Important product change information
Since this article was originally published, Phantasm CS, Phantasm CS Studio and Phantasm CS Publisher have been separated into three individual plug-ins:
Phantasm: color control and vector halftones
Rasterino: the ultimate embedded image solution for Illustrator
InkQuest: control of common pre-press tasks
Existing customers of Phantasm CS / Studio / Publisher can find full details of how this affects their licenses by reading this article.
In this tutorial we will learn how to create random vector sand and pebble textures. It is not difficult to do if you have Phantasm CS. Of course, it could not be done without some magic, but I will generously share all the secrets with you. Find out more…
Let’s start our tutorial with creating the texture of sand. Firstly, this tutorial is based in the RGB color mode.
With the help of the Rectangle Tool (M) create a rectangle and fill it with a linear gradient, which consists of two shades of yellow.
Now create another rectangle in the bottom of the background and fill it with grey color (black = 50%).
Take the Mesh Tool (U) and by clicking on one of the sides of the grey rectangle, create 4 horizontal Mesh lines.
Replace the color of the nodes a and b with a darker shade of grey, and color of the nodes c and d with a lighter one.
With the help of the Mesh Tool (U) create 3 vertical Mesh lines.
Moving mesh nodes with the help of the Direct Selection Tool (A), transform the mesh to the view shown in the following picture.
Using the previous technique, create two similar meshes.
Select and group-up all the gradient meshes. Keeping this group selected, apply the Overlay blending mode to it.
There was a good reason why I had the exact value of grey color in the first step. The fact is that the grey color (black = 50%) becomes transparent if we apply to the Overlay blending mode to the object.
We proceed directly to the creation of the sand texture. Copy the group with the Gradient mashes and paste it in front. Open the Appearance panel and add a new fill, then apply the linear gradient from white to black to it. The gradient direction corresponds to the direction of the light.
Apply the Multiply blending mode to the fill.
Deselect the fill in the Appearance panel.
Now go toand set the effect parameters in a dialog window.
Of course, your parameters may be different from mine, we are creating a random texture, so any experiments are welcome.
Go to. The parameters of this effect are shown in picture below.
Move the Tweak effect to the bottom of the list in the Appearance panel. As a result of these actions, the effect will be applied to each element of the Halftone pattern.
I also decided to change the shape of the elements, and therefore I applied the Roughen effect.
Now our texture looks like this (the visibility of other objects is off for clarity purposes). As you can see, thanks to Phantasm CS, the texture takes into account the differences in light.
Apply the Overlay blending mode to the entire group.
Let’s give the sand texture a more random appearance. Select a group with gradient meshes and go, then ungroup the resulting objects .
Do not deselect the object, but followand tick both Random and Preview, then apply with the settings in the dialog box.
Group the texture objects, then apply the Overlay blending mode to the group.
Let’s take a look at another way of creating a random texture. Create a new rectangle and fill it with a radial gradient which contains two grey sliders.
Apply the Phantasm CS Halftone.
Apply Twistand Roughen effects.
Apply the Overlay blending mode to the object. Effects should be located in the Appearance panel, as shown in the picture below.
As is the case with the first texture, let’s mess it up a little bit more. Go to, ungroup all the objects, then go to .
Now group up the elements of the second texture and turn Overlay blending mode back.
This texture will represent dark sand grits.
Create the third texture, similar to the second one. Add to the group with this texture fill with a linear gradient and apply the Screen blending mode.
This texture will represent light sand grits. The texture of the sand is ready, now you can use it as a background for your design.
Step 11 – starting the pebble texture
Now let’s create a pebble texture. With the Pen Tool (P) create the shape of the rock. Using the Mesh Tool (U) create a simple grid. Color its components in different shades of cream.
Using the Pen Tool (P), create the shape of the glare. Fill this object with a black and white radial gradient, then apply the Screen blending mode to it.
Select the gradient mesh and go to.
Select all the objects of the rock and save them as a symbol in the Symbols panel.
Create a few more rocks and save them as symbols.
Create a rectangle filled with neutral grey color, select the first symbol in the Symbols panel and go to.
Now apply the technique that we used for the texture of the sand. Select the halftone pattern and go to. Ungroup all the elements and go to .
Applying this technique, create two more rock textures using the previously created symbols.
Now we need to mix our rocks evenly. Thanks goodness my friend writes scripts! Iaroslav Tabachkovsky (“Yemz”) developed a script, which you can download here Free Script for Adobe Illustrator — Random Order.
More information about Yemz’s script may be found on my vectorboom website.
Select all the rocks and run the script.
The rocks are mixed in a few seconds. A great little vector mixer! One note: all objects or symbols have to be ungrouped.
To create a realistic pebble I created 10 rocks that were saved as symbols.
Also, after all the manipulations all the rocks stay as symbols.
This fact gives us the ability to edit a symbol, and these changes will be immediately displayed on all the stones corresponding to this symbol. For example, I decided to add some texture to the rock. Double-click on the icon of the symbol in the panel. This will send us to symbol editing mode. Add a new fill to the symbol in the Appearance panel, apply the Mezzotint effect to it, then apply the Multiply blending mode and reduce opacity to 30 %.
Now we can exit the symbol editing mode and the rocks instantly display this texture.
I hope you will find where to apply these techniques in your work. Vector work containing textures always looks rich. This way you can create falling snowflakes, leaves, the leaves of the tree and general background textures of simple or complex elements. To get the variety, you can combine multiple textures, and set different Blending Modes for them in the Transparency panel. Experiment and you too will achieve excellent results.
Download the wonderful vector texture artwork
Click here for the sand texture in Illustrator CS3/CS4…
Click here for the sand texture in Illustrator CS5 and above (also PDF compatible)…
Click here for the pebble texture in Illustrator CS3/CS4…
Click here for the pebble texture in Illustrator CS5 and above (also PDF compatible)…