Vector snowflakes and colorful Christmas balls

To create snowflakes, we will be using Dynamic Shapes (part of the VectorScribe plugin) and Transform Effects. Using the technique described here, you can create different shapes of snowflakes in a few minutes. This is such a fascinating process that I really enjoyed sharing it with you. In the second part of the tutorial we will learn how to create colorful Christmas balls. Their color can be changed in a few seconds. Learn more at the jump.

Step 1

Take the Dynamic Shapes Tool, open the Dynamic Shapes panel (Window > VectorScribe > Dynamic Shapes), choose the Dynamic Star in this panel and create an eight-pointed star.

Vector snowflakes and colorful Christmas balls

Step 2

Now, create another eight-pointed star in the sublayer below the first one. Set the rounding radius for its points in the Dynamic Shapes panel. The second star is bigger than the first one. You can always change the sizes of the dynamic shape by dragging its corner points.

Vector snowflakes and colorful Christmas balls

Coincide the centers of both dynamic shapes using the Dynamic Shapes Tool to drag the star.

Vector snowflakes and colorful Christmas balls

Step 3

Select both dynamic shapes and go to Effect > Pathfinder > Minus Back.

Vector snowflakes and colorful Christmas balls

The effect of Pathfinder, unlike operations made with the Pathfinder panel, allows us to preserve the dynamic properties of our objects, which will be located in one group. Keeping the group selected, go to Effect > Transform > Zig Zag…, and set the parameters in the dialog window shown in the figure below.

Vector snowflakes and colorful Christmas balls

Step 4

Select the upper dynamic star. It is convenient to do it in the layers palette.

Vector snowflakes and colorful Christmas balls

Now go to Effect > Transform > Pucker & Bloat… and experimenting with the parameters of the effect, create the shape of a snowflake, shown in the figure below.

Vector snowflakes and colorful Christmas balls

Step 5

The fun of working with dynamic shapes is that we can change their settings after creation. Of course, this will affect the appearance of our snowflake. For example, we can change the number of its rays, the rounding radius, and apply the Negative Corner.

Vector snowflakes and colorful Christmas balls

All these changes lead to the creation of a new and unique snowflake.

Step 6

The parameters of the applied effects also affect the shape of the snowflake. You can get the access to them from the Appearance panel (Window > Appearance).

Vector snowflakes and colorful Christmas balls

This shape was obtained through changing the dynamic shapes and adjusting the parameters of the applied effects. The pictures below show the results of my experiments that I got a few minutes. All of them were created from the dynamic shape described in steps 1-4.

Vector snowflakes and colorful Christmas balls

Vector snowflakes and colorful Christmas balls

Vector snowflakes and colorful Christmas balls

Vector snowflakes and colorful Christmas balls

Step 7

Now that you have achieved a good result, we can use the snowflakes in our artwork. For example, place it on the Christmas ball. Let's see how to create a bright ball. Take the Ellipse Tool (L) and create a circle with a gray fill.

Vector snowflakes and colorful Christmas balls

Copy and paste the circle in front (Cmd / Ctrl + C; Cmd / Ctrl + F) and slightly reduce its size.

Vector snowflakes and colorful Christmas balls

Keeping this circle, go to Object > Create Gradient Mesh… and set the number of columns and rows in the dialog window.

Vector snowflakes and colorful Christmas balls

Step 8

Take the Gradient Mesh Tool (U), and create a new grid of the line by clicking at the point A. With the help of the Direct Selection Tool select the gradient mesh nodes and recolor them in lighter shades of gray. You can see the result of these actions in the picture below.

Vector snowflakes and colorful Christmas balls

Copy and paste the gradient mesh in front (Cmd / Ctrl + C; Cmd / Ctrl + F), slightly reduce its size and rotate at a certain angle. Now recolor its nodes, as shown in the figure below.

Vector snowflakes and colorful Christmas balls

Step 9

With the help of the Ellipse Tool (L) create a new ellipse.

Vector snowflakes and colorful Christmas balls

By manipulating the points and their handles, change the ellipse to the shape shown in the figure below.

Vector snowflakes and colorful Christmas balls

Take the Gradient Mesh Tool (U) and create two grid lines by clicking at the points A and B.

Vector snowflakes and colorful Christmas balls

With the same tool, add new lines to the grid.

Vector snowflakes and colorful Christmas balls

Step 10

Select the nodes with the help of the Direct Selection Tool (A), color them into different shades of gray.

Vector snowflakes and colorful Christmas balls

Now copy the lowest circle and paste it in front (Cmd / Ctrl + C; Cmd / Ctrl + F), place it above all the objects of the ball (Shift + Cmd / Ctrl +]). Fill the circle with red color.

Vector snowflakes and colorful Christmas balls

Keep the circle selected, set the Overlay Blending Mode in the Transparency palette.

Vector snowflakes and colorful Christmas balls

You probably guessed already that the top circle can be filled with any color. It all depends on what color you want the ball to be.

Vector snowflakes and colorful Christmas balls

Thus, we have created an all-purpose template for Christmas ball.

Step 11

Create a glare on the ball. Take the Ellipse Tool (L) and draw two ellipses. Both ellipses are filled with white color. The larger ellipse is located below the smaller one and has 0% Opacity.

Vector snowflakes and colorful Christmas balls

Now go to Object > Blend > Blend Options and set the number of the Specified Steps. Select both white ellipses and go to Object > Blend > Make.

Vector snowflakes and colorful Christmas balls

Step 12

With the help of the Pen Tool (P) create a shape of the cap of the ball and fill it with a linear gradient consisting of alternating light and dark shades of gray color.

Vector snowflakes and colorful Christmas balls

Step 13

Now create a loop for a thread to hang the ball by. There are many ways to create a similar shape. The fastest way to do it is with the VectorScribe plugin. Take Dynamic Shapes Tool and open the Dynamic Shapes panel (Window > VectorScribe > Dynamic Shapes), choose the Dynamic Donut in this panel and create the shape of an arch. Fill it with a linear gradient consisting of the shades of gray color. Place the loop in the sublayer below the cap of the ball.

Vector snowflakes and colorful Christmas balls

Step 14

Place a snowflake, created in the first part of the tutorial on the surface of the ball. Duplicate it (Opt / Alt while dragging) and reduce the sizes of copies with the Selection Tool (V). Fill the snowflakes with radial gradients of white, yellow and light brown colors.

Vector snowflakes and colorful Christmas balls

Step 15

Copy the lowest circle of the ball and paste it in front (Cmd / Ctrl + C; Cmd / Ctrl + F). Place the circle over the snowflakes, moving it in the layers panel.

Vector snowflakes and colorful Christmas balls

Select the snowflakes and this circle, then click shortcuts Cmd / Ctrl + 7, creating a Clipping Mask.

Vector snowflakes and colorful Christmas balls

Now create a simple composition of two colorful balls. The shadows under the balls were created with the help of the Blend, this technique is described in step 11.

Vector snowflakes and colorful Christmas balls

Conclusion

I hope that you have enjoyed this tutorial. Have a happy holiday!

About the author

My name is Iaroslav Lazunov, I am a graphic designer from Zhytomyr, Ukraine. I am glad that I finally found the job in my life that I can share my knowledge and experiments with you in my tutorials.

Follow me on Twitter, Facebook or visit my blog Vectorboom.

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