44 best Illustrator tutorials

Our favourite tutorials for Illustrator from top artists and designers. Whether you want learn specific tools, or are after advanced techniques for vector portraits – there's an Adobe Illustrator tutorial here for you.


Using Illustrator, you can produce fantastic illustrations, informative infographics and artful type. Whichever you want to do right now check out our list of the top 42 Illustrator tutorials, written by some of the world's leading illustrators and designers.

Illustrator can appear to have a daunting number of tools – tools that Adobe is adding to on a regular basis – but whatever you want to do with it, we have the tutorial for you here.

Techniques covered here include low-poly portrait creation, faux 3D effects, character art, linework, shading perspective, vintage effects and more. Some of these tutorials are designed to help you learn the new tools in Illustrator CC – and some will work no matter which version of Illustrator you own.

If you're on a computer or tablet, use the buttons above to view all of the tutorials in this feature – or move your mouse over the main image and use the buttons there. If you're on a phone, scroll down.

So make your way through this feature to find your ideal Adobe Illustrator tutorial for the creative skills you want to learn.

Create a low-poly portrait

In this tutorial, Brazilian designer Breno Bitencourt shows you step-by-step how to create a stylish low-poly portrait in Illustrator and Photoshop.

The secret to creating works in this style is working from the best reference photos – and first off Breno reveals how to capture these (using himself as a model). He then reveals how to work these up in Photoshop, then create a vector version in Illustrator.

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How to draw a mandala in Illustrator

In this tutorial, Brazilian artist Breno Bitencourt reveals how to quickly and easily create a mandala using Adobe Illustrator's vector drawing tools.

The purpose of this tutorial isn’t to teach you how to draw a particular style of mandala – that’s up to you. Instead Breno shows you how to build a radial template where anything you draw is automatically replicated around the circular structure of your mandala – with alternating variations for more visual interest and a more handmade feel.

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Design a vector map packed with creatures and landmarks

Jimmy Gleeson was commissioned by a homewares studio in Melbourne to illustrate a souvenir depiction of 'Australia'. Follow Jimmy has he creates a map from concepts and sketches through the finished piece in in Photoshop and Illustrator. The approaches he uses could be applied to any type of vector map from a theme park to a full country, like Jimmy has here.

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Design vinyl wall stickers

A fun, affordable and easy way to brighten a space – it's simple to see why wall decals are popular at the moment. From a designer's point of view, taking your artwork from Adobe Illustrator into a room or other space is hugely exciting. In this tutorial, Ben the Illustrator shows how to go from an initial idea to installing a printed vinyl decal on the wall of your choice.

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Create colourful vector character art

This tutorial will teach you how to create a fully digital image from an initial sketch. You will learn how to control vector paths to create smooth angles and view the necessary stages to complete a piece of work in Adobe Illustrator. This tutorial demonstrates the stages taken from sketch to vector, covering colour adjustments, depth and composition.

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Design retro isometric artwork

Vector illustration can produce beautifully clean, precise artwork, but the results can also be a bit soulless. In this tutorial, mark Oliver creates those clean, precise shapes and then 'grubbies' them up for a more organic retro look. He also gives you a recipe for transforming shapes to fit a predefined isometric projection without having to do any calculations.

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Design symmetrical character art

In this tutorial, creative duo LouLou & Tummie show you how to use Illustrator to create a symmetrical, character-filled banner. You’ll hone your use of the Pathfinder tool to build new shapes, and tweak lines to give them a sense of flow.

The tricks you’ll learn are useful in a range of other vector-based illustrations, helping you to create art that is clean but not stilted.

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Create low-poly art in Illustrator and Photoshop

Using Illustrator and Photoshop to create low-poly art, here Damien Vignaux (aka Elroy) shows you how he created an artwork for his band, The Escapists.

You’ll see how to create this cool, grainy work with a low-poly (a polygon mesh of a small number of polygons) twist. First we’ll create some vector portraits, then get texturing in Photoshop with self-made brushes.

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Create lush, glossy vector images in Illustrator

It’s easy to associate vectors with flat shapes – but creating Illustrator images with real depth needn’t be a headache. In this tutorial, Thomas Burden (who works under the name ...There Will Be Unicorns) shows how you can create striking, vibrant work in Illustrator using a simple colour palette and basic blur effects – particularly Illustrator’s built-in Gaussian Blur effects.

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Create X-ray vector art in Illustrator

While you might think this has been painstakingly created using a 3D suite such as Cinema 4D or Maya, it's actually relatively simple to produce using Illustrator’s Blend tool and some practice at drawing the underlying structure freehand.

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Master dynamic gradient techniques in Illustrator

Many works that look complicated are really made from simple elements. In this tutorial, Russian artist Alexandra Zutto shows how to build up complex, beautiful images by patiently layering and building up small, straightforward segments, always varying them to prevent monotony.

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Add depth to your vector art in Illustrator

With all the tools and effects that Adobe Illustrator has to offer, it can sometimes be hard to achieve a sense of depth and atmosphere within your images. Often they can come out looking flat and very two-dimensional.

In this tutorial, Bristol-based artist Ben Steers will show you how he uses gradient effects and opacity masks to overcome this, as he takes you through how he created his piece, Gone Karting.

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Create symmetrical vector character art in Illustrator

Jonny Wan’s distinctive, fresh illustrations manage to seem both mechanical and handmade: their characters are composed of intricate, symmetrical vector shapes so that they seem almost clockwork, yet the finishes he applies remind us of woodcuts.

In this tutorial you’ll learn how to combine, merge, and manipulate ships in Illustrator to create an intricate illustration based on a Russian doll.

If you’d prefer to concentrate on the texturing and colouring aspects of the tutorial,  we've included the vector art.

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Give personality to character art in Illustrator

In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to create the characters from scratch, including the thought processes and sketching help, as well as developing your own ideas.

You’ll also learn some creative techniques in Illustrator to help give your characters some distinguishing attributes, as well as gaining new confidence with its much-feared Pen tool and the Pathfinder palette to create shapes.

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T-shirt design in Illustrator using owl and skull vector art

Joshua Smith, aka maverick illustrator Hydro74, has a style that’s instantly recognisable  – combining the thick, clean lines of graffiti with the iconography of tattoos and the symmetry and patterns of vector art. Here he takes you through how he created his latest work, based around his regular motifs of skulls  and swirls mixed with this spring/summer’s illustration icon, the owl.

As you follow this tutorial, you’ll discover lots of tricks to help you create better art and work faster in Illustrator. You’ll learn how to improve your skills with line art, shading using flat fills and colour techniques for limited palettes (to keep printing costs down).

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Create a comic portrait from a photo in Illustrator

You can turn any photo into a comic-style illustration using just a Wacom tablet and Adobe Illustrator.

For this tutorial, which was created by an artist who worked on A Scanner Darkly, we’re not going to animate a sequence – but concentrate on one image, representing one frame. The focus of the tutorial is to recreate the incredible, unique style of the movie through the use of colour and vectors.

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Graphics tutorials for Illustrator

Design an isometric infographic in Illustrator

Here, illustrator Tim Smith details some of the intriguing yet surprisingly simple theory behind the isometric projection. He provides insightful tips and tricks to help pull off detailed isometric illustrations with ease as he offers up his experience in using this technique to create illustrations with witty narrative.

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Create 3D type art in Illustrator

For some reason, many graphic designers shy away from using 3D, perhaps thinking that it is more relevant to architects, animators and product designers.

In fact, Illustrator gives some basic 3D effects, which, as Jing Zhang shows in this tutorial, can be combined to create surprisingly detailed, technical-looking images.

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Design a vector animal mascot in Illustrator

For this tutorial, Martijn details how he would produce an illustrated mascot to serve as part of a larger branding concept for an importer of African coffee and coco beans. He has created this depiction of a lion, which in its pose and demeanour is meant to represent nobility, pride, aspiration and achievement, but it also has to be nimble and active.

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Create cool infographics in Illustrator

Infographics, such as the one opposite, are great visual tools for communicating large amounts of data. Breaking down large amounts of abstract data, they place the information in context and transform it into tangible and useful knowledge.

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Type tutorials for Illustrator

Best Adobe Illustrator tutorials: Create jewel-encrusted gold 3D type in Illustrator

As Polish illustrator Karol Gadzala jokingly puts it: “We live in hard times, so we have to learn how to fake our gold and diamonds”.

In this tutorial, he reveals how to add bling to typography, while retaining a sense of fun. The ‘off-axis front’ perspective, vector look and repeated elements give it a style that draws on 16-bit computer games.

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Get Started with Type Art

Type art is popular currently for all sorts of reasons – and it’s a highly versatile skill to have. You can use illustrated lettering in projects ranging from posters to brochures – making it a great technique to add to your creative toolset.

In this tutorial, lettering guru Pomme Chan talks you step-by-step through how she created this incredible image.

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Create melted chocolate type in Illustrator

Here Radim Malinic shows you how to create the semblance of words spelt out in melted chocolate. You’ll be encouraged to speed up at times, while at other times you’ll need to linger over tiny details to create that ultra-realistic look, fit for any advertising campaign or logo.

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Create vector type with an animal theme

Illustrator Marcus Reed used geometric shapes and symmetry for the illustrations, a muted palette and use of space to help give a stylised approach to his Animal Alphabet project.

Here he details the approaches he used for one of the letterforms, L is for Lion, from initial sketches to vector design in Illustrator to the final artwork.

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Create 3D type with paint drips in Illustrator

One great way to make your type stand out is to add the appearance of your graphic being made from a shiny liquid such as paint, with the shape of its drips and the appearance of liquid highlights adding to the 3D effect.

Here Logan Brinkley from Welsh digital design agency Carbon Studio shows how to apply such techniques to a type-based illustration with an inverted triangular shape. Why? Because triangles are cool.

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Create vintage type styles in Illustrator

In this tutorial, Melbourne-based type artist Bobby Haiqalsyah details how he creates vintage-style pieces through the interesting use of original reference materials, a methodical approach and judicious use of Illustrator’s Blend and Offset Path functions.

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Create Art Deco type art in Illustrator

This tutorial’s featured artwork began life when Adam Pointer was commissioned by design agency Zip (zipdesign.co.uk) to produce a piece promoting the Sunday night event at the now-defunct London West End club, The End.

Adam recently reworked the original, and here he takes us through how he created and assembled the different elements to bring an art deco feel to type illustration.

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Create quirky repeating patterns in Illustrator

In this tutorial, Imakethings (known to his mum as Andrew Groves) shows you how to make a repeat pattern based on map-like imagery. He uses simple shapes and icons to illustrate geographical features from a bird’s-eye point of view similar to those used in OS maps.

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Master Illustrator's Pattern tool

In this tutorial, illustrator Alex Mathers introduces the work process behind many of his vector landscapes, and details how, by using Illustrator CS6’s updated Pattern tool, he adds further depth and ease to the illustration.

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Create repeating patterns for skate deck art in Illustrator

This tutorial shows you how to use repeating, tiled patterns based on vector workings of real-world objects. By taking the everyday, such as vegetables and kitchen utensils in this case, and reworking them as stylized vector art, you can add a real twist and create some thought-provoking art.

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