Create a simple spaceship in Illustrator

In this tutorial you will use Adobe Illustrator to learn to create a quick spaceship Illustration by scratch using some simple methods and shapes. We will then give the spaceship a finished off look with a stroke, a gradient and some shadows.

This is a great starting point to show you how you can use simple shapes to create objects, like this. You can then take it a step further and add as much detail as you like.

Illustrator Rocket ship Tutorial

Step 1

Lets open up a 10in x 10in document in Adobe Illustrator.

Illustrator Rocket ship Tutorial

Step 2

Now we are going to get our ellipse tool and draw a circle like so. Fill it with a red, and give it a 3pt black stroke.

Illustrator Rocket ship Tutorial

Step 3

Now we are going to copy the body of our rocket ship to create the front window. so do control + c then control + f to past it in the same place. Change the color to a light blue. Holding shift, shrink down the circle so it is around the same size I have mine.

Illustrator Rocket ship Tutorial

Step 4

Select the pen tool from the tool bar and click on the anchor on the left to get rid of it. Now go back to your selection tool (black arrow) and stretch out the window a little. Hold your mouse a little bit away from one of the corner anchors (until the rotate icon pops up) and adjust the angle so the window follows the edge of the ship.

Illustrator Rocket ship Tutorial

Step 5

Lets make the exhaust part of the spaceship, where the fire comes out. To do this click on your rectangular tool and draw a rectangle, and make it dark gray. Click on your pen tool, and alt + click on the top left anchor on the square we just drew. Click your keyboard arrow 4 times inward. Now do the same thing to the right side.

Illustrator Rocket ship Tutorial

Step 6

Copy and paste that square we just made (control + c then control + f) and click it down a few times with your keyboard arrows. Now to put it behind the first one we made by clicking on the new square and doing an control + shift + ].

Illustrator Rocket ship Tutorial

Step 7

Highlight both the squares by clicking and dragging a box around both of them. Do apple + g to group them together. Rotate them 90 degrees by holding down shift while rotating one of the corners. Make the narrow part of the squares attach to the ship. Make sure the red body of the ship is the bottom layer by clicking on it and doing control + shift + [.

Illustrator Rocket ship Tutorial

Step 8

We need to give the exhaust part a curve to it, so lets ungroup them with control + shift + g. Now click on the bottom square and click on the pen tool. put a point on the vertical line and bring it out to the left 4 clicks with your arrow left arrow key. Now hold down alt, option and shift and click and drag the anchor to the top of the square. Repeat this for the other 2 edges that are showing.

Illustrator Rocket ship Tutorial

Step 9

Lets make the fins of the ship. Copy and past the body of the ship and drag it down. Now do a apple + c because we are going to be using it again. We are going to be using this to cut out our shape. Draw out a square. and put it so the edge it touching the bottom of the circle. Make sure the circle is the top layer and use the "subtract from shape area tool" in your pathfinder window, and expand (If you don't have this window up, go to window>pathfinder).

Illustrator Rocket ship Tutorial

Step 10

Do control + f to paste the circle. Repeat step 9, except we are going to put our square on the right side of the circle.

Illustrator Rocket ship Tutorial

Step 11

Now put the square on the bottom right edge of the circle and click on "intercept shape areas" and expand. Stretch it out from left to right and squeeze it in from top to bottom. Color it a yellow/orange color.

Illustrator Rocket ship Tutorial

Step 12

Copy and paste the fin we just made and rotate it 180 degrees and then go into object>transform>reflect. Make sure it is on a vertical axis. Now we want these to line up somewhat, so bring the fin that is on the side and bring it below the top fin. For mine I decreased the size of the window and moved it over so that the fin would fit on the side.

Illustrator Rocket ship Tutorial

Step 13

Now we are going to give this thing some flames. So lets copy and paste in place the body of the spaceship, and bring it over so it looks like it is coming out of the back. We are going to copy and paste the body again and shrink it down to about half the size and put it at the end of our flames, like so.

Illustrator Rocket ship Tutorial

Step 14

Now we want to cut this shape out, but first we are going to copy it, because we are going to use it again. So click on the small circle, and the flames and then click "subtract from shape area". Paste in place the small circle with control + f and bring it over to the top of the flame. The small circle should be touching the point made by the first circle. Again do a "subtract from shape area". Repeat for the bottom part, so you get something like this.

Illustrator Rocket ship Tutorial

Step 15

We want to put the flames under the spaceship so do control + shift + [. Now copy and paste the flame that we made and shrink it down with the shift key, then stretch the right side so it goes under the spaceship. Now change the outer flame to orange and the inner one to yellow, and get rid of the stroke on the yellow part.

Illustrator Rocket ship Tutorial

Step 16

so that is the basic bare bones of our spaceship. Now we are going to add some shadows and gradients. So we are going to copy and paste our spaceship body and move it down and to the left so it creates an area for a shadow on the top right. Copy and paste the original spaceship body and shift and click on the one we moved. Then "subtract from shape area". Now fill it with black and take away the stroke. Change the opacity to 20% and change the blending mode to multiply. Bring it up above everything with control + shift + ]. Click on the two exhaust parts of the ship and do control + shift [ so they are above the shadow.

Illustrator Rocket ship Tutorial

Step 17

Now we are going to add a shadow under the side fin. So copy and paste the side fin and stretch the bottom down. Change the color to black, the opacity to 20% and the blending mode to multiply. Yours should look something like this.

Illustrator Rocket ship Tutorial

Step 18

Now I am going to add a gradient to the body of our spaceship. So click on the body, then click and drag the red we used for the body onto the left gradient in the gradient window, and pick a darker red and drag it on to the right side. Change your gradient type to radial. Then in the tool bar click on the gradient button (g) and click and drag from the right side of the ship to the left until you get something you like.

Illustrator Rocket ship Tutorial

Step 19

I am now going to give a stroke to the whole ship, so copy and paste in place the whole ship and flames and then do “add to shape area”. Send the layer to the back and give it a stroke of something around 7px.

Illustrator Rocket ship Tutorial

Final

There you have it, a simple space ship. You should use this as a starting point, with a little more work, you can create something that is more detailed as I have below.

Illustrator Rocket ship Tutorial

If you have a version you did we would love to see it. Add a link of the spaceship to the comments below! Thanks!

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27 Comments

  1. [...] See the original post here:  Create a simple spaceship in Illustrator [...]

  2. [...] Create a simple spaceship in Illustrator [...]

  3. 18/03/2009

    Fun fun, thanks for the tips. i love the cartoon look

  4. [...] Create a simple spaceship in Illustrator | Denis Designs Quick and easy spaceship illustration! (tags: tutorials tutorial illustrator) [...]

  5. [...] Tyler put an intriguing blog post on Create a simple spaceship in Illustrator | Denis DesignsHere’s a quick excerptChange the opacity to 20% and change the blending mode to multiply. Bring it up above everything with control + shift + ]. Click on the two exhaust parts of the ship and do control + shift [ so they are above the shadow. … [...]

  6. RaiulBaztepo
    29/03/2009

    Hello!
    Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
    PS: Sorry for my bad english, I’v just started to learn this language ;)
    See you!
    Your, Raiul Baztepo

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  13. 19/04/2009

    Great tutorial thanks

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  15. gabriel
    04/06/2009

    thanks alot for all the help u guys have given me MAY GOD BLESS u all

  16. nasirkhan
    02/10/2009

    Thanks a lot, learn lot from this simple tutorial.

  17. AussieJarrah
    04/11/2009

    Pretty good tutorial. This is my first ever attempt at Illustrator so I found a few things confusing, such as:
    creating a rounded edge on the exhaust
    making the fins
    adding the shadows

    For the most part I got there in the end. Thanks for my first tute. My picture is at

  18. 26/01/2010

    Interesting tutorial!!! really some useful tips.

  19. Dave
    31/05/2010

    Thanks your illustrator tutorials are a great help

  20. 01/12/2010

    I used the tutorial for a school assignment to add some interestingness. Left off at step 17 though so I will come back again with another try to complete the shadows. Great to learn keyboard commands and shortcuts.

  21. 07/01/2011

    very informative. thanks for sharing

  22. 30/05/2011

    Fell out of bed feeling down. This has brigteehnd my day!

  23. I have learn a few just right stuff here. Certainly value bookmarking for revisiting. I surprise how so much attempt you set to create this kind of excellent informative site.

  24. 04/10/2011

    I was feeling depressed today… but thank god i learned how to make a rocket ship… what ever would i have done if i didn’t learn how to do this.. thank you lord :)

  25. 03/01/2012

    Hi! Do you know if they make any plugins to safeguard against hackers? I’m kinda paranoid about losing everything I’ve worked hard on. Any tips?

  26. 27/01/2012

    I understand why the Lord sent my family under your pastoral care thank you for being attentive to the voice of God.
    Wonder how many church leaders would recognize Jesus if he stood before them today, similarly to the pharisees who missed the holy visitation as the long awaited one walked among them?