This Adobe Illustrator tutorial will show you how to create an abstract art that can be used for wallpaper, website header or background images. It is fun and easy. You will learn how to use the Warp and Twirl tool to create abstract vector art in minutes. Users with basic skills should be able to handle this tutorial. To continue on this tutorial, you need Adobe Illustrator CS or above.

View Final Artwork

Understanding The Tools (Warp and Twirl)

Run Illustrator and create a new document, 8 x 10 inches, CMYK color mode. Double click on the Warp tool icon (on the toolbar) to activate the option panel. The setting I have is: width 1.4", height 1.4", and intensity 50%.

warp options

We will be using the Warp tool a lot, so tear off the tool set for quick access. Click and hold on the Warp tool icon until you see a dropdown panel, click on the Tearoff icon.


Warp Tool

Draw a box with the Rectangle tool. Select the Warp tool and the box. Drag your cursor above the object. Notice how the object warped based on your mouse movement.


Create another box. Now, go crazy and keep on spinning your mouse around the shape.

spiral warp

Remember: your result will look different than mine due to your settings and mouse movement.

Twirl Tool

Draw a rectangle box. Select the Twirl tool. With the box selected, press and hold your cursor above the box. It will twirl the object continously.


Create another box. This time, quickly drag the mouse in zig zag movement.

zig zag twirl

Let’s Begin

Delete all the test objects. Create a big rectangle shape to cover the document canvas. Fill it with blue gradient. Lock this layer.


Create a new layer. Draw two long rectangle shapes. Fill one with black color and another with magenta gradient. With both rectangle objects selected, use the Twirl tool and quickly spin the mouse across.

Rotate the object in 45 degree and place it in the upper right corner.


Draw a red circle. Select the Twirl tool. Press and hold on the object until you get a sun-looking circle. Place the circle in the back.


Draw another circle and fill it with red-orange gradient. Select the Twirl tool and quickly drag on its edge and place it above the sun shape.

orange circle


Glowing Effect

Create a circle and fill it with radial gradient. In the gradient slider, select yellow for one end and black for another end (make sure the black is C=100, Y=100, M=100, K=100). Set the blending mode to Screen.

glowing effect

Duplicate the glowing circle. Shrink it a bit and shift it up. Change the yellow color to white.

glowing effect

Smoke-Like Shape

Create a rectangle shape. With the Twirl tool, randomly drag and spin the mouse back and forth to create a smoke-like shape. Fill it with white color.

Fire-Ball-Like Shape

Randomly draw 4 circles in different sizes. With the Twirl tool, drag the mouse in spiral movement.


Create another set of twirling shapes with the Twirl tool. Then fill it with orange-red gradient.


Electric-Like Strokes

Create a thin long rectangle shape. Use the Twirl tool, quickly drag the mouse across the shape in zig zag movement.

electric stroke

Then fill them with various color.

electric stroke

Overlay Circles

Draw various size of circles and send them to the back. Fill them with gradient and set the blending mode to Multiply.

overlay circles

Dark Glowing Circles

Create two circles and fill them with blue-white radial gradient. Send them to the back. Set the blending mode to Multiply.

dark glowing circles


Look around the artwork, find the un-smooth shapes, smudge it with the Warp tool. Make them look rounded and liquified.

touch up

Final Remarks

I have only used the Warp and Twirl tool in this tutorial. Don’t forget to try out the Scallop, Crystallize, and Wrinkle tool. Play around with the tool options and shapes. You don’t have to start off with the rectangle shape, try the star or irregular shapes. They can also be used for creating texturized patterns.


Aug 25, 2009 at 2:37 am

Nice post. Important to learn more about the program. Thanks for the sharing.

Aug 25, 2009 at 2:53 am

This looks fantastic! Thanks for a great tutorial.

Aug 25, 2009 at 3:35 am

That’s awesome, another place to find abstract illustrations over here

SteHan Botha
Aug 25, 2009 at 4:38 am

Thanks a lot Nick – certainly acts as great instruction + inspiration! ;-)

mark sayers
Aug 25, 2009 at 6:11 am

Great idea.

I have always written off tools like this as a bit gimmicky, but that works really well.

Great job (as always)

William Rodriguez
Aug 25, 2009 at 6:22 am

I used to love using the warp tools with vector graphics. I haven’t used them in so long, I forgot how fun they can be. Thanks for the reminder, I need to get back to my roots and implement these techniques in my work again. Great post!

Cyprian Gwóźdź
Aug 25, 2009 at 7:19 am

Thank you :-)

Emyr Tabrizi
Aug 25, 2009 at 9:45 am

Nice work Nick. Cheers.

Aug 25, 2009 at 9:57 am

Fun tutorial with a great result- thanks

Web Hosting Expert
Aug 25, 2009 at 10:45 am

that is really amazing, great post !!!

Aug 25, 2009 at 11:20 am

Awesome tutorial, I’ll definitely be trying it out!

Aug 25, 2009 at 12:22 pm

This is just what I have been looking for. I love the illustrations you do. Cheers

Aug 25, 2009 at 1:15 pm

well done tutorial, thanks!

The Frosty
Aug 25, 2009 at 2:44 pm

No matter how good your tutorials are on Illustrator, I still can’t get it down.

Aug 25, 2009 at 3:30 pm

really great post, thanks :)

Aug 25, 2009 at 4:10 pm

thnx nick :)

Aug 25, 2009 at 4:14 pm

Wow, Great work… it looks real effective!

Cookie Creative - Graphic Design Manchester
Aug 25, 2009 at 5:18 pm

Fantastic tut. :)

Aug 25, 2009 at 5:37 pm

Hauu~ really cool!~
I’m a high-school student in New Zealand and this website was recommended to us.
I love it! Keep it up!~

Sarah. :3.

Aug 25, 2009 at 8:33 pm

Love it everything in this website is spectacular!!!

Aug 25, 2009 at 10:03 pm

cool..I’m about to try it..

Aug 26, 2009 at 5:48 am

Hey there, Fantastic tutorial. I’ve just started a blog myself on how I’m learning how to use programs such as illustrator etc, and ive just used your tutorial to create my first bit of abstract art. You have really helped me produce something I’m very happy with so thankyou. Heres what I managed , of course not as good as yours but without your tutorial i wouldnt have managed it at all , so thankyou again.
My abstract art version:

free vector
Aug 26, 2009 at 8:04 am

great creative tuts. Lovely. Thanks share Nick

Aug 26, 2009 at 11:27 am

Brilliant tut! This is so handy. Thanks for posting.

Aug 26, 2009 at 10:55 pm

cool posting! never used that tool for more than a few retouches… now i see why they made it!

Aug 26, 2009 at 11:38 pm

Nice i love it….. ^_^

Aug 27, 2009 at 2:14 am

this tutorial is good if someone is new to this style.

im doing this kind of art pretty successful for about 3 years now and this is actually how i started.

idiocracy kills
Aug 27, 2009 at 5:24 am

Did you get the chance to toy with the vector art tool from Creature House?

Aug 27, 2009 at 9:13 am


Elizabeth K. Barone
Aug 27, 2009 at 11:45 am

Finally – your secrets revealed! ;D

I’ve been dying to know how to do this, and I don’t use Illustrator much so I couldn’t figure it out on my own. It seems so simple now! I can’t wait to play around a little more. Thank you!

Car logos
Aug 27, 2009 at 8:33 pm

Car logos! List of car logos.Find your favorite car logos and car wallpapers at

Daniel Keegan
Aug 28, 2009 at 5:26 am

Most excellent tutorial. I am new to Illustrator and its potential.

I will be following all your other tutorials closely.

Thank you!

Barbara Beethoven
Aug 28, 2009 at 11:25 am

very nice tutorial….

Aug 28, 2009 at 11:37 am

Vectors excite me in a way that will probably, very soon, become illegal.

Aug 28, 2009 at 7:44 pm

Art ? or crap

Aug 28, 2009 at 10:22 pm

Hi! I love your site, i’m always reading your posts! I just tought you should take a look at this site, they totally stole your artwork!
BTW, excellent post!

Aug 29, 2009 at 11:19 am

Finally had the time to work thru your tutorial. My creation looks great! Thanks… so many things one can do with AI & AP – that what I use it for and was taught – this wasn’t even covered (plus we don’t use stuff like this at work – but it is always great to learn something new! Thanx!

Aug 30, 2009 at 1:05 am

@fatty Many people have trouble understanding and appreciating this type of art. When you look at an abstract art, you often have no idea what it is you are actually seeing. Abstract art are special. Abstract art purposely departs from normal appearances. You might want to look at this

@Nick Your tutorials are excellent!

Aug 30, 2009 at 2:22 pm

really good tutorial, thanks :)

Aug 31, 2009 at 4:01 am

All my life designing with freehand. I need this tutorial to improve my illustrators skills.

Keith D
Aug 31, 2009 at 1:50 pm

I love it, but how do I achieve the same effect in Adobe fireworks?
If anybody does a translation to Fireworks… please let me know.
Aug 31, 2009 at 6:12 pm

oh thanks your tutorials!

Sites Sorocaba
Aug 31, 2009 at 9:57 pm

illustrator rulez! tks mate

lombok island
Sep 1, 2009 at 10:56 am

this is awsome. ilustrator is great.

Sep 1, 2009 at 6:48 pm

This tutorial was greatly appreciated. I’d been staying away from Illustrator because I had trouble mastering the pen tool. You’ve shown me that you can get a lot out of it and not even touch the pen tool. This is soooo cool.

Sep 2, 2009 at 5:08 am

The tutorial was amazing! More such simple and well written tutorials please! Thanks. :)

Ben Rama
Sep 2, 2009 at 6:41 am

love the ai

Sep 2, 2009 at 5:39 pm

Awesome! :) Great tutorial, learned a few new things! I haven’t yet used Multiply as a blend mode, so I’ll definitely try that out.

I *love* that Twirl feature! Fell in love with it when I was a uni student and designed myself a tattoo with it! lol :)

Sep 2, 2009 at 11:11 pm

WOW !!!!! Great … really good tutorial for me ….. thanks so much !!!! :)

Sep 4, 2009 at 3:03 am

Great tuts, thanks for sharing. Great effect using ai.

Sep 4, 2009 at 6:43 am

very nice picture

Sep 4, 2009 at 2:15 pm

Nice tutorial, vector art is a little bit difficult!!

Daniel (DesignPlusUltra)
Sep 4, 2009 at 4:48 pm

Awesome stuff. The outcome looks so good and unique every time.
You can also experiment with the Distort-Effects in Photoshop to get such results.

Sep 6, 2009 at 7:19 pm

Great tutorial, Thanks to much. Simple and easy to learn.

Multimedia Design
Sep 6, 2009 at 8:11 pm

..interesting… don’t know if i’d call it art or even wish to replicate this, but it’s an interesting use of randomness.

Eko Subagio
Sep 8, 2009 at 7:28 am

I like this, very very helpfull to produce great art, no need to go to classroom just sitdown and open webdesignerwall

Nate Coventry
Sep 8, 2009 at 9:08 am

You guys haven’t posted in a while. What’s the deal?

Sep 10, 2009 at 8:14 pm

WOW !!!!! Great … really good tutorial for me

abdel ali
Sep 11, 2009 at 1:21 pm

Great man ,really thanks :)

Sep 13, 2009 at 12:01 pm

Really nicely abstracted. Looks cool, though i cant find any place for this on web to fit in.

Sep 14, 2009 at 11:55 am

excellent tutorial.

Sep 15, 2009 at 12:24 am


Sep 15, 2009 at 1:07 pm

Good tutorial, the techniques described here are very easy but they give a very good result!

Sep 16, 2009 at 2:10 pm

Wow, can you say horrendous!

Sep 17, 2009 at 9:36 am

Hmm, good techniques!

Sep 20, 2009 at 11:05 am

Great , Illustrator: Abstract Vector Art

Great article. CSS saved webdesign



Sep 21, 2009 at 8:59 am

Great , Illustrator: Abstract Vector Art
Great article. CSS saved webdesign

Sep 22, 2009 at 6:08 am

Awesome tutorial – that is great design.

Sep 30, 2009 at 6:59 pm

Boy oh boy. you make it look so easy to create cheap, trendy digital illustration. Not sure how you can call this ‘art’.

Oct 1, 2009 at 6:48 am

In 20 years i never see anything like this… beauty…

Oct 2, 2009 at 3:31 am

Here’s my Outcome. Excellent tutorial!

Facebook Developer
Oct 6, 2009 at 9:56 am

So nice , you should promote your post on facebook.

Oct 6, 2009 at 8:46 pm

nice tips. been wondering how to do these effects fast.

stron internetowych
Oct 8, 2009 at 4:36 am

Boy oh boy. you make it look so easy to create cheap, trendy digital illustration. Not sure how you can call this ‘art’.

Oct 11, 2009 at 2:57 am

NIce. I’m just starting to learn illustrator

rx1 zayıflama ilacı
Oct 17, 2009 at 4:52 pm

nice tips. been wondering how to do these effects fast.

Oct 21, 2009 at 5:50 pm

Really cool ^^!

Alex Mathers
Oct 22, 2009 at 2:14 pm

This tutorial is really clear and helpful. Thanks!


Oct 22, 2009 at 11:47 pm

That is definitely some wild design! This website is incredible though. Great design!

Oct 26, 2009 at 5:11 pm


Oct 31, 2009 at 5:24 am

So nice , you should promote your post on facebook.

panel radyatör
Nov 5, 2009 at 8:39 am

wonderful job thanks bro

Nov 17, 2009 at 6:06 am

This tutorial is really clear and helpful. Thanks!

Lyons Solutions Web Design
Nov 29, 2009 at 10:22 am

Helpful tip my friend. Thanks for that.

bedava hosting
Nov 30, 2009 at 6:40 pm


Dec 4, 2009 at 2:44 pm

You are awesome!! I have had the whole cs4 suite for awhile and have been terrified to try illustrator or fireworks, I just use dreamweaver and photoshop. I’ll have to give it “whirl”……..

Dec 5, 2009 at 2:45 am

wanna learn

Dec 5, 2009 at 2:45 am

nice enger

Dec 7, 2009 at 12:11 pm
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Dec 8, 2009 at 5:44 pm

Awesome. I always wondered how you achieved this effect in your art. I had concluded it must have something to do with using a tablet or other piece of hardware/software I didn’t have access too. Very excited to start playing around with this effect!

Awesome games
Dec 13, 2009 at 9:39 am

Real real great job ! I want stuff like this !

Dec 21, 2009 at 3:44 pm

thanks for this tutorial.. it was really helpful :)

Dec 31, 2009 at 10:46 am

And again: simple but handy! i’m really going to tear this site inside out ;)

Jan 6, 2010 at 1:57 am


Jan 7, 2010 at 3:15 am

wow! great tips. never tough about this simple step.

Feb 23, 2010 at 5:36 pm

thanks for this tutorial.

Mar 3, 2010 at 7:01 am

nice little tutorial.

köpek oyunları
Mar 23, 2010 at 3:40 pm

Diesel Engine

Apr 5, 2010 at 10:33 pm

AWESOME tutorial! it shows you how to make abstract vector art, AND it tells you how to be creative and use your own style =].
Thank you!! =D
Tanya ^^

Web Design
Apr 28, 2010 at 9:18 pm

very very useful thanks

Art for business
May 24, 2010 at 6:11 am

This looks great. Thanks again for another amazing easy to follow tutorial.

Jun 13, 2010 at 4:56 am

Thank you for the tutorial, never thought using this tools could be so easy and effective.

Jun 16, 2010 at 4:05 pm

ok, I had tons of fun with this, thanks for the tutorial!!!

Asif Ali
Jun 25, 2010 at 5:54 am

Awesome tutorial (Y)

Jul 6, 2010 at 11:00 pm

Thank you so much ..
You are very cool

Arama Motoru Optimizasyonu
Jul 17, 2010 at 9:56 pm

I was searching for header background images and I am now here.
Great tutorial.

Jul 19, 2010 at 8:24 am

Thanks for text very good ::)

Aug 25, 2010 at 4:32 pm

Oh dear god thank you so much for this

Sep 21, 2010 at 7:12 am

very creative and helpful

Sep 24, 2010 at 9:17 am


Nov 10, 2010 at 11:42 pm

Cool how Illustrator can turn simple shapes into works of art. Thanks Adobe! and thank you for the fun tute.

Sofa Slipcover %0A
Nov 22, 2010 at 4:03 am

abstract art have share some of its unique beauty when it comes to art. i like abstract art because it is mysterious ‘:”

Nov 26, 2010 at 1:08 am


Nov 30, 2010 at 12:57 am

Very amazing and creative one. Looking very nice effects. Thanks for sharing with us.

Los Angeles Web Design

Dec 6, 2010 at 1:29 pm

Thank you! this is just what I needed for a project I’m working on! Very well presented tutorial. Loved the intro and practice with the warp tools at the beginning. You are a teacher!

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Dec 17, 2010 at 7:32 am

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Dec 24, 2010 at 10:05 pm

Great post! Keep them comming!

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Dec 24, 2010 at 10:16 pm

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Jan 8, 2011 at 5:02 am

thank yeahk

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Jan 11, 2011 at 3:40 pm

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Jan 26, 2011 at 11:58 am

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Jan 27, 2011 at 2:19 pm

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Feb 2, 2011 at 6:13 am

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Feb 6, 2011 at 8:11 am

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Mar 17, 2011 at 5:37 pm

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Mar 17, 2011 at 5:38 pm

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Apr 17, 2011 at 2:34 pm

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Jun 19, 2011 at 5:10 am


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Jun 20, 2011 at 3:09 pm

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Jul 18, 2011 at 2:50 pm

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Aug 23, 2011 at 1:24 pm

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Nov 11, 2011 at 1:35 am

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Nov 19, 2011 at 6:13 am

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Nov 29, 2011 at 11:32 am

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Nov 29, 2011 at 11:33 am

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