How to Create a Pet Cemetery Illustration for Halloween
It's October and we all know what that means, Halloween is just around the corner. But while you're getting ready to go out trick-or-treating spare a thought for your beloved long lost pets. What do they get up to on All Hallows' Eve? In honour of all those ghost dogs and cats out there, I'm going to show you how to create a Halloween pet cemetery scene in Illustrator.
We'll start by creating the ghost dog first. Open a new document in Illustrator and draw a 100px circle. Using the Direct Selection Tool pull the circle's top anchor point up by 5px and bottom anchor point up by 45px. With the shape selected go to the Object menu and choose Path then Offset Path, set the Offset to 15px, Joins to Round and click OK. This is going to form our ghost dog's head.
Next we'll create his teeth, after all how's he going to gnaw on all those bones with no teeth? Draw a 10px circle and pull its lower anchor point down by 5px, then from the Effect menu choose Warp and then Arc, set the Vertical Bend to 25% and click OK. Expand the tooth's appearance using the Expand Appearance option under the Object menu. Copy and paste the tooth in place (CTRL+C, CTRL+F, or CMD+C, CMD+F if you're using a Mac) and reflect the copy vertically by right-clicking and selecting Transform and then Reflect from the pop-up menu. Move the copy 30px to the left. Next draw four 5px circles side-by-side and pull their lower anchor points down by 3px each. Position the four new teeth between the two larger canines.
Group the teeth together and align them horizontally to the centre and vertically to the top of the ghost dog's inner skull. Pull the teeth down and when you're happy with their position combine them with the skull using the Pathfinder's Unite button. To create the eye sockets draw two 30px circles side-by-side with about 10px space between them. Position the eye sockets in the centre of the skull, when you're satisfied select both them and the skull and then choose the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder palette.
To make the nose socket draw a 5px circle and pull its top anchor point up by 3px. Rotate the shape by -30° then copy and paste it in place. Reflect the copy vertically and then pull it to the right by roughly 4px before combining the two shapes with the Unite button. Position the nose socket in the centre of the skull between the eyes and the teeth and then subtract it using the Minus Front button.
Let's give our ghost dog a lolling tongue and some floppy ears next. Draw a 15px by 30px oval and from the Effect menu choose Warp and then Bulge, leave the Bend at 0% and set the Vertical Distortion option to 40% and click OK. Expand the tongue's appearance using the Object menu and then pull its top anchor point down by 10px. Position the tongue so that it sits just below the ghost dog's middle teeth.
For the ears start by drawing a 30px circle and pulling its right anchor point out to the right by 20px. Next, go to the Effect menu and choose Warp then Arch, set the Horizontal Bend to 30% and click OK. Expand the ear's appearance. Copy and paste the ear then reflect it vertically. Move the copy 120px to the right (using the SHIFT key and arrows on your keyboard will speed things up a little here) and then group them both (CTRL+G). Using the Align palette align the ears horizontally to the top and vertically to the centre of the head outline, but do not combine the shapes at this stage.
Our ghost dog's head is finished, we can move onto the outline of his body now. Draw a 130px circle and using the Direct Selection Tool pull its upper and lower anchor points up by 30px. Next draw a smaller 50px circle and pull its upper and lower anchor points up by 10px. Copy and paste the smaller of the shapes in place then pull the copy to the right by 60px, these are the paws. Group the paws and align them centrally to the bottom of the body before pulling them down slightly (10px or so should be fine). Send the body and paws to the back of the document (SHIFT+CTRL+[) and then position them so that they sit behind the head (my ghost dog's body is roughly 50px below the top of his head).
To finish off our ghost dog's outline all that's left to do is give him a tail. Start the tail by drawing a 20px circle and pulling its right anchor point out to the right by 40px. Select Warp and then Arc from the Effect menu, set the Horizontal bend to -30% and click OK before expanding the tail's appearance. Position the tail to the bottom right of the ghost dog's body and then send it to the back of the document.
OK, now we're ready to give our dog some bones! We'll start with the spine. Draw a 20px by 10px oval and from the Effect menu choose Warp and then Bulge. Set the Vertical Bend to -100% and click OK, as in the other steps expand the shape's appearance using the Object menu. Copy and paste the vertebrae until there are five positioned one above the other with a gap of roughly 3px between each one. Group the vertebrae and then position the spine so that it's aligned centrally with the ghost dog's body.
We'll make the leg bones next. Draw three 7px circles side-by-side with a gap of 4px between each for the toe bones and pull the middle bone down by a couple of pixels. Next, draw a 30px by 15px oval for the foot and pull its upper and lower anchor points up by 5px before aligning it centrally with the toe bones so that it sits just above them. Continue the leg by creating a 30px by 20px oval and then selecting Warp and then Bulge from the Effect menu. Set the Vertical Bend to -100% and click OK before expanding the shape. Rotate the leg by 15° and align it to the left of the foot with a small gap separating the two (3px should be enough).
Make a copy of the leg bone and rotate it by -30° before pulling it upwards. Let's fill in that big gap between the two bones by drawing a 5px circle and pulling its right anchor point to the right by 3px. Position the new smaller bone so it sits below and to the left of the larger top bone. Group all of the leg bones, including the foot and toes, and copy and paste them in place. Reflect the copy vertically and move it to the right by about 65px. Position the leg bones so they sit centrally within the ghost dog's body just below the outline of his head.
Our ghost dog is almost complete! Take a copy of him and paste it elsewhere on the artboard, we'll be using the majority of the shapes to create the ghost cat in a little while. Select the outlines of the ghost dog's ears, head, body and paws and combine them using the Pathfinder's Unite button and then send the outline to the back of the document. Our ghost dog needs a bit of colour, I have used a charcoal black for the outline, white for the bones and a pinky red for the tongue. To finish him off select the outline and from the Object menu select Path then Offset Path, set the Offset to 3px the joins to Round and click OK, finally give the offset a white fill and group everything together.
To create the ghost cat, take the copy of the ghost dog you placed on your artboard earlier and delete out the outlines of its ears, tail and the tongue. Now that the tongue is gone we need to add a few more vertebrae to our ghost cat's spine, an extra two to the top should be fine.
To create our ghost cat's ears draw a 40px circle and pull its upper and lower anchor points up by 10px before rotating it by 45°. Copy and paste the ear in place and then reflect the copy vertically before moving it to the right by 100px. Group the ears and then align them centrally with the top of the ghost cat's head.
Let's make our ghost cat's tail next. Start by drawing a 20px circle and pulling its right anchor point out to the right by 80px. From the Effect menu choose Warp and then Arch, set the Horizontal Bend to 70% and click OK before expanding the tail's appearance. Rotate the tail by -45° and position it to the bottom-right of the ghost cat's body until you think it looks right.
The last thing to do with our ghost cat is combine the outlines and give her some colour. Select the outlines for the ears, head, body, paws and tail and combine them using the Pathfinder's Unite button. Send the combined outline to the back of your document and add your chosen colours. As with the ghost dog, offset the outline by 3px and give it a white fill then group all of the ghost cat's elements. If you want to scale the ghost cat down slightly you can by right-clicking and selecting Transform and Scale from the pop-up menu and adjusting the Uniform percentage.
With our ghost cat and dog complete we're ready to move onto the background. Start by creating an 800px by 600px rectangle and giving it a midnight blue fill. Now, using the Pen Tool create some sweeping curves in a lighter shade of blue to form the hills. Don't worry if your hills overlap the edges of the rectangle, we'll tidy them up later. Repeat this step in an even lighter shade to create the hills in the foreground. Once you're happy with the hills group them and then make a copy of the background rectangle and bring it to the front of the document. Select the rectangle copy and the hills and then from the Pathfinder palette choose the Crop button. There, nice and neat.
Let's add a little grass to the hill in the foreground, it's a bit too smooth at the moment. Draw a 10px circle with the same fill as the hill and pull its top anchor point up by 20px. We're going to use this shape to create a new art brush. Open the Brushes palette (F5) and select the New Brush button, choose Art Brush from the options and click OK. In the next dialogue box set the Direction option to the up arrow (Stroke From Bottom To Top) and click OK. Cover the top of the hill with blades of grass using the Paintbrush Tool (P) until you're happy with the results.
When you're satisfied that the hill is as grassy as can be, select all of the blades and expand their appearance using the Object menu then combine them with the hill using the Unite button (you'll need to ungroup the hills and the background first).
A pet cemetery wouldn't be complete without a few tombstones, so let's make those next. To create the cross simply create two rectangles (15px by 80px and 60px by 15px) and align them centrally. Position the horizontal rectangle so that it sits about 20px below the top of the vertical one and combine the shapes with the Unite button. To create the more traditional tombstone create a 100px circle and delete its lower anchor point. Next create a 100px square and align the two shapes so that the semicircle sits flush against the top of the square before combining them.
Give your crosses and tombstones the same fill colour as the foreground then copy, scale and rotate them as desired before scattering them across the top of the hill.
Our pet cemetery is really coming along. I think some clouds and a big full moon would really set it off. To create the moon draw a 165px circle and give it a light grey fill. Our moon is going to have a subtle shadow, which we'll make now. Copy and paste the moon in place then pull the copy roughly 30px to the left before subtracting it from the original using the Minus Front button. Paste the original back in behind the shadow (CTRL+B) then select the shadow and from the Transparency palette set the Blending Mode to Multiply and the Opacity to 15%. To create the moon's craters draw a smaller circle in a slightly darker shade of grey and then repeat the process you used to create the shadow, but this time nudge the copy diagonally to the right (3px or so should do) before using the Minus Front button. Copy, paste and scale the craters until you're happy with the results.
Okay, we're ready to move onto the clouds. Draw an oval (mine is 140px by 50px) and cover its top with circles of varying radius. Once you're happy with how your cloud looks combine all of the shapes using the Unite button. Give the cloud a white fill and place it in the sky of your cemetery. Copy and scale the cloud as many times as you want, adjusting the opacity of each so that you get a sense of perspective.
If you haven't already done so place your ghost cat and dog within the cemetery. Let's give them both a spooky shadow. Copy and paste the ghost cat's outline and then reflect it horizontally before pulling it downwards so that it's roughly level with the top of the toes. The shadow's tail looks a little odd, remove all of its anchor points using the Direct Selection Tool. The line where the tail was is too straight now, we want it to have the same soft curve as the other side of the shadow. Copy and paste the shadow and reflect it vertically this time before combining it with the original using the Pathfinder's Unite button. Send the shadow behind the ghost cat then give it the same fill as the foreground before changing the Blending Mode to Mulitply and the Opacity to 20% with the Transparency palette. Repeat this process for the ghost dog, but without removing his tail.
If you want to add a little more embellishment to the foreground why not include some tufts of grass with the art brush you created earlier? Draw a few blades and when you're satisfied expand their appearance and then combine them. Give the tufts a stroke that's a slightly darker shade than the grass itself and then use the Direct Selection Tool to delete out the lower anchor points. Place the tufts wherever you see fit.
Okay, all that's left for us to do is add a Halloween message in a suitably scary font and our pet cemetery is finished, and in plenty of time for All Hallows' Eve! I have used a free font called Green Fux, but feel free to use whatever you feel suits. Happy Halloween everybody!