Blast off! Creating a vector rocket

Let’s fly into making a rocket using vector in Affinity Designer! Using techniques that are easy to learn, games designer Jhonatan S. Silva will show​ you how…

This video is a step by step guide to creating a rocket illustration using Affinity Designer, remember you can pause and rewind the video if you get stuck!

Possible uses:
  1. Infographic.
  2. Logo Design.
  3. Children’s illustration.

Difficulty: Easy to intermediate

Made in: Affinity Designer for iPad.

What you will learn:

  • How to use and edit shapes to create a graphic illustration.
  • How to use the Pen Tool to draw your own shapes.
  • How to use the Fill Tool, Transparency Tool and Layer FX Studio to create shading and highlights.
  • How to edit duplicate assets simultaneously.
  • How to insert a vector shape into another shape.

Getting started…

If you don’t know how to draw, my advice is, begin with shapes. The rocket design is constructed this way, the Ellipse Tool for the background circle, the Cloud Tool for the smoke and the Tear Tool for the body of the rocket, and so on. Shapes are customisable so you can quickly build up an image without having to draw it from scratch.

Some of the shapes used to construct the rocket.

Shapes used

  • Ellipse Tool—for the background and window
  • Cloud Tool—for the smoke
  • Tear Shape—for the body of the rocket
  • Rectangle Tool—to make the top red band
  • Polygon Tool—with three sides, to make the exhaust pipe
  • Diamond Tool—central wing
  • Heart Tool—to make the fire
  • Trapezoid Tool—to make the smoke trail
  • Star Tool—for the stars

The Pen Tool

We used the Pen Tool to create a custom shape for the fins, a Crescent could also be used. Both the Stroke and the Fill can be modified on all vector shapes—This allows us to create different colour outlines, different line weights and dashed lines, which is how the rivets on the window are created.

Corner Tool and Node Tool

These allow us to alter the shapes and lines we’ve created, These are used in the video to change the shape of the fins.

Insert Inside

You can insert one shape inside another (also known as ‘clipping’) by selecting the shape you want to insert within another and selecting Insert Inside on the Insertion Targets section of the Toolbar.

Showing how the basic shapes are shaded to create a more finished look.

Effects and shading

Now let’s learn how we can take the illustration to the next level by adding more dynamic lighting, shadows and colour.

The power of simple shading is to use the Fill Tool for flat highlights, Transparency Tool for blending and the Layer FX Studio for more varied effects (Effects on Desktop).

Effects used

  1. Inner Glow—to create highlights.
  2. Inner Shadow—to create shading and shadows.
  3. Outer Glow—to create a glowing edge to show lighting.
  4. Gaussian Blur—to soften and blur objects.

Fill Tool

The Fill Tool creates a smooth gradient fill which can be fully customised by changing colour, style and adding additional colour points. As an example, the exhaust pipe of the rocket has 4 different colour points to create a metallic effect.

Transparency Tool

This can be used to fade shapes in and out, it’s especially useful for creating shiny looking highlights.

The Pencil Tool

This can be used to create freeform shapes and lines which can have a Stroke applied or alternatively be filled with colour or gradient. It works best using the Apple Pencil and is used in the video to create white ‘shine’ highlights.

I hope this example will inspire you to create your own art and that you can have even more fun following this process by customising the design. Why not add planets with simple circles like the image below. You can apply the techniques you have learned to new shapes and make your own discoveries by exploring how different graphics can work together. As a start, you could experiment with colours, styles, compositions and effects.

Whether you’re a student or design for living, I hope the tips in this video can help you streamline your Affinity Designer workflow and give you ideas and tips to add into your existing work. If you have used other graphics software in the past I’m sure you’ll find Designer very intuitive, and remember, you can pause and rewind this video as well as visit the in-app Help where you can learn the fundamentals of each tool.

 That is the end of this tutorial, but look out for more in the series! I’d like to invite you to share your final rocket art on Instagram and Twitter using the hashtag #madeinaffinity. Thanks for watching!


Jhonatan S. Silva is a games artist, UI designer and in his free time shares easy techniques and best practice for using Affinity Designer for iPad to creat great content.

Vist him on his website and Instagram and check out his Affinity brush and asset packs on his store.


Artist relations
Charlotte is an illustrator and arts lecturer who is passionate about the creative industries and is now part of our artist relations team. Her interests include mid 20th century inspired design, comic books, board games, movie memorabilia, baking cakes, feminism and yoga. She shares her 1960’s home with her graphic designer husband and her toddler son who likes to hide her iPad. Get in touch with Charlotte if you have work you have made in Affinity apps to share with us, or tag your work with #madeinaffinity in the usual places.
Credits & Footnotes

All images are copyright © of Jhonatan S. Silva and used with permission.