Vintage Poster Re-Creation

So I can't say that I'm a beginner with Illustrator, but I find that I am pretty limited to how and what I do in the program.  This class appealed to my inner illustrator and love of old posters.  A perfect way to learn perhaps, some new tricks in illustrator. 

I set up my document with 2 artboards, one with the image I'm re-creating and my working composition.  Now I can see how mine compares with the original the whole way.  

I'm ignoring the lower text portion of the image and concentrating on the artwork for now.  I see a background gradient, a middleground with the rock (the main piece), and the foreground with flowers and cactus.  Let's tackle the rock first.  I outline the entire rock with the pen tool, and knockout the holes with the pathfinder.

Here's my rock.  All my rock artwork will fit inside this shape. I'm not paying attention to the border because I know I can frame the artwork inside a rectangle later on. I add a background layer and add a rectange for the "paper" and my ocean with a boat.

Next I started tracing the shapes inside the rock, if the shape touched an edge I drew outside the rock and later used a copy of the main rock shape and used the intersect pathfinder to make sure the edges were the same. I jumped ahead and started adding gradients and drew out the flowers with the blob paintbrush (though I don't care for how it looks at the moment). I've got lots more to go but that will have to wait for now.

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