How to Create a Photorealistic Digital Camera


In this tutorial, we'll learn how to create a photorealistic digital camera, making its main parts, such as the camera body, lens, flash, metal parts, camera buttons, etc. This tutorial will show you how to efficiently combine various elements to make the artwork looks more realistic.

By the end of the tutorial, you will learn some advanced techniques and how to use them in your future works. This is an extremely detailed tutorial with over 100 steps. Let's get started!

You can find the source files in the directory labeled "source" that came in the files that you downloaded. You may wish to look through them briefly before we begin.

Step 1

Open up a new document, then make a new layer and name it "Camera Body." With the rectangle Tool (M), create a rectangle, and that will be a front panel of the camera. Now grab the Direct Selection Tool (A), select and move two left anchor points slightly up.

Step 2

To get round corners of the rectangle, in the Appearance Panel, go to Add New Effect > Stylize (Illustrator Effects) > Round Corners and enter 14 px in the Radius text box. Now You can use the Gradient Panel (Command + F9), where you need to create three gradient sliders (stops).

Step 3

Duplicate the rectangle that You have created in Step 1 and add a gradient. Send it back, and for this purpose You can use Send it Backward (Command + Left Bracket key). After that, move it 3 px up and 2 px right (use the Up and Right Arrows on the keyboard). To color this rectangle, You will need four gradient stops.

Step 4

Make three more copies, and place two of them to the side of the artboard because we will use them later. Send this new rectangle back (Shift + Command + Left Bracket key), and move it 5 px up and 5 px right from the last object. Then use the Gradient Panel and give it six different colors (gradient stops) and set the angle to 138°.

Step 5

Here, we will use a different approach. Namely, to get the illusion of depth, we will use those two rectangles you have duplicated. Place them as shown below. These colors are temporary so that you can put the objects in the right place. Otherwise, you will not be able to precisely adjust the position of overlapping objects with the same color.

Select the two objects and make a blend (Command + Alt + B), or just use the Blend Tool (W) and click anywhere on each object you want to blend, but avoid anchor points. Now, open the Blend Options dialog (double-click the Blend tool), and set the values as shown. That way, you get a very smooth color changes every 1 pt.

In the Gradient Panel, make seven gradient sliders, and set the angle to 138° again. Modify the rectangle sides using the Direct Selection Tool (A) in order to get the right perspective. Bring all objects together and you'll get the camera body.

Step 6

In a new "Lens" layer, create an ellipse, skew it a little bit with the Shear command until you are satisfied. You want to get an object with better perspective. In the Gradient Panel you'll need seven stops.

Step 7

Repeat that shape, resize it and constrain the proportions. Use gradients again and add five stops.

Step 8

Duplicate the previous shape, scale it down and use the same colors, but adjust color positions on the gradient slider. Choose a black stroke, and set the Strike Weight to 1 pt.

Step 9

Walk through the process I have explained in the previous step. Only change the Stroke Weight to 4 pt.

Step 10

There is another ellipse, but with different color values. Place the object on its position.

Step 11

Duplicate the object and add various grayscale gradients. After that, set an ellipse in the same position as the image below shows.

Step 12

Make the same ellipse, shrink it down and fill it with colors and add a stroke with a Stroke Weight set to 2 pt. Add six gradient stops, but there is another thing you can do. As you can see, the second and fifth gradient stops differ from the others. That indicates that we changed the Opacity of a single stop, not the entire object. Click on those two stops and change the Opacity to 80%.

Step 13

With another ellipse, you are adding more and more details to the lens. Take the Opacity down to 75% and place it on the top.

Step 14

This is the last ellipse you have to create. Add another gradient and scale it down. The last object has to be smaller than the others.

Tip: Since the lens has a lot of sublayers, and they are in a very short distance, to get easier the sublayer you want to reach, just go to Select > Next Object Above/Next Object Below, or use shortcuts Alt + Command + Bracket key.

Step 15

With the Pen Tool (P) create a shape with two rounded sides, use gradients and set the Opacity to 75%.

Step 16

Duplicate the shape twice and one of them has to be smaller than the other. Use gradients with the same color values (Opacity 75%), and select both now. Go to Object > Compound Path > Make, and place a new shape on the first one.

Step 17

Create another shape and change the gradients again (Opacity 75%). Now, place the object on the top.

Step 18

Use the Rectangle Tool (M) to create a shape, and drag the anchor points to modify it, until you get the shape you want.

Step 19

Create that shape, scale it down and add a black color.

Step 20

With the Ellipse Tool (L) create four circles with different dimensions and use a green color (R=0, G=194, B=144). Then, copy the black shape that you've created in the previous step, and send it back.

Step 21

Select four circles and then go to Object > Expand > Expand Stroke. It's time to combine those two objects. Now bring the black object to front, and click on Object > Clipping Mask > Make (Command +7). Change the Blending Mode to Hard Light (Opacity 50%). Place the masked object exactly on black shape.

Step 22

Use a black shape again, change its color, and in the Blending Mode go to Screen (Opacity 100%).

Step 23

If you want to get the darker and brighter areas of an object, copy the previous shape (keep the same gradients) and simply change the Blending Mode to Soft Light (Opacity 100%).

Step 24

Let's add some reflections to the lens. Create a perfect circle and color it as shown below.

Step 25

Create another shape and use gradients.

Step 26

When you create a new shape choose a color between blue and violet (R=72, G=72, B=222). Plate the Blending Mode on Lighten (Opacity 100%).

Step 27

Create once more a random shape and fill it with gradients. In the Transparency Panel change the Blending Mode to Luminosity (Opacity 100%). After you're finished, group all those objects (Command + G) and now change the Blending Mode to Lighten (Opacity 75%).

Step 28

We need another reflection, and for this purpose use the Ellipse Tool (L) to create three ellipses of different sizes. The ellipse that goes in back should be the largest one. After created, use the Gradient panel to choose the gradient colors.

Step 29

Add a green color to the next ellipse, then in the Blending Mode choose Color Dodge (Opacity 50%). Bring this ellipse to the front.

Step 30

The third ellipse (should be the top object that needs to be colored with gradients, and then set the Blending Mode to Difference (Opacity 100%). Group All and change the Blending Mode to Color Dodge (Opacity 75%).

Step 31

This is going to be the first camera button, and since it contains many Sublayers we'll begin from the base to the top. Create a new layer and name it "Camera Buttons." Now using the Ellipse Tool (L) draw an ellipse and copy it once (keep it for later).

Take the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a rectangle as wide as the ellipses. Select both objects and go to Pathfinder Panel (Shift + Command + F9) and choose Unite. To get a perfect shape you can align the objects in the Align Panel (Shift + F7). Now we have a base for the camera button. Use the Gradient Panel and add nine gradient stops.

Step 32

The ellipse that we have copied, place it above that new object, align it horizontally to center, and add colors in the Gradient Panel (five stops).

Step 33

Copy this ellipse once more and scale it down (you must hold Shift to Constrain and shrink it down). After that, place it above the others. In case you need it, you can use Bring to Front (Shift + Command + Right Bracket). For that shape, you'll need to add six gradient sliders.

Step 34

Use the Ellipse Tool (L) to make another ellipse, but it needs to be a little bit smaller than the previous one (Constrain it). Then, make another copy and put it above a bigger one. A smaller ellipse doesn't have to be precisely centered within the second ellipse, but move it slightly up. That way, you will get the right perspective.

Step 35

Now select these two ellipses and make a Blend (Alt + Command + B), and it should look like the image below.

Step 36

Go double-click on that object to get into Isolation Mode. You can use Isolation mode to isolate objects so that you can easily select or edit particular objects or parts of objects. That's what we need now. Now select a bigger ellipse and color it (six gradient stops).

Step 37

Choose a smaller ellipse and add a color on it (five stops).

Step 38

Exit Isolation Mode, and for that object in Blend Options choose Specified Steps and then type 9. Place this ellipse on the top (Shift + Command + Right Bracket key).

Tip: In order to work with the shapes without ungrouping them, use the Direct Selection Tool (A) instead of the Selection Tool (V).

Step 39

Create an ellipse and draw a straight line (\) in the middle of it. Go to the Pathfinder palette and click Divide, to get a divided surface.

Step 40

In Isolation Mode, you can add colors separately for each part, and that's what we are going to do in this step. For the left part of the ellipse, in the Gradient Panel choose three gradient stops. Again, for the right part just reverse a gradient, and change the angle. Now, You can place it above the other ellipses.

Step 41

Make another ellipse and fill it with black. This represents the inner shadow.

Step 42

Repeat the Steps 39-40, and then choose the colors shown below.

Step 43

Duplicate that black ellipse, color it with gray and add two crossed lines. Select all and in the Pathfinder click Divide. Now you have four separated surfaces, and move them a little bit to the left.

Step 44

Now add gradients to the shapes.

Step 45

Use the Pen Tool (P) and draw a shape as shown below. Fill it with gradients.

Step 46

Now copy it twice and scale it. Use different gradients for each shape.

Step 47

Draw shape and place it on the top.

Step 48

This part is a shadow placed at the side of the button. You will use gradients here, and in the Blending Mode choose Hard Light (lower Opacity to 50%). When done, bring all parts together and put them in front of the button.

Step 49

Use the Ellipse Tool (L) to create an ellipse and add some gradients.

Step 50

You'll use a similar principle as you used to create the big button. Copy the previous ellipse and above it draw a rectangle with the same width. Place the rectangle as shown. Now select both and in the Pathfinder Panel choose Unite.

Step 51

Fill that new shape with gradients and place it above the first created object.

Step 52

Create a new ellipse and put it on the object.

Step 53

Repeat the process from Step 50, but now reduce the height of the rectangle. In the Pathfinder Panel, use the Unite command again to merge those two shapes. After that, fill the merged shape with gradients and place it on the top.

Step 54

You can simply copy the top of the big button you made in Steps 43 and 44 and just scale it down. Now select all the objects and group them. Fill them with black and change the Blending Mode to Overlay (Opacity 30%). Now with these black shades it looks more realistic.

Step 55

Copy that object, and now go to Object > Transform > Reflect, and reflect it horizontally. Change the Blending Mode to Soft Light (Opacity 30%). Duplicate it again, and keep the same values for the Blending Mode.

Step 56

Since you need another even smaller button, duplicate a first small button and its reflection, then shrink it down. Now create a black ellipse and two random shapes and place them as shown below.

Step 57

Use the Rectangle Tool (M) and draw an object as you can see below. Select two right anchor points and move them down. Fill it with a gradient (seven stops).

Step 58

We want to create a round corners on the right side of the object. Draw a shape in the upper-right corner of the rectangle and in the Pathfinder Panel choose Minus Front. Do the same for the lower-right corner.

Step 59

In the upper-left corner create another shape, and use the Unite option in the Pathfinder. That will be the bottom layer of the metal part.

Step 60

Draw a similar shape, but without round corners, and add linear gradients with three stops.

Step 61

Duplicate it, scale it down, but only 1-2 px (go to Object > Transform > Scale) and just add other colors to the new shape. Place it exactly above the previous shape.

Step 62

This is another part and it should have a similar height as the previous part. Add gradients and place it as shown.

Step 63

Select all and press Command + G to group them, so you can make changes to the grouped objects. Now duplicate it and add a black color. Change the Blending Mode to Overlay (Opacity 20%). Now we have more darker regions and objects seems more realistic.

Step 64

In a new "Flash" layer create a rectangle and use the Gradient Panel to add a gradient with five stops. To shear an object means it skews or slants. Select the object and go to Object > Transform > Shear and set the vertical angle at 7°. After that, in the Appearance Panel go to Add New Effect > Stylize (Illustrator Effects) > Round Corners and enter 5 px. Then change the Blending Mode to Difference (Opacity 100%).

Step 65

Don't duplicate that rectangle, but make it with the Pen Tool (P), because we don't need a perfectly rounded object. In case you need it, Add Anchor Points, and then use the command Convert Selected Anchor Points to Smooth, then modify them. Add gradients and set the Opacity to 50%. Put this object above the first one.

Step 66

Copy that rectangle twice, and give them identical values. When you do that, place one above the other.

Step 67

Now make an identical rectangle as the previous one and fill it with the color you prefer. Draw two vertical lines (Stroke Weight 0.5 pt) and place them as shown below. Select those two lines and make a blend. In the Blend Options choose Specified Steps and type 35.

Step 68

We need to fill color in each of those lines (add different gradients), and we cannot set a gradient to a stroke, but only to fills. So to do that we need to use the Expand command. Select object and then go to Object > Expand and Expand Object. Repeat that step, but choose the other two options (Expand Fill and Stroke). Now You can change the gradients of each line.

Step 69

Select both objects (send the lines back), and in the Pathfinder Panel (Shift + Command + F9) choose the Crop option. After that, bring this object to front (Shift + Command + Right Bracket key).

Step 70

Fill those lines with linear gradients (angle 90°) in grayscale mode, and use different values (it's up to you). Go to the Transparency Panel (Shift + Command + F10), and in the Blending Mode use Exclusion (Opacity 75%).

Step 71

Now we'll add some more parts of the Flash to get a more realistic shape. Grab the Pen Tool (P), and draw a shape that follows the upper side of the Flash. Once you add gradients, put the Blending Mode on Hard Light (75%).

Step 72

Draw another shape, but now on the rightmost part.

Step 73

Draw shapes as shown below, then add some gradients with the Blending Mode set to Soft Light (Opacity 50%). When done, place them as shown.

Step 74

Make a little shape and fill it with dark gray.

Step 75

Make another two shapes and color them with black. Put the Blending Mode on Overlay (Opacity 50%).

Step 76

We need four more objects and they are different sizes and shapes. Draw them using the Pen Tool (P), and use gradient colors. Group all those shapes (Command + G), and then put them beneath those gradient lines. Once grouped, change the Blending Mode to Hard Light (Opacity 100%).

Step 77

Draw the shape shown below, fill it with grayscale gradients, and change the Blending Mode to Color Dodge (100%).

Step 78

Duplicate that shape and add stroke (Stroke Weight 0.5 pt), select none for the fill. Since we need to add some gradients to a stroke, go to Object > Expand > Expand Stroke. Then add gradients and change the Blending Mode to Screen (Opacity 75%).

Step 79

Create a shape and fill it with black. Change the Blending Mode to Soft Light (Opacity 50%).

Step 80

Create a perfect circle (hold Shift to Constrain it) and add a white color. In the Blending Mode choose Soft Light (Opacity 100%). Place those shapes on the top of the part that you have created.

Step 81

With the Ellipse Tool (L) make another circle, fill it with black, and set the Opacity down to 20%.

Step 82

Create a random shape and add some gradients (grayscale mode). After that, place it above the first object.

Step 83

Now select the previous shape, and go to Object > Path > Offset Path, and set the values as shown. That way, we got a resized copy of the shape, and just add different gradient values to it.

Step 84

Add three more different shapes, and place them as shown.

Step 85

You will need two circles, one placed above the other. Fill them with the same gradients. Only scale down the top circle. Select both, right-click on the shapes and then click Make Compound Path.

Step 86

Use the Make Compound Path command to cut a hole in the object, and since the hole has to be filled with different gradients, just make another circle to fit the hole dimensions. Then in the Appearance Panel (or in the Transparency Panel), change the Blending Mode to Overlay (Opacity 100%).

Step 87

Use the Paintbrush Tool (B) and take a light gray color. Choose a Charcoal Brush in the Brush Library and set the Stroke Weight to 0.1 pt. Draw some lines, group them and change the Blending Mode of the grouped objects to Overlay (Opacity 100%). Now we have made some scratches on the surface of the glass.

Step 88

To get the effect of the transparent scratched glass you need to arrange the objects as shown below. To add some darker areas to the objects, group all and fill them with black. After that, change the Blending Mode to Overlay (Opacity 30%).

Step 89

Now we'll create a screw at the side of the camera body. First, create an ellipse and add gradients.

Step 90

Copy that shape and color it with black. Now resize it and place it within the larger ellipse. After that, rotate it to the left and adjust the position.

Step 91

Duplicate that black ellipse once and fill it with gray. Rotate it in the opposite direction from the previous ellipse.

Step 92

Create another two ellipses (one larger than the other) and fill it with the same gradients. Now bring them together and go to Object > Compound Path > Make (Command + 8).

Step 93

With a gray ellipse fill the gap, and use the Bring Forward/Send Backward commands until you get something as shown below.

Step 94

Draw that shape and put it in the middle of the screw head.

Step 95

Now we'll add some fictitious logos and text. Firstly, you need to draw a small plate with a logo. To do that, use the Rectangle Tool (M) and draw a rectangle (hold Shift to Constrain), and use the Shear command (you want the same angle as the angle of the camera). Then fill it with orange.

Step 96

In the Round Corners dialog box set the Radius to 3 px.

Step 97

In the Appearance Panel, select Add New Effect > Stylize (Illustrator Effects) > Drop Shadow, and set the values as shown.

Step 98

Draw a logo (use the Pen Tool), and it should look like the greek letter beta. Be free to add anchor points and modify them (use the Direct Selection Tool) where needed. After that, add a shadow to a shape like you did in the step before. Now place that logo in the center of an orange plate.

Step 99

Here, we'll create a big fictitious brand name. Grab the Line Segment Tool (\) and draw a line that follows an angle of the camera body. It should be as long as your text tends to be.

Step 100

Use the Type on a Path Tool and click at the beginning of the line and type "Nirax" (add a white color).

Step 101

Use the Shear command and type in the Shear Angle box -6°, then place the text near the metal part.

Step 102

Draw two lines (Stroke Weight 0.2 pt) and place them as shown.

Step 103

Once You have blended those two black lines, go to Blend Options and for Specified Steps type 110. Now we have many lines going along the text and we'll combine them now.

Step 104

Duplicate the "Nirax" logo once and keep it for later. Send the lines back and select both objects. Then go to Object > Clipping Mask > Make (Command + 7). As you can see, the text has disappeared and our lines are inside the shape.

Step 105

Duplicated the "Nirax" logo and send it behind the clipping mask (align everything to the center). Group them (Command + G) and we're going to create the shadow effect on the bottom object, not on the clipping mask. In the Appearance Panel put the Opacity at 85%.

Step 106

Use the Type on a Path Tool again, shear the object, add white for the color, and then take it down the Opacity to 50%.

Step 107

Write "E.ZOOM" word on the path, rotate it by 180°, and use the Shear command again. In the Character Panel (Command + T) change the Horizontal Scale to 124%.

Step 108

Using the same principle, add text and symbols as shown below.

Step 109

Now, we are going to create a text on a path that runs from left to right across the top of a circle. Compared to the previous steps, this procedure is pretty much the same. Copy the stroke that creates a thin shadow on the lens, and scale it up. Now type text on a path. Do the same for the second path, but now scale it down and add text that goes on a smaller path.

Step 110

At the end, we need to add more details to the camera, to get a more realistic shape. Create two shapes and fill them with gradients. Those two parts actually represent a microphone and a speaker. Place them on the top of the camera.

Step 111

Create one more shape and place it in front of the big button.

Step 112

Grab the Pen Tool (P) and draw a stroke, and place it as shown below. Color it with black and set the Stroke Weight to 3 pt. Change the Blending Mode to Overlay (Opacity 50%).

Step 113

Draw another stroke, and put that stroke beneath the first one. Add a gray color to the stroke, and set the Stroke Weight to 1 pt. Now change the Blending Mode to Overlay (Opacity 50%).

Step 114

You can also add a texture on the metal part. Select the shape from Step 63, and in the Appearance Panel go to Add New Effect > Artistic > Film Grain and set shown values. Then, go to Add New Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set the Radius to 1 px.


Make a black background and create some reflections of the camera. Our image is completed now. I hope you learned some advanced techniques and that you will use them in your work!

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