Lightning Bolt in Illustrator

    ●   Create a shiny lightning bolt for your composition using this simple technique.

Learn About:

Gradients Offset Path Zig Zag Effect Selection vs. Direct Selection Tools

  •   This tutorial is part of the Don't Buy The Lie and We Can Be Heroes! Projects.

Other People's Work:

Here are examples of work inspired by this tutorial.

Step #1: Open your Project in Illustrator ~

Open YOUR PROJECT in Illustrator and create a New Layer.





… (Remember: all these tutorials are intended to be
applied to YOUR PROJECT) …





Step #2: Default Colors ~

Set your Default colors by hitting the keyboard shortcut (d).

Step #3: Line Tool ~

Get the Line Segment Tool or hit the keyboard shortcut (\) …


… and drag a line across your artboard.




Holding Shift keeps the line perfectly straight.


Step #4: Selection Tool ~

Get the Selection Tool or hit the keyboard shortcut letter (v) …

… and, holding the Alt (⌥)/Option alt option key key, click the line and duplicate it.

Step #5: Direct Select Tool ~

Get the Direct Selection Tool or hit the keyboard shortcut letter (a) …

direct selection tool

… and highlight 2 end-points by dragging a box around what you want to select.

Step #6: Average ~

With two end-points selected, go to: Object > Path > Average

average both

… and pinch the two lines together.

Step #7: Zig Zag ~

Then go to: Effect > Distort & Transform > Zig Zag and make sharp corners …

zig zag effect

Step #8: Expand ~

Then go to: Object > Expand Appearance


Step #9: Adjust the Anchor Points ~

If your lightning bolt needs to be adjusted, get the Direct Selection Tool direct selection tool again and click on one of the anchor points …

… and, using the arrow key, nudge the points to make a perfectly shaped Lightning Bolt.

Use the arrow keys to nudge the all the points. Do a Good Job! Line up all the points to create a good shape.

other points



Do a Good Job! Line up all the points to create a good shape.


Step #10: End Points ~

Select the two open-end points the same way you did before, with the Direct Selection Tool

Right-Click and select Join.

join end points

Step #11: Gradient Colors ~

Now click the Gradient icon or hit the keyboard shortcut: Cmd(⌘)+F9 and select Radial as the Type.


… and click on the gradient slider to select a color.

If you don't see any color, Shift+Click the Grayscale Ramp and that will bring up more choices.

Also do the other side, too.

Step #12: Stroke ~

Also set the Stroke to none none

Step #13: Adjust the Gradient ~

Lastly, get the Gradient Tool or hit the keyboard shortcut letter (G) …

gradient tool

… and adjust the gradient.

Step #14: Pen Tool ~

Get the Pen Tool or hit the keyboard shortcut letter (p) …

pen tool

… set the Fill color to white and the Stroke color to none

stroke none

… and draw some shapes in corners to give it some depth.

Continue adding highlights to all the corners …

wow highlights

Last Step: Save and Attach ~


Attach it!

  •   ALWAYS save your projects using the following naming convention:

  •   DO NOT name your project any other way - Improperly named projects will not receive credit and you will be sad.

  •   NEVER leave your work on the desktop or depend on a flash drive - instead, save your work in a folder you can find later - preferably on a virtual drive where it can be backed up.

Other Resources: http://www.eis4u.com/2012/02/14/quick-lightning-bolt-vector-illustrator-cs5-tutorial/