Illustrator Tutorial: How to Create a Message in a Bottle

Doing anything in Adobe Illustrator really does take two times longer as it can be a little tricky to get your hands around. In the following tutorial you will learn how to Create a Message in a Bottle in Adobe Illustrator.

Illustrator Tutorial: How to Create a Message in a Bottle

In this tutorial, we’ll explain how to create a message in a bottle in Adobe Illustrator. We’ll start with some basic tools and some other simple vector techniques along with the Blending Modes for the creation of a bottle. To add more depth, you will add shading and highlights on the surface of the bottle. In addition, you will also learn how to create a nice background with the sky, sea surface and sand bank. Let’s begin.

Final Result

Let’s see what you will be creating in this tutorial.

Create a Message in a Bottle in Illustrator - Final Result

Create a Message in a Bottle in Illustrator

Create a New Document

1. Launch Illustrator and then press (Ctrl + N) to create a New document. Select Pixels from the Units drop-down menu, enter 900 in the width box and 600in the height box then click on the Advanced button. Select RGBScreen (72ppi) and make sure that the Align New Objects to Pixel Grid box is unchecked before you click OK.

Create a New Document

Create the Bottle

2. Start with drawing a 323 by 162px object using the Rectangle Tool (M). Next pick the Ellipse Tool (L), use this tool to create two objects (126 by 138px and 67 by 162px) and then place two newly created ellipses to the positions as shown in the second image.

Create the Bottle

Create the Bottle

3. Focus on the rectangle, select the top-left and bottom-left anchor points and then move them to the direction of the arrows to get the result as shown in the second image. Next select the yellow object and the red ellipse, then open the Pathfinder palette (Window/ Pathfinder) and click on the Unite button.

Create the Bottle

Create the Bottle

4. Select the newly created object and the black ellipse and then duplicate (Ctrl +C, Ctrl +F) them once. While the copies selected, click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder palette.

Create the Bottle

5. Now select the black ellipse and make a copy of it (Ctrl +C, Ctrl +F). Keep the copy selected, hold down the Shift, click on the red object created in the step 3 and click on the Unite button from the Pathfinder palette. Next send the result to back (Ctrl +Shift +Left Square Bracket).

Create the Bottle

6. Reselect the black ellipse and go to the Object/ Transform/ Scale… Check the Non-Uniform, enter a 60 in the Horizontal box and enter a 80 in the Vertical box, then click Copy. Next move the newly created ellipse 6px to the right. Make sure that the newly created ellipse is still selected and go to the Object/ Transform/ Scale… Check the Uniform, enter a 90 in the Scale box and then click Copy. Next move the newly created ellipse 7px to the left and then hide it behind the green ellipse (Ctrl +Left Square Bracket).

Create the Bottle

Create the Bottle

7. Select the red object created in the step 5 and fill it with R=205, G=210, B=217. Next select the red object created in the step 4 and fill it with the R=205, G=210, B=217. While the resulting shape selected, duplicate it once.

Create the Bottle

8. Select the green and yellow ellipses and then fill them with R=195, G=207, B=198. Keep the resulting shapes selected, open the Transparency palette (Window/ Transparency) and set the Blending Mode to Color Burn. Now select the black ellipse, fill it with none and add a 1px stroke (R=241, G=242, B=242). Next reduce the Opacity of the resulting shape to 30%.

Create the Bottle

9. To add some details for the base of the bottle, first draw an object with the Pen Tool (P) like in the first image. Once your object is drawn, fill it with the linear gradient. Keep the resulting shape selected, set the Blending Mode to Color Burn and reduce the Opacity to 60%.

Create the Bottle

10. Continue with the Pen Tool (P), draw two curved paths as shown below. Reselect two newly created paths, fill them with none, add a 8px stroke (apply the linear gradient within stroke) and then apply the Width Profile 3 for the results. Keep the newly created objects selected, set the Blending Mode to Color Burn. Now reselect the shorter object and press (Ctrl +Left Square Bracket) some times to get the result as shown in the third image below.

Create the Bottle

11. With the Pen Tool (P) draw two curved paths like below. Once your paths are drawn, fill them with none and add a 5px stroke (apply the linear gradient within stroke). Keep the resulting objects selected and set the Blending Mode to Color Burn.

Create the Bottle

12. The last thing to do is create a curved path with the Pen Tool (P) like in the image. Fill the newly created path with none, add a 6px stroke (apply the linear gradient within stroke) and apply the Width Profile 1 for the result. Keep the resulting object selected, set the Blending Mode to Color Burn and reduce the Opacity to 60%.

Create the Bottle

13. With the help of the Pen Tool (P) create a curved path like you see in the first image below. Once your path is drawn, fill it with none, add a 10px stroke (apply the linear gradient within stroke) and then apply the Width Profile 1 for the result. Keep the newly created object selected and set the Blending Mode to Color Burn.

Create the Bottle

Create the Bottle

14. Start adding some highlights along the side of the bottle. First draw a curved path with the Pen Tool (P) like in the image. Fill this path with none and add a 1px stroke (R=0, G=0, B=0). Next apply a 3px Gaussian Blur for the result and then set it to Blending Mode Color Burn.

Create the Bottle

15. Continue with the Pen Tool (P), draw an object as shown below, fill this object with R=255, G=255, B=255 and then apply a 7px Gaussian Blur for the resulting shape. Next reselect the newly created shape and the object created in the step 14 and then group them (Ctrl +G). Now select the shape created in the step 7, duplicate(Ctrl +C, Ctrl +F) it once and then bring the copy to front (Ctrl +Shift +Right Square Bracket). While the newly created shape selected, hold down the Shift, click on the newly created group and then go to the Object/ Clipping Mask/ Make (Ctrl +7).

Create the Bottle

Create the Bottle

16. Repeat the same process as the step 15 to add more higlights on the bottle.

Create the Bottle

Create the Bottle

17. To give a more realistic look I’m going to be adding some scratches on the bottle. Before you continue, select and lock (Ctrl +2) all created objects. Now with the Pen Tool (P) draw some curved paths like below. Once your paths are drawn, reselect and group (Ctrl +G) them. Next fill the newly created group with none, add a 2px stroke (apply the linear gradient across stroke) and then apply the Width Profile 1 for the result. Keep the resulting group selected, set the Blending Mode to Color Burn and reduce the Opacity to 70%.

Create the Bottle

Create the Bottle Neck

18. Start with drawing an object using the Pen Tool (P). Fill this object with R=235, G=201, B=108 and then set the Blending Mode of the resulting shape to Soft Light. Continue with the Pen Tool (P), create another object as shown in the third image below. Once your object is drawn, fill it with R=205, G=255, B=255 and then set the Blending Mode to Multiply. Next send the resulting shape to back (Ctrl +Shift +Left Square Bracket).

Create the Bottle Neck

Create the Bottle Neck

19. It’s time to add the highlights for the bottle neck. With the help of the Pen Tool (P), create an object as shown below, fill it with R=255, G=255, B=255 and then apply a 7px Gaussian Blur for the resulting shape. Next pick the Line Segment Tool (\) and use it to create a horizontal path like you see in the third image. Once your path is drawn, fill it with none, add a 1px stroke (R=0, G=0, B=0) and then apply a 3px Gaussian Blur for the resulting object. Reselect two newly created objects and group (Ctrl +G) them. Now select the shape created in the step 18, make a copy of this shape (Ctrl +C, Ctrl +F) and then bring the copy to front. Keep the newly created shape selected, hold down the Shift, click on the newly created group and then go to the Object/ Clipping Mask/ Make (Ctrl +7). Make sure that the result is still selected, go to the Object/ Transform/ Reflect… Check the Horizontal and then click Copy. Finally move the newly created object to the position as shown in the final image.

Create the Bottle Neck

Create the Bottle Neck

Create the Bottle Neck

Create the Bottle Neck

20. Focus on the top of the bottle neck, draw a curved path with the Pen Tool (P) like in the image. Fill this path with none, add a 3px stroke (R=235, G=201, B=108) and apply the Width Profile 1 to the result. Make sure that the newly created object is still selected and set the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

Create the Bottle Neck

21. To add some details for bottle neck, first draw two curved as shown below. Once your paths are drawn, reselect the yellow path, fill it with none, add 1px stroke (apply the linear gradient within stroke) and then apply the Width Profile 1 for the result. Keep the resulting object selected and set the Blending Mode of it to Color Burn. Now reselect the red path, fill it with none, add 5px stroke (apply the linear gradient within stroke) and then apply the Width Profile 1 for the result. While the resulting object selected and set the Blending Mode of it to Color Dodge.

Create the Bottle Neck

Create the Bottle Neck

22. Select two newly created objects, duplicate them once and then move the copies to the position as shown in the first image. Next select four newly created objects and go to the Object/ Transform/ Reflect… Check the Vertical and then click Copy. While the four newly created objects selected, move them to the position as shown in the second image and then send them to back.

Create the Bottle Neck

Create the Cork

23. With the help of the Pen Tool (P) and the Ellipse Tool (L), create two objects as shown below. Once your objects are drawn, select the red object and fill it with the linear gradient. Next select the yellow object and fill it with R=228, G=136, B=31.

Create the Cork

Create the Cork

24. Reselect two newly created shapes, duplicate them once and then replace the existing color of the copies with the linear gradient as shown below. Make sure that the resulting shapes is still selected and go to the Effect/ Texture/ Grain… Follow the data as shown in the second image and then click OK. Next apply a 2px Feather for the results and then set the Blending Mode of them to Overlay.

Create the Cork

Create the Cork

25. To add detail for the cork, first draw a curved path as shown below. Fill the newly created path with none, add a 4px stroke (R=35, G=31, B=32) and then apply the Width Profile 1 for the result. Next apply a 3px Feather for the resulting object and then set the Blending Mode to Hard Light. Now select and group (Ctrl + G) all objects created from beginning step 23 to this time. Keep the newly created group selected and press (Ctrl +Left Square Bracket) some times to get the result as shown in the final image.

Create the Cork

Create the Cork

Create the Message

26. With the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 286 by 88px object. Next adjust this rectangle with the help of the Convert Anchor Point Tool (Shift +C) to get the result as shown below. After you are done adjusting the object, reselect it and then fill it with the linear gradient. Keep the resulting shape selected, go to the Effect/ Texture/ Texturizer… Follow the data like you see in the fourth image and then click OK. Next set the Blending Mode of the resulting shape to Overlay and reduce the Opacity to 50%.

Create the Message

Create the Message

27. Continue create another object as shown below. Once your object is drawn, fill it with the linear gradient and then apply a 5px Gaussian Blur for the result. Now select the shape created in the step 26, duplicate it once and then bring the copy to front. While the newly created shape selected, hold down the Shift, click on the shape with the Gaussian Blur effect and then go to the Object/ Clipping Mask/ Make (Ctrl +7).

Create the Message

Create the Message

28. With the help of the Pen Tool (P) create an object and then fill this object with the linear gradient as shown below. While the newly created shape selected, duplicate it once and then go to the Effect/ Texture/ Texturizer… Follow the data as shown in the third image and then click OK. Finally select two newly created shapes and send them to back.

Create the Message

Create the Message

29. Let’s add text to the paper. Pick the Type Tool (T), select the Myriad Pro font (Type/ Font), set the size of the characters to 72 and the color to black. Click inside the artboard and type the text. Next use the Rectangle Tool (M) to create a 138 by 55px object. Place the letters "U" and "I" to the positions as shown in the third image. Next increase the height of them as shown in the fourth image below. Now select two letters and go to the Object/ Expand. Press OK when the Expand box appear.

Create the Message

30. With the Pen Tool (P), draw a heart shape as shown below. Next select three newly created shapes and fill them with the linear gradient. Keep the resulting shapes selected, go to the Effect/ Distort & Transform/ Roughen… Follow the data as like you see in the third image and then click OK.

Create the Message

Create the Message

31. Reselect three newly created shapes, duplicate them once and then reduce the height of them as shown in the first image below. Keep the resulting shapes selected and then replace the existing color of them with the new linear gradient. Make sure that the resulting shapes are still selected, duplicate them once and then go to the Effect/ Texture/ Texturizer… Follow the data as shown below and then click OK. Finally set the Blending Mode of the results to Overlay and reduce the Opacity to 50%.

Create the Message

Create the Message

32. Select and group (Ctrl + G) all shapes created from beginning step 26 to this time. Next reselect the "message" group and rotate it an angle of about -4 degrees. Now place the "message" group to the position as shown in the third image. Next press (Ctrl +Left Square Bracket) some times to get the result like you see in the final image. Finally select and group (Ctrl + G) all shapes created from beginning step 2 to this time. We are done with the message in a bottle for the moment.

Create the Message

Create the Message

Create the Background with the Sky, Sea Surface and Sand Bank

33. Start with drawing a 768 by 526px object using the Ellipse Tool (L). Next fill this rectangle with the linear gradient as shown below.

Create the Background

34. With the Pen Tool (P) draw an object like below. Once your object is drawn, fill it with the linear gradient and then apply a 10px Feather for the resulting shape. While the result selected, duplicate it once and then replace the existing color of the copy with R=194, G=161, B=119. Make sure the resulting shape is still selected, go to the Effect/ Texture/ Grain… Follow the data as shown in the third image and then click OK. Finally set the Blending Mode of the result to Multiply and reduce the Opacity to 50%.

Create the Background

Create the Background

Create the Background

35. Continue with the Pen Tool (P), use this tool to create an object as shown below and then fill this object with R=215, G=199, B=163. Keep the resulting shape selected, go to the Effect/ Texture/ Grain… Follow the data as shown in the second image and then click OK. Next set the Blending Mode of the result to Multiply and reduce the Opacity to 50%.

Create the Background

Create the Background

36. To give a more realistic look we’re going to be adding some details on the sand bank. First draw two curved paths with the Pencil Tool (N). Once your paths are drawn, reselect the red path, fill it with none and add a 5px stroke (R=237, G=216, B=195). Keep the resulting object selected and set the Blending Mode to Screen. Next reselect the green path, fill it with none, add a 10px stroke (R=237, G=216, B=195) and then apply the Width Profile 2 for the result. While the resulting object selected, set the Blending Mode to Multiply. Now reselect two newly created objects and apply a 10px Gaussian Blur for them.

Create the Background

Create the Background

Create the Background

37. Continue with the Pen Tool (P), create an object and then fill it with the linear gradient as shown below. Apply a 10px Gaussian Blur for the resulting shape and then press (Ctrl +Left Square Bracket) some times to get the result like you see in the final image.

Create the Background

38. It’s time to create the sea surface. Start with drawing an object using the Pen Tool (P) like in the image. Fill this object with the linear gradient and then apply a 5px Gaussian Blur for the resulting shape. Next hide the "sea surface" shape behind the sand bank. In the end your background should look roughly like the third image below.

Create the Background

Create the Background

Create the Background

39. Reselect the "bottle" group and rotate it an angle of about -23 degrees. Next place this group to the position as shown below.

Create the Background

40. We’ll create the shadows for the bottle. First create an object and then fill it with the linear gradient as shown below. Next apply a 5px Gaussian Blur for the resulting shape, then set the Blending Mode to Hard Light and reduce the Opacity to 70%. Finally hide the result behind the bottle.

Create the Background

Create the Background

41. Draw another object with the Pen Tool (P) like in the image. Once your object is drawn, fill it with the linear gradient. Next apply a 5px Gaussian Blur for the resulting shape and then set the Blending Mode to Hard Light. Finally hide the result behind the bottle.

Create the Background

Create the Background

Final Result

Here is what the completed design looks like. Hope you enjoy this tutorial.

Congratulations! You have completed the lesson. I hope you’ve discovered some useful things in this tutorial. The final result image is below. Enjoy!

Create a Message in a Bottle in Illustrator - Final Result

Conclusion

As difficult as it looks I’m very sure if you follow my tutorial you will find a lot of help using your skills and images to produce your own creation! Ones again Thank you for using our tutorial, we will be very happy to answer any questions that you may have, You can simply leave a feedback and or a comment below.

Download Result Source Files

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4 Comments

  1. Nice tutorial i always search this type of tutorials to make some thing creative :)

  2. Thank you Ngoc for this nice tutorial! It was a bit hard to keep up with all the layers, and some steps are missing – but I learned a lot and had loads of fun. My result of your tutorial: http://www.jonern.com/uploads/2014.08.05.message_in_a_bottle.jpg

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