to20% since they will act as highlights. 
Then, add two smaller 14 x 10 px black ones (#000000) underneath the two top corner pieces, setting their Blending Modes to Multiply this time, while lowering theOpacity levels to the same 20%.

adding highlights and shadows to the front of the speaker

Create the top handle by drawing two 20 x 14 px rounded rectangles (#453F3) with a Corner Radius of 2 px. Distance the two at about 78 px from one anotherand then add a 78 x 4 px rectangle between them.

positioning the handle on the amp

Finish off the amp by creating a 16 x 8 px rounded rectangle with a Corner Radiusof 2 px. Now, select and push each of the top anchor points by 1 px towards the outside of the shape.

creating the amps feet

Once you’ve adjusted these anchors, create a duplicate of the shape and position the two at about 82 px from one another, just under the amp’s main outline. Then select all the elements of the amp, group them (Control-G), and with the tiles layer unlocked, select both the amp and the rectangle underneath it and align them both horizontally and vertically.

amp finished

As soon as you’ve finished the amp, lock its layer, and move on up to the guitar one. Since the instrument is based on two different guitars, using some of the more classic lines, I recommend you do another Google image search for some electric guitars and see what elements they incorporate.
Since the guitar’s body has a somewhat special shape, we can’t construct it using only simple shapes such as ellipses and circles. We need to get down and dirty and use the Pen Tool (P) to trace out a custom path, but luckily we can start doing that by using a 156 x 132 px ellipse as our building block. 
So, create the base shape, and then use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to remove its top anchor point. Now, grab the Pen Tool (P) and start tracing a silhouette of a guitar similar to the one I have.

creating the guitars base shape

Quick Tip: You can always download the reference image from the tutorial, put it on a different layer and start tracing using my design as a model.
Once you have the base shape of the guitar, create a duplicate (Control-C > Control-F), change its color to #453F3C and apply an Offset Path Effect of 6 px, making sure to expand (Object > Expand Appearance) and send it to the back (right click > Arrange > Send To Back).

adding the outline to the guitars base shape

Quick Tip: I have to tell you from the start that once you create the offset from the guitar’s base shape you will have to switch over to Pixel Preview mode and adjust some if not most of your anchor points. So take your time, and play around with the anchors and handles until you feel that your shape is where you want it to be.
Once we have the base and its outline, we can start adding some details such as the top section, diagonal highlights, and a bottom shadow.
Set the Blending Mode and Opacity levels as follows:
  • Top highlight: Blending Mode: Overlay / Opacity level: 10%
  • Diagonal highlights: Blending Mode: Overlay / Opacity level: 6%
  • Shadow: Blending Mode: Multiply / Opacity level: 10%

adding the diagonal highlights to the guitar

Start adding elements by creating the back and front pickups. Grab the Rounded Rectangle Tool and create a 46 x 20 px shape with a 2 px Corner Radius. Change its color to #999999 and then create a duplicate onto which we will apply an Offset Path Effect (Effect > Path > Offset Path) of 6 px
Expand the offset (Object > Expand Appearance) and then change its color to#453F3C, moving the shape underneath its original counterpart. Group the two, and then Horizontal Center Align them to the guitar’s body, positioning them towards the bottom at about 77 px from its outline.

placing the base pickup shape

Add a top half highlight and a bottom half shadow, by creating a copy of the lighter grey segment, coloring it white (#FFFFFFF) and then flipping its fill with its stroke (Shift-X) making sure to set the Weight to 2 px.
Then, expand the shape (Object > Expand Appearance), duplicate it (Control-C > Control-F) and using a rectangle cut out the top half from the first one and bottom half from the copy. Apply exactly the same Blend and Opacity values as those we already used for the amp’s volume knob, and then finally group the two together. 
Next, add the four little screws, one to each corner, by creating four 2 x 2 px circles (#453F3C), and positioning them towards the margins of the grey shape, leaving a gap of 2 px between them. 
Add another 34 x 16 px rounded rectangle with a Corner Radius of 4 px, center it to the pickup’s main shape and color it using #453F3C
Add a smaller 26 x 8 px shape with a Corner Radius of 1 px and color it using the same gold tint that we’ve used so far (#E5D66A). Apply the same ring-styled highlight/shadow treatment and then finally add two diagonal highlights.

adding details to the pickup

Once we have the first pickup, simply group all of its elements (Control-G) and then create a copy which we will position towards the top of the guitar at about 26 px from the original.

placing the second pickup

Start working on the guitar bridge by creating a 38 x 12 px rounded rectangle with a6 px Corner Radius which we will color using #453F3C. Then, create a smaller 30 x 4 px shape with a 2 px Corner Radius, coloring this one using #999999
Repeat the process of adding the top half highlight and bottom half shadow, and then add two 2 x 2 px screws on each side, leaving a gap of 2 px between them and the bridge’s sides. 
Then finish off the piece by adding six 3 x 4 px rounded rectangles with 1 px Corner Radius, positioning them towards the center of the bridge.

creating the guitars bridge

Group all the elements of the guitar’s bridge (Control-G) and then position it towards the bottom of the back pickup, at a distance of 6 px.

placing the guitars bridge

Next, let’s start working on the volume knobs, by creating a 12 x 12 px circle (#453F3C) which will act as the outline. Then, add a smaller 8 x 8 px one (#D8CD6A), and add the top and bottom half ring styled highlight and shadow. Since this will be used to indicate volume level, add a little 2 x 2 px circle (#453F3C) and position it towards the left bottom corner of the gold plated knob.

creating the volume knob for the guitar

Quick Tip: Compared to the amp’s knob, the guitar one has a thicker 2 px ring highlight and shadow applied to it, so keep that in mind when you create the duplicate of the gold plate and flip its fill with its stroke, setting the Stroke’s Weight.
Create three copies of our freshly created volume knob, and flip two of them so that the volume indicator now points towards the top right corner. Then position them so that you have two pairs of knobs, one on the left and another one on the right. 
Each pair of knobs should have a gap of 12 px between their components, while the space between the two pairs should be somewhere around 10 px. Finally make sure that the left pair of knobs goes a little bit towards the bottom, so that the distance from its lower knob to the lower of the right pair is 14 px.

placing the guitars volume knobs

Group both pairs of knobs together (Control-G), and using the Direct Selection Tool (A) select the gold sections of the left pair, and change their color to #999999. Then position the entire group towards the bottom right corner of the guitar.

guitar volume knobs finished

Move on up towards the top side of the guitar, and start working on the pickup toggle switch by creating a 12 x 12 px circle which will act as our outline. Color the shape using #453F3C and then add a smaller 8 x 8 px circle (#999999) which will act as our toggle’s base shape.
Add the highlight and shadow halves, and then create a 6 x 11 px rounded rectangle with a 3 px Corner Radius. Since this will act as the actual switch’s outline, color it using #453F3C and then add a 2 x 7 px smaller piece (#999999) on top.
Apply a top highlight and bottom shadow, and then group (Control-G) and position the switch stick so that there's a gap of about 1 px between it and the circle base outline.

creating the pickup toggle switch

Position the pickup toggle towards the top left side of the guitar, at about 24 px from the guitar’s outline top side, leaving a gap of 19 px between it and the left side of the outline.

placing the pickup toggle switch

Since this is a rocker’s guitar, we need to add some decals to it to reflect the attitude of its owner. To do so, we will create two voltage symbols which we will color using#453F3C and apply on the bottom left side of our instrument.

adding decals to the guitars body

Since we’re basically done with the guitar’s body, we can finally begin working on its neck. Start by creating a 26 x 222 px rectangle, color it using #6B5B55 and then position it towards the top side of the guitar so that its bottom side touches the first pickup.

creating the base shape for the guitars neck

Using the Direct Selection Tool (A) select the top left anchor point and move it towards the inside by 4 px. You can either use the right arrow key on your keyboard, or you can select the anchor and then right click > Transform > Move > and then enter 4 px in the Horizontal input field.
Do the same for the top right anchor point so that in the end, the neck will have a thinner top section compared to its bottom.

adjusting the guitar neck anchor points

Quick Tip: If you use the Move tool in order to nudge the anchors towards the inside, you should know that when you start working on the right anchor point, you need to enter a negative value, so -4 px in the Horizontal field in order to get it leaning towards the center and not the outside.
Next select the bottom anchor points of the neck, and go to Effect > Stylize > Round Corners and enter 2 px into the Radius field. That should give you a smooth, round bottom for the neck, which is exactly what we want.

applying round corners to the guitars neck

Once we’ve adjusted the neck, it’s time to give it an outline by creating a copy (Control-C > Control-F), which we will color using #453F3C, and then give it anOffset of 6 px. Expand the resulting shape (Object > Expand Appearance), and then make sure that the outline goes under the neck’s base shape and not the other way around.

creating the outline to the guitars neck

Quick tip: If you want everything to look as sharp as possible, switch over to Pixel Preview mode (Alt-Control-Y) and snap each and every misaligned anchor point back to the pixel grid. Believe me, it might take you some time, but the end result is always worth it.
In this next step, I want you to get a little bit creative, and decorate the neck following my example as a guideline. Keep in mind, every guitar neck has a couple of frets (the metallic lines) and of course fret markers (the round circles).

Decorate the guitar neck

Quick tip: If you’re wondering what color I used for the elements, well:
  • The frets#999999 for the metallic section / #453F3C for the fret’s outline /#FFFFFF with the Blending Mode set to Overlay and the Opacity lowered to20% for the highlight.
  • The fret markers#564744.
Once you’ve finished decorating the neck, we need to add the strings that actually flap around and produce the sound once you hit them with the pick.
Start by creating six 1 x 330 px rectangles (#453F3C), which we will distance at2 px from one another.
Group the strings (Control-G) and then use the Horizontal Align Center option found in the Align panel, to get them aligned to the bridge. Now simply bottom align the rectangles to the bridge’s grey section.

placing the guitars strings

Once the guitar neck is done, we can move to the top and build the head, which incorporates the tuning pegs and tuning posts. Start out using the Pen Tool (P) and trace a simple guitar head shape which we will then color using #686360.

creating the base shape of the guitars head

Quick tip: When you start tracing, try to do so from the base up, making sure that the bottom anchor points are aligned to those on the guitar’s neck. By proceeding this way, you will be able to create the outline of the head so that it stays in line with the neck’s outline.
Once you have the base of the head, create an outline and add a subtle highlight that goes all around.

adding the outline and highlight to the guitars head

Next create the first tuning post by drawing a 6 x 6 px circle (#453F3C), on top of which we will add a smaller 2 x 2 px golden circle (#E5D66A).
Create a duplicate of the last shape, color it white (#FFFFFF) and then cut it in half, changing its Blending Mode to Overlay and its Opacity to 40%.
Group all these elements together (Control-G), and then create five copies and position them in a diagonal towards the left side of the guitar’s head.

placing the tuning posts

Next grab the Pen Tool (P) and trace the top sections of the strings, starting from the tuning posts that we’ve just created, and moving downwards diagonally towards the bottom of the head.

placing the top section strings onto the guitars head

Add some little details to the top and bottom right corners of the guitar’s head to make it more interesting, and color them using #56514E.

adding details to the guitars head

Once we’ve added the top section strings, we can start building the tuning pegs.
Grab the Rounded Rectangle Tool and create a 6 x 8 px shape with a 2 px Corner Radius. Color it using #453F3C, and then add a 2 x 4 px rectangle (#686360) on top of it. 
Add a small highlight by creating a 2 x 2 white square, which we will set to Overlay, and make it more transparent by lowering its Opacity level to 20%.
Add an 8 x 4 px rectangle to its right and then group them all together (Control-G).

creating the tuning peg

Finish off the guitar’s head by adding the six tuning pegs on the left side, distancing them at about 1 px from one another.

guitar head finished

So at this point we’ve created all the different elements of our little guitar. That means we can group them (Control-G), unlock the tiles layer, select both the guitar and the rectangle underneath, and both vertically and horizontally align the instrument to the tile.

guitar finished

Since this is a rocker’s card, we need to add some text that testifies to its nature.
So I went about searching the web for some cool metal fonts, but to be honest I didn’t find one that felt right. At that point I started wondering what default Windows or Illustrator bundled font could do the job? After a couple of minutes, I tried outImpact, and I’m happy to say it fit perfectly.
So, first unlock the tiles layer, and then grab the Type Tool (T). Set the font size to24 pt, use #DAD9D8 for the color, and type in “ROCKIN’ HARD SINCE 1955”, giving each word its own row.
Position the text towards the center of the tile, leaving some space for the voltage that we will add next.

adding the text to the tile

Quick tip: In case you’re wondering why I chose 1955 for the year, well supposedly that’s the year guitarist/singer/songwriter Charles Edward Anderson “Chuck” Berry invented Rock and Roll.
Create a nice-looking voltage symbol, color it using #E5D66A and then position it near our text.

adding the voltage symbol next to the text piece

The last step of our journey involves adding some subtle textures in order to make the card look a little bit worn out. Since the texture is part of Libro (a cool little texture pack I created a while back), I decided to attach it to the page so that you can download it and use it for any personal projects.
Download the texture file, open it and then copy (Control-C) and paste (Control-F) it onto the textures layer, positioning it over the top right tile and adjusting its size a bit. Create two more copies and position them over the other tiles, adjusting their size as necessary.

placing the texture onto the tiles

You could say that the textures look nice, and that we’ve completed the last part of the tutorial, but I think some of them are too hard. So I started playing around with different Blending Modes and Opacity levels, and I found these settings to work best:
  • Left tile texture: Blending Mode set to Overlay / default 100% Opacity level
  • Bottom right tile texture: Blending Mode set to Overlay / default 100%Opacity level
  • Top right tile texture: Blending Mode set to Difference 70% Opacity level

adjusting the textures

So we now have our textures, but something seems off. If you take a close look you can see how the texture from one tile interferes with the surface and texture of the other ones. 
To fix this, unlock the tile layers, copy all three tiles (Control-C), lock the layer, go back to the textures one, and then paste them (Control-F) on top of the textures.
Then select each tile and the corresponding texture underneath it, and apply aClipping Mask (right click > Make Clipping Mask) so that the texture will only get applied onto the surface of that tile.
illustration finished
We rocked hard, and in the end we’ve created a nice-looking illustration, but most importantly learned some neat stuff along the way. I hope you enjoyed the tutorial, and I’m looking forward to your versions, so get them done and post them in the comments section!


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