Quick! Go buy some cool House of Deadleg tees featuring my illustrations over at my Teemill store. Suitable for kids and big kids.

For a recent project I found I needed to create some realistic looking clouds in the background of an illustration, but I had to keep the whole thing in Illustrator. Moving to Photoshop wasn't an option as the image could potentially be used at any size, from 10cm wide to two-feet wide or more, so vector format was the order of the day.


A quick search online for "realistic clouds in Illustrator" threw up plenty of results, but none that would give the effect I was looking for. Most seemed to rely on using gradient meshes or symbols, custom brushes and the like. After a little experimentation I found a solution that worked well, and I've since used for a couple of other projects, so I thought I'd document it in case anyone else might find it useful.

There's a video version of this (no sound I'm afraid) over on Youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gjRRcIT1Rz0&t=14s.


This is my first stab at a tutorial, so hopefully it all makes sense outside my head. If people do find it at all useful then maybe I'll post some other tips and tricks.

  1. In Illustrator create a new document (File > New), draw a rectangle to cover the background and then draw an oval as the base for your cloud.
  2. Apply the Feather effect (Effect > Stylise > Feather).
  3. Apply the Scribble effect (Effect > Stylise > Scribble). Some of the preset settings can be a good starting point to get the cloud shape you're looking for.
  4. Apply the Gaussian Blur effect (Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur).
  5. At this point it's probably not looking too good, now that all the effects are applied we can tweak them to get a better-looking effect. To edit an effect that's already applied select the shape on the artboard and double click the effect you'd like to edit in the Appearance Palette.
  6. One cloud on its own looks a bit lonely so you're probably going to want to duplicate it and resize/reposition. Alternatively, once you have a basic cloud with all the effects in place you can drag it to the Graphic Styles palette to create a style that can be applied to any other shape/object in one click.

What did you think?

If you enjoyed seeing a bit of a peek at my process – or even if you didn't – it'd be great if you'd let me know. If you could take a couple of minutes to let me know your thoughts it'd really be appreciated.

You can drop me a quick message on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram if that's your thing, or even an old fashioned(?) email!

Thanks for stopping by:)

More blog posts

  • Chromatopia

    Book review

    READ MORE
  • Iron Heart

    Case study

    READ MORE
  • Cereal box mascots

    Case study

    READ MORE
  • A career in illustration

    Blog post

    READ MORE
  • Urban Jungle

    Book review

    READ MORE
  • Becoming a Successful Illustrator

    Book review

    READ MORE
  • So that was 2017

    Blog post

    READ MORE
  • The Golden Secrets of Lettering

    Book review

    READ MORE
  • Jon Burgerman's Daily Doodle

    Book review

    READ MORE
  • Outfoxed

    Book review

    READ MORE
  • Art play

    Book review

    READ MORE
  • Rubber stamping

    Book review

    READ MORE
  • Supertato

    Book review

    READ MORE
  • The Art Test

    Blog post

    READ MORE
  • Random sprout generation

    Case study

    READ MORE
  • Generative Art

    Blog post

    READ MORE

    Follow me on Instagram for works-in-progress, sketches, etc.

    Testimonials

    “…a very creative thinker who is not afraid to push boundaries and to make people think… a unique style and can turn his hand to any type of project to produce something original…”

    Subscribe to my newsletter