Create a Detailed Two-Color Vector Badge in Illustrator

This tutorial will show you how to make a detailed vector badge using a brush, circle, strokes and other components. This is aimed to show how you, yes you, can make complex designs from simple objects. Shall we start? Yes, we shall.

1. Draw a horizontal line

Create a new document using either pixels or points as the unit of measurement. Use RGB as the document's color setting. Set the Fill color to nothing and the Stroke color to black.

Vector Badge Tutorial - Toolbar

Click the Line Segment tool in the toolbar and click once in your document to display the tool's options. Adjust the options to match those shown and click OK.

Vector Badge Tutorial - Line Segment Tool

2. Distort the line

Select the line and choose Effect > Distort & Transform > Zig Zag from the menu bar. Adjust the settings to match those shown below.

Vector Badge Tutorial - Zig Zag Effect

3. Expand the line, create a brush

Select the zig zag line and choose Object > Expand Appearance from the menu bar. Drag and drop the path onto the Brushes panel (View > Brushes) to create a brush.

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In the New Brush options that appear, select Pattern Brush and click OK.

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This will bring up the Pattern Brush Options window. No adjustments are needed so click OK to create the brush.

4. Draw a circle

Select the Ellipse tool from the toolbar and click an empty area of your document. When the Ellipse options appear, enter the values shown and click OK to create your circle.

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5. Apply the brush

Select your circle and click on the newly created brush in the Brushes panel to get the result shown below.

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6. Some insight

I very well could have simply created a circle and applied the Zig Zag effect to it but the ridges wouldn't be as round as I'd prefer, thus the reason for creating a brush instead. The image below shows a highly zoomed in version of two circles. On the left is a circle with Zig Zag effect applied while the circle on the right shows the zig zag brush applied. Tough to see but the curves are curvier on the right circle.

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7. Swap the stroke and fill

Select the circle and press and hold down the Shift key while then pressing the X key on your keyboard. This will set the Stroke to no color and the Fill to black. Don't be alarmed if you see a bit of distortion on your object. We'll get to that next.

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8. Adjust the object

Open the Pathfinder panel (View > Pathfinder) and click first on the Divide command, then the Unite command. Again, Divide THEN Unite. This creates a solid object.

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9. Offset the object

Zoom in a bit on your object by selecting the Zoom tool and clicking once on your object. Select the object and go to Object > Path > Offset Path. Enter an offset value of -5 and click OK. This will create a smaller copy of the object within the larger object.

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10. Recolor, copy and offset

By default, the smaller shape will be selected after offsetting. Click the Fill box at the bottom of the toolbar so it overlaps the Stroke box. Double-click it and set the Fill color to white.

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Copy the smaller object (Edit > Copy) and then paste it directly over the original object by using Edit > Paste in Front. With the copy selected, press the Right arrow key on your keyboard twice, then the Down arrow key twice.

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11. Create highlights

It may help to zoom in further at this point as you need to select both of the white objects. The top object should already be selected. Click on the Selection tool and press and hold down the Shift key as you click on the white object below it.

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With both objects selected, click the Minus Front command on the Pathfinder panel. This will create the badge highlight.

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12. Group all of the shapes

Click on the Selection tool in the toolbar and click and drag out a selection marquee around all of the badge objects. I started my selection marquee just to the upper left of the objects and then dragged diagonally down to the right. Release the mouse button and everything is selected.

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Apply the Group command to the selected objects via Object > Group. As a group, you can move all the shapes at once.

13. Draw a circle

Set the Fill color (at the base of the toolbar) to white and the Stroke box to none. Select the Ellipse tool and click once in your document. Enter the values shown and click OK to create a white circle.

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14. Align the badge and circle

Select both the badge and the white circle and open the Align panel (View > Align). Click once on the Horizontal Align Center command, then once on the Vertical Align Center command.

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15. Copy the circle, scale it down

This is where we start really getting into the details. Copy the circle (Edit > Copy) and paste in front (Edit > Paste in Front). Select the copy and use the Bounding Box to scale it down just a bit. To keep the circle in place while scaling down, press and hold down the Shift key plus the Option key (Alt key on Windows) as you click and drag a corner handle on the bounding box toward the center of the circle. Release the mouse button first, then the modifier keys. Change the fill of the circle to black.

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16. Make another copy, scale it down, apply a stroke

Select the black circle, copy it, paste it and scale it down a little as well. Set the stroke color to white on this object.

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17. Make yet another copy, scale it, apply dashed stroke

Copy this smaller circle, copy it, paste it (using Edit > Paste in Front) and scale it down as well. Open the Stroke panel (View > Stroke) and click the Dashed Line box. Enter the values shown for dash and gap.

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I made another copy of the circle but reverted back to a solid stroke for it.

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18. Setting the type

For the text, I chose to work with a condensed/narrow typeface. In this case, I'm working with the Bebas Neue font available from dafont.com. Once installed, type out your word that you wish to highlight in the badge; just make sure it fits. Below are the settings I used for my word.

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19. Convert the text to outlines

Select the text and go to Type > Create Outlines to convert this editable text into non-editable text. After you convert the text to outlines, take a look in the Control panel that runs just below the menu bar. Specifically, look for the width of the outlined text. The width I'm seeing is 95.4 px.

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20. Create two horizontal lines

The reason that width from the previous step is important is that it will be the length of the text, just to keep things clean and orderly. Select the Line Segment tool and click once in your document. Enter the width of your text, make sure the Angle value is set to 0 and click OK.

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Open the Stroke panel and change the stroke width to 3 px.

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21. Make a copy of the path, outline stroke

Select the path, copy it and paste it into the document. Select both paths and go to Object > Path > Outline Stroke. This essentially converts the paths into rectangle objects. Position one line above the text and the other below.

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22. Precise alignment

Select the lines and the text. With the Selection tool, click on the word object once. This defines the word as a key object that other objects will align to. Your key object will take on a slightly different appearance.

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Open the Align panel (View > Align) and click on the Horizontal Align Left command.

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Double-click the Align panel's tab a few times to see all of the commands. With the objects still selected, and the word as the key object, enter a value of 5 in the Distribute Spacing box and then click the Vertical Distribute Space command. This puts 5 pixels of vertical space between the 3 objects.

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Group the lines and text together (Object > Group)

23. Additional details

Back in Step 22, I asked that you look in the Control panel to see how wide the text was. Mine was set to 95.4 px. I'm going to create an oval that's just as wide but less than half as tall. Select the Ellipse tool and click once in an empty area of your document. Here, you can see I set the width to 95.4 but I dropped the height to 35. I could have used 47.7 (half of 95.4) but I wanted a shorter oval.

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Make a copy of the oval and paste it directly over the original (via Edit > Paste in Front). Hold down the Option key (Alt key on Windows) and drag the top bounding box handle down just a little.

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Select both ovals and click the Minus Front command on the Pathfinder panel. The result is shown below.

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These shapes will be grouped together so select them and ungroup (Object > Ungroup). You can now select them individually. Position one arc above the text and one below.

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24. Align the arcs

You'll be running the same alignment commands here as in Step 22. Select the arcs and the text object. Click once on the text object to define it as the key object.

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Click the Horizontal Align Left command on the Align panel and then the Vertical Distribute Space command using 5 pixels as your spacing value.

25. Final details

Use the Line Segment tool to create a horizontal line that's a little shorter than the text object. Be sure to hold down the Shift key as you drag out the line to keep its angle at 0 degrees.

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If you don't see any color on your line, double-click the Stroke box (at the base of the toolbar) and set the color to black.

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Open the Stroke panel (View > Stroke) and adjust your settings to reflect those shown below. In order to get perfect round dots on your path, make sure you select the Round Cap option from the Cap setting.

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Convert the path to outlines via Object > Path > Outline Stroke.

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Make a copy of the dots (Edit > Copy) and paste in place (Edit > Paste in Front). Drag the copy to the area above the text object.

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26. Add in stars

Click the Star tool and click and drag out a small star. Keep the mouse button held down as you click and also press and hold down the Shift key and the Option key. This will give you a super pointy star that's oriented properly. Release the mouse button before you release the modifier keys to complete your star. Position your star as shown.

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Make a copy and position it below the object.

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As you may have guessed, I'm not too worried about precision at this stage. These details are rather small so super precision isn't needed. Use your best judgment.

27. Reverse the color, place in the badge.

Group all of these elements together (Object > Group) and change the fill color to white.

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Drag these elements into the badge.

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Rotate the elements using the bounding box handles if you wish.

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Group all of the badge elements together and admire how awesome you are. Because I'm admiring how awesome you are!

About the author

My name is Mike Hamm. I like robots. I'm a designer, author, teacher and illustrator. I currently work as a Senior Designer at Expedia. I'm co-author of Introduction to Web Design Using Dreamweaver and have contributed articles and artwork to Layers Magazine as well as several Illustrator WOW! books. I've also been teaching and developing Adobe Illustrator courses for Sessions College for Professional Design since 2003. You can view my never complete portfolio website: hammbience.com.

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