Adobe Illustrator 101

Craft & Design

101: Adobe Illustrator
Design dazzling invitations while learning how to use a crafter-friendly drawing program.
By Stefanianna Moore

Adobe Illustrator is an amazing drawing program because it helps you design almost anything two-dimensional: graphics for your website, wallpaper and fabric patterns, and just about any print piece imaginable.
This project is a twofer: learn to become an Illustrator-savvy designer and create your own unique wedding invitation. You’ll use basic Adobe Illustrator tools that will get you started learning the program’s functionality and creative power. You’ll learn how to set up a document, set up a color palette, add fonts, import clip art, and manipulate it. You’ll be able to change colors and sizes, plus copy, paste, rotate, and move things around on an “artboard” as you wish, to create a design that will serve your needs. In the end, you’ll have a finished document that you can take to a printer, bringing to life the invite of your dreams.


Graphics software
I used Adobe Illustrator Creative Suite 3. You can find older versions on eBay for less than $50.
High-end digital print shop to print your finished design
X-Acto knife and extra blades
Avery #5353 white full-sheet labels
for stickers
Ribbon I used ½”-wide silver.
Transparent envelopes in your choice of color; I used clear.
Clear address labels
Download Starter_Template.eps and Postcard_Template.eps.
Clip art of your choice


Step 1: Set up an Illustrator document.
1a. Open Starter_Template.eps in Illustrator, then select Illustrator ⇒ Preferences ⇒ Units & Display Performance. Set the menus to the following:
» General: Inches » Stroke: Points » Type: Points
1b. Turn rulers on by selecting View ⇒ Show Rulers. Show guides by selecting View ⇒ Guides ⇒ Show Guides. Save your work as Main_envelope_inside.eps.
Step 2: Envelope: Set up the colors.
2a. I selected 4 colors: black, blue, gray, and white. If the Swatches window isn’t already on the screen, open it by selecting Window ⇒ Swatches.
2b. Remove all the colors in the swatch palette except white, by clicking on the first color after white and then the last color while holding down the shift key. Drag all the highlighted color squares to the trash icon on the bottom right of the swatch box.
2c. Select Window ⇒ Swatch Libraries ⇒ Color Books ⇒ Pantone solid uncoated. Click the little menu icon on the right side and select Show Find Field.
2d. Type “314” in the find field. The color will be highlighted (bottom left). Drag the highlighted color from the Pantone box to the swatch box. Do the same for “427” and “black.” Your swatch box will look like this:
Step 3: Fill in areas with color.
3a. Click the black arrow at the top of the toolbar. This allows you to select elements in the Illustrator document.
3b. Select the envelope’s top flap. Hold down the shift key and select the bottom flap, too, so both are active.
3c. Near the bottom of the toolbar, select the fill color icon, bringing it in front of the outline icon.
3d. Click on Pantone 314 in the swatch box to color the flaps blue.
3e. Select the stroke (outline) color by clicking the outline icon behind the fill color icon in the toolbar.
3f. Change the stroke to Pantone 314 by selecting 314 in the swatch box.
3g. Select the right and left flaps, and repeat Steps 3c–3f but color them black.
3h. Save the file. Then save it again as Main_envelope_outside.eps; this will be the outside of the envelope that we’ll work on later. Close the file.
Step 4: Import and manipulate clip art.
4a. Open the file Main_envelope_inside.eps again. Open your clip art file. (Going forward, I’ll be referring to the flower image I used, but the instructions will apply to any clip art).
4b. Use the black arrow in the toolbar to click on the flower. Select Edit ⇒ Copy.
4c. Bring the envelope file window to the front and paste the flower image in the center by selecting Edit ⇒ Paste.
4d. Select and drag the flower to the top blue flap.
4e. Select the fill box in the toolbar, then click white in the swatch box.
4f. Make sure the flower is selected, then select Object ⇒ Transform ⇒ Scale. In the pop-up box, select Uniform, type in 75 for the scale, and click OK.
4g. Now you need a copy of the flower for the bottom flap. First, center the flower’s graphic bounding box on the vertical centerline by clicking and dragging or by using the arrow keys on your keyboard. Line up the stem on the bottom guide line in the blue flap.
To copy the flower and rotate it, click on the image, then select Edit ⇒ Copy, Edit ⇒ Paste In Front, and Object ⇒ Rotate. Type in 180 in the pop-up box, then click OK.
4h. With the black arrow, click and drag the flower copy while holding the shift key. Align the bottom of the stem lines with the top guide line of the bottom flap.
4i. Now you’ll make 2 slightly larger copies for the black flaps. Select both white flowers, then select Edit ⇒ Copy, Edit ⇒ Paste in Front, and Object ⇒ Transform ⇒ Rotate. Type in 90 and click OK. You’ve got a new sideways pair.
To enlarge the new pair, select Object ⇒ Transform ⇒ Scale, type in 125, and click OK. Deselect by choosing Select ⇒ Deselect.
4j. Select the right flower only. Use the arrow keys to line up the stem with the leftmost vertical guide in the right flap. Center it on the horizontal guide as well. Deselect the right flower.
4k. Select the left flower; align it like the right flower.
Step 5: Create a pattern with your clip art.
5a. Select the top flower, then copy it: Edit ⇒ Copy, Edit ⇒ Paste in Front.
Select the new copy and drag it while holding the shift key, until the bottom of its stem is at the envelope’s center point.
5b. Select the fill tool from the toolbar, and select color 314 from the swatch box.
5c. To shrink the blue flower, choose Object ⇒ Transform ⇒ Scale, type in 65, and click OK. Use the arrow keys to realign the bottom of the stem.
5d. Copy the blue flower, then rotate the copy: choose Object ⇒ Transform ⇒ Rotate, type in 90, and click OK. Select and drag the second blue flower to line up its stem with the center point.
5e. Shift-click with the arrow to select the first blue flower, so that both are now selected. Make a copy of both, then rotate the new pair: choose Object ⇒ Transform ⇒ Rotate, type in 180, and click OK. Drag the new pair to line up their stems with the center point as well, forming a plus sign. Deselect.
5f. Shift-click to select all 4 blue flowers, then bond them together by selecting Object ⇒ Group. Now make a rotated copy of all 4, but larger and in gray:
copy and paste the group, then select Object ⇒ Transform ⇒ Rotate, type in 45, and click OK. Then select Object ⇒ Transform ⇒ Scale, type in 125, and click OK. While the new 4 are still selected, click the fill tool on the tool bar then select Pantone 427 from the swatch box.
Lay the gray flowers underneath the blue ones, by choosing Object ⇒ Arrange ⇒ Send to Back. Deselect.
Step 6: Enter your text.
6a. In the toolbar, select the T icon for the text tool. Then select Type ⇒ Font ⇒ Bernhard Modern Std.
Note: You may have different fonts installed on your computer, so select one that you like.
Click the cursor to the left of your new flower pattern. To create a text box, select Type ⇒ Size ⇒ 48, and type in the word “true”.
6b. Use the arrow keys to center the text box on the horizontal guide, about ¼” to the left of the pattern.
6c. With the black arrow, select the text “true”. Copy it, paste it in front, and then click and drag it with the shift key down until the text is about ¼” to the right of the pattern.
6d. Select the text tool (T) again. Double-click on the second “true” to highlight it, then replace it with “love” and save the file.
Step 7: Finish the outside.
7a. Shift-select both parts of the flower pattern, blue and gray. Group them, then copy the whole pattern, by choosing Object ⇒ Group, then Edit ⇒ Copy.
7b. Open the file Main_envelope_outside.eps. To paste and enlarge your copied pattern, select Edit ⇒ Paste in Front, Object ⇒ Transform ⇒ Scale, and type in 165%. Ungroup them (Object ⇒ Ungroup), and deselect.
7c. Select the blue part again. Select the fill tool in the toolbar, then select 314 from the swatch box. Open the Color window (Window ⇒ Color), and in the color box, type in 30%.
You did it! The envelope’s finished. Save your work.
Step 8: Send to the printer.
When you’re ready to send your files to the printer, first ask them what format they prefer. Some printers only accept PDFs, in which case that’s how you should save your final files.

Going Further

Three other elements complete this project: a square sticker to seal the envelope (pictured above), the invitation card, and the RSVP postcard. Instructions for these, including all the templates, can be found at
You can use any clip art you like. Mine came from a book and CD-ROM called Old-Fashioned Floral Designs by Dover Publications.
About the author:
Stefanianna Moore is a freelance graphic designer working in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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I'm a word nerd who loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon. I was an editor on the first 40 volumes of MAKE, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. In particular, covering art is my passion — after all, art is the first thing most of us ever made. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for untouched powder fields and ideal alpine lakes.

Contact me at or via @snowgoli.

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