How to Create Clouds in Adobe Illustrator

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Creating a cloud in Adobe Illustrator may sound complicated, but once you’ve mastered the tools, you’ll see that it is actually a very easy process.

Whether you need to create clouds to add an aesthetic sky background to your designs or you just want to practice how to draw vectors, this tutorial will show you how to easily make a simple cloud using just a couple of tools.

I will then show you how to turn the same cloud into a 3D cloud using the newest edition of Adobe Illustrator. You will need to have a 2022 version for this, or above. 

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How to Create a Simple Cloud

Start again by opening a fresh document in Adobe Illustrator and selecting your preferred size document. There aren’t any specific document size values for this practice tutorial. Draw a circle with the Ellipse tool (L).

Hold down the Shift key and drag toward the bottom of the artboard to create a perfect circle. 

Keep in mind that you can also draw with the help of a grid, to better position your circles, from the overhead menu View>Show Grid. 

Great! Now, duplicate the circle Command/Control+C and Command/Control+F to paste in place. Drag the new circle to the right holding the Shift key so it stays aligned with the previous circle. 

Now, with the Selection tool (V), From the top right corner (when the double-sided arrow appears), hold down the Shift key and drag toward the top of the artboard to create another larger circle next to the previous one. 

Repeat the process with another circle, this time by making the third circle smaller.

Repeat the process with one last circle. 

Almost there! Now, with the Rectangle tool (M), draw a rectangle that starts from the first circle to the last one (left to right). The edges of the rectangle should be aligned with the center of the first and last circle. 

And now for the best part. Select all elements. From the overhead menu, choose Window>Pathfinder. I will take this opportunity to advise you to experiment with another great tool in Adobe Illustrator.

The Pathfinder is a lifesaver when it comes to simplifying complex shapes. This tool panel has many options to unite or intersect shapes for your desired outcome. Play around with it!

There you go! A perfect cloud. 

You can now be as creative as you’d like. Add shades and more drawings to your designs! The sky is the limit.

Add a shadow by duplicating the cloud twice Command/Control+C and Command/Control+F (x2). Dragging one duplicate to the top of the artboard, selecting the top and bottom cloud.

Use the Subtract option (second to the first) in your Pathfinder panel. 

Duplicate your cloud and scale some down and some up and you have a composition!

Turn your 2D cloud into a 3D cloud in Illustrator

With this new awesome feature on Illustrator. Follow these steps to turn a simple illustration into 3D. 

Discover the Power of the Live Paint Bucket Tool in Adobe Illustrator.

Select the cloud. From the overhead menu, choose Windows>3D and Materials

This will open a panel where you will be able to edit your image and render it later. 

Let’s start doing the magic! 

From the Object tab in the 3D and Materials panel, select Inflate.

Just to give it a bit of shininess, from the Materials tab, scroll down to Metallic and change the value to 0.2.

Moving along to Lighting, you will need to enter these values. Again, you can play with the values and see the outcome for yourselves. 

Intensity 78%, Rotation 111°, Height 45°, Softness 100% and Intensity 72%

Now click on render (the square icon next to Lighting). And let it do its magic!

Perfect! A perfect-looking cloud with some shadows and lighting. It almost looks like clay. Play around and add more clouds to your design. 

And remember, the clouds can be any shape you desire. It can also just be only circles based on your preference. You can even draw it using the Pencil or Paintbrush tool. There is more to come! 

Check out this tutorial to learn how to remove white backgrounds in Illustrator.

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