By Yulia Sokolova

Final product image

What You’ll Be Creating

In this tutorial we’ll be creating a colorful cartoon hot-dog van, going down the road and bringing yummy snacks! We’ll be using basic shapes and playing around with Blending Modes, adding semi-realistic shadows and highlights to our van to make it more glossy and three-dimensional. Let’s get started!

1. Make the Base of the Van

Step 1

Let’s start forming the chassis of the van
from a 100 x 50 px rectangle made with
the Rectangle Tool (M). Select the
upper right anchor point with the Direct
Selection Tool (A)
, and press Enter
to open the Move options window. Set
the Horizontal Position value to -10 px and the Vertical value to 0 px,
moving the anchor point to the left.

start forming the chassis of the van from a 100x50 px rectangle

Step 2

Select the entire shape and use the Live Corners
feature to make the corners rounded by pulling the circle indicator to the
center of the shape, setting the corner radius to about 10 px. If this function is unavailable in your version of Adobe
Illustrator, use Effect > Stylize
> Round Corners.

Add two smaller rounded rectangles in the
bottom of the shape, forming the front and back bumpers.

use the Live Corners feature to make the corners rounded

Step 3

Select the Ellipse Tool (L) and make an 18 x 18
circle for the wheel. Add two smaller circles inside for the tires and
alloys. Put a narrow vertical rectangle across the base of the van for the
decorative rim, rounding the corners. Add a thinner stripe in the top part of the van.

add wheels with circles

Step 4

Let’s form the windscreen of our van. Make
a rounded rectangle in the front part, making it overlap the base of the van.
Add another rounded rectangle next to the first one, making it a bit narrower.

form the windows from rectangles

Step 5

Let’s add a portable table for hot-dogs.
Make a narrow rectangle, attaching its upper edge to the rim of the
van. Take the Direct Selection Tool (A)
and select the bottom left anchor point of the rectangle. Press Enter to call out the Move options window, and set the Horizontal value to -5 px and the Vertical value to 0 px,
moving the anchor point 5 px to the
left. Do the same for the bottom right anchor point, moving it in the opposite

make a table from rectangle

Step 6

Make the table more three-dimensional, adding a
thin horizontal stripe in the lower part of the table. Adjust the height of the
table, making it a bit narrower, so that it fits the perspective.

Add a rectangle of the same width as the
table for the window. Select both upper anchor points of the window with the Direct Selection Tool (A), and pull the
Live Corners markers to make the upper part of the shape rounded.

add a big window

Step 7

Add a small rectangle in the bottom left
part of the van for the tailpipe.

And let’s divide the van into two parts, so
that we can color these parts separately. Duplicate the base of our
van. Select the copy of the base together with the central rim. Take the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M) and hover
your mouse over the bottom part of the van until you see a grey selection.
Single-click on the shape, and here we have it! Now the bottom of the van is a separate shape!

split the van into two parts

2. Apply Flat Colors to the Van

Step 1

Now that the base of the van is ready,
let’s apply basic colors! Select the base of the van, and switch the Fill color to light-beige and the Stroke color to None in the Color panel.
Apply a bright-red color to the bottom of the van. Fill the central rim of the
van with darker-beige color.

Let’s cut off those parts of the windows
that stand outside the base of the van. Select the overlapping windows together
with the base van shape, and use the Shape
Builder Tool (Shift-M)
by holding down the Alt key and clicking the unwanted pieces to delete them.

apply color to the base of the van

Step 2

Let’s make the image more detailed by
adding rims to the windows. Select the windows and go to Object > Path > Offset Path,
setting the Offset value to -2 px.

Drag the side anchor points of the front and back windows to the sides, outside the edge of the van. Use the Shape Builder Tool
to cut off the unneeded pieces outside the van, and fill the glass
shapes with bright-blue color.

Apply dark shades of brown to the table and
to the biggest window, forming the inner part of the van.

use offset path to add rims to windows

Step 3

Apply colors to the wheels of our van.

Let’s form the sunshade awning above the
table. Start by making a narrow rectangle of 6 x 20 px size. Keeping the rectangle selected, press Enter, and in the Move window set the Horizontal value to 6 px, which equals the
width of our rectangle. Click the Copy
button to duplicate the shape and press Control-D
several times to form seven more copies. Vary the colors of the stripes next
but one, alternating white and red colors.

make a sunshade from rectangles

Step 4

Let’s add rounded shapes to the bottom of
the stripes. Take the Ellipse Tool (L)
and create a circle that fits the width of the stripe. Press Alt-Shift and drag the circle to the
right, creating a copy. Press Control-D
several times, creating more circles.

add circle shapes to the tent

Step 5

We need to deform our sunshade, putting it
into a proper position in the perspective. For this purpose, create a rectangle
on top of the biggest window, fitting its width, and modify it by moving its
bottom anchor points to the sides, so that the rectangle looks squashed.

we’ll use this rectangle to create the perspective look of the sunshade. Group (Control-G) the stripes of the
sunshade (without the circles) and select the group together with the created
rectangle. Go to Object > Envelope
Distort > Make with Top Object
. Great, now the sunshade covers the

Select the circles and use the Eraser Tool (Shift-E) holding down the Alt key to erase the upper halves of the
circles. Make the colors of the circles a bit darker, adding dimension to the

destroy the tent with the top object

Step 6

Now let’s render a yummy hot-dog! Make a
yellow rectangle of about 73 x 22 px size.
Make the corners of the yellow rectangle fully rounded. Create a bigger rectangle
with rounded corners, forming a sausage, and fill it with sausage-red color. Add another yellow shape, and place the
sausage between two pieces of bread.

make s flat hot-dog

Step 7

Let’s add some spicy sauce to our image!
Use the Line Segment Tool () to
make a straight horizontal line, holding down Shift. Make the Caps of the line rounded in the Stroke panel.

Go to Effect >
Distort & Transform > Zig Zag.
Set the Size value to 1 px,
And set Ridges per segment
equal to 8. Select Smooth Points and click OK. Go to Object > Expand
to apply the effect, forming a portion of mustard. Add another
wavy line of red color for the ketchup.

make a zigzag line for mustard

Step 8

Place the hot-dog on top of the van, right
above the awning.

Place the hot-dog on top of the van

3. Use Blending Modes to Add Shiny Details
to the Van

Step 1

Select the basic shape of the van and use the Offset Path function with -2 px Offset value. Fill the shape with
linear gradient from dark brown to black, and switch the Blending Mode to Screen,
creating a glossy highlight.

add a highlight to the van with offset path

Step 2

Apply a vivid linear gradient of dark and
light blue shades to the windows. Let’s darken the upper part of the windows.
Make a narrow horizontal stripe across the top of the windows. Fill it with
blue color and set the Blending Mode
to Multiply.

And let’s get rid of
the unneeded pieces outside the windows. Select the windows, right click
and Make Compound Path, turning the
group of windows into a single shape.

add blue gradient to the windows

Step 3

Select both the windows compound path and
the blue stripe, and use the Intersect
function of the Pathfinder panel. Now we have nice a blue overtone in the top part of the windows.

add shadow to the windows

Step 4

Use the Offset Path function with -1 px
value to add a shiny reflection to the van’s rim. Apply linear
gradients to the rims of the windows as well.

add a shiny reflection to the rim

Step 5

Select the wheels and use the Offset Path function with 1 px Offset value. Turn the created
shapes into a Compound Path, select
it together with the bottom red part of the van, and use the Minus Front function of Pathfinder to cut out the holes for the

add holes around the wheels with offset path

Step 6

Copy the inner part of the wheel (the
alloy) and make it smaller. Use the Eraser
Tool (Shift-E)
to erase the central part of the shape. Otherwise, use the Pencil Tool (N) to draw a wavy line across the circle, and Divide both shapes in Pathfinder to split the circle apart.

add a highlight to the wheels 1

Fill the remaining
parts with linear gradient from grey to black and switch the Blending Mode to Screen, creating a glossy highlight on the metal surface of the

Apply a radial light-beige gradient to the
central circle of the wheel, making it more three-dimensional.

add a highlight to the wheels 2

Here is how our van looks at this step.
Let’s make it a bit more realistic by adding gentle shadows!

hot-dog van with details

Step 7

Form a narrow stripe beneath the table,
using the Rectangle Tool (M) and the
Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M). Fill
it with light-beige color and switch the Blending
to Multiply, forming a
semi-transparent shadow.

Apply grayish and red linear gradients to the stripes of the sunshade, making it more realistic.

add shadows and recolor the sunshade

Step 8

Now let’s add more details to the table.
Fill its upper surface with radial gradient from light-brown to dark-brown,
imitating a polished wooden surface.

apply radial gradient to the table

Step 9

Take the Rectangle Tool (M) and form two dark, narrow stripes, putting them
horizontally along the table. Add several lighter stripes next to the dark
ones, forming three-dimensional wooden planks.

make wooden planks

Step 10

Add skewed rectangular shadows beneath the
table and the sunshade, switching the Blending
to Multiply, as we did

add more shadows in multiply blending mode

Step 11

Let’s make our flat hot-dog more realistic
and three-dimensional as well. Apply a squashed radial gradient from orange to yellow
to the bread pieces of the hot-dog. Fill the sausage with a similar gradient
from dark-red to meat-pink.

Add a couple of narrow rounded rectangles
above the sausage and the bread, fill them with dark linear gradients from
brown to black, and switch the Blending
to Screen, making subtle
highlights. Finally, add thin, semi-transparent shadows in Multiple Blending Mode to the parts of the hot-dog.

make the hot-dog realistic by adding gradients and shadows and highlights

Step 12

Add a shadow beneath the top hot-dog. Put
three smaller hot-dogs on the table. Recolor the white stripes of
the sunshade with bright-yellow linear gradients to make the image more colorful
and sunny.

finish up with the van by adding more details

4. Add a Simple Background to Our Image

Step 1

Create a background rectangle and fill it
with light-brown color. Put a large, squashed ellipse under the van for the
shadow, and fill it with squashed radial gradient from beige to white, switching
to Multiple Blending Mode. Copy the
shadow ellipse twice, make the copies smaller, and place them beneath both wheels of the van.

add a background rectangle and a shadow under the van

Step 2

Add another rectangle of dark-brown color
in the bottom part of the artboard, forming the road. Place a straight
horizontal line along the road for the traffic divider. Open the Stroke panel and tick the Dashed Line box, forming the gaps in
our line. Set the dash value to 20 pt
and the gap to 30 pt.

Adjust the values, if needed, in order to
fit the overall scale of the image. If you haven’t resized the van and you’re making a
small picture, you may need to use smaller values of about 2–5 pt.

add a road with dashed line divider

Step 3

Create a cityscape silhouette from
light-brown rectangles, making shorter and taller shapes, depicting buildings
and skyscrapers.

Add lighter-brown windows, forming sets of
small, narrow rectangles above the buildings.

make a cityscape from rectangles

Yay! Our Colorful Cartoon Van With Yummy Hot-Dogs Is Finished!

I hope you enjoyed creating this glossy van
with bright elements and learned some new tips and tricks, while using the Shape Builder Tool, Pathfinder panel
and Blending Modes. Keep making
creative things and come back for more tutorials! Have fun!

Colorful Cartoon Van with Hot-Dogs is finished

Read more here:: Create a Colorful Cartoon Hot-Dog Van in Adobe Illustrator