Alien Abduction in Adobe – Part 1

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Ready for a close encounter of the illustrator kind?  In this beginner level project we are going to draw a basic flying saucer using Adobe illustrator.  In the following tutorials we will create an animated scene whereby the sinister flying saucer abducts some unsuspecting earthlings with its all too familiar tractor beam.  UFOs, alien abduction, and you…sound good?

Step 1.  Launch Adobe Illustrator.

Step 2.  Create a new document.  Size 1920×1080


Saucer Body

Step 3.    To build the saucer body, first create an oval using the Ellipse tool.  You may want to use a different color, but in this case the color #4C4462 was used with stroke turned off.


Now center the oval using the green safe frame guides.  The Video & Film profile from step 2 automatically turns on your safe frame guides.


With the oval still selected, hit Ctrl + C then Ctrl + F to make a copy of the oval (Ctrl + F will paste it directly on top of the original oval).  This duplicate oval will represent the top of the saucer–but with a slightly different color, this time make it #645C82.


Step 4.  In the Layers palette, rename the layer “Saucer” by double clicking where it says “Layer 1”.


Notice the little arrow to the left of the layer name?  When you twirl it open, you can see the paths we have made.  Within the layer, be sure the darker oval (Bottom Saucer) is above the lighter oval (Top Saucer) in the list of paths.  In order to rearrange the order, simply click and drag the layer.


Step 5.  Select the Top Saucer (lighter oval) shape, by clicking on the circle to the RIGHT of the “<Path>” and then select the “Delete Anchor Point” tool.


Delete the bottom center vector point of Top Saucer (lighter oval).  There will not be a difference in the visual on the Artboard at this time.


Choose the direct selection tool, and click once on the top most point to select it.  You will be able to see the point is selected because a selected point looks “solid” whereas the left and right points are “hollow.”  Move the selected point up a bit.  Use your arrow keys when moving points for greater accuracy.  Tapping the up arrow key will move the point upwards one pixel at a time.  Hold down the shift key to move ten pixels at a time.  Your UFO is starting to take shape!


Saucer Glass Dome

Step 6.  Draw a circle using the Ellipse tool for the Glass Dome Highlight that is approximately 3/4 the size of the Saucer Body.  Use the color #D7D2D3 for the Dome Highlight.


Then, while the circle is selected, click on the “Delete Anchor Point” tool and delete the bottom most vector point.


Step 7.  Select the layer using the selection tool and duplicate it (by clicking Ctrl+C, then Ctrl+F, to copy and paste in front) then change the color of the copy (Dome) to #C1BAC2.


So now we need to scale the Dome down to reveal the Highlight shape below.  To do this, use the Scale Tool.  With the Dome selected, click on the scale tool.  If you hold down Shift while you scale it, it will maintain its aspect ratio.


Step 8.  Go to the Layer’s Palette and move both the Dome and Dome Highlight shapes down until they are behind the Saucer Body shapes.  To do this, simply select them both and drag them down.  Shortcut Alert:  Hold down the shift key to select them together.   Now you can drag the Dome <Paths> below the Saucer Body <Paths> in the Layers palette.


*Spot Check:  Is anything off center?  Want to fix it?  Simple Fix Tip:  Got to Window (at the top), then to Align.  Select all the artwork you’d like to line up, using the selection tool.  Once you have everything selected, click on the “Horizontal Align Center” button in the Align palette.  Ta Da!  Everything is as it should be–gold stars all around!

Step 9.  Draw a similar triangular highlight shape for the Dome.  Use the color #D7D2D3, same color as the highlight.  To do this, use the Rectangle tool and Delete Anchor Point tool.  Feel free to adjust it to your liking using the Delete Anchor Point tool, Rotate tool, and Anchor Point tool.  The Anchor Point tool will turn your hard corner into a smooth curve with just a simple click and drag.


Now move it down in the Layer’s palette until it is above the Dome layer.


Dome of Doom

Step 10.  For the Dome of Doom,  start by drawing a small oval using the Ellipse Tool.  Try to consider where the tractor beam will come out.  Quick Tip:  You can actually draw this from the center by holding down the Alt button.  The color chosen for this component is #A499B1


With the oval still selected click on the “Delete Anchor Point” tool and delete the top vector point.  Place this shape on the bottom of the Saucer Body.


Tractor Beam

Editor’s Note: If you are planing to proceed on to the upcoming animation portion of this series then you can skip this step if you like.  If you wish to add the tractor beam for a fun visual element as a standalone illustration then continue on.

Step 11.  Create a new Layer in the Layer’s Palette and rename it “Light”.


Draw a square shape that is larger than your saucer and move it under the Saucer Body.  Use the same color we were using for the highlight:  #D7D2D3


Step 12.  Select the top two points by using the Direct Selection Tool.  Next, click on the “Scale” tool and drag to scale them until they line up with the sides of the bottom Dome of Doom circle.


You can change the transparency (Opacity) to 30% here and now, or later in Adobe After Effects.  If you’d like to change the transparency here, find your transparency palette on the right, and while the light is still selected, turn the opacity down to 30%.


Woo Hoo!  Your Flying Saucer is ready to go! Now you need an environment for the flying saucer to jet across.  Continue to the next blog entitled “Alien Abduction in Adobe – Part 2” and get ready to build your hilltop environment.

See you there!