In this tutorial we will learn how to create a boiling kettle using 3D modeling. When processing the objects created this way, we can benefit from the VectorScribe plugin. Smart Remove Points, closing of the open paths, rapid removal of overlapping points, are just some of the VectorScribe tools that will be used in this tutorial. I can tell you as a designer, while working with 3D objects, VectorScribe is irreplaceable.
Take the Pen Tool (P) and create a path, as shown in the figure below.
Group this path with itself (Cmd / Ctrl + G). This must be done since the path will be cut into pieces in the following steps and it is important that all segments of the original path are in the same group. For the fill color, I usually choose a neutral gray. Keeping the group selected, go toand set the effect parameters in the dialog box.
Our 3D object is not near the final product. We can edit the created path and watch the changes in the resultant 3D object. This is a very exciting process and similar to work of the sculptor on the potter’s wheel or of the turner on the lathe. For editing this path, we will be using the PathScribe Tool, one of the tools of the VectorScribe plugin. This tool has several advantages over the Direct Selection Tool (A) as we will see more than once in the workflow. First I changed the shape of 3D object by moving the points of the path with the help of the PathScribe Tool.
Make the straight-line segment at the bottom of the kettle curved. If you are using PathScribe Tool, you will not have to convert corner points into smooth ones, just pull at the middle of the straight-line segment and it will bend obediently.
Add two new points to the path. To do this, we don’t need to take the Pen Tool (P), simply hold down Opt / Alt and click with the PathScribe Tool on the appropriate places in the path.
Move the top point down and to the left, creating a small step.
Now take a look at the entire shape.
Hum… this is not what I need; the points were placed in the wrong spots.
For removing the points, there is a wonderful feature called Smart Remove Point in the VectorScribe. Simply select the point that you are supposed to delete and press on the appropriate button in the PathScribe panel .
As you can see, the shape gained its original view.
For comparison, see what happens to the shape if you delete points by the regular means of Adobe Illustrator.
Find the right position of the points on the path. Do not be afraid to experiment and move the top point as we did in the previous step.
The PathScribe Tool allows you to fix the angle of the handle inclination during editing. This is especially important when editing short handles as it is in our case. Hold Opt / Alt and with the help of the PathScribe Tool decrease the smaller points of the handles to zero, so that the segment between them becomes a straight line.
Alternatively, simply click-and-drag the along the curved segment you wish to change into a straight line and whilst bending the curve, press “R” (Retract handles).
Create a new point A on the path with the help of the PathScribe Tool and cut the path at points A and B by pressing the Split Path button from the PathScribe panel. The same operation can be done with the Scissors Tool (C), but, in my opinion, the advantage of the VectorScribe is that you can perform all the actions with a single tool.
Fill the segment AB with a different color for illustration purposes.
Select our 3D model, open the Appearance paneland click on 3D Revolve, in order to get access to the parameters of the effect.
In the 3D Revolve Options dialogue window, select “No Shading” from the Surface list.
This action will allow us to reduce the number of vector objects in further steps. At this point 3D modeling can be considered to be complete.
Keep 3D object selected, go to, transforming it into a group of regular vector objects.
These vector objects always contain overlapped points, which make them difficult to edit. PathScribe panel indicates the presence of such defects with an exclamation mark. To remove the overlapped points you just need to click on it.
Besides this, vector objects often contain open paths after the Expand Appearance process. Their presence is considered to be a technical drawback where such vector files may not accepted by some printers and web-sites of stock images, such as Shutterstock etc.
To close these paths, just click on the Cloth Path from the menu of the PathScribe panel.
Looking at the pictures you’ve probably noticed how many extra points the vector objects include. We already mentioned the removal of these points in step 3. With the help of the selection tools (PathScribe Tool, Lasso Tool (Q) or Direct Selection Tool (A)) select these points and click on the Smart Remove Point from the PathScribe panel. These points disappear completely, and at the same time the trajectory of the path on which they are located remains unchanged (where possible).
So, I reduced the number of points, colored different surfaces into different colors, removed unnecessary items and finished up with rather simple shapes shown in the figure below.
It took me less than 10 minutes for the whole job. From experience I know that this job used to take me about an hour before I installed VectorScribe to my computer.
Take the Pen Tool (P) and create simple shapes forming a spout. Then, with the help PathScribe Tool, bend the segments AB and BC.
By manipulating the handles of points B, turn the top of the spout into a parabolic shape.
It is also a joy to round corners with VectorScribe. For this purpose, there is the Dynamic Corners Tool. Take this tool, open the Dynamic Corners panel , set the radius of rounding and, by clicking on the corner, round it.
After this action, the rounding radius can be changed by dragging its corner point, which is why this tool is called dynamic.
Alternatively, without specifying any particular radius beforehand, it’s possible to simply drag a point out into a radius using the Dynamic Corners Tool.
Create the shape of the kettle handle with the Pen Tool (P) and edit the resulting shape using the PathScribe Tool.
To make the path look nice and smooth, it should not contain extra points; that’s why I delete them using the Smart Remove Point, as has been described previously in this tutorial.
The basic elements of the kettle are ready; let’s proceed to their coloring. Before coloring, I always create the background, so it’s easier to pick the right color.
Take the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a rectangle filled with black. Place it in the background of our composition, moving it in the Layers panel. Select the kettle’s body and fill it with linear gradient which consists of alternating shades of gray.
Fill the base of the kettle with linear gradient which this time consists of black and dark gray.
Gradient on the body of the kettle looks unnatural, because the kettle has a barrel-like shape, and so the light cannot be distributed evenly on it. We need to distort the linear gradient along the shape of the kettle, let’s see how it’s made…
Select the kettle body and go todialog box and tick “Gradient Mesh”.
Now the fill of the body is made with a Gradient Mesh. To edit it, lock the sub-layer containing the Clipping Mask.
By moving the gradient mesh nodes, bring it to the shape shown in the figure below.
(Hint: To make your work with the gradient mesh easier, there is a free plugin, Mesh Tormentor. You can read about its features and download it following this link: Mesh Tormentor.)
To fill the rest of the objects, we will be using simple radial and linear gradients. With their help, we can get pretty complex effects, as you’ll see yourself. Apply linear gradients to the surfaces which form a spout. Then copy and paste back (Cmd / Ctrl + C; Cmd / Ctrl + B) the shape of the nozzle attachment to the body, fill it with dark gray color and move a few pixels to the right.
Using linear and radial gradients, fill the cover surfaces and with the help of the Pen Tool (P) and the Ellipse Tool (P) create two new shapes.
Now to the fill of the kettle handle. Its shape is much more complex than the previous parts. However, light and shadows on it can also be reproduced with simple gradients. Let’s see how to create a complex light and shadow…
Fill the handle with a radial gradient which consists of very dark shades of gray and black color. By moving the center of the gradient, and by adjusting its radius, try to make a lighter shadow pass over the edge of the handle. The second dark gray slider should “illuminate” the inner part of the handle.
To darken the inside of the handle in place of the bend, use the Appearance panel. Add a new fill and apply the gradient which consists of two black-colored sliders, one of the sliders has 0% Opacity.
Using the Appearance panel, you can achieve complex light effects.
Now proceed to the smaller details. With the help of the Pen Tool (P) create a shape of a button on the handle of the kettle and fill it with linear gradient which consists of dark shades of gray color. To round the corners of the button of course, I used the Dynamic Corners Tool.
The cover of the kettle is made of glass, so it is appropriate to create a light glare on it. Create the shape of glare and fill it with a linear gradient from white to white with 0% opacity.
To create a glare on the corners of the metal surfaces, I’m using profiles from the Stroke panel, selecting the appropriate profile and line width.
If you’re not in Adobe Illustrator CS5, then to create a glare you should use Art Brush of these shapes. It would be nice if the glare has a gradient fill. To do this, select the glare and go toand fill the glare with linear gradient consisting of white and gray colors.
Place the glares closer to black surfaces, otherwise they simply will not be visible, and you will just waste your time.
For soft glares and shadows, I’m using a brush, which is based on a blend object. Create two ellipses using the Ellipse Tool (L). Both ellipses are filled with the same gray color. The larger of these is in the lower underlayer and has 0% opacity. Select both ellipses and go toand set the number of Specified Steps in the Blend Options dialogue window, then go to .
The height of the larger ellipse in my case is equal to 8 px.
Drag the Blend to the Brushes paneland save the new brush as an Art Brush.
Now with the help of the Pen Tool (P) create a line segment at the place of junction of the spout and attachment and apply the created brush to it.
To pick a color of these kind of brushes is a tedious task, of course, if you are not using the Phantasm CS in your work. When using this plugin, color matching takes less than a minute. Select the created line and go to and adjust the brightness of the brush strokes in the dialog window of the effect.
I used the Brightness / Contrast effect, because we are dealing with a monochrome image. If you need to choose the color of the brush working with color images, use the Hue / Saturation effectfor these purposes.
Elsewhere in this work, we use the same brush by adjusting its brightness with the help of the Phantasm CS and the thickness of the panel by means of the Stroke panel.
Now to create steam from the spout. Open the Bristle Brush Library; this is accessed via. Using brushes of various thicknesses and shapes, create multiple line segments of white color spreading in a fan-like way from the spout.
Take the Twirl Tool, select all the segments and create whirls of steam.
After a few minutes of experimentation, I got this effect.
You should experiment with the settings of the Twirl Tool. You can access these if you double-click on the tool’s icon in the Toolbar.
Do not worry if you’re not working in Adobe Illustrator CS5, there are other ways to create steam. One example may be found on the Vector Tuts+ tutorial: How to Create Smoky Brushes and Type In Illustrator CS4.
Let’s add some diversity. With the help of the Pen Tool (P), create a trapezoidal shape so that it covers all the steam. Fill this shape with black and white radial gradient.
Select the steam and trapezoid objects, and click Make Opacity Mask from the menu of the Transparency panel.
That’s it! The kettle is boiling and it’s time for a brew…
It is impossible to describe all the functions of the VectorScribe plugin in a single tutorial, so I suggest you to get acquainted with other video material and articles:
- Previous VectorScribe-related blog tutorials
- 45 HD-quality movies
- Shortcuts for VectorScribe (Dynamic Shapes)
- Shortcuts for VectorScribe (PathScribe) : Part 1
- Shortcuts for VectorScribe (PathScribe) : Part 2
- Shortcuts for VectorScribe (PathScribe) : Part 3
- Shortcuts for VectorScribe (Dynamic Corners)
- Shortcuts for VectorScribe (Dynamic Measure Tool and Protractor)
Download the tutorial artwork
Click here for the Illustrator CS5 artwork…
About the author
My name is Iaroslav Lazunov, I am a graphic designer from Zhytomyr, Ukraine. I am glad that I finally found the job in my life that I can share my knowledge and experiments with you in my tutorials.