Drawing different paper styles

In this tutorial, we’ll learn how to create 2 simple sheets of looseleaf (lined) paper: one clean and crisp, the other a bit worse for wear with a coffee stain. This one’s super easy so grab a cup of coffee and enjoy – Just don’t spill any đŸ˜‰

Drawing the Paper

First off, let’s draw a sheet of paper. The paper size we’re creating is standard in North America, 8.5 x 11″. In order to get the right proportions for our page, we’ll click on the ‘rectangle tool’ and click once on the artboard. This will bring up a dialogue box:

We’ve typed in ‘8.5 x 11″‘ as our dimensions. This will give us the correct proportions for our rectangle:

Adding Ruled Lines

Now to add the lines to our lined paper. Bring up your Direct Selection arrow (the white one), and click-drag over either the top or bottom line of the rectangle. This will select that line:

You can tell the top line has been selected because the two corner points are blue. The bottom line’s points are filled with white, which means they aren’t selected.

Now we can copy and paste this line in front of itself. Hit Commend-C Command-F (Mac) or Control-C Control-F (PC) to copy and paste this line in front of itself. The rest of the rectangle won’t copy, just the top line between the two points we just highlighted in blue:

Using your arrow tools on your keyboard let’s move this line down about an inch:

Continue copy-pasting this line in front of itself while moving each new line downward. Holding down the ‘shift’ key as you’re using the arrow keys on your keyboard to move your lines will move them much faster!

We’re being careful to count how many arrow-downs we’re using for each line, however if you lose track and your lines don’t look evenly spaced anymore, there’s an easy fix: Just select all the lines, then click on ‘Vertical Distribute Center’ in your Align window:

In the end we’re left with perfectly aligned horizontal strokes. We’ll color them a pale blue, and make our paper white (we’ve also added a gray box behind our paper so we can see what we’re working on):

We’ll add a vertical red margin line on the left in the same way we created our blue horizontal lines. Click-drag over the rectangle’s left hand side and copy the stroke. Paste the stroke in front of itself and move it over a few notches like so:

Punching Holes

Almost done! All that’s left is to add 3 holes along the side of the paper, for putting our looseleaf into a binder.

First off we’re going to quickly expand our strokes so that they become editable shapes. Select one blue line and go to ‘Select > Same > Fill and Stroke’. This will select all the blue lines for you. Go to ‘Object > Expand’ and voila, your strokes are now shapes. Repeat with the red stroke and we’re good to go.

Now we’re going to draw 3 circles along the side of the page using our Ellipse tool. Hold down ‘Shift’ as you click-drag out your ellipse to ensure it’s a perfect circle. We’ll place our circles on the left, like so:

Select one circle, copy it by hitting Command-C (Mac) or Control-C (PC) (always copy shapes: you’ll see why in just a second!). Now select the paper and use the Pathfiner’s ‘Exclude’ button to punch a hole in your white shape:

Now if you hit Command-F (Control-F on a PC), and the circle we just lost is now pasted back in front of your paper:

Why copy the circle back in? Because, as you may have noticed, we now have a blue line running right across where our hole is supposed to be! To get rid of it, select the circle and the blue line that runs across it and hit Pathfinder’s ‘Minus Front’. This will punch a hole through our blue line.

Repeat with the remaining two holes and voila, our paper is complete:

For a little extra depth, let’s copy-paste the paper shape behind itself (Command-C Command-B on Mac, or Control-C Control-B on a PC). With this shape selected, let’s offset it slightly down and to the left of our paper, creating a nice drop shadow:

Oops, spilled a little coffee here…

Now it’s time to add some character by drawing a splotchy coffee ring. We’re going to change the paper from white to slightly off-white, as though it’s yellowed with age slightly.

Here’s where we had a little fun. We took a few sheets of looseleaf and using some very strong coffee, we made our own coffee stains. We aren’t going to directly trace these, but we will refer to them to see how the coffee looks on a sheet of paper:

We start off by drawing a blobby circular shape with a couple little splashes:

Looking at our photo we notice that coffee usually gets lighter the further out the stain travels, so, we’ll add a second, darker ring to show some depth:

Now we’ll add a third, even darker blob:

We also noticed from our reference photo that the blue ink lines across the paper tend to bleed when soaked. We’ll add a few random blue bleeding ink marks:

Last but not least, we need to show the ink lines themselves stained dark by the coffee. We’ll copy and paste our blob shape and the blue lines onto a new layer. Select all the shapes (Command-A on a Mac, Control-A on a PC), then use Pathfinder’s ‘Divide’ function to chop all our shapes up:

Now all we need to do is delete all of the shapes outside of the lines running across the blob:

We’ll color these a muddy blue-brown color and we’re done!:

Here are our two finished pieces of paper side-by-side:

>> Purchase this file on iStockphoto.com

© 2010 Jennifer Borton

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One thought on “Drawing different paper styles

  1. Kelly says:

    You have the best tutorials! I hope you’ll continue posting them.

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