In this tutorial, I am going to show you how to use blends to create a vector ink effect in Adobe Illustrator.  We will go through setting up the blends and then adding some additional elements to create a nice wet, blurry inky background.

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Step 1: Create a new document and draw out a rectangle for your background and set the fill color to #E5E2DC

 vector ink effect

Step 2:  Here I have drawn out 3 shapes.  They are all the same color (100% of C,M,Y and K).  The outer shape is at the bottom of the stack and set to 0% Opacity.  The middle one is 60% opacity and the inner most shape is 100% opacity.

 vector ink effect

Step 3:  Go to Object > Blend > Blend Options.  Under Spacing, select “Specified Steps” and for the number put in 35.  You can adjust this number as needed.  After you make the blend if you notice banding in the blend, then you would increase this number.

 vector ink effect

Step 4: After you have put in the settings, select all three shapes and go to Object > Blend > Make.  This will be one of the base blends that we use to create the ink effect.  For this tutorial, I will call this Blend1.

 vector ink effect

Step 5:  Before we start layering the blends, make a copy of the blend you just created.  Double click on the blend so you enter isolation mode and click on the middle shape.  Change the opacity to 100% on just the middle shape, leaving the others the same.  We will call this Blend 2.

 vector ink effect

Step 6:  Make another copy and this time, change the smallest shape to 58% opacity, and the middle shape 62%.  Leave the largest shape at 100%.  We’ll call this Blend 3.

 vector ink effect

Step 7:  Now to start building up the blends to create the effect.  I’m basically going to just start layering the different blends until the inky effect starts to form.   I am going to leave my 3 blends off the artboard so I can just drag a copy of them onto my design as I work.

 vector ink effect

Step 8:  First I take a copy of Blend 3.  Leave the Transparency set to Normal and lower the Opacity to 80%.  Then I grab a copy of Blend 2 and place it above the blend 3 copy and lower the opacity to 52% Normal.

 vector ink effect

Step9:  Here is my placement of each blend and their Transparency settings:

 vector ink effect

Blend 1 – Transparency set to Darken, 75%

 vector ink effect

Blend 1 – Overlay, 52%

vector ink effect

Blend 1 – Overlay, 56%

vector ink effect

Blend 1 – Overlay, 52%

vector ink effect

Blend 1 – Overlay, 100%

vector ink effect

Blend 1 – Overlay, 56%

vector ink effect

Both are Blend 1 – Overlay 100%

 

Step 10:  So, now my layer is getting a little crowded and I want to be able to select the blends should I need to move them around, so I create a new layer above this one to continue adding the blends. Here is what we have so far.

 vector ink effect

Step 11:  Continue to build up the blends:

 vector ink effect

3 copies of Blend 3 all set to Darken at 74%

vector ink effect

Blend 3 – Normal 81%

vector ink effect

Blend 2 – Normal 71%

vector ink effect

2 copies of Blend 1 – Overlay 100%

 

Step 12:  Ok, that is all the blends for now.  You can always come back to them and move them around as needed once you start adding in other elements.

 vector ink effect

Step 13: Now, I want to add in some texture to break it all up a little bit. I am going to use some of my Vector cracked paint textures to get that done.  Click the image below to check them out:

Cracked and Peeling Paint Textures

 

 

Step 14:  Since I don’t need these to be seamless, I am going to go to the Vectors folder from the download and I am going to start by opening “Crack1.ai”.  I copy the texture and paste it into a new layer above my background layer and below all the other layers.

 vector ink effect

Step 15:  Change the fill color of the texture to 100% C,M,Y and K.  I then rotate it horizontally and make a few copies to spread out over my artboard.  I also set the Transparency to Overlay at 70%

 vector ink effect

Step 16:  Create a new layer above all the other layers and place in “Crack4.ai”.  Again, I rotate the texture and make a few copies of it.  For this one, you are going to set the color to white.  For the parts of the texture up top, I set the Transparency to Overlay at 20%.  For the parts that go over the bulk of the ink, I set the Opacity down to 7%.

 vector ink effect

Step 17: On a new layer below the white texture, but above all the blends I have pasted in a tree silhouette.  The silhouette is set at 100% C,M,Y and 70% K.  Set the Transparency to Overlay at 100%.

 vector ink effect

Step 18:  Finally, the text in my featured image has a fill color of white and the top “Vector” word’s Transparency is Overlay at 100%.  The font is called “Againts” and can be found on Creative Market (Click Here). The words “Ink Effect” are set to Screen at 33%.  This font is called “Amatic” and can be found on Font Squirrel (Click Here). 

 vector ink effect

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