Need to create a really flexible vector banner for use on all sorts of projects? Follow this tutorial for a quick, bullet-proof technique for great banners. Video included!

Tutorial Details

  • Software: Adobe Illustrator CS5
  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Topics: Strokes, Transform Palette, Move
  • Estimated Completion Time: 15 minutes
  • Project Files: (Downloaded 5,657 times)

Step 1

Create a new Illustrator document 460 px wide by 230 px high.

Step 2

Create a new rectangle by selecting the Rectangle Tool (M) and clicking anywhere on the artboard. Set the width to 350 px and the height to 50 px in the Rectangle Tool dialog box.

Step 3

Set the fill color of your new rectangle to white and add a 2 pt black stroke with rounded corners. I’ll refer to this first large rectangle as the “body”.

Step 4

Cut off the Scale Strokes & Effects setting in the Transform Palette.

Step 5

Select your new rectangle and copy it. Edit > Copy (Command + C). Paste two new rectangles in front of the first one. Edit > Paste in Front (Command + F) for the first (middle) copy. Edit > Paste in Front (Command + F) for the second (top) copy.

Step 6

Pull up the Transform Palette and set the transfer reference point to middle-left. Then remove the constrain width and height proportions link.

Step 7

Select the top rectangle and set its width to  80 px with the Transform Palette. I’ll refer to this rectangle as “left tail”.

Step 8

Select the middle rectangle, set the transform reference point to middle-right and set the width 80 px. I’ll refer to this rectangle as “right tail”.

Step 9

Select the left tail and move it 40 px to the left. Object > Transform > Move (Shift + Command + M).

Step 10

Select the right tail and move it 40 px to the right. Object > Transform > Move (Shift + Command + M).

Step 11

Select both tails by clicking the left tail, then holding down the shift key and clicking the right tail.

Step 12

Add extra points to both selected tails to create the end cuts of the banner. Object > Path > Add Anchor Points.

Step 13

With the Direct Selection Tool (A), the white arrow in the toolbox, select the left-middle anchor point on the left tail.

Step 14

Move the selected anchor point 25 px to the right. Object > Transform > Move (Shift + Command + M).

Step 15

Now select the right-middle anchor point on the right tail and move it 25 px to the left.

Step 16

Select the left tail and move it up 10 px.

Step 17

Select the right tail and move it down 10 px.

Step 18

Select both tails and send them behind the body of the banner. Object > Arrange > Send to Back.

Step 19

Zoom in really close on the left tail and with the Pen Tool (P) and draw the fold (triangle) that connects the body to the left tail. To make sure you hit each anchor point exactly, switch the view mode to Outline. View > Outline (Command + Y)

Step 20

Now do the exact same thing on the right tail.

Step 21

Switch back to Preview mode. View > Preview (Command + Y). Zoom back out so you can see the entire banner.

Step 22

Select every piece of the banner and load up the Envelope Distort Tool. Object > Envelope Distort > Make with Warp. For this tutorial I used the default setting with the Flag style.

Final Result…


Be sure to try some of the other envelope distort warp styles to achieve different looks. Also, make sure to add any text you may want in the banner before you apply the envelope distort.

Tutorial Video


  1. As embarrassing as this may be I just have to say I have been using Adobe Illustrator since 1988 and still don’t use or even know about all of the features in the program. Thanks for posting this tutorial.

  2. THANK YOU for posting this tut! I am very new to graphic design but have a specific task involving creating a curved banner on my hands. You’ve made it a possibility for me to actually handle this project!


  3. Thanks for this. I usually lose my way half way through most tutorials due to poor descriptions/instructions, but you did a great job of explaining things in a clear and easy to follow manner!

  4. Nice!

    I tried your steps in CorelDRAW instead, it’s even easier there. But CorelDRAW is faster than Illustrator for almost everything, and by now most people know that.

  5. just wanted to add a nice tip, save these banners as symbols (and then as a symbols library) for easy access in any document. You can then expand the symbol in another document to change colors and otherwise customize. :) Just another shortcut when designing.

  6. Hello there. Thanks for the fabulous directions. I am working on an exhibit and need to create the title for it. The part that you didn’t go into is the part I need. How to make large 3-4 inch letters so that the guests can read the title of the exhibit.
    If you have a minute, I would appreciated knowing how to make this title.
    Thank you.

    1. Margie, I’m not sure I understand you exactly but here is my answer to what I think you need.

      Step 1: After you finish the tutorial and have your completed banner, simply measure your physical exhibit board/table/etc. to determine what size you need the banner to be. For illustrative purposes, let’s say it needs to be 16″ wide.

      Step 2: Inside of Illustrator select the entire banner you created along with all text (Command + A).

      Step 3: Bring up the Transform Palette and enter “16 in” in the width (W) measurement value box. Make sure the constrain width and height proportions link is selected so your banner and text will scale proportionally.

      Step 4: Finally, adjust your document size and print your banner.

      I may be way off base with my answer, so let me know if this helped or not. GOOD LUCK!

  7. I’m having trouble with creating the folds of the banner. When I complete the triangles, they don’t quite match up properly. The tips of the triangles extend further than the top of the bottom rectangle. Any ideas what I’m doing wrong?

    1. I’m guessing that you forgot to round the corners on the strokes for your triangles. Make sure that your Stroke Palette settings for each triangle look exactly like mine in Step 3. If you select the two middle stroke corner buttons (Round Cap, Round Join) everything should line up. The default stroke settings for Illustrator are Butt Cap and Miter Join which makes for pointy corners on extreme angles. Let me know if this doesn’t work.

      - Josh

  8. Excellent tutorial!

    How would I go about having the text line up with the banner? I tried to match the text by having the same properties using the envelope flag warp, but have had little success.

    Any help would be appreciated.

  9. Nevermind! Figured it out:

    To anyone else who ran into this issue, just select the text with everything else and then use the envelope warp.

    1. Glad you figured it out… but for future use, always try to design all elements that need to be distorted/warped fully and complete, and then apply the transformation to all object as a whole. It’s usually hard to get things to line up exactly if they are distorted individually. Thanks for visiting! – Josh

  10. I googled for this because I needed to make a banner on a menu and I was tired of using crappy online copies. Now I might go banner crazy for a while. A really REALLY well crafted tutorial.

  11. Great tutorial! I’m still trying to learn all of the Illustrator tools, and this one is very practical. One question though…when I do the flag warp, my triangles aren’t lined up anymore, they seem to have moved slightly up or down on each side. Not sure what I’ve done wrong, as they were created on the anchor points as stated. Hmm…

    1. I’m not quite sure either… The “Alternative Looks” pic at the bottom of the tutorials has a flag wrap picture (bottom-right), and I just tried my best to mess up the triangles in Illustrator with no luck. No matter what distort values I used everything seemed to stay lined up perfectly. Maybe try to expand or flatten the transparency (Object menu) of your banner, make sure nothing is locked (Object > Unlock All) and then try it again. Let me know if this helps… Thanks!

  12. Hi, brilliant tutorial! Just wondering if you know a way for me to add a clipping mask to the banner as well as add the wrap. Ilustrator doesn’t seem to like it when I try to do both! Many thanks :)

    1. Sure, you could always expand or flatten the transparency (Illustrator Object menu) of the banner and then unite the path (Pathfinder Palette) to create one solid shape that will work perfect for a clipping mask. If you need more detailed instructions just let me know. Good Luck!

  13. How did you get the strokes to be transparent so that the background texture shows through? is there another tutorial that does the rest?

    1. Well actually I just “Placed” the final .AI file into Photoshop as a smart object over top of the paper texture and changed the layers blending mode to “Multiply”. Another quick option is to select you finished banner in Illustrator, go to Object > Rasterize and make sure “Background” is set to Transparent. When your logo is rasterized you can then open the Transparency palette and change the Blending Mode to Multiply within Illustrator. Finally, if you want to keep everything vector and within Illustrator, you can Expand the banner, Divide it within the Pathfinder palette, and then delete the White areas but that’s a little beyond the scope of this reply. Please let me know if this helps at all…

      - Josh

  14. I cant get it to work, when i get to step 4 nothing works, my left and right rectangles dont go into the right place, any idea why that is?…thanks

    1. Jonas,

      I’m not sure I understand… In step 4 all your are doing is cutting off a palette option within Illustrator’s transform palette. It keeps your strokes from scaling down in size when you adjust the width of the first rectangle you created in step 2. Step 5 just copies the first rectangle so that you can then transform it to make the banner edges. Make sure to match all the measurements exactly and try it again. Let me know if you still don’t get it and we’ll try another approach. Thanks!

  15. I really like the tutorial but I absolutely cannot get the corners of the banner to move in during step 15. I am using CS5, I don’t know if that makes a difference. when you say “select” the middle anchor point, how is that done? Thanks for the help!!

    1. Alvin,

      It probably easier to show you than trying to type it out so give me a little bit and I’ll work up a short video demonstration. I’ll let you know when it’s finished uploading… Thanks for visiting!

  16. For the life of me I can’t seem to get the banner to fill with a colour or gradient. Do I need to do something else.
    THanks so much great tutorial.

    1. Sorry Sharon I’ve been out of town for the past few days… If you followed Step 22 and applied an envelope distort to the banner object then you need to expand the distortion to be able to apply colors or gradients. Select your distorted banner and head up to the top menu and click Object > Envelope Distort > Expand. Once you do this you should be able to ungroup the banner and apply any fill you want. You can also apply the fill color or gradient to your banner before you apply the envelope distort in Step 22. Either way should work just fine. Let me know if this help? And thanks for visiting the site!

  17. Great tutorial – well explained and helped me with something I’m doing for work. Thanks for publishing it :)

    For anyone having trouble getting the triangle edges to line up with the edges of main rectangle, before doing the Envelope Distort, select the just main rectangle and and bring it to the front (Object > Arrange > Bring to Front). Then do the Envelope Distort with all object selected.

    This extra step will effectively hide the edges of the triangle behind the main rectangle.

  18. Josh, do you have a tutorial of the workflow you go through to create the final result you have posted as your final example?

    I would like to learn more efficient workflows on how to create vector objects, but then use PS to really make them stand out.


  19. hi… i’ve had trouble with the folds as some others, and the reason is that whenever i try to make a point at the intersect, the point i create automatically offsets a little. i have snap to grid turned off, and i tried it with snap to point turned on and off and it still won’t create the point on the intersect — even if i do it on its own layer. really weird. why do you think this is happening? (i can create points on the anchor points just fine).

    1. Sue,

      I’ve had that problem before myself and what I’ve found to be the culprit is having your documents unit of measure set to pixels. Changing it to inches has worked for me in the past… I just tried recreating that situation in Illustrator CC and couldn’t so who knows… You can change your documents unit of measure when creating a new document or under File > Document Setup to see if that helps. Let me know?

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