Back to Top
Design Cuts

Create a Magical Fairytale Poster in Illustrator


WHAT WE’RE CREATING:

Hey there designers! Renee here with a tutorial for a whimsical, fairy tale poster. We’ll use Illustrator to lay out vector elements, explore gradients, use Pathfinder, dabble in the Pen Tool and much more.

HAVE YOU SEEN OUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL?

Watch the video tutorial below and subscribe to our YouTube channel for regular updates direct to your inbox.

Here’s a look at what we’ll be creating:

Fairy Tale PT

Follow along with this tutorial: Download the freebie files

The freebie pack is loaded with top quality vectors from Lisa Glanz, Round Icons and WingsArt.

This freebie pack is just a hint of the huge collection of top-quality vectors available in The Premium Quality Vectors Bundle for just $29 (an amazing 99% off). You can discover ultimate variety, from detailed illustrations to vintage images, textures, brush sets, and those always-useful ‘building block’ elements such as frames, shapes and dividers used to construct your wider designs.

Fairy Tale PT

Additional Resources

We’ll be using two fonts that are freely available online – Germanica by Paul Lloyd and Agreloy by Gluk.

Step 1: Background

Open Illustrator and go to File > New. In the New Document dialog box, enter a document name, a width of 18 inches and a height of 24 inches.

Click OK to create the document.

Fairy Tale PT

Save your file.

Select the Rectangle Tool (m) and draw a rectangle that covers the entire artboard.

Open the Color palette (Window > Color) and enter CMYK values of 95/92/69/48 for the fill color and None (the white box with a red slash) for the stroke color.

Open the Swatches palette (Window > Swatches) and at the bottom right, click the New Swatch icon. In the New Swatch dialog box, name the swatch Background Purple and press OK.

Fairy Tale PT

Open the Layers palette (Window > Layers). Double click the layer name, Layer 1, and rename it Background.

In the freebies folder, find the file from Lisa Glanz and open it in Illustrator.

If you’ve purchased the bundle, open Mountain_and_jars in the Lisa Glanz Winter Days with Bear Illustrations folder.

Use the main Selection Tool (v) to select the large teal shape and press Cmd + C to Copy.

In the main layout file, press Cmd + V to Paste.

At the top of the artboard next to W (for Width), enter 20 inches and click the link icon to maintain aspect ratio.

Fairy Tale PT

In the Color palette, change the fill color to 100/98/70/62.

Fairy Tale PT

Position at the bottom of the artboard so the entire bottom half hangs off the bottom of the artboard.

Fairy Tale PT

This shape will become a background mountain range. To make them unmistakable, we’ll add some snow-caps to the peaks.

Select the Ellipse Tool (L). Draw a small circle overlapping the top of each peak of the shape. It’s ok if they aren’t perfect circles or overlap unevenly – that’s more realistic anyway.

Fairy Tale PT

Switch to the main Selection Tool (v) and hold Shift while selecting each circle. With all four selected, open the Color palette and change the fill color to White, then go to Object > Compound Path > Make so they’ll be treated like one single shape.

Click once on the dark purple mountain shape to select it. Go to Object > Path > Offset Path.

In the dialog box, enter -0.25 inches and press OK.

Fairy Tale PT

Hold Shift and also select the group of white circles. With both the offset path of the mountain shape and the white circles selected, open the Pathfinder palette. Under Shape Modes, select the icon for Intersect.

Fairy Tale PT

Open the Brushes palette (Window > Brushes). At the top right of the palette, click the small downward-facing arrow to access the flyout menu. Select Open Brush Library > Artistic > Chalk Charcoal Pencil.

In the palette that opens, select the brush named Charcoal – Feather (hover over each thumbnail to see the name).

Fairy Tale PT

With the snow caps still selected, choose the Eraser Tool. Use the left and right brackets on the keyboard to decrease ([) and increase (]) the size of the eraser.

Start in the middle of one of the snow caps and brush down and to the right to create the illusion of depth. Do this 2 – 3 times.

Fairy Tale PT

Repeat on each of the snow caps.

Fairy Tale PT

In the Swatches palette, change both the fill color and the stroke color to Background Purple.

Fairy Tale PT

Next up, we’ll create a few clouds.

Select the Blob Brush Tool (Shift + b). Again, use the left and right bracket keys on the keyboard to decrease or increase the size. For the clouds, we’ll want a fairly large size brush.

To be able to see what you’re doing, go ahead and change your fill color to White.

Swirl the mouse in big shapes across the top of the artboard.

Fairy Tale PT

Repeat twice more to create two smaller cloud shapes below the original – one to the left and one to the right.

Fairy Tale PT

Use the main Selection Tool while holding Shift to select all three clouds.

In the Swatches palette, select the white to black gradient swatch.

Fairy Tale PT

Open the Gradient palette (Window > Gradient).

Next to Angle, enter -90 degrees.

Fairy Tale PT

Double click on the white slider arrow on the left side of the gradient slider. In the popup color picker, click the small downward-facing arrow on the top right and select CMYK. Enter CMYK values of 100/98/70/22.

Double click the black slider arrow on the right side of the gradient slider. This time when the color picker opens, click the swatches icon on the left side of the palette. From here, select the Background Purple swatch.

Fairy Tale PT

In the Layers palette, lock the Background layer by clicking the empty space between the eye icon and the layer thumbnail.

Step 2: Border

At the bottom of the Layers palette, click the Create New Layer icon. Double click the new layer name and rename it Border.

In the freebies folder, double click the file from WingsArt to open it in Illustrator. Use the main Selection Tool to select the tall blue vine. Press Cmd + C to Copy.

Note: If you’ve purchased the bundle, this is available in Wingsart\Fairy Tale\AI\CC\Individual Elements.

In the main layout file, press Cmd + V to Paste.

At the top right of the artboard, make sure the link icon between Width and Height is on, then enter a Height of 19.5 inches.

Position the vine on the bottom left side of the artboard so the bottom curl of the vine hangs off the bottom edge of the artboard.

Fairy Tale PT

Now go back into the WingsArt file and copy the flourish by selecting it and pressing Cmd + C. Paste it into the main layout file using Cmd + V.

Fairy Tale PT

With the flourish selected, hover over the corner handle until you see the double-sided curved rotation arrow. Hold Shift, then click and drag down and to the right until the shape has rotated a full 180 degrees.

Fairy Tale PT

At the top of the artboard, change the Height to 5.5 inches.

Position in the top left corner of the artboard.

Fairy Tale PT

With the corner flourish still selected, go to Object > Transform > Reflect.

In the popup dialog box, choose Vertical Axis and press Copy.

Hold Shift, then click and drag the copy to the top right corner of the artboard.

Fairy Tale PT

In the toolbar, select the Group Selection Tool (the white arrow with a plus sign). Access it on the flyout menu available by holding down on the Direct Selection Tool (white arrow) icon in the toolbar.

With the Group Selection Tool, click once on the darker blue color of the large vine.

Fairy Tale PT

Go to Select > Same > Fill Color. This will add the dark blue portions of the corner elements to the selection.

In the Color palette, enter CMYK values of 100/28/70/26.

Fairy Tale PT

At the bottom of the Swatches palette, click the New Swatch icon and name the color Dark Green.

Now use the Group Selection Tool to select the light blue color on the vine. Go to Select > Same > Fill Color.

In the Color palette, change the CMYK value to 100/28/70/0.

In the Swatches palette, click the New Swatch icon and name this one Light Green.

Fairy Tale PT

Use the Group Selection Tool to select any purple section of the corner pieces.

Go to Select > Same > Fill Color.

In the Swatches palette, select Light Green.

Fairy Tale PT

Switch to the main Selection Tool.

Open the Lisa Glanz file again. This time, copy the sketched leaves and paste them into the main layout file.

Note: If you’ve purchased the bundle, this is a section of a wreath available in Lisa Glanz/Text Dividers Enhancers\AI CS-CC\Wreaths Shapes.

In the Color palette, enter CMYK values of 75/28/70/0.

At the top of the artboard, increase the Width to 5 inches (and make sure the link icon between width and height is selected to maintain aspect ratio).

Fairy Tale PT

Hover over the corner handle until you see the rotation arrow, then hold Shift while clicking and dragging down and to the right. Rotate the leaves 90 degrees.

Position them at the bottom of the artboard, to the right of the tall vine.

Fairy Tale PT

In the WingsArt freebies file, copy the small section of leafy vine, then paste it into the main layout.

Use the Group Selection Tool to select the darker green color of the vine. In the Swatches palette, select a fill color of Dark Green.

Use the Group Selection Tool to select one of the yellow areas on the small vine. Go to Select > Same > Fill Color.

In the Swatches palette, select Light Green for the fill color.

Fairy Tale PT

Switch to the main Selection Tool (v) and at the top of the artboard, change the Height to 4.5 inches.

Hover over the corner handle to access the rotation tool. Hold Shift and rotate to the right 90 degrees.

Position at the bottom of the artboard to the right of the sketched leaves.

Fairy Tale PT

At the bottom of the artboard, hold Shift and select both the sketched leaves and the small vine we’ve just positioned.

With both selected, hold Opt + Shift, then click and drag to the right to create copies.

Fairy Tale PT

Now open the Round Icons file in the freebies folder. Select the tree branch and press Cmd + C to Copy. Paste into the main layout using Cmd + V.

Note: In the full bundle, this illustration can be found in Round-Icons\Hand-drawn Vectors Bundle\Hand Sketched Pack 1\AI\Hand Sketched elements pack assembled.

At the top of the artboard, change the Height to 10 inches.

In the Swatches palette, select Dark Green.

Position in the bottom right corner of the artboard.

Fairy Tale PT

Select one of the sketched leaves groups. Press Cmd + C to Copy, then Cmd + F to Paste. Position to the left of the tall branch on the right side of the artboard, then use the corner handle to rotate to the left so we just get a hint of sketched leaves here.

Fairy Tale PT

We’ll finish off our border with some small flowers scattered here and there.

In the WingsArt freebies file, select the small purple flower and press Cmd + C to Copy, then Paste into the main layout file using Cmd + V.

Position over the top right corner flourish.

Fairy Tale PT

Press Cmd + V to Paste another copy of the flower. Position this one in the bottom left corner of the artboard.

Fairy Tale PT

Press Cmd + V to Paste another copy. This time, hold Shift and use the corner handles to reduce the size slightly – to about .5 inches wide. Position this one toward the top of the large vine on the left side.

Fairy Tale PT

With the smaller flower still selected, press Cmd + C to Copy it. Press Cmd + V to Paste and drag the duplicate lower down the vine. Then paste another copy of the smaller flower and position this one in the bottom right corner of the artboard.

Fairy Tale PT

Select the larger purple flower in the bottom left of the artboard. Hold Opt and drag to the right to create a duplicate. Position the duplicate over the middle section of sketched leaves.

In the toolbar, switch to the Group Selection Tool. Select only the purple section of the flower.

In the Color palette, change the CMYK build to 90/72/24/15.

Fairy Tale PT

Click off of the flower. Switch to the main Selection Tool and select the entire flower again. Press Cmd + C to Copy, then Cmd + V to Paste.

Hold Shift and use the corner handles to reduce the size of the copy to about .5 inches or slightly smaller.

Position in the top left corner on the corner ornament. Then press Cmd + C to copy.

Press Cmd + V to Paste a new copy and position this one in the bottom left corner of the artboard.

Fairy Tale PT

For our last step on the border, we’ll add a shadow behind the vine elements.

With the main Selection Tool, hold Shift and select the top corner vines, the large vine on the left side and the large branch on the right side.

Press Cmd + C to Copy, then Cmd + F to Paste in Place.

Go to Object > Group. In the Swatches palette, change the fill color to Mountain Purple.

On the keyboard, hold Shift and press the left arrow, then the down arrow to offset the position of the shadow.

Lastly for the shadow effect, go to Object > Arrange > Send to Back.

Fairy Tale PT

In the Layers palette, lock the Border layer.

Step 3: Title

At the bottom of the Layers palette, click the Create New Layer icon. Name the new layer Text.

Select the Type Tool (t) and click once in the top middle of the artboard. Type:
Once
Upon
A Time

Switch to the Selection Tool.

Open the Character palette (Window > Type > Character). Change the font to Agreloy at 230 pt. Set the Tracking to -20.

Open the Paragraph palette (Window > Type > Paragraph) and select Align Left.

I’m also going to make my fill color White to make it easier to see – we’ll change this later.

Fairy Tale PT

Switch to the Type Tool. Select just the first letter of Once, O.

In the Character palette, change the font to Plain Germanica at 330 pt.

Fairy Tale PT

Select your Type Tool (t). Select the first letter of Upon, U.

In the toolbar, select the Eyedropper Tool. Use the Eyedropper to sample the O in Once, thereby copying the font, size, etc.

Fairy Tale PT

Repeat the same process with the T in Time. Use the Type Tool to select the T, then switch to the Eyedropper and sample the style of the O in Once or the U in Upon.

Fairy Tale PT

Click in an empty area off the artboard. Switch back to the main Selection Tool and click on the text to select it. In the Character palette, change the Leading to 290 pt.

Fairy Tale PT

With the Type Tool, click once before the A on the last line and hit the spacebar to add a space before it so it lines up better with our other lines.

Now use the Type Tool to select the A and the space AFTER it.

In the Character palette, change the Tracking to -100.

Fairy Tale PT

Unfortunately, it’s not possible to apply a gradient directly to editable text, so we’ll have to use a bit of a workaround. You could outline the text then apply the gradient, but I think it’s better to keep text editable whenever possible.

Click in an empty area off the artboard. Switch back to the main Selection Tool and click on the text to select it.

In the Swatches palette, change both the fill and stroke colors to None (the white box with a red slash).

Open the Appearance palette (Window > Appearance).

Click the tiny downward-facing arrow at the top right of the Appearance palette to access the flyout menu. In the flyout menu, select Add New Fill.

Fairy Tale PT

Click on the arrow to the right of the thumbnail next to the Fill to open a small swatch palette.

At the bottom of the small swatch palette, select the far left icon, Swatch Libraries menu. From here, choose Gradients > Metals.

In the new swatch palette that opens, select the first gradient swatch, Gold.

Fairy Tale PT

Open the Gradient palette (Window > Gradient). Next to Angle, enter 45 degrees.

Fairy Tale PT

Press Cmd + C to Copy the text, then press Cmd + F to Paste in Place.

In the Swatches palette, change the Fill color to None and the Stroke color to the gold gradient.

Go to Type > Create Outlines.

Open the Stroke palette (Window > Stroke) and increase the Weight to 5 pt.

Lastly, open the Gradient palette and change the Angle to -45 degrees.

Fairy Tale PT

The reason for outlining the stroked section instead of applying the gradient stroke in the Appearance palette is to get a more dramatic application of the gradient across each letter instead of the gradient stretching across the entire block of text.

The portion of the stroked O that overlaps the U in Upon looks kind of funny, so let’s take care of that. Use your Group Selection Tool to select only the stroked and outlined O. Click once on the outline of the O, then click again in the exact same spot to add the inner part of the path to it – selecting the entire path around the O.

Press Cmd + C to Copy. Press Delete, then press Cmd + F to Paste in Place.

Go to Object > Path > Outline Stroke.

Fairy Tale PT

Click once on the top portion of the U in Upon that overlaps with the O. Press Cmd + C to Copy, then click off the word on an empty space, then press Cmd + F to Paste in Place.

Go to Object > Path > Outline Stroke.

Use the Group Selection Tool to select the inside path, then press Delete.

Fairy Tale PT

Fairy Tale PT

Switch to your Selection Tool. Hold Shift and select both the outlined section of the U and the outlined, stroked O.

Open the Pathfinder palette (Window > Pathfinder) and under Shape Modes, select Minus Front.

Fairy Tale PT

Alternatively, we could have just set up the word Once separately from the rest of the words – then we could have positioned the stroked section of the O behind the word Upon, but this way gives us a chance to explore some additional ways to problem solve in Illustrator.

For our last bit of decoration on the text, we’ll add some ornamentation to the large capital letters to mimic the highly decorative initial caps you see in fairy tale books.

Open the Lisa Glanz freebie files. Drag the main Selection Tool across the remaining four ornaments to select them. Press Cmd + C to Copy, then paste into the main layout file.

Fairy Tale PT

There’s really no magic trick to getting these ornaments in the right place on the letters. You can follow what I’ve done here or experiment with completely different placement. With each ornament, make multiple copies and position on the capital O, U and T. The key is to change the scale, rotation and reflection to keep each copied ornament looking unique and flowing with the shape of the letter.

To change to size (scale) of an ornament while maintaining aspect ratio (so it doesn’t stretch), hold Shift and use the main Selection Tool to increase or decrease the size with the corner handles.

To rotate, hover over the corner handle until you see the double-sided, curved rotation arrow. Drag left or right to rotate.

To reflect an object (for instance – if it’s facing right and you want it to face left), go to Object > Transform > Reflect. Choose an Axis (Vertical axis or Horizontal axis), then click OK.

Fairy Tale PT

Fairy Tale PT

Fairy Tale PT

Select all of the ornaments just added over the letters. In the Swatches palette, change the fill color to Background Purple.

Fairy Tale PT

Step 4: Supporting Text

In the Round Icons freebie file, copy the banner and paste it into the main layout file.

At the top of the artboard, increase the Width to 7.75 inches.

Position below the title.

Fairy Tale PT

With the banner still selected, switch to the Eyedropper Tool and sample the blue color of the tiny flowers in the border.

Fairy Tale PT

Switch to the Group Selection Tool. Select the outermost path of the banner and press Cmd + C to Copy, then click in an empty area to deselect. Press Cmd + F to Paste in Place.

Fairy Tale PT

Open the Gradient palette.

Click on the gradient thumbnail in the palette to apply the gradient. It will be gold for now.

On the slider, doubleclick the far left slider arrow. Change the CMYK values to 90/72/24/5. Double click the far right arrow and change the CMYK values to 55/10/20/0.

For the remaining three gold slider arrows in the middle of the slider, select them and drag down to delete them from the gradient slider.

Change the Angle to 90 degrees.

Fairy Tale PT

Go to Object > Arrange > Send Backward.

Fairy Tale PT

Now we’ll create a path inside the banner for text.

Select the Pen Tool (p).

Click once on the bottom left inside the banner to create the first point. For the second point, click on the bottom middle inside the banner and drag to the right as you click to create a curved point.

Click again at the bottom right inside the banner to create the endpoint of the path.

Note: If you need to tweak the points, you can use the Direct Selection Tool (a) to move each individual point and adjust curves by pulling on the handles.

Fairy Tale PT

Select the Type on a Path Tool. Click once at the beginning of the path and type: Storybook Hour.

In the Character palette, set the font to any old-style serif font. I’m using OldStyle 1 HPLHS at 64 pt.

Fairy Tale PT

In the Color palette, change the CMYK build to 8/8/40/0.

Fairy Tale PT

Switch to your regular Type Tool. Click once on the artboard under the banner and type:
Wednesdays at 6pm
Zuidzande Public Library

In the Character palette, use the same font as the banner, but almost half the size. I’m using Old Style 1 HPLHS at 36 pt.

In the Color palette, change the CMYK values to 15/35/90/0 – this is a nice gold color that complements the gold gradient of the title.

Fairy Tale PT

Let’s add a little bit more decoration to the banner to really fill this area out.

In the Layers palette, unlock the Border layer. Use your main Selection Tool to select one of the smaller vine pieces. Press Cmd + C to Copy, then re-lock the Border layer.

In the Layers palette, click on the Text layer to make it active. Press Cmd + V to Paste the vine section. Position so it hangs over the top right edge of the banner.

Fairy Tale PT

Press Cmd + V again to Paste another copy of the vine section.

Hover over the corner handles until you see the rotation arrow. Hold Shift and rotate 180 degrees. Position over the bottom left side of the banner.

Fairy Tale PT

Select both vine sections, then go to Object > Arrange > Send to Back.

Fairy Tale PT

One last little touch for the banner is a flower. Unlock the Border layer and select one of the smaller purple flowers. Press Cmd + C to Copy. Re-lock the Border layer and click on the Text layer to make it active. Press Cmd + V to Paste.

Position the flower over the vine at the bottom right side of the banner.

Fairy Tale PT

In the Layers palette, lock the Text layer.

Step 5: Finishing Touches

Create a new layer and name it Bird and Sky.

In the Round Icons freebie file, copy the hummingbird and paste it into the main layout file.

At the top of the artboard, change the Width to 3.2 inches.

Go to Object > Transform > Reflect. Choose Vertical axis and press OK.

Position in the space to the left of the U and A in the title.

Fairy Tale PT

In the Color palette, change the fill color to 90/72/24/0.

Fairy Tale PT

Switch to the Group Selection Tool. Select the outermost path of the hummingbird and press Cmd + C to Copy, then click in an empty area to deselect. Press Cmd + F to Paste in Place.

Fairy Tale PT

Use the Eyedropper Tool to sample the blue gradient in the banner.

Go to Object > Arrange > Send Backward.

Fairy Tale PT

In the Round Icons freebie file, copy the star and paste it into the main layout file.

In the Swatches palette, change the fill color to White.

Sprinkle about 5 stars in the sky in varying sizes – focusing mostly on the top and right side of the sky.

Fairy Tale PT

For our last element, we’ll create a crescent moon.

Select the Ellipse Tool (L). Click once on the artboard. In the popup dialog box, enter a Width and Height of 2 inches, then press OK.

Fairy Tale PT

Hold Opt, then drag down and to the left to make a copy of the circle.

Fairy Tale PT

Hold Shift and select both circles with the main Selection Tool.

In the Pathfinder palette under Shape Modes, select Minus Front.

Fairy Tale PT

In the Color palette, change the fill color to 12/10/65/0.

Position the moon at the top right of the artboard.

Fairy Tale PT

And we’re done! We’ve created a whimsical fairy tale poster while exploring a ton of different techniques and solutions in Illustrator.

Fairy Tale PT

Fairy Tale PT

Remember that whether it’s your outcome for this tutorial or something new you’ve made, we’d love to see your designs on our Facebook page.

Please leave a comment if you have any questions or suggestions. I always look forward to hearing from you!

There’s still time to check out The Premium Quality Vectors Bundle–the bundle that brings you 1000s of the best premium vectors in the world, without the premium price tag!

6 Lovely Comments from our Community:

  1. Erin says:

    This has been my favorite tutorial so far! I actually work for a library, so now we have this lovely advertisement for our story times hanging up in our lobby. Thank you!

    • carol@designcuts.com says:

      Hey Erin,

      Thanks for the feedback on this and that is amazing to hear!! What a wonderful setting for the poster and we would love to see how it turned out :).

  2. Kimberly W says:

    That was so fun! Thank you!!!

    • Ben Neeves says:

      Hey Kimberley,

      Thank you so much for your lovely comment! 🙂 It’s fantastic to hear that you had loads of fun with this tutorial and we hope you picked up some awesome new tips and tricks in Illustrator!

      Thanks again, Kimberley, and if you have any questions when working through our tutorials, please do get in touch. I’m always happy to lend a hand 🙂

  3. valerie.lindenskov says:

    Can these files be used inPaintshop Pro?

    • Ben Neeves says:

      Hey Valerie,

      Thank you for your comment, I’m really sorry but I’m afraid that we do not work in Paintshop Pro on our side so I’m unable to test this out and confirm whether these will work for you. I apologise for any inconvenience caused! I’ve done a bit a research into this and I’ve sent you an email to assist you further. I hope it helps!

Leave us a Comment