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How to Create a Semi-Realistic Graphics Tablet in Adobe Illustrator

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In the following steps you will learn how to create a semi-realistic graphics tablet in Adobe Illustrator. For starters, using basic tools and effects, the Round Any Corner script and taking full advantage of the Appearance panel you will learn how to create the tablet. Moving on you will learn how to cleverly use the Warp effects and how to add depth to your shapes using complex gradients or blending options. Finally, you will learn how to create, save and use a simple pattern.


1. Create a New Document & Setup a Grid

Hit CMD + N to create a New document. Enter 760 in the width box and 600 in the height box then click on the Advanced button. Select RGB, Screen (72ppi) and make sure that the "Align New Objects to Pixel Grid" box is unchecked before your click OK.

Enable the Grid (View > Show Grid) and the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). For starters you'll need a grid every 5px. Simply 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 panel (Window > Info) for a live preview with the size and position of your shapes. Do not forget to set the unit of measurement to pixels from Edit > Preferences > Units > General. All these options will significantly increase your work speed.

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2. Create the Tablet

Step 1

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 500 by 330px shape and fill it with the linear gradient shown in the following image. Make sure that this rectangle is selected and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 17px radius and click OK.

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The white numbers from the Gradient image stand for Location percentage.

Step 2

While still selected, focus on the Appearance panel (Window > Appearance) and add a second fill using the Add New Fill button (pointed by the little blue arrow). Select this new fill, make it black, drag it in the bottom of the Appearance panel, lower its Opacity to 5% and go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a 2px Offset and click OK.

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Step 3

Add a third fill and drag in the bottom of the Appearance panel. Select this new fill, set its color at black, lower its Opacity to 5% and go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a 5px Offset, click OK and go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Enter a 3px radius and click OK.

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Step 4

Select the top fill and go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the properties shown in the top window, click OK and go again to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the properties shown in the middle window, click OK and go one more time to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the properties shown in the bottom window and click OK. Move to the Layers panel (Window > Layers) and lock this rectangle, just to make sure that you won't accidentally select/move it.

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Step 5

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 365 by 250px shape, fill it with the linear gradient shown below and place it as shown in the first image. Next, you'll need the Round Any Corner script. You can find it in the Vectortuts+ article 20 Free and Useful Adobe Illustrator Scripts. Save it to your hard drive, return to Illustrator and grab the Direct Selection Tool (A). Focus on the shape made in the beginning of the step, select the two 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. In the end your shape should look like in the second image.

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Step 6

Select the shape and go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the properties shown in the following image, click OK and move to the Appearance panel. Add a 3pt stroke, set the color at black, align it to inside and lower its Opacity to 3%.

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Step 7

For the following steps you will need a grid every 1px. So, go to Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid and enter 1 in the Gridline every box. Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 1 by 4px shape and fill it with R=215, G=215, B=215. Continue with the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 4 by 1px shape, fill it with the same color and place it as shown in the second image. Select both shapes made in this step, open the Pathfinder panel (Window > Pathfinder) and click on the Unite button. Select the resulting shape and place it as shown in the third image. The Snap to Grid should ease your work.

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Step 8

Select the tiny shape and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the left window, click OK and go again to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the right window and click OK.

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Step 9

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 90 by 1px shape, fill it with the linear gradient shown below and place it as shown in the first image. Make sure that this thin shape is selected and go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the properties shown in the following image and click OK.

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Step 10

Make a Copy in Front (CTRL + C > CTRL + F) of the shape, select it and drag it 249px up. Make sure that this copy stays selected and focus on the Appearance panel. First, replace the existing linear gradient with the one shown in the following image then open the Drop Shadow effect and increase its Opacity percentage to 40%.

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3. Add the Side Buttons

Step 1

Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 54px circle, fill it with R=71, G=73, B=78 and place it as shown in the following image. Make sure that this new shape stays selected and focus on the Appearance panel. Select the existing fill and go to Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow. Enter the properties shown in the following image and click OK.

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Step 2

Make sure that the shape made in the previous step is still selected, focus on the Appearance panel and add a second fill. Select it, use the radial gradient shown in the following image and lower its Opacity to 75%.

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Remember that the white numbers from the Gradient image stand for Location percentage while the yellow zero stands for Opacity percentage.

Step 3

Make sure that the circle edited in the previous step is still selected, focus on the Appearance panel and add a third fill. Select it, use the radial gradient shown in the following image and lower its Opacity to 50%.

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Step 4

Make sure that the circle edited in the previous step is still selected, focus on the Appearance panel and add a fourth fill. Select it, use the linear gradient shown in the following image and go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a -17px Offset and click OK.

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Step 5

Make sure that the circle is still selected, focus on the Appearance panel and add a 1pt Stroke Weight. Select it, set the color at R=34, G=36, B=38, align it to inside and go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a -16px Offset, click OK and go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the properties shown in the following image and click OK. Pick the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 2px circle, fill it with R=200, G=200, B=200 and place it as shown in the second image.

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Step 6

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 27 by 13px shape, fill it with the radial gradient shown below and place it as shown in the first image. Make sure that this new shape is selected and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 4px radius, click OK and go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the properties shown in the following image and click OK.

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Step 7

Select the shape made in the previous step, lower its Opacity to 50% and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter the properties shown in the following image and click OK.

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Step 8

Reselect the shape and make a Copy in Front (CTRL + C > CTRL + F). Select this copy, drag it down and place it as shown in the second image. Make sure that this copy stays selected and focus on the Appearance panel. First, replace the existing radial gradient with the one shown in the following image. Next, open the Drop Shadow effect and lower its Opacity to 40%.

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Step 9

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create an 11 by 3px shape, fill it with the linear gradient shown below and place it as shown in the first image. Make sure that this new shape stays selected, lower its Opacity to 50% and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 1.5px radius, click OK and focus on the Appearance panel. Add a 0.5pt Stroke Weight and select it. Set the stroke color at black, align it to outside and lower its Opacity to 15%.

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Step 10

Duplicate the shape (CTRL + C > CTRL + F). Drag this copy down, place it as shown in the second image and make sure that it stays selected. Focus on the Appearance panel and replace the existing linear gradient with the one shown in the following image.

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Step 11

Using the Ellipse Tool (L), create an 3px circle, fill it with the radial gradient shown below and place it as shown in the first image. Make sure that this new shape stays selected, lower its Opacity to 50% and focus on the Appearance panel. Add a 0.5pt Stroke Weight and select it. Set the stroke color at black, align it to outside and lower its Opacity to 20%.

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Step 12

Duplicate the shape (CTRL + C > CTRL + F). Drag this copy down, place it as shown in the second image and make sure that it stays selected. Focus on the Appearance panel and replace the existing radial gradient with the one shown in the following image.

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Step 13

Move to the Layers panel and unlock the main shape made in the starting steps. Select all the shapes created so far and Group them (CTRL + G).

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4. Create the Pen

Step 1

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create an 8 by 5px shape, fill it with green and go to Effect > Warp > Arc Lower. Enter the properties shown in the following image, click OK and go Object > Expand Appearance. Fill the resulting shape with the linear gradient shown below and focus on the Appearance panel. Add a 1pt Stroke Weight, align it to inside and set the color at R=15, G=15, B=15.

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Step 2

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 14 by 8px shape, fill it with red, place it as shown in the first image and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 1px radius, click OK and go to Effect > Warp > Arc Lower. Enter the properties shown in the following image, click OK and go Object > Expand Appearance.

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Step 3

Disable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid) then go to Edit > Preferences > General and make sure that the Keyboard Increment is set at 1px. Reselect the shape made in the first step and make a copy in front (CTRL + C > CTRL + F) then select the red shape made in the previous step and make a copy in back (CTRL + C > CTRL + B). Focus on the Layers panel, select that red copy and move 2px down using the down arrow from your keyboard. Reselect both copies made in this step and click on the Intersect button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with black and lower its Opacity to 25%.

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Step 4

Select the remaining red shape and focus on the Appearance panel. First, replace that red with the linear gradient shown in the following image. Next, add a 1pt stroke for your shape, align it to inside and set the color at R=15, G=15, B=15.

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Step 5

Enable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create an 18 by 182px shape, fill it with teal and place it as shown in the first image. Focus on the bottom side of this new shape and switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select the left anchor point and drag it 2px to the right then select the right anchor point and drag it 2px to the left. In the end your shape should look like in the second image. Make sure that it is selected and go to Effect > Warp > Bulge. Enter the properties shown in the following image, click OK and go to Object > Expand Appearance.

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Step 6

Focus on the bottom side of shape made in the previous step. Pick the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 14 by 4px shape, fill it with the same teal color and place it as shown in the first image. Select both teal shapes and click on the Unite button from the Pathfinder panel. Switch to the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 22 by 1px shape, fill it with black and place it as shown in the second image. Make sure that this thin rectangle is selected and go to Effect > Warp > Arc. Enter the properties shown in the following image, click OK and go to Object > Expand Appearance.

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Step 7

Select the teal shape along with the thin, black shape made in the previous step and click on the Divide button from the Pathfinder panel. Select the resulting group of shape and hit SHIFT + CTRL + G to Ungroup it. Focus on the Layers panel, select the two, black shapes highlighted in the third image and simply delete them.

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Step 8

Select the top, teal shape, focus on the Appearance panel and replace the teal with the linear gradient shown below.

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Step 9

Disable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). Select the remaining teal shape and make two Copies in Front (CTRL + C > CTRL + F > CTRL + F). Select the top copy and move it 1px up using the up arrow from your keyboard. Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with R=15, G=15, B=15.

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Step 10

Select the teal shape, focus on the Appearance panel and replace the teal with the linear gradient shown below. Add a second fill for this shape, select it, set the color at black, lower its Opacity to 20% and change the Blending Mode to Multiply.

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Step 11

Select the thin, black shape made to divide the pen and go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the properties shown in the following image and click OK.

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Step 12

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M), create an 18 by 5px shape, fill it with yellow and place it as shown in the first image. Focus on the top side of this new shape and switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select the left anchor point and move it 2px to the right then select the right anchor point and move it 2px to the left. Reselect this yellow shape and go to Effect > Warp > Bulge. Enter the properties shown in the following image, click OK and go to Effect > Warp > Arc Lower. Enter the properties shown below, click OK and go to Object > Expand Appearance.

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Step 13

Disable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). Reselect the shape edited in the eighth step and make a Copy in Front (CTRL + C > CTRL + F) then select the yellow shape and make a Copy in Back (CTRL + C > CTRL + B). Focus on the Layers panel, select this second copy and move it 1px down using the down arrow from your keyboard. Reselect both copies made in this step and click on the Intersect button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with black, lower its Opacity to 50% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

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Step 14

Reselect the yellow shape and make two Copies in Front (CTRL + C > CTRL + F > CTRL + F). Select the top copy and move it 1px up. Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with white, lower its Opacity to 50% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

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Step 15

Select the yellow shape, focus on the Apparance panel and replace the yellow with the linear gradient shown below.

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Step 16

Enable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). Pick the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 14 by 19px shape, fill it with R=10, G=10, B=10 and place it as shown in the first image. Focus on the top side of this new shape and switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select the left anchor point and move it 6px to the right then select the right anchor point and move it 6px to the left. Make sure that this new shape is selected and go to Effect > Warp > Arc Lower. Enter the properties shown in the following image, click OK and go to Object > Expand Appearance.

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Step 17

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 5 by 22px shape, fill it with R=115, G=115, B=115 and place it as shown in the first image. Make sure that this new shape stays selected, switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the bottom, left anchor point and move it 1px to the right. Grab the Delete Anchor Point Tool (-) and simply click on the top, right anchor point to remove. In the end your shape should look like in the second image. Select the shape made in the previous step and make a Copy in Front (CTRL + C > CTRL + F). Select this copy along with the shape made in this step and click on the Intersect button from the Pathfinder panel.

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Step 18

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 4 by 22px shape, fill it with R=45, G=45, B=45 and place it as shown in the first image. Make sure that this new shape stays selected and switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select the bottom, right anchor point and move it 1px to the left. Grab the Delete Anchor Point Tool (-) and simply remove the top, left anchor point. In the end your shape should look like in the second image. Select the shape made in the sixteenth step and make a Copy in Front (CTRL + C > CTRL + F). Select this copy along with the shape made in this step and click on the Intersect button from the Pathfinder panel.

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Step 19

Select the shape made in the sixteenth step and make a new Copy in Front (CTRL + C > CTRL + F). Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 12 by 1px shape, fill it with blue and place it as shown in the second image. Select both shapes made in this step and click on the Intersect button from the Pathfinder panel. Fill the resulting shape with black, lower its Opacity to 50% and change the Blending Mode to Soft Light.

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Step 20

Disable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). Select the shape made in the sixteenth step and make two Copies in Front (CTRL + C > CTRL + F > CTRL + F). Select the top copy and move it 1px up. Reselect both copies and click on the Minus Front button from the Pathfinder panel. Bring the resulting shape to front (SHIFT + CTRL + ] ) and fill it with the linear gradient shown in the following image.

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Step 21

Select the three shapes highlighted in the first image (shapes made in steps #16, #17 and #18), hit Alt + CTRL + B then go to Object > Blend > Blend Options. Select Specified Steps from the Spacing drop-down menu, enter 30 in that white box, click OK and go to Object > Expand .

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Step 22

Enable the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). Using the Pen Tool (P), create a 3px, vertical path and place it as shown in the first image. Add a 1pt Stroke Weight for this path and set its color at black. Make sure that this tiny path stays selected, open the Stroke panel (Window > Stroke) and check the Round Cap button. Send this path to back (SHIFT + CTRL + [ ) and go to Object > Path > Outline Stroke.

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Step 23

Using the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 5 by 25px shape, fill it with R=15, G=15, B=15 and place it as shown in the following image.

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Step 24

While selected, focus on the Appearance panel and add a second fill. Select it, use the linear gradient shown below and go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a -1px Offset and click OK. Return to the Appearance panel, make sure that the entire path is selected and go to Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners. Enter a 2px radius, click OK and go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the properties shown in the following image and click OK.

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Step 25

Select all the shapes that make up the pen and duplicate them (CTRL + C > CTRL + F). Select these copies and click on the Unite button from the Pathfinder panel. Make sure that the resulting shape is selected and hit the "D" key from your keyboard. This should replace the existing Appearance attributes with the default ones (white fill and 1pt, black stroke). Focus on the Appearance panel, remove the stroke and replace the white used for the fill with a flat black

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Step 26

Focus on the Layers panel, select the black path made in the previous step and drag it below the shapes that make up the pen. Make sure that this black shape stays selected and focus on the Appearance panel. Select the fill, lower its Opacity to 5% and go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a 1px Offset and click OK.

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Step 27

Reselect the shape edited in the previous step, add a second fill and drag it in the bottom of the Appearance panel. Select it, set the color at black, lower its Opacity to 5% and go to Effect > Path > Offset Path. Enter a 3px Offset, click OK and go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Enter a 3px radius and click OK. Return to the Appearance panel and add third fill for this shape. Select it, set the color at black then add the three Drop Shadow effects shown in the following image.

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Step 28

Select the path edited in the previous step along with the rest of the shapes that make up the pen and Group them (CTRL + G). Select this new group, rotate it -45 degrees and place it as shown in the second image.

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Congratulations! You're Done.

Here is how it should look. I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial and can apply these techniques in your future projects.

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