Graphic Design / Interactive Design / Fine & Applied Arts / Parkland College

Graphic Design Exercises
Illustrator: Graph


To learn advanced Illustrator drawing techniques. To learn Illustrator's graphing and blending tools by recreating the following art:


Illustrator's graphing capabilities gives artists full control over how graphs look. An illustrated graph (as opposed to a plain bar graph) can convey numerical information in a much more interesting way. In this example, we will make the flame art by blending objects. Then we will apply the art to a generic bar graph using imported data.


making the graph

  1. download starter files
  2. open "gas index.xls" in excel; save as "gas index.txt" (text, tab delimited)
  3. launch Illustrator, file > new (profile=print), save as ""
  4. practice Illustrator's navigation shortcuts (download Illustrator keyboard shortcuts)
  5. column graph tool: draw rectangle:
    • import "gas index.txt", apply
    • transpose row/column, apply
  6. with graph selected, object > graph > type:
    • graph options: column width=60, cluster width=100
    • value axis: 0, 100, 10
    • category axis: tick marks=none

making the flame

  1. open "", examine layers
  2. flame white layer: fill white, stroke none
  3. flame blue layer: fill=50C+35M+25K; stroke none
  4. flame black layer: fill= 50C+35M+100K, stroke none
  5. hide bottom layer, select all
  6. object > blend > make (resulting blend will be on top layer)
  7. copy and paste blended object into "graph" window, move to side

making a better graph

  1. select flame art
  2. object > graph design: new design, rename "flame"
  3. select graph, object > graph > column: choose flame
  4. new layer "black", draw black rectangle, move to bottom
  5. change fill to rich black (match flame)
  6. view > outline (cmd+Y)
  7. direct select tool: select one type element
  8. select > same > fill color
  9. change font to Gill Sans, fill=white (adjust size)
  10. direct select tool: select one tick mark
  11. select > same > stroke color
  12. stroke=white; width=2pt
  13. new layer "title", add title "Natural Gas Consumer Index"
  14. save


  1. file > save as (format=PDF)
  2. delete unused art
  3. add your name and the exercise number to the file
  4. print a b&w proof for grading
  5. file your graded proof in your Process Book for individual review

Last updated: 3/1/17 ■ Webmaster: Paul Young