In this tutorial we're going to learn how to create a Blurred Winter Background with the use of the Mesh Tool, and we'll learn how to create brushes for light and snow effects.

Create a new document

The first step is to create a new document on Adobe Illustrator (File>New) with the following parameters:

• Dimensions: 800x800px

• Color mode: RGB

• Resolution: 72 ppp

2. Create the background

Step 1

With the Rectangle tool we'll create a square that covers the whole artboard with a blueish grey color (#E3E8EE) and we'll align it to the artboard.

Step 2

With the mesh tool we'll create a couple of anchor points inside of our square, like you see in the images below.

Once we have our points created, let’s add some color. We'll start creating our color palette which will make the task of coloring way easier. We're going to use a cold palette. Create 6 small squares (70x70px aprox) and give them each a different color.

Place your squares next to our artboard were we have the mesh.

Now color each point of the mesh. To do this, select each point with the Direct Selection Tool (A) and with the Eyedropper Tool, select the color from our palette.

You should get something like this:

Now we can delete the color palette. Open the Layer panel (Windows>Layers), put your mesh in it and block the layer. Create a new layer which we'll call “Lights and objects”. This will contain our lights and snowflakes.

3. Create the snowflakes

Step 1

With the Segment Tool, create a horizontal line and another vertical line that’s 120px long and 5px wide. Then, center everything. Open the Stroke panel (Window>Stroke) and select the option “Round caps”.

We'll copy both layers and paste on top (Ctrl c+ Ctrl F). Rotate it 45º (Object>Transform>Rotate 45º).

With the Star Tool we'll create a 16 point star with a 5px wide stroke and no fill color, with the following parameters:

Center everything.

Select the star and paste it on top. Make it bigger, up to 86x86px. Copy and paste in front and again enlarge it up to 138x138px.

We'll make a little 5px wide, white line as you see in the image. We'll then select it and copy and paste in front. Now go to Transform (Transform>Reflect vertical 90º) and we'll move this copy to the right. Group both lines (Object>Group). Center horizontally. Copy and paste them in front and flip them 0% on the horizontal axis. 

Select the lines we just created and group them. Copy and paste on top and rotate with a 90º angle. Select and group with the previous lines. Center them and you should get something like this.

We'll then select the whole snow flake; group it and expand it. So we already have our first snow flake!

Step 2

To create the second flake, copy the first one and paste it next to it. Ungroup the selection and delete the big and small star. Group our second snowflake.

Step 3

Add as many snowflakes across our background. You don’t need to add many, because we're also going to add the lights. Then select everything and change the blending mode to Soft Light and  group them. We'll block the flakes group so it won’t bother us when we create the lights.(Object>Lock>Selection)

4. Create the lights

Create 3 objects, transform them into symbols so we can add effects to enhance our background.

Step 1

With the Ellipse tool we'll create a circle that’s 54x54px with a radial gradient that goes from light blue to black as you see here.

Step 2

Create another ellipse with the same gradient but bigger (225x225px) and change the blending mode to Screen.

Step 3

We'll make another ellipse (10x12px) with a gradient that goes from dark grey to black. Change the blending mode to Color Dodge.

Step 4

Create an ellipse that’s 10x12px with a gradient that goes from dark grey to black. Change the blending mode to Color Dodge. 

Step 5

Create an ellipse that’s 7x6px with a radial gradient that goes from blue to black. Change the blending mode to Color Dodge.

Step 6

Create an ellipse that’s 21x21px with a radial gradient from white to black and change the blending mode to Screen.

Step 7

Create the last element that we'll use as a symbol for the lights. With the Star tool, create a 5 point star that’s 20x20px with a radial gradient from blue to black and blending mode: Color Dodge.

Step 8

Create the symbols. Open the Symbol panel (windows>Symbol) and add each ellipse and star we created. We have to make sure that the in the Symbol Options panel the “Type” is Graphic.

Your Symbol panel should look something like this.

Step 9

It’s  now time to add the lights to our background. To do this grab the Symbol Sprayer Tool and then the first symbol we created. Start painting with the light. Don’t worry if you stray out of the artboard.

Repeat this process with the other symbols, this way we'll get different sizes and opacities.

Under the Symbol Sprayer tool there are other tools related with the appearance of the symbols: Size, disposition, opacity…Experiment and see what other results you can achieve.

5. Masking the lights

Step 1

Select all the lights, go to the Symbols panel and click on Break link to Symbol. This way we can edit each element separately. 

Step 2

Let's create a square the same size as the artboard (880x800px) and align it to the artboard. We'll select everything and go to Object>Clipping Mask>Mask. This way, the square will mask the lights.

6. Creating the snow brushes

Step 1

Make a white ellipse that’s 5x6px and open the brush panel (Window>Brushes). Drag the ellipse we just created into it. Select Scatter Brush and apply the following parameters:

So now our brush is created. Let’s create another one with little white irregular shapes no bigger than 5px, as you see in the image.

Drag all this shapes to the Brush panel and apply the same parameters as we did before.

Step 2

Now, with the Paint Brush Tool (B) paint with the brushes you've just created to give a snowy effect to our background.

And now we have our Winter Background ready to use!

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