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How to Create a Photorealistic iMac and Magic Mouse

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This tutorial is about using Adobe Illustrator's Mesh Tool (U) and several basic techniques to create a vector style monitor and mouse, with a similar design as Apple's brand new iMac 27" with magic mouse. You can use these techniques to create other monitors and mouse designs as well. Let's get started!

Final Image Preview

Below is the final image we will be working towards. Want access to the full Vector Source files and downloadable copies of every tutorial, including this one? Join Vector Plus for just 9$ a month.

Tutorial Details

  • Program: Adobe Illustrator CS4
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Estimated Completion Time: 3-5 hours

Introduction

This is wide tutorial in which I am going to teach you how to use the mesh tool (U) to create nice simple gradients the way you would want to. This tool is a great one for creating photorealistic effects in vector format. You don't need any stock photography for this tutorial except the one use for creating the screen content. This one you will need is provided from my collection and is completely free for usage without any restriction.

You should know at least how to deal with Illustrator Pen Tool (P) to complete this tutorial. If you are not familiar with using it, then get stared with this tutorial: Illustrator's Pen Tool: The Comprehensive Guide.

Step 1

We start our tutorial with creating new artboard. Name the new document "iMac" and set the dimensions to 1024pt for width and 768pt for height. As this design is meant to be used for printed media we set the Color Mode to CMYK and the resolution to 300dpi.

Step 2

Start modeling with the display. The first thing to create is the side of the iMac's display. Create a simple shape with the Rounded Rectangle Tool (my dimensions are 545pt by 440pt), color it to #807F83, and reshape with the Direct Selection Tool (A). Pay special attention to the corners.

Step 3

Now we use Illustrator's Mesh Tool (U). Select the tool and create the anchor point on the borderline of the shape near the bottom-right corner. Be sure to create the point on the borderline.

Step 4

It's time for practice and your creativity. Just play with the Mesh Tool (U) and try to create something similar to the image below. You can see more detailed image of the corners in further steps, or for Vector Plus Members just look into the AI source file for this tutorial.

Step 5

Here you can see a detailed image of the mesh corner. Use the Direct Selection Tool (A) and #D8D9DA, #807F83 colors to create this curved gradient. Just select a particular section of the mesh and apply color on it until you have the effect shown below.

Step 6

In this step just continue with the same colors in the top-right corner. The upper arrow shows the section for the darker one and the lower arrow shows the section for the lighter one. This is all for the side part as shown. In the next few steps we are going to create the display.

Step 7

Create another Rounded Rectangle (537pt by 441pt) and color it with #A1A1A4. If necessary, bring it forward and adjust the position to the side shape, which creates an extruded shape illusion.

Step 8

Use the Mesh Tool (U) with the colors #EFE9E5 and #A1A1A4, to create a gradient, as shown below.

Step 9

Duplicate the layer from the Step 8. Click on it with the Selection Tool (V) and change the color to #261C02. Then create two Rectangle Shapes (M) and deform them by moving their anchor points with the Direct Selection Tool (A). And now we are ready to substract them to create a black display frame. Now select the #1 rectangle and go to Object > Path > Divide Objects Below. Do the same with the #2 shape.

Step 10

Now we are going to use the spider photo. Just put it on the artboard and scale it to the necessary dimensions, just to have the upper-right corner near the upper right corner of the frame and do the same with the lower-left corner.

In the control panel, click on Mask and correct the shape with the Direct Selection Tool (A). The last thing with the photo is to put it backward with the Arrange Menu (Control > Arrange) to hide the borders behind the black frame.

Step 11

Now use the Pen Tool (P) for creating "the Apple," or add your own creative branding. Bear in mind that it should be a little bit deformed according to perspective rules.

Step 12

With the Pen Tool (P) create the shape for a reflection gradient. You can create a completely new shape, or just duplicate the first layer of the display, and edit it with subtractions and Convert Anchor Point Tool (Shift + C). Then apply a semi-transparent gradient on it. The gradient is created with #fff color with 0% Opacity, #000 color with 100% Opacity and the angle is set to 81,82 degrees.

Step 13

And the last thing to create for the iMac is its leg. Create the shape below with Pen Tool (P) and apply #D8D9DA to it.

Step 14

Create a new rectangle (my dimensions are 102pt by 79pt) and use the Mesh Tool (U) to create two vertical lines. Be sure to click on the border lines not into the shape.

Step 15

Continue with the Mesh Tool (U) and create one more vertical line and then 8 horizontal lines. Again, be sure to click on the border lines.

Step 16

Use the Direct Selection Tool (A), Mesh Tool (U) and Anchor Point Tool (Shift+ C) to transform your shape into the one in the image below.

Step 17

So we are almost done with the iMac. Just use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to select the particular areas of mesh and #807F83, #C2CDC5, #EFE9E5, #A1A1A4 colors to create the shadows and reflections. Pay your attention to the areas indicated by arrows below, as they are particularly important.

Step 18

And the last step is to adjust the position of the shapes of the iMac's leg and also to arrange it back behind the display. And voilá, we have a photorealistic vector of Apple's iMac.

Step 19

I also prepared the Magic Mouse to practice the skills you have learned. The next steps which describe the creation process are more brief to let you see how much you understand the steps during creation of the iMac. If you are lost you can roll back and check the previous steps again or just play with the source AI file.

Step 20

Use the Pen Tool (P), Direct Selection Tool (A), Anchor Point Tool (Shift + C) and Mesh Tool (U) to create the base mesh shape for the Magic Mouse.

Step 21

Add two shapes (Pen Tool(P)) for reflections. #1 is #FFF color with 0% Opacity to #bfbfbf color with 50% Opacity, and angle set to -93,74 degrees. #2 is #FFF color with 0% Opacity, #DDD color with 100% Opacity, #bfbfbf color with 10% Opacity, and angle set to 175,71 degrees.

Step 22

Create a shape for the sideline of the Magic Mouse. Fill it with a gradient using the colors, angle, and positions as shown. The only exception is the 0% Opacity of the #ABABAB color in the middle of the gradient.

Step 23

The last image shows you the shape for the brand's shadow. Apple is the top layer and is filled with #a1a1a5 color. The shadow as expected is the back layer filled with #162732 color.

Conclusion

Now you can put the iMac and the Magic Mouse together and we are finished. Thank you for your attention and I hope that this tutorial was useful for you.

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