This tutorial is the last in the exclusive series covering the topic of user interface design in vector.
In this tutorial we will learn how to create complex shapes using VectorScribe, DrawScribe and SubScribe plugins within Adobe Illustrator quickly. These are available as full 14 day trial downloads. By the way, the SubScribe plugin is free to all DrawScribe, VectorScribe and Phantasm CS v2 customers!
We will also view the process of coloring vector images where we use simple gradient fills and different blending modes. Most of modern interfaces are very similar to each other. Let’s try our best and make something original.
Let’s start with the creation of the basic shapes of the switch. We will be using the Dynamic Shapes Tool, part of the VectorScribe Studio plugin, for these purposes. This tool will allow us to control the shapes dynamically in the process of their creation. Open the Dynamic Shapes Tool panel . Choose the Dynamic Polygon, set the number of sides. Now take the Dynamic Shapes Tool and create a hexagon.
Copy the created shape and paste it in front, then choose the Dynamic Circle in the Dynamic Shapes panel.
Increase the diameter of the circle by changing its size in the toolbar or by dragging one of the corner points of the shape.
Copy the circle and paste it in front, switch to Dynamic Rectangle in the Dynamic Shapes panel.
Grab one of the corner points, then holding down the Cmd / Ctrl, change the proportion of the rectangle.
Using the Pen Tool (P) or InkScribe Tool (DrawScribe plugin), create new points in the centers of the sides of the rectangle. Using the arrow keys move them at the same distance from the center of the rectangle.
Select the resultant shape and the circle, and then click on the Unite button in the Pathfinder panel.
Round the corners A, B, C and D with the help of the Dynamic Corners Tool (VectorScribe Studio plugin)
As a result of these actions, we end up with a symmetrically-curved segment which means that both handles are of the same length and angle to the imaginary line running through the endpoints of the path segment.
Using this technique, transform CD segment from the straight-line segment into a curve.
Using the Ellipse Tool (L) or Dynamic Shapes Tool, create a circle in the center of the switch and two ellipses which are located on its vertical axis.
Create tangents to the ellipse with the help of the Line tangent to two paths (SubScribe plugin)
Connect the endpoints of the tangents, using the Pen Tool or InkScribe Tool.
Select the trapezoid, and two ellipses, and then click on the Unite in the Pathfinder panel.
Group up all the created objects. Basic shapes of the switch in “ON” position are ready. Duplicate the group.
Create horizontal and vertical guides as shown in the picture below.
Take the Rotate Tool (R) and, holding down the Opt/ Alt, set the center of rotation to the point of intersection of the guides. Key in the rotation angle into the dialog box and click OK.
Thus, we changed the switch handle into “OFF” position.
Proceed to the coloring of the switch elements, but first create a background that will help us to pick right colors. Take the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a rectangle. Keep the object selected, go toand set the number of columns and rows in the dialog window.
Select the nodes of the gradient mesh using the Direct Selection Tool (A) and color them in different shades of gray.
Create a new rectangle with a gray fill. It should be located above the first one and have the same sizes.
Keep the rectangle selected, go toand set the parameters shown in the picture below.
Set the Overlay Blending mode and 30% opacity in the Transparency panel for this object.
Fill the base of the switch with a linear gradient from white to gray.
Copy this object and paste it back. Fill the copy with a linear gradient which consists of two shades of gray, and move it a little bit down and to the right.
Copy the shape of the base of the switch and paste it in front. Fill the new shape with a linear gradient of two shades of gray.
Create a closed path that consists of a straight line segment in the upper part of the base.
Round the corners A and B with the help of the Dynamic Corners Tool (VectorScribe Studio plugin)
Select the upper shape of the base and the created path, and then press the Minus Front in the Pathfinder panel.
Copy the resultant shape and paste it in front. Turn off the fill of the copy and turn on the stroke. Take the Scissors Tool (C) and cut the path at the points shown in the picture below.
Select and delete two segments.
Apply the appropriate profile from the Stroke Panel to the rest of the segments.
Select all the segments and go to. Now fill the resultant objects with linear gradients trying to reproduce the play of light on the edges of the base of the switch.
Applying the above mentioned techniques, continue coloring of the switch elements.
Using the Pen Tool (P) or InkScribe Tool create glare on the ball-shaped head of the handle of the switch. Fill this shape with black and white radial gradient and apply the Screen Blending mode.
Fill the shape of the handle with black and white linear gradient.
Now go toand choose the Gradient Mesh option in the dialog window.
By controlling the position of nodes and their handles, transform the gradient mesh into the shape of a trapezoid.
Add more nodes to the bottom of the trapezoid. Color mesh nodes with different shades of gray color in order to reproduce the play of light on the conical surface of the switch handle.
Create the shape of glares on the handle, and then fill them with gradient fills and apply the Screen Blending mode. You can adjust the intensity of glare by changing the opacity of the object in the Transparency panel.
Using ellipses and gradient fills with different Blending modes, create glare at the end of the handle switch.
Glare shapes can be created using the Pencil Tool (N) or the Dynamic Sketch Tool (DrawScribe plugin).
Take the Type Tool (T) and create “ON” writing.
Copy the writing and paste it back. Fill the copy with white color and move it a little bit down.
Using the techniques already described in this tutorial, I colored the elements of the second switch.
I hope that you found a lot of useful things in this tutorial and series. You can also download the source file and check if you followed the sequence. I’m sure that studying the source file is an integral part of the learning process. This silent teacher will tell you far more than what has been written above.
Download the Star of Africa artwork
Click here for the Illustrator CS3/CS4 version (also PDF compatible)…
Click here for the Illustrator CS5 version (also PDF compatible)…
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.