Create a cupcake in Illustrator

Create a cupcake in illustratorWho doesn’t enjoy the odd cupcake now and again? I certainly do. If only there were a way to appreciate cupcakes without piling on the pounds… Adobe Illustrator to the rescue! In this tutorial I will show you how to create a delicious cupcake in Illustrator using basic shapes and the pen tool. Now you can savour your treat without the guilt.

Cupcake

This is the cupcake that we’ll be creating, complete with frosting and sprinkles. If you want to get extra credit I’ll also show you how to ‘zombify’ your cupcake at the end of the tutorial.

Illustrator cupcake tutorial frosting

Open up Illustrator and create a new document. We’re going to start by creating the frosting, I’ll include the dimensions that I used, but feel free to deviate if you want to. Draw two rounded rectangles (140px by 45px and 135px by 45px) with a corner radius of 45px. Rotate the smaller of the two rectangles by 15° (right-click and select Transform then Rotate from the pop-up menu). Select both rectangles and align them horizontally to the left and vertically to the bottom using the Align palette.

Illustrator cupcake tutorial frosting

Next, draw a third smaller rounded rectangle (100px by 45px), again with a corner radius of 45px. Rotate the rectangle by 15° then align it horizontally to the left and vertically to the bottom of the other two. Using the Selection Tool, pull the rectangle up by roughly 30px and in to the right by around 15px.

Illustrator cupcake tutorial frosting tip

Now we just need to add the tip of our frosting using the pen tool. The key to creating smooth lines here is to use as few anchor points as possible, I have used four in total. If you want to refine the shape further you can use the Smooth Tool (located under the Pen tool in the Tools panel) to smooth out your paths. Once you are happy with the shape of your frosting, select all of the elements created so far and combine them using the Unite button in the Pathfinder palette.

Illustrator cupcake tutorial frosting bottom

All that’s left to do with our frosting now is to round off the bottom and add the detail for some shadows. Draw a 145px by 50px oval and align it horizontally to the centre and vertically to the bottom of the frosting. Pull the oval down by around 7px, so that it creates a curved bottom, before selecting both shapes and choosing the Divide button from the Pathfinder palette. Delete the left and right edges where the frosting and oval overlap and then combine the remaining shapes.

Illustrator cupcake tutorial frosting shadows

Onto the shadows! Copy the frosting (CTRL+C) then using the pen tool create a sweeping curve underneath the tip where the shadow would naturally fall. You should only need three anchor points to achieve this before closing the path. Select the shadow and the frosting and remove any overlap by using the Pathfinder’s Divide button and then deleting the excess. Repeat this process a further two times so that you are left with three natural looking shadows cast by the shape of the frosting.

Illustrator cupcake tutorial frosting shadows

At the moment our frosting is made up of several different segments, we’ll need the outline to be whole in order to add a stroke later. Delete out everything but your three shadows, paste the frosting outline back in place (CTRL+F) and then reorder it so that it sits at the back of the document (CTRL+SHIFT+[).

Illustrator cupcake tutorial cupcake case

We are now ready to move onto the cupcake’s case. Draw two ovals (155px by 50px and 125px by 50px) then align them horizontally to the centre and vertically to the top. Pull the smaller of the two ovals down by 60px (holding SHIFT and using the down arrow on your keyboard will speed this process up a little). Using the Direct Selection Tool, delete the bottom anchor point of the larger oval and the top anchor point of the smaller. Join the leftmost anchor points on the remaining shapes by selecting them and then right-clicking and choosing Join from the pop-up menu. Repeat this process on the right.

Illustrator cupcake tutorial cupcake case detail

Let’s add a little detail to the top of the cupcake case so that it looks a bit more interesting. Draw two circles (15px by 15px) placed side by side with a 125px gap between them. With both circles selected go to the Object menu and choose Blend then Blend options. Change the Specified Steps to 10 and click OK. With both circles still selected press ALT+CTRL+B to make the Blend. Now, from the Effect menu choose Warp then Arc, set the Horizontal Bend to -25% and click OK before choosing Expand Appearance from the Object menu.

Illustrator cupcake tutorial cupcake case detail

Align the string of circles horizontally to the centre and vertically to the top of the cupcake case before pulling it down by 10px. Select both shapes, then from the Pathfinder palette choose the Minus Front button. Delete the excess top of the cupcake case.

Illustrator cupcake tutorial cupcake case shadows

We’re now going to add some shadows to the case. Copy and paste the cupcake case in place (CTRL+C, CTRL+F). Delete out all of the duplicate’s anchor points with the exception of three on the top left and one on the bottom left. You should now be left with what looks like an elongated kite shape. Join the right and bottom anchor points to close the path.

Illustrator cupcake tutorial cupcake case shadows

To create the second shadow segment, again copy and paste the cupcake case in place. This time you will need to use the Add Anchor Point Tool to add an anchor point to the bottom of the case so that it sits underneath the uppermost point of second the kite shape (refine the position by using the Transform palette to to match the x-axis value). Delete out all of the unnecessary anchor points before joining the remaining points to complete the kite shape. You will need to repeat this process for every section of the cupcake case until you reach the centre point.

Illustrator cupcake tutorial cupcake case shadows final

When you have completed the centre shadow shape, select all of the shadow elements and reflect them vertically by right-clicking and choosing Transform and then Reflect from the pop-up menu. Align the shadow elements so that they create a mirror image of the originals (again you can use the Transform palette to get the precise coordinates). Once you are happy with the positioning delete the duplicate centre shadow.

illustrator cupcake tutorial cupcake case shadows

Our shadows are too large at the moment, let’s reduce their size. Select all of the shadow elements and from the Object menu select Path then Offset Path (make sure not to select the case). Change the Offset to -3px and click OK. Delete the original shadow shapes, and then group the new smaller shadows with the cupcake case.

Illustrator cupcake tutorial cupcake combined

With the case now complete we can now move on to the cake bit of our cupcake. Draw an oval (151px by 60px) and align it horizontally to the centre and vertically to the top of the case. We want the cupcake to look like it has risen above the case during baking, so we’ll need to pull it upwards by around 30px. Reorder the layering so that the cake sits behind the case before grouping them. Finally, select the frosting and position it so that it sits on top of the cupcake (for reference, my frosting is 85px above the bottom of the case).

Illustrator cupcake tutorial cupcake colour

We are now ready to add some colour to our delicious cupcake. I have opted for strawberry frosting on a golden cupcake with a pink case, but feel free to pick whatever flavour and colours you want. Once you have added your colours, add a 2px stroke to the frosting, cake and case leaving the shadows as they are. You will need to ensure that the frosting’s stroke is aligned to the outside otherwise the shadows will overlap the edges slightly.

Illustrator cupcake tutorial cupcake outline

The final thing we need to do to complete our cupcake is to give it a thick outline. Copy and paste the cupcake in place and from the Pathfinder palette choose the Unite button, you should be left with a cupcake silhouette. With the silhouette still selected choose Path and then Offset Path from the Object menu, change the Offset to 5px, Joins to Round and click OK. Combine the resulting two shapes together with the Unite button before sending the outline to the back of the document and recolouring it.

Illustrator cupcake tutorial cupcake sprinkles

Oops! We almost forgot the sprinkles! Draw a small rounded rectangle (15px by 3px) with a border radius of 3px in the same colour you used for the stroke. Copy and paste the rounded rectangle as many times as you want, rotating and repositioning the sprinkles until you are satisfied with the results. Group the sprinkles together and then place them on your frosting.

Cupcake

That’s it, our cupcake is finished! Doesn’t it look tasty? Okay, I know that cupcakes aren’t really synonymous with the horror genre, so if you want to ‘zombify’ your cupcake follow the ‘Extra Credit’ section below. If you are happy with your cupcake the way it is then I hope you enjoyed the tutorial!

Extra Credit

Zombie cupcake

So, you want to ‘zombify’ your cupcake? I thought that might be the case. Here’s what our zombie cupcake will look like.

Illustrator cupcake tutorial zombie colours

The first thing we need to do is change our colour palette, after all no self-respecting zombie cupcake would be seen undead wearing pink. I have chosen some sickly looking greens and a putrid brown.

Illustrator cupcake tutorial zombie drip

Now that you have recoloured your artwork it’s time to make the frosting drip and ooze. On a new layer use the pen tool to create some drip shapes leaking down from the frosting, you may need to lock the layer underneath temporarily so that the pen tool doesn’t interact with the other elements. Once you are happy with what you have created, select the drips and the outline of the frosting and combine them using the Unite button in the Pathfinder palette (you will need to ungroup the elements of the cupcake in order to select the frosting). Recolour the frosting outline if necessary making sure that the stroke is still set to the outside. You will now need to reposition the frosting so that it sits beneath the sprinkles and shadows.

Illustrator cupcake tutorial zombie drip

You can refine any harsh edges on your frosting drips by dragging the Smooth Tool (located under the Pen tool) over the section of the path that you want to smooth out. It’s also a good idea to make sure that the stroke is set to have a Round Cap and a Round Join for the corners, as this will remove any jagged areas where we combined the drips with the frosting.

Illustrator cupcake tutorial zombie outline

Since we’ve altered the shape of our frosting slightly we’ll need to recreate the cupcake’s thick outline. Delete the existing outline then copy and paste the cupcake in place. Combine all the elements using the Unite button and then offset the path by 5px (remember to set the Joins to Round). Unite the resulting two shapes before sending them to the back of the document, you’ll need to recolour them again.

Illustrator cupcake tutorial zombie eyes

We’ll create the eyes next. Draw an oval (20px by 30px) and pull its left anchor point out to the left and up by 3px. Offset the oval’s path by 4px with round joins. Set the original oval’s fill to white and the offset’s fill to a just off black colour, then pull the white oval to the right by 1px. Using the Blob Brush Tool (SHIFT+B) add some detailing to the black oval so that the eye becomes more tired and sunken looking. Once you are happy with the results copy and paste the eye in place before reflecting it vertically. Add around 30px of spacing between then eyes and position them on the cupcake’s case.

Illustrator cupcake tutorial zombie mouth

Use the Blob Brush Tool again to draw a mouth (this is easier if you have a tablet, but don’t worry if not you can still achieve similar results). Manipulate the anchor points using the Direct Selection Tool and bezier handles until you have achieved a result you are happy with. As with previous stages smooth out any harsh lines using the Smooth Tool.

Zombie cupcake

Our zombie cupcake is now complete, albeit a little less appetising. If you enjoyed this post you might also find my gingerdead man tutorial interesting, why not take a look?

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Written by Liz Canning

2 Comments

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  1. Jenn Coyle says:

    I adore this tutorial and your overall illustration style. And who wouldn’t love a zombified cupcake?!

    1. Liz Canning says:

      Thank you Jenn! I think the only downside to a zombified cupcake would probably be the taste…

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