In this tutorial, you will learn how to use the Mesh Tool and Image Trace in Adobe Illustrator to create a spooky vector Halloween background!
How to Draw a Spooky Halloween Background in Adobe Illustrator
1. How to Draw the Sky
Let’s begin by using Mesh for a bit!
Start by drawing a rectangle and filling it with
#354459 color. Next, you have two options: you can either create a Mesh grid for this shape by manually placing nodes with the Mesh Tool (U), or you can create it automatically with Object > Create Gradient Mesh (6 Rows, 5 Columns).
Once your Mesh grid is done, begin coloring it by selecting the top row of nodes and changing their color to
Finish this step by coloring the nodes selected in the screenshot below with black (
Finish the background by coloring the indicated nodes with the colors shown. You will need these:
The one element we are missing from the sky is the moon. As it is very difficult to draw such a complex thing from scratch, I’d like to turn to Image Trace.
In the sidebar of this tutorial, you will find the Download Attachment button. Press it and, when the zip file downloads, unzip the archive. One of the files, moon.jpg, is an isolated photo of the moon (taken by me) that we will be using in this step.
Open the photo in Adobe Illustrator and bring up the Image Trace panel (Window > Image Trace). Use Grayscale mode with Grays: 20.
Click Trace to begin the tracing process.
When the Tracing finishes, go to Object > Expand to fully turn this photo into a vector object.
Ungroup the image to get rid of all unnecessary parts (such as the grey border on the left).
Once you’re done, draw a
#FAFAFA circle to put it under our traced moon.
Draw another circle of the same size, now filled with
Set its Transparency to Multiply and its Opacity to 90%. Overlay it on top of the traced result.
Draw a circle with a Radial Gradient (
Draw another, bigger circle with a Radial Gradient (
Set the Transparency of both objects to Screen.
Place the smaller gradient circle on top of the bigger one, and then place our traced moon on top. It should look like this:
2. How to Draw the Trees
Now that our moon and sky are done, set them aside for the time being. Let’s work on drawing the silhouettes of the trees!
Open another photo from the archive you downloaded, branch.jpg. Trace it using the Black and White mode with a Threshold of 118.
Use Object > Expand on the result.
Create a reflected copy of the branch with Object > Transform > Reflect. Then draw a trunk for the tree using the Pen Tool (P).
Add branches to the trunk as indicated in the screenshot below.
Continue adding branches.
Add two final branches to finish off the tree.
Group the tree (Control-G) and set it aside for now.
To draw the pine tree, follow my outline with the Pen Tool. Reflect the half of the tree with Object > Transform > Reflect and Unite the two copies in the Pathfinder panel.
3. How to Draw the Other Silhouettes
Starting with the haunted manor, draw an outline of it as accurately as possible and fill it with black. Draw a few mismatched rectangles to represent windows.
Place the windows all around the house. Select all elements and use Minus Front in the Pathfinder panel to ‘cut out’ the windows in the building.
Draw two lines in a cross shape, and then apply Profile 1 to them in the Stroke panel.
Use Object > Expand Appearance, and then use the Pathfinder panel to Unite both paths. Finally, create a smaller copy of the cross.
Place the crosses over the windows of the house, andUnite it all in the Pathfinder panel.
Draw an ellipse with a Radial Gradient (
Set its Transparency to Screen.
Place these ellipses behind the window openings of the house. They represent lights.
Draw the final silhouette: a bat.
Again, draw a half with the Pen Tool (P), and then Reflect and Unite.
Place all the silhouettes we have drawn so far to create a background.
Place it all on top of the sky with the moon!
4. How to Finish the Background
Let’s create some mist for the background! Draw two ellipses, one filled with
#EEEEEE, and one with a Radial, white to black gradient.
Line up the two objects, setting the gradient ellipse on top of the grey one.
In the Transparency panel, choose Make Mask.
Change the Opacity of the result to 50% and its Transparency to Screen.
Place a couple of these on top of the background, creating some mist.
Draw a star. Use a circle with
#000000 Radial Gradient, an Opacity of 70%, and Screen Transparency mode.
Place stars all around the background, wherever you want!
Finally, let’s ‘crop’ the background! Draw an outline of a rectangle that would ‘frame’ everything you want in the picture.
Set it on top of our background, and then select all the elements and choose Make Clipping Mask after right-clicking.
Our Halloween background is finished!
Awesome Work, You’re Now Done!
I hope you enjoyed the tutorial and I would be super happy to see any results in the comments below!