How To Create an Awesome Vector Skate Deck Design
This post was originally published in 2009
The tips and techniques explained may be outdated.
There’s nothing cooler than designing artwork for a skateboard deck! Follow this walkthrough in Adobe Illustrator to create your own vibrant and stunning vector artwork using geometric lines, shapes and a perfect colour scheme. The result is an awesome deck design ready for wall hanging, or hooking up with trucks and wheels for a session on the street!
Due to the size of skateboard decks it’s much easier on your RAM producing your designs in vector. 33x9inch Photoshop files at 300dpi can soon eat up some memory! Therefore start work by opening up Adobe Illustrator.
Depending where your design is being produced the exact board shape can vary slightly, but on average a common 7 ½ inch deck will require artwork at around 33x9inches in size.
Draw a rectangle across the whole artboard for use as a background, fill it with a solid colour.
Using the technique previously documented in the Trendy Geometric Lines tutorial, draw out a square. Copy and Paste the square then press the Enter key to Move the object. Enter the width of the shape in the Horizontal option to shift to butt the duplicate to the side of the original.
Repeat the process until a bunch of squares are laid out perfectly. Add a colour fill to each object. With the group of squares selection click on the New icon in the Brushes Palette. Select New Art Brush.
Make sure the orientation of the brush is flowing in the correct direction. Click OK to save the new brush into the Brushes Palette.
With the Pen Tool, draw a diagonal line across the artboard, hold shift to constrain the axis to 45 degrees. Add the previously created brush to add a striped effect to the path.
Draw a second line across the artboard, this time with a 90 degree corner. With the path selected go to Effect > Stylize > Round Corners. Enter a high enough figure so that the curve flows smoothly with no tight corners.
Draw a third line onto the artboard, flowing parallel to the other lines with rounded corners for visual interest. Change the stroke weight to 0.5 to give a thinner appearance than the others.
Draw a circle to the side of the artboard, then draw a long, thin rectangle and rotate it by 90 degrees. Copy and Paste (CMD F) the rectangle and move to the right while holding Shift.
With the two lines selected, go to Object > Blend > Make / Object > Blend > Blend Options. Select the Specified Steps options and enter a figure that produces a striped effect.
Go to Object > Expand and select only the Object option. With the lines and circle selected, click the Subtract from Shape Area option in the Pathfinder Palette.
This abstract circle can then be placed within the composition. Use the shortcuts CMD+[ and CMD+] to adjust the stacking order of the objects.
Create a dotted pattern by drawing a square with no fill or stroke, and a slightly smaller circle with a colour fill. Use the Align Palette to centralise them to each other. Drag this selection into the Swatches Palette.
Create rough shapes with the Pen Tool that fill out areas of the design, add the new swatch as the fill to give a cool dotted appearance.
Draw small circles onto the board to customise and distort the crisp lines with tiny splodges, giving a fun and cheeky style to the design.
Use rectangles filled with the background colour to mask out areas of the main stripe, giving the appearance that each individual colour is spanning out at various lengths. An alternate would be to Expand the Stroke of the path, then use the Direct Selection Tool to manually drag the end points to their different lengths.
Continue the process of adding simple elements into the design to add visual interest and break up the flow of straight lines.
Approximately ¾ across the board add a focus point to the composition, here I’m creating an area where two lines form a gap in the flow where they break away into the individual strips.
Draw a circle onto the artboard, then use the Direct Selection Tool to drag the lower point downwards vertically to form a tear shape.
Go to Object > Envelope Distort > Make With Warp to add an Arc to the shape, creating the shape of a tiny drop.
Finish off the composition with various shapes and elements, until the complete board is left with plenty for the eye to focus on.
Select all the elements and Group them together. Duplicate the background rectangle and position it at the top of the stack (CMD+Shift+]). With both selected choose the Crop option from the Pathfinder window to trim down the excess design to the boundaries of the artboard.
The design is then ready to save for print, use a template from the board supplier to ensure no key elements are going to be hidden by the trucks of be cropped off the edge of the board. Check out my roundups of awesome skateboard deck designs here on Blog.SpoonGraphics, and a collection of designs and resources on my guest post over at Vectortuts for some design inspiration!