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In this Adobe Illustrator tutorial, we are going to use blends and custom brushes to create a vector shatter effect.

As with most of our tutorials, you can purchase the source file for the project, which includes 4 different shatter effect designs.  The source file includes all blends, unexpanded as well as all of the custom scatter brushes shown in this tutorial.

vector shatter effect

 

Step 1:  To get started, open a new document and place a shape at the same size of your artboard and fill it with a full color black.  For this example, I am using C, M, Y: 93% and K set at 91%.

 

Step 2:  Choose a shape that you want to “explode”.  For this tutorial I am going to just use a basic half circle, but you can use anything you would like, such as text.  Set your shape to pure white and lower the transparency to around 90%.

How to create a vector shatter effect in Adobe Illustrator

Step 3:  We are going to add a little bit of a glow to your main shape.  In order to do this, you will want to make a copy of your original object (Ctrl + C) and then paste it in front (Ctrl + F).  Change the color to a sandy hue #CEC4B6. With the copied shape selected, offset the path by going to Object > Path > Offset Path.  The pt number of the offset will depend on the size of your artboard.  You want to shoot for enough room to make a good blend.  Making sure the Preview button is checked will allow you to see how far the path is being offset.  My artboard is large, so my path is set at 60pt.

How to create a vector shatter effect in Adobe Illustrator

Step 4: Set the transparency of the original, smaller shape to 65% and set the new, larger object to 0% transparency.  Go to Object > Blend > Blend Options…  Set the spacing to Specified Steps and change the number to around 35.  Click OK. With both object selected go to Object > Blend > Make (Alt + Ctrl + B).  Using the Direct Select Tool (A), select the outer shape and move it a little to one side or the other so the glow isn’t too perfectly around the shape.  After you are done making the blend, send it behind the main shape (Ctrl + Shift + [)

How to create a vector shatter effect in Adobe Illustrator

Step 5: We are going to make some more smoky blends.  Start by making a random wispy shape.  Set the color to #9B8268, make a second shape a little larger than the first and set the opacity to 0%.  With both shapes selected (make sure the smaller shape is in front/on top of the larger one) hit Object > Blend > Make (Alt + Ctrl + B). Set the Transparency to Screen at 80%.

How to create a vector shatter effect in Adobe Illustrator

Step 6:  Build up the effect by adding a few more of these blends using step 5 above.

How to create a vector shatter effect in Adobe Illustrator

How to create a vector shatter effect in Adobe Illustrator

How to create a vector shatter effect in Adobe Illustrator

Set some shapes to “Color Burn” to add shadows.

How to create a vector shatter effect in Adobe Illustrator

Lighter color # E2E2E2 set to Screen at 33%

How to create a vector shatter effect in Adobe Illustrator

Same settings as above

How to create a vector shatter effect in Adobe Illustrator

Same settings as above

How to create a vector shatter effect in Adobe Illustrator

Dark color # 9B8268 Transparency Darker Color at 80%

How to create a vector shatter effect in Adobe Illustrator

Same settings as above

How to create a vector shatter effect in Adobe Illustrator

Lighter color # E2E2E2 set to Screen at 33%

How to create a vector shatter effect in Adobe Illustrator



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Same as above

How to create a vector shatter effect in Adobe Illustrator

 

As you work, you may want to add more or less blends, this is entirely up to your own preferences.  After drawing out all of our blends, we are ready to add some texture.

 

Step 7: We are going to create some custom brushes to add a bit of a shattered texture effect.  I am going to draw out a few different jagged shapes that I will turn into scatter brushes.  I have made two brushes with some shapes grouped and then two more with just one shape.  Here are the shapes I am using for my 4 scatter brushes.  Just a bunch of random jagged shapes, nothing special.

How to create a vector shatter effect in Adobe Illustrator

Step 8:  Create a new Scatter brush with each of your shapes.  To do this, simply drag your shape (or group of shapes) onto the brushes palette and choose “Scatter brush”.  Your settings will differ depending on your artboard size, so you may have to make adjustments to these settings as you start to use them.

How to create a vector shatter effect in Adobe Illustrator

Step 9: Create a new layer above your blends and start drawing out some lines and applying your scatter brushes to them.  I have set the color to #3A271D with the transparency set to Color Burn at 86%.

How to create a vector shatter effect in Adobe Illustrator

Step 10: Create a new layer above the previous one and draw out some more lines with your scatter brush.  This time we are going to set the color to #DDD4C0 with the transparency set to Color Dodge at 62%

How to create a vector shatter effect in Adobe Illustrator

Step 11:  I think this could use some more “splatter”.  Load up your favorite grunge splatter vector or create one yourself. I am using Transfuchsian Blood Splatter set (AVAILABLE HERE). I set one splat to the dark color settings in Step 9 and the other to the light settings in Step 10.

 

How to create a vector shatter effect in Adobe Illustrator

Step 12: Lets add some more light blurs on top of the design.  Using the same blend technique we used earlier, make a simple circle and fill it with #CECAC8 and 100% transparency with another circle inside it same color set at 0% and create a blend.  Squish the circle down a little bit so it is more of an oval shape and rotate it to fit your design. Set the Transparency to Screen.

How to create a vector shatter effect in Adobe Illustrator

Make a few others and set the Transparency to Overlay.

How to create a vector shatter effect in Adobe Illustrator

 

Step 13: Draw out a small circle shape and create a Scatter brush with it like we did in Step 8.  Set the color to white with the Transparency on Normal at around 90%.  Draw out some lines and apply this scatter brush to make some speckles.

How to create a vector shatter effect in Adobe Illustrator

Step 14:  Use the same scatter brush and make some darker spots # 3A271D set to Color Burn at 100%.

How to create a vector shatter effect in Adobe Illustrator

 

Congratulations, you are done!  The great thing about working in a vector program like Illustrator is after you are done, you can use the effect you just made on any shape, just grab the objects and move them around until they fit.

How to create a vector shatter effect in Adobe Illustrator

How to create a vector shatter effect in Adobe Illustrator

vector shatter effect

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