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Create a Vector Penknife Illustration

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Gift

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In the following tutorial you will learn to create a penknife illustration. We'll create simple shapes with Illustrator's basic tools. We'll place shadows and highlights at key locations, and then use effects to soften them, which adds roundness and a touch of realism to this illustration.


Step 1: Setting Up Your File

Create a 700px by 700px document. First, turn on the Grid (View > Grid) and the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). Next, you'll need a grid every 5px. Go to Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid, enter 5 in the Gridline Every box and 1 in the Subdivisions box. You should also open the Info palette for a live preview with the size of each shape. All these options will significantly increase your work speed.

file setup

Step 2: First Shape

Now, let's create the first shape. Grab the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a 500px by 120px shape. Select it and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 55px Radius, click OK then go to Object > Expand Appearance. The resulting shape should look like the second image below.

First Shape

Step 3: Cutting Into Our Main Shape

Pick the Ellipse Tool, create a 70px by 40px shape and place it as shown in the image below. Select it along with the shape made in the previous step and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Now you need to add a discrete rounded corners effect for the anchor points highlighted in the second image. To achieve this effect you'll need the Round Any Corner Script.

Save it to your hard drive then pick the Direct Selection Tool (A). Use it to select the two anchor points and go to File > Scripts > Other Script. Open the Round Any Corner Script, enter a 5px Radius and click OK. Take a closer look and you'll notice that the points got rounded.

Reselect this shape and go to Object > Path > Offset Path. Enter a -9px Offset and click OK. Now, double-click on the bigger shape (in the Layers panel) and name it "1," then double-click on the other shape and name it "2." It will be easier for you to find them when I refer to them during the tutorial.

Round Any Corner

Step 4: Color the Main Shape

First, let's focus on shape "1." Select it and fill it with the radial gradient shown below, then add a 3pt, aligned to inside stroke (R=140 G=39 B=45). Add a second stroke (from the flyout menu of the Appearance panel) and make it 0,5px wide (R=105 G=39 B=45).

Select the fill from the Appearance panel and go to Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow. Enter the data shown below then click OK. Select the first stroke and lower its opacity to 50px, then select the second stroke and lower its opacity to 80%.

Color the Main Shape

Step 5: Add Lower Highlights

Disable the Grid (View > Hide Grid) and the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). Go to Edit > Preferences > General and enter 1 in the Keyboard Increment box. Duplicate shape "2" (Command + C > Command + F). Select this copy, hit the up arrow once and the right arrow four times (to move it one pixel up and four to the right).

Reselect this copy along with the original "2" shape and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. You should get a group of "2" shape. Remove the left shape (pointed by the arrow) and select the other one and fill it with white.

Add Lower Highlights

Step 6: Create More Highlights

Re-enable the Grid and the Snap to Grid. Pick the Ellipse Tool (L) and create a 5px by 70px shape. Grab the Convert Anchor Points Tool and click on the top and bottom anchor points (highlighted with yellow). You should get a shape like the one shown in the second image.

Fill it with white and duplicate it. Select these two shapes and place them as shown in the third image. Take a closer look at the grid to understand the exact position. Add the Arc effects (Effect > Warp > Arc) shown below, then go to Object > Expand Appearance.

Create More Highlights

Step 7: Soften the Highlights

Select the shape made in the previous step and set the Opacity to 60%. Now, select these two shapes along with the shape made in step 5 and hit Command + G (to group them). Select this new group, lower its Opacity to 40% then go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Enter a 2,5px Radius and click OK.

Lower the Opacity

Step 8: Create the Branding Mark

Now, let's create the little cross. The Grid and the Snap to Grid will ease your work. Grab the the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a 50px by 50px shape. Fill it with none and add a 4px, aligned to inside stroke.

Select this stroke (from the Appearance panel), add a 8px Rounded Corners effect, then go to Effect > Warp > Inflate. Enter the data shown below, click OK then go to Object > Expand. Reselect the Rectangle Tool(M) and use two simple rectangles to create the cross. Select these two shapes and click on the Unite button from the Pathfinder panel.

Select the resulting shape along with the expanded stroke and go to Object > Compound Path > Make. You'll get a single path. Place it as shown in the final image. Fill it with the linear gradient, then add the Outer Glow Effect (Effect > Stylize > Outer Glow).

Create the Branding Mark

Step 9: Add More Detail

Grab the Ellipse Tool (L) and create a 15px by 15px shape. Fill it with none, add a 5pt, aligned to the inside stroke (R=153 G=34 B=46) and lower its Opacity to 25%. Make three copies of this shape and place them as shown in the following image.

Add More Detail

Step 10: Add the Tweezer Handle

Duplicate shape "1." Pick the Rectangle Tool (M), create a small square (10px by 10px) and place it as shown below. Add a 2,5px Rounded Corners Effect, then go to Object > Expand Appearance. Select the resulting shape and the copy of "1," and then click on the Intersect button from the Pathfinder panel.

Fill the resulting shape with the linear gradient, then make two copies. Go to Edit > Preferences > General and enter 0,25 in the Keyboard Increment box. Select the top copy and hit the up arrow and the left arrow. Reselect both shapes and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with black and lower its Opacity to 25%.

Add the Tweezer Handle

Step 11: Add a Soft Shadow

Select the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a shape like the one shown in the first image. Fill it with white, add a 0,5px, aligned to the inside stroke (R=163 G=170 B=175). Now Send it to Back (Shift + Command + Left Bracket key). Add a second fill for this rectangle and use the linear gradient shown below (the yellow text from the gradient stands for Opacity).

Add a Soft Shadow

Step 12: Create the First Knife Shape

Now, let's make the blades. Let's start with the right one. Grab the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a 85px by 430px shape. Pick the Add Anchor Point Tool (+) and add an anchor point in the point highlighted with red (image 1).

Next, pick the Direct Selection Tool (A) to move some anchor points. Select the top left anchor point and move it 105px down, select the top, right anchor point and move it 160px down, then select the bottom left anchor point and move it 30px to the right. Now your shape should look like the second image. Pick the Convert Anchor Point Tool (Shift + C), click on the left anchor point and drag up. Drag the handles as shown in the third image.

Once again, the Snap to Grid will ease your work. Again, with the Convert Anchor Point Tool, click on the top anchor point and drag it to the right. Now you need to move each handle separately. Pick the Direct Selection Tool (A), hold Shift, hover over the right handle (a plus sign should show up) then click and drag it to the point shown in the final image. Lastly, select the left handle and drag it as shown below. Name this shape "RightBlade."

First Knife Shape

Step 13: Color the Blade

Select "RightBlade," place it as shown in the first image, fill it with R=206 G=213 B=217 and Send it to Back (Shift + Command + Left Bracket key). Add three new fills for this shape and use the linear and the radial gradients shown below. Select each fill (from the Appearance panel) and lower its Opacity as shown in the following images.

Color the Blade

Step 14: Duplicate the Blade

Disable the Grid (View > Hide Grid) and the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). Go to Edit > Preferences > General and enter "1" in the Keyboard Increment box. Make two copies of "RightBlade," select the top one and hit the left arrow.

Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Select the resulting shape, remove the extra fills (from the Appearance panel), fill it with R=96 G=101 B=106 and lower its Opacity to 50%. Add two new fills for this shape and use the radial gradients shown below.

Duplicate the Blade

Step 15: Make the Knife Edge

Make another two copies of "RightBlade." Select the top one and hit the right arrow three times. Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Focus on the resulting shape, especially on the top area. Remove the top left anchor point and play a little with the handles to make it look sharp. Fill this shape with white, lower its Opacity to 50%, then add a new fill and use the linear gradient shown below in the final image.

Make the Knife Edge

Step 16: Additional Knife Detail

Make another copy of "RightBlade" then select the Pen Tool (P) and create a shape like the red one shown in the first image. Select it along with the copy of "RightBlade" and click on the Intersect button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with the linear gradient and lower its Opacity to 10%.

Additional Knife Detail

Step 17: Insert Handle Grab Area

Pick the Ellipse Tool (L), create an 8px by 80px shape and place it as shown in the first image. Grab the Convert Anchor Point Tool (Shift + C), click on the top and bottom anchor points, then fill the resulting shape with R=163, G=163, and B=163.

Make two copies of this shape. Select the top one and hit the right arrow once. Reselect both copies, click on the Minus Front button, then fill the resulting shape with R=130, G=136, and B=141. Now you need to give it a sharp look. Pick the Delete Anchor Point Tool (-) and click on the top, bottom, and right anchor points.

Insert Handle Grab Area

Step 18: Add a Shadow Across the Blade

Create one final copy of "RightBlade," then select the Pen Tool (P) and create a shape like the red one shown in the first image. Select it along with the copy of "RightBlade," and click on the Intersect button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with the linear gradient and lower its Opacity to 3%.

Add a Shadow Across the Knife Blade

Step 19: Create the Left Blade

Next, we'll work on the left blade. Re-enable the Grid and the Snap to Grid. Grab the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a 90px by 430px shape. Select this shape and go to Object > Path > Add Anchor Points. Use the Delete Anchor Point Tool (-) to remove the top, left and right anchor points (highlighted with red).

Now grab the Direct Selection Tool (A), and move the bottom, left and right anchor points. Move the left one 10px to the right and the right one 5px to the left. Now, your shape should look like the second image. Use the Convert Anchor Point Tool (Shift + C) to add a bit of roundness for some of the anchor points. First, focus on the bottom anchor points, then move to the top one. In the end your shape should look like image 4. Name it "LeftBlade."

Create the Left Blade

Step 20: Color the Left Blade

Select the shape made in the previous step and rotate it -45° (Object > Transform > Rotate). Place it as shown below, then Send it to Back (Shift + Command + Left Bracket key). Fill it with R=206, G=213, and B=217, then add three new fills and use the linear and the radial gradients shown below. Select each fill (from the Appearance panel) and lower its Opacity as shown in the following images.

Color the Left Blade

Step 21: Create the Left Knife's Edge

Make another two copies of "LeftBlade." Select the top one and hit the left arrow four times. Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Focus on the resulting shape, especially on the top area.

Remove some of the anchor points and play a little with the handles to make it look sharp. Fill this shape with R=174, G=184, and B=188. Add two new fills for this shape and use the linear and the radial gradients shown below. Select the second and the third fill and set their Opacity to 50%.

Create the Left Knife's Edge

Step 22: Add a Small Shadow on the Knife

Create another copy of "LeftBlade," then select the Pen Tool (P) and create a shape like the red one shown in the first image. Select it along with the copy of "LeftBlade" and click on the Intersect button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with the linear gradient and lower its Opacity to 10%.

dd Knife Shadow

Step 23: Insert the Left Handle Grab Area

Duplicate the shapes made in step 17, resize them a little and place them as shown in the image below.

Insert the Left Handle Grab Area

Step 24: Add the Final Shadows

Create one final copy of the "LeftBlade," then select the Pen Tool (P), and create a shape like the red one shown in the first image. Select it along with the copy of "LeftBlade," and click on the Intersect button from the Pathfinder panel.

Fill the resulting shape with the linear gradient and lower its Opacity to 3%. Finally, let's add a simple shadow effect below the penknife. Pitch the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 450px and 10px shape, place it as shown in the final image and Send it to Back (Shift + Command + Left Bracket key). Fill it with black, add a 5px Rounded Corners effect, a 13px Gaussian Blur effect then set the Opacity at 50% and you're done.

Add the Final Shadows

Conclusion

The final image is below.

Final Vector Penknife Illustration
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