How to Design a Building in Adobe Illustrator (the Easy Way)

inn at sonrel st

Yes, this is another post about doing fun stuff in Adobe Illustrator.

And yes, this is another case of me being envious of an awesome project that my designer buddy has been working on.

The project? Illustrating a whole slew of cityscapes, with buildings and bridges and busses galore. While many of his building illustrations now adorn the walls of HubSpot’s headquarters in Cambridge, MA, my latest building illustration (see image above) now adorns my mom’s refrigerator.

→ ♣ ←

So, how do you make one of these bad boys? Or, better still for my fellow amateur illustrators out there, how do you make one of these bad boys the easy way? Lemme show ya:

1) Open a Photo of a Building in Illustrator

For this most recent project, I used a Google Street View shot of my parents’ house.


2) Bust Out the Pen Tool, Get Comfortable, & Start Tracing

The more lines you trace, the more detail there’ll be when you’re finished. (In the image below, I’ve highlighted all of the lines in orange so you can see them.)Sonrel B&B-lines-01

Here’s what it looks like with the photo hidden (and the lines darkened):

Sonrel B&B-dark-lines-01

3) Add Some Finishing Touches

As you can already see in the image above, I used more than just lines: I also filled in some shapes with solid colors and added some funky scribbles for the plants.

In the final version below, you can see that I added some hanging plants (i.e. more funky scribbles) and then covered the whole thing with a paper texture.

inn at sonrel st

And that’s all there is to it!

Labor intensive? Yes. Difficult? Once you’ve mastered using the pen tool in Illustrator, no. So get to it! And until next time, happy illustrating.

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