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Create a Microphone Illustration and Cable Text Effect

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In the following tutorial you will learn how to create a microphone illustration with overlapping cable text effect. We'll use vector shape building techniques, Opacity Masks, Gradients, Effects, Pattern Brushes, and other Adobe Illustrator tools to make this music inspired illustration. Get ready to rock this!


Step 1

Create a 1390px by 670px, RGB document. First, turn on the Grid (View > Grid) and the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). Next, you'll need a grid every 2.5px. Go to Edit > Preferences > Guides > Grid, enter 2.5 in the Gridline every box and 1 in the Subdivisions box.

You can also open the Info panel (Window > Info) for a live preview with the size and position of your shapes. Do not forget to replace the unit of measurement to pixels from Edit > Preferences > Unit > General. All these options will significantly increase your work speed.



Step 2

Pick the Ellipse Tool (L) and simply click on your artboard. A new window should open. Enter 102.5 in the width and height boxes then click. This will create a 102.5px by 102.5px shape. Fill it with R=50, G=50, B=50.



Step 3

Grab the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 2.5px by 2.5px square and fill it with any color. The Snap to Grid will ease your work. Select this fresh shape and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the data shown in the first Transform window, click OK then go again to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform.

Enter the data shown in the second Transform window, click OK then go to Object > Expand Appearance. Select the resulting group of shapes and go to Object > Compound Path > Make. This will turn your group into a single path.



Step 4

Open the Align panel (Window > Align). Select the path made in the previous step along with the circle, pick the Selection Tool (V), click on the border of the circle (it should get emphasized), then click on the Horizontal Align Center and Vertical Align Center buttons. Now, your shapes should be placed as shown in the second image.



Step 5

Reselect the compound path, fill it with R=88, G=89, B=91. Now add a 0.25pt, aligned to outside stroke and set its color at R=30, G=30, B=30. Reselect the entire path and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 0.5px radius, click OK, then go to Effect > Warp > Fisheye. Enter the data shown below, click OK, then go to the Appearance panel. Make sure that these two effects are placed above the fill and stroke, as shown in he following image.



Step 6

Select the circle shape and make a copy in front (Command + C > Command + F). Select this copy, bring it to front (Shift + Command + Right Bracket key), and fill it with white. Select this white shape along with the compound path and go to the Transparency panel (Window > Transparency). Open the fly-out menu and click on Make Opacity Mask. In the end your illustration should look like the fourth image shown.



Step 7

Reselect the circle shape and make a new copy in front. Select it, bring it to front (Shift + Command + Right Bracket key), then fill it with the linear gradient shown in the second image. The yellow number from the gradient image stands for Opacity percentage, while the white number stands for location percentage. It means that you need to select the gradient slider and lower its Opacity to 0%, then select the little diamond icon and drag it to 25%.



Step 8

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a 140px by 67.5px shape. Fill it with black, place it as shown in the first image, then grab the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select the top, left anchor point and move it 15px down. Now select the bottom, left anchor point and move it 15px up. In the end your shape should look like the second image shown.



Step 9

Reselect the shape made in the previous step and go to Effect > Warp > Arc Lower. Enter the data shown below, click OK, then go to Effect > Warp > Arc Upper. Enter the data shown in the following image, click OK, then go to Object > Expand Appearance.



Step 10

Pick the Pen Tool (P) and draw two vertical paths. Make them 67.5 tall and place them as shown in the first image. You can add a discrete red stroke for these paths to distinguish them from the rest of the shapes. Select the left path and go to Effect > Warp > Arc Lower.

Enter the data shown below, click OK, then select the right path and go to Effect > Warp > Arc Lower. Again, enter the data shown below, then reselect both paths and go to Object > Expand Appearance. Select these two, curved paths along with the black shape and click on the Divide button from the Pathfinder panel. This will create a group with three simple shapes. Select it and ungroup it (Shift + Command + G).



Step 11

Focus on the left shape made in the previous step. First let's add a discrete roundness effect for the left anchor points. You will need the Round Any Corner Script, which can be found in the Vectortuts+ article 20 Free and Useful Adobe Illustrator Scripts.

Save it to your hard drive and then pick the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select the left anchor points (highlighted in the first image) and go to File > Scripts > Other Script. Open the Round Any Corner Script, enter a 3px Radius, and click OK. Now your shape should look like the second image below. Select it and make two copies in front (Command + C > Command + F > Command + F), then go to Edit > Preferences > General and enter 0.5 in the Keyboard Increment box.

Disable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid), then select the top copy, and hit the left arrow twice. Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with the linear gradient shown in the fourth image.



Step 12

Reselect the black shape edited in the previous step and make two new copies. Select the top copy and hit the left arrow once. Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Bring the resulting shape to front (Shift + Command + Right Bracket key) and make sure that it's black.



Step 13

Reselect the large, black shape, add two new fills and use the linear gradient shown in the first two images. Don't forget to edit the Opacity and location percentages as shown below. Next, add a fourth fill for this shape. Select it from the Appearance panel, make it black, lower its Opacity to 2%, then go to Effect > Artistic > Film Grain. Enter the data shown below then click OK.



Step 14

Let's move to the middle black shape. Select it and make two copies in front. Select the top copy and hit the left arrow twice, then reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with the linear gradient shown in the third image.



Step 15

Reselect the middle, black shape and make two new copies. Select the top copy and hit the left arrow once, then reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Bring the resulting shape to front (Shift + Command + Right Bracket key), and make sure that its filled with black.



Step 16

Add two new fills for this large, black shape and use the linear gradients shown in the first two images. Add a fourth fill for this shape and make it black. Lower its Opacity to 2%, then go to Effect > Artistic > Film Grain. Enter the data shown in the final image and click OK.



Step 17

Move to the final black shape. Replace the flat black with the linear gradient shown in the first image, then make two copies in front of this shape. Select the top copy and hit the left arrow, then reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with the linear gradient shown in the third image, then lower its Opacity to 75%, and change the blending mode to Overlay.



Step 18

Reselect the dark, circle shape and go to Object > Path > Offset Path. Enter a 1px Offset, click OK then bring the resulting shape to front (Shift + Command + Right Bracket key).



Step 19

Re-enable the Snap to Grid. Pick the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 15 by 107.5 shape, fill it with any color, and place it as shown in the first image. Select it and go to Effect > Warp > Arc. Enter the data shown below, click OK, then go to Object > Expand Appearance. Select the resulting shape along with the shape made in the previous step, and click on the Intersect button from the Pathfinder panel.

Again, you will need the Round Any Corner script to add some roundness for this fresh shape. Pick the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the anchor points highlighted in the third image, and go to File > Scripts > Other Script. Open the Round Any Corner Script, enter a 1px Radius, and click OK.



Step 20

Disable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). Select the shape made in the previous step, fill it with the linear gradient shown below (same gradient used in step #17), then make two copies in front. Select the top copy and hit the right arrow once. Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with the linear gradient shown in the final image, then lower its Opacity to 75%, and change the blending mode to Overlay.



Step 21

Reselect the shape edited in the previous step and make two new copies. Select the top copy and hit the left arrow twice. Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with the linear gradient shown below, then lower its Opacity to 75%, and change the blending mode to Overlay.



Step 22

Re-enable the Snap to Grid, then pick the Ellipse Tool (L), and create a 32.5 by 57.5px shape. Fill it with the linear gradient shown below, lower its Opacity to 15%, then place it as shown in the following image.



Step 23

Select all the shapes created so far and duplicate them. Select these copies and click on the Unite button from the Pathfinder panel. Send the resulting shape to back (Shift + Command + Left Bracket key). Fill it with white and add a 0.5pt, black, aligned to outside stroke, then go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow.

Enter the data shown below, click OK, then make a copy of this shape in back (Command + C > Command + B). Select this copy, open the Drop Shadow effect from the Appearance panel, and replace the existing numbers with the ones shown in the final image.



Step 24

The microphone illustration is complete. Select all the shapes created so far, group them (Command + G), then make a copy of this group. Move it and focus on the two shapes pointed in the following image. Replace the exiting gradient with the one shown in the following image.



Step 25

Place the two microphones as shown in the following image. Now, let's continue with the rest of the illustration. Start with the background. Pick the Rectangle Tool (M), create a shape the size of your artboard, and fill it with R=241, G=242, B=242, then add a second fill.

Select it from the Appearance panel and set its color at R=194, G=181, B=155. Then lower its Opacity to 30% and change the blending mode to Multiply. Add a third fill for this rectangle. You will need a build in pattern for this new fill. Go to the Swatches panel, open the fly-out menu, and go to Open Swatch Library > Pattern > Basic Graphics > Basic Graphics_Textures. This will open a new window with some nice patterns. Select the third fill from the Appearance panel.

Lower its Opacity to 15% and change the blending mode to Multiply, then use the Diamond pattern and go to Effect > Artistic > Film Grain. Enter the data shown below, click OK then add a final fill for this shape. Lower its Opacity to 50%, change the blending mode to Overlay, then use the radial gradient shown in the following image. Finally, lock this rectangle. That way you won't select or move it accidentally.



Step 26

Let's continue with the cable. You will need a grid every 0.5px. Go to Edit > Preferences > Guides > Grid and enter 0.5 in the Gridline every box. Pick the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 40 by 6px shape, and fill it with black. Continue with the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 40 by 1.5px shape, fill it with R=88, G=89, B=91. Place it as shown in the second image.

Select these two shapes and go to Object > Blend > Make, then go to Object > Blend > Blend Options. Select Specified Steps from the Spacing drop down menu and enter 15 in the box. Reselect the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 40 by 0.5px shape, and fill it with R=128, G=130, B=133. Now place it as shown in the final image.



Step 27

Select the shapes created in the previous step and group them (Command + G). Now open the Brushes panel (Window > Brushes). Select this new group, open the fly-out menu of the Brushes panel, and click on New Brush. Check Pattern Brush, click OK, name it "Cable," then click OK. This will add a new pattern brush in your Brushes panel.



Step 28

Now for a bit more difficult part. You will have to spend some time for this step. Pick the Pen Tool (P) or the Brush Tool (B), and draw the path of your text. You can try to use a calligraphic font as a model. Once you reach a satisfactory result, add the pattern brush created in the previous step, then go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow.

Enter the data shown in the first image, then make a copy of this path in back (Command + C > Command + B). Select this copy, open the Drop Shadow effect from the Appearance panel, and replace the existing numbers with the ones shown in the final image.



Step 29

Select the two paths made in the previous step and duplicate them, then select the copies and move them 15px to the right.



Step 30

Reselect the Pen Tool (P) and draw a second text path, as shown in the first image. Add the pattern brush and the drop shadow effect, then duplicate this path and edit the drop shadow effect, like you did for the previous path. Again, duplicate these two text paths, then move the copies 10px up and to the left.



Step 31

Finally, let's create the little jack for the cables. You will need a grid every 1px, so go to Edit > Preferences > Guides > Grid and enter 1 in the Gridline every box. Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) and create the group of shapes shown in the first image. The Snap to Grid should ease your work.

Fill them with the colors shown below, then grab the Direct Selection Tool, and focus on the left shape. Select the top, left anchor point and move it 1px down, then select the bottom, left anchor point and move it 1px up. Next, focus on the right shape. Select this square and rotate it 45 degrees, as shown in the second image.



Step 32

Let's add some roundness for these shapes. Use Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners to add the effects pointed below, then select all these shapes, and go to Object > Expand Appearance.



Step 33

Select the three shapes highlighted in the first image and click on the Unite button from the Pathfinder panel. One last time, you will need the Round Any Corner script. Pick the four anchor points highlighted in the second image and go to File > Scripts > Other Script. Open the Round Any Corner Script, enter a 1px Radius, and click OK. In the end, your shape should look like the ones in the third image.



Step 34

Focus on the shape from the left end. Select it and make a copy in front, then pick the Rectangle Tool and create three thin shapes, as shown in the second image. Select them, then fill them with R=35, G=31, B=32. Now go to Object > Compound Path > Make. Select the resulting path along with the fresh copy, and click on the Intersect button from the Pathfinder panel. Again, select the resulting shapes (image #4) and go to Object > Compound Path > Make.



Step 35

Disable the Snap to Grid, then go to Edit > Preferences > General, and enter 1 in the Keyboard Increment box. Move to the right and focus on the next shape. Select it and make to copies in front. Select the top copy and hit the up arrow twice. Reselect both copies, and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with R=35, G=31, B=32.



Step 36

Reselect the large, rounded rectangle and make a copy in front. Select it, and hit the up arrow three times, then make a copy in front. Select this new copy and hit the up arrow once. Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with R=35, G=31, B=32. Now lower its Opacity to 50%.



Step 37

Again, select the large, rounded rectangle and make a copy in front. Select it and hit the down arrow twice, then make a copy in front. Select this new copy and hit the down arrow twice. Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with R=70, G=70, B=70, and lower its Opacity to 70%. Pick the Rectangle Tool, create seven thin shapes (1 by 13px), and fill them with R=35, G=31, B=32. Now place them as shown in the final image.



Step 38

Go to Edit > Preferences > General and enter 0.5 in the Keyboard Increment box, then move to the right and focus on the next shape. Select this small shape and make two copies in front. Select the top copy and hit the up arrow once. Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with R=88, G=89, B=91.



Step 39

Reselect the small shape and make a new copy in front. Select it and hit the down arrow twice, then duplicate it. Again, select this new copy and hit the down arrow twice. Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with R=209, G=211, B=212.



Step 40

Move to the right and focus on the remaining shape. Select it and make two copies in front, then select the top copy and hit the up arrow once. Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with R=147, G=149, B=152.



Step 41

Reselect the shape from the previous step and make two copies in front. Select one of these copies and hit the up arrow three times, then make a copy in front. Select this new copy and hit the up arrow only once, then reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with R=188, G=190, B=192. Now select it along with the remaining copy, and click on the Intersect button from the Pathfinder panel.



Step 42

Once again, select the shape from the previous step, and make two copies in front. Select one of these copies, and hit the down arrow twice, then make a copy in front. Select this new copy and hit the down arrow only once, then reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with R=241, G=242, B=242. Now select it, along with the remaining copy, and click on the Intersect button from the Pathfinder panel.



Step 43

Reselect the large, gray shape and go to Object > Path > Offset Path. Enter a -1.5px Offset, click OK, and fill the resulting shape with R=220, G=221, B=222.



Step 44

Select the large, gray shape along with the shape made in the previous step, and go to Object > Blend > Make. Now go to Object > Blend > Blend Options. Select Specified Steps from the Spacing drop down menu and enter 11 in the white box, then click OK. Re-enable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid), create two simple rectangles (2 by 7px), and fill them with R=65, G=64, B=66. Then place them as shown in the final image.



Step 45

Finally, add a small portion of the cable in the back as shown in the following image.



Step 46

Select the shapes that make up the jack and drag then into the Swatches panel to turn them into a pattern. Name it "Jack," then go to the Brushes panel, and double-click on your Cable brush. Click on the End Tile box (pointed by the arrow), then select the "Jack" pattern from the list, and click OK. In the end, your cable should look like the final image.



Conclusion

The final image is below.



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