How to create funny swirls in Illustrator

How to create funny swirls in Illustrator

This is an Illustrator tutorial that explains how to create decorative swirls that can be easily integrated in your works. The creative process is easy to follow and the result is a vivid, outstanding image.

Illustrator is not one of my favourite tool (I have to admit!) but sometimes it’s indispensable, for example to create a logo or a web mascotte. There are some interesting effects, like the one shown in this tutorial, that can be more easily achieved with a vector approach.

Swirls are a common element in graphic design. I will show you how easy it is to create them. The problem (always the same) is the ability to combine these elements with other images with a correct use of colors. If you want to be inspired by a guru of this style, give a look at the portfolio of Radim Malinic.

At the end of the tutorial you can download the vector pack for free.

Preview of the result:

The final result is composed by 9 vectors. Here’s a preview of the elements we will create in Illustrator:

Swirl 1 and 2

Set a color of your choice as fill color and none as stroke. Grab the ellipse tool (L) and create a circle. Press shift while drawing to maintain constant proportions.

Copy (ctrl+C) and paste in front (ctrl+F) the circle. Resize it, but make sure to press both shift and alt while resizing. Change the color of the new concentric circle.

Repeat the same process to create other concentric circles. Super easy! Once finished I suggest you to group all the objects (select the layers in the layer window and press ctrl+G). Swirl 2 is created with the same process with the only difference that fill color is empty while you have to set a stroke color.

Swirl 3

With the ellipse tool create 2 circles of different size. Make the smaller yellow and apply a radiant gradient to the second one.

Select both the circles and go to Object>Blend>Make. Now double click on the blend tool icon and switch the settings as shown in the screenshot below:

Draw an arc using the Arc Tool

Select the blend object and the arc. Now go to Object>Blend>Replace Spine. Done!

Swirl 4

Lets create a black circle and a shape using the pen tool (P).

Move the circle and the shape to obtain the form of the swirl. Then select both, open the pathfinder window (Window>Pathfinder) and click on “add to shape area” and then on “expand”.

Switch the color of the shape from black to a hot red (#A62122). Now go to Object>Path>Offset Path… and follow the settings in the screenshot:

Switch the color of the inner shape to pink (#EDA79A). Now we have to blur this layer. So go to Effect>Stylize>Feather with a radius of 10pt.

Swirl 5

With the ellipse tool, create a super pressed ellipse. Drag the ellipse in the brushes window and select “new art brush” from the popup window. In the next window switch the method from “none” to “tints” (this will allow us to change the brush color later) and OK. Compliments: you’ve created an illustrator brush.

Create a spiral with the Spiral Tool, and click on the brush in the brushes window. Increase the size of the stroke untill you obtain a result similar to the one in the screenshot:

Create a circle and place it over the spiral

Select both the spiral and the circle and go to Object>Expand Appearance. Then go to Object>Path>Clean Up… (in this way we haven’t a brush, but only a path). Select again spiral and circle and press the “add to shape” button in the pathfinder window and expand. Now choose a fill color (mine is #6B2E39)

Now use the pen tool to create 2 shapes as shown below:

Apply the feather effect (Effect>Stylize>Feather) to both the shapes, with a feather radius around 10pt. Finished!

Swirl 6

Create a spiral and apply the same brushes used for swirl 5. With the spiral selected, go to Object>Expand Appearance. And Object>Path>Clean Up. Switch the color to crimson (#A9233C).

Create a little circle and place it at the end of the spiral. Select both spiral and circle, and press the “add to shape” button in the pathfinder window, then click on Expand in the same window.

Go to Object>Path>Offset Path and enter a value of -7 pt.

Use a lighter color for the inner shape (#F15B58). Go to Effect>Stylize>Feather and enter a value of around 8pt.

Create another spiral. This time give a 1px yellow stroke, and go to Object>Expand.

Dudplicate the spiral layer and move it on the top of all the other layers. Switch the fill color to none. We are going to create a clipping mask to eliminate the parts of the yellow spiral that exceed the edges of the red spiral. So select the yellow spiral and the empty spiral on top. Go to Object>Clipping Maks>Make.

Repeat the last step to add more details to your swirl:

Swirl 7

Lets start from Swirl 4:

Create a new shape using the pen tool. See the screenshot as a reference:

Select the swirl and go to Object>Path>Offset Path and enter a 3pt value. We have created a greater swirl. Move this swirl on the top of the other layers. Select both the greater swirl and the shape created with the pen tool, and select “Substract from shape area” from the pathfinder window. Then on expand in the same window.

Select the main shape and go to Object>Path>Offset Pat, and this time enter a value of around -7pt.

Switch the color of the last created shape to yellow (#EDE663) and apply the feather effect. Do the same with the red shape.

Swirl 8

We have to create an art brush: so lets start creating a black circle. Now use the direct selection tool (A) to select the right anchor point and move it on the right. Click on the same anchor point with the “Convert Anchor Point Tool”. Drag the result into the brushes windows and create a new art brush.

Create an arc using the pen tool. Then apply the just created brush. Now go to Object>Expand Appearance and then to Object>Path>Clean Up. Also switch the color to crimson (#6B2E39).

Go to Object>Path>Offset Path and enter a value around -5pt.

Switch the color of the inner shape to pink (#F15B58) and apply the feather filter with a radius around 8pt.

Swirl 9

Create a line with the Line Segment Tool. Now go to Effect>Distort & Transform>Transform and use the following settings to create a series of parallel lines.

Go to Object>Expand Appearance and again Object>Expand. Now create the Swirl 4 and put the lines upon the swirl. Rotate theme and set the color to white.

Duplicate the swirl layer and put it above all the other layers. Switch the fill color to “none”. This will be our clipping mask: select the lines and the empty swirl and go to Object>Clipping Mask>Make. Also set the layer to overlay (in the transparency window) and reduce the opacity to around 60%. Done!

Everything is done! Now you only have to play with your creativity. In my case I simply downloaded the image of a singer and then pasted in all the swirls. This is what I obtained:

And this is a present for you: the AI file with all the vectors of the tutorial (plus other vectors). Enjoy it and don’t forget to subscribe to our RSS for future updates!

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(+add yours)
  1. Janet

    Fantastic tutorial, thank you

  2. Thanks for tutorial, some very interesting techniques.

  3. WOW, great tutorial :-)

  4. Very nice result, thnx!

  5. great tutorial, thanks

  6. Great tutorial, thank you!

  7. ive been searching for this technique. i first see it on the works of adhemas batista,

  8. Nice tutorial
    thnx alot!

  9. Lisa

    Reminds me of a tutorial on this site:

  10. Great tutorial, the steps seem to be thorough and helpful. Thanks for the advice, and sharing this resource with your readers.
    .-= Philadelphia workers compĀ“s last blog ..$500M Awarded in Las Vegas Medical Malpractice Lawsuit =-.

  11. Pam

    Thanks for posting this tutorial! I will plan on trying it out this weekend. The pics help understand the how-to & love the make a new brush tutorial for twirls.

  12. The swirls are really awesome. Great tutorial. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Rinku

    nice tutorial

  14. Eugen UA

    And its not very hard))
    Easy & Nice

  15. Deepak

    Fantastic detailed tutorial. Thank you very much.

  16. oka

    thank you! learn a lot & very useful! thx! ;-)))

  17. absolutely adorable!! <3 will definitely try this tut. thanks! :)

  18. nice..i will used it, thanks

  19. ninzkypot

    very nice vector! Thanks for sharing it…

  20. very very nice tutorial, thank you :)

  21. CappuchinoT

    Love u and love your tutorials ! It’s amazing and great for me ! Good job and thank you :)

  22. JaneyLu

    Having trouble with the clipping mask on swirl #6.
    Anyone else having issues? I can’t seem to make it work correctly..

  23. Njay

    Thank u for your tutorial.. it is very..very to help me

  24. Mego

    give tis site a visit and see yourself

  25. I will try out this. Hope the resulting design will be beautiful

  26. I will try and design mine

  27. I have been surfing online ore than 4 hours today, yet I never found any interesting article likke yours.
    It’s pretty worth enoug for me. Personally, if alll webmasters annd bloggers made
    giod content ass you did, the neet will be much mode useful than ever before.

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