Glow Effects in Illustrator -How to Create a Modern City Tower


In this tutorial I’m going to show you how to create a glowing modern city tower and how to add a glow effect to shapes in Adobe Illustrator.

I always like to work with transparencies and glows in illustrator and I want to share the tips and tricks I have learned over the years with you.

I’ve already created the background. I’m just going to show you what this looks like.

Freeform Gradient in Illustrator

So I’m going to turn it on. I’ve used the Gradient Tool in Illustrator and if I go and open it up, make sure to bring the fill to the front so you can edit it, I’ve been using the Freeform Gradient.

Now all I’ve done here is added several points and then gave them a color.

If I’m going to double click on the point, you’ll see all of the colors that we have here in this illustrator file.

Building the Isometric Tower

Since we’re going to create the isometric perspective for this tower we’re going to be working with the ellipse tool and then one by one I’m going to build up the tower, the base and everything else.

So of course to make things faster I’m going to use the isometric actions and then simply create a circle and then turn it into the tower.

Once you have your shape you can just use the shape builder tool and then merge them together.

Add a Highlight

Right away we want to add a gradient shape to our tower.

So just apply one of the regular gradients from illustrator and then we’re going to change the colors and then I’m going to add a stop right into the middle.

Select at the same time to stop on the other side and push it in a little bit.

Now we’re going to change the colors and then we’re also going to make sure that we’re going to change the opacity setting for each and every single gradient slider.

The gradient slider on the right is going to be 0%, the one in the middle is going to be 30% and then the one on the left side is going to be 50%.

All we have to do now is move the shape on top of the other one and we can select all of it and then line it properly.

Building the Base Shape

The next step is to create the base for the tower and since we need similar elements, I’m just going to copy them onto the other layer. So all you have to do is select the shape press the option or alt key, hold it and then drag the shape down onto the layer below.

Once that’s done I’m going to select it and increase it slightly. So it’s just a little bit bigger than our base tower and move it to the bottom. Next we’re going to create a copy of this.

Push it to the bottom, select both of the shapes and then with the Pathfinder we’re going to Divide it.

Then ungroup everything and then select the top shape, merge them back together with the unite in the pathfinder and then the bottom part we can add a free form gradient.

So let’s zoom in and let’s add that right away.

All you have to do is open up your gradient panel and then switch to the freeform gradient and then we can start adding our points one by one.

I’m going to assign new colors to it and then we have the colors for our base shape.

Adding a Shadow to the Base

Since we’re already working on the bottom let’s switch layers again and let’s add the shadow for the base. We need to create a copy again of the base top circle, so select it and then drag it onto your new layer.

We’re going to push it to the bottom and then change the color right away and then I’m simply going to apply a feather effect.

So all the way up to Effect > Stylize > Feather.

Put a value of 65 pixels and then we’re going to increase our base shape with the Freetransform tool so the shadow will be visible.

Creating the Tower Top

Now we can be working on the top shape for our tower so drag a copy onto the appropriate layer and we’re going to shrink it down so we have the same size as the tower.

Then we can continue with the next shape.

Create another copy but I’m going to delete the outer shape and then the top shape.

I’m going to shrink it down and I’m going to use again a Freeform Gradient.

So back to the Gradient panel, click Freeform Gradient and then we’re going to add our points.

This time I’m going to have six points, two on the left, two in the middle and two on the right.

Since I already created a group for the colors, I’m going to add the colors to the points.

Shadow Effect

Let’s add another shadow, same effect as before.

We’re going to be using the Feather Effect again and to make our life easier, I’m going to select the shape from the bottom and drag it onto my layer just below the shape we just created.

Shrink it down probably to the size of the top shape and we’ll open up the Appearance Panel and double-click the Feather Effect. Decrease the radius to 15 pixels.

Adding Light to the Top

Since we’re still working on the top, let’s zoom in and we’re going to create as if light would come out of the tower.

We need the same dimension as our main tower so we can actually create a copy of the gradient shape that we have on top of our tower and all we have to do is make sure we put it on the proper layer and there.

All we have to do is change the size.

We’re going to be working with the same gradient, all we have to do is change the angle from 0 into 90 degrees and then activate the gradient annotator and then push it all the way down a little bit.

Then you can just drag the other parts into the position until you’re happy with the glow.

Again the last gradient slider is set to 0% opacity, the slider with the color white in middle to 30% and the red one on the bottom to 50%.

So we have some kind of color on the bottom and when I adjust it you’ll see the color is coming closer or I can push it a little bit further out.

Create Light Beams and Windows

The next part is really fun. We’re going to create our glow lines that we’re going to turn into some kind of illusion of glowing windows for our tower. Simply create some lines.

Again we need the shapes from our tower so let’s create some copies. It really doesn’t matter what shape you use. All we need is the front shape here, create a copy onto the appropriate layer and then we’ll drag it to the side.

We need to cut it in pieces and now we can take apart our pieces.

Instead of a solid color we’re going to apply a gradient. You can apply any gradient, Let’s switch it to white and let’s set it to 30% instead of 50%. Then a gradient slider with white to 100%, then another gradient slider in white to 70% and then the last one is going to be only 10%.

Push it all the way to the outside and then we need to change the angle from 0 to 90 degrees.

Then we’re going to be working with the Width Tool. Stretch it out on the bottom and make sure it’s the thinnest on the top. Switch in the Stoke Panel the corners to cap round and corner round.

Create the Windows

Now before we do the next step create a copy on the side. We’re going to be using this piece later again. Then select the curved pieces and we’re going to change the color.

We need one of the curved shapes so create a copy as well and then keep it for later.

I’m going to be pushing it in a little bit, create a copy onto the other side and then we’re simply going to select both of the lines and apply a blend with the Blend Tool.

Then we’re going to double-click the Blend Tool in the toolbar and we’re going to set it to Specified Steps, maybe 6 all together and then press ok.

Now you’ll notice that it’s not curved on the bottom.

This is where we can actually make use of our curved shape.

So just place the curved shape onto the bottom. Then select the blended shape and the curved shape and to go to Object > Blend > Replace Spine.

Now you can see we have it all curved.

Now select the other two curved lines and create another blend. We can group both shapes together and then move it onto our tower and see what this looks like.

Glow Effect on Horizontal Lines

For the bottom we’re going to create the same we’re just going to create three lines then we’re going to select the lines and then add a gradient for the stroke.

Make sure it’s set to the angle 0% and then with the width tool we’re just going to drag them out a little bit in the middle.

Once that’s done you can grab them, group them and then put them on the bottom.

Light Beam Effect

Remember the line we’ve created? We’re going to drag it onto the top make it a little bit shorter.

Then grab the line again and then create a copy on each side. Just make sure that you make it a little bit shorter so it looks just a little bit more dynamic.

Floating Light Spheres

Create a circle. Then we’re going to alter the gradient. We only need two stops.

The first thought we’re going to have at 100% white the second at 30% and of course switch to the radial gradient.

Then create a copy onto the bottom and set it behind. We’re going to add another gradient.

This time we’re going to have three gradient slider stops. We’re going to be switching to the linear gradient and then we’re going to switch it to a much lighter color. The other slider will get a much lighter color as well. Move the bottom shape up closer to your top circle, group them and then we can move it closer to our lines

We created a glowing city tower.

I would also like to thank all of the nice and amazing people that follow the vectortwist channel and wanted this tutorial to be made. Without your support this channel wouldn’t exist.

I’ll see you in my next tutorial. Until then keep creating.

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Simona Pfreundner has been teaching Adobe Creative Suite since 2008 through written tutorials, instructional video courses and classroom teaching. With 15 years experience in the graphic design field as an agency, in-house and freelance designer, her love for art and drawing has enabled her develop an approachable and intuitive style of teaching that helps people learn graphic design software in a fun and easy way.

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