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How to Create a Stack of Poker Chips

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This tutorial will teach you how to create a simple poker chip. Once the chip is created, we can change colors, stack them together, rotate, and whatever you want.

Let's start by creating the elements on the face of the chip. Then we will use a technique I use in Technical Illustration to create a isometric cylinder. Next we give it some color, add a shadow and a background to finalize the image. Hopefully the techniques in this tutorial will help you in some of your own projects.

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.

Reference Material

This is an image of a poker chip. We will be basing our design off this. If you notice, a poker chip is really just a thin cylinder. There are six large white strips around the outside and twelve small white strips on the inner portion of the chip. The chip also has a small indent that houses the smaller white strips. I’m going to ignore the dice icons on the face of the poker chip, but you can easily add this if you wish.

Step 1

Begin by creating a simple circle using the Ellipse Tool (L). Give the circle a white fill and a 1pt black stroke. If you want more realism, you can measure the diameter poker chip and then click on the artboard. This will bring up the Ellipse dialog box, enter those dimensions in the Height and Width fields and hit OK.

Step 2

The poker chip has an inner ring that is indented. To create this inner ring, use the Ellipse Tool (L) to draw two smaller circles, within the circle you just created.

Hint: Turn on Smart Guides (Command + U) and place you cursor in the exact center of the first circle you drew. With Smart Guides enabled, the cursor will snap to the center of the circle. Click the mouse button and drag while holding the Option key. This will create a proportioned circle from the center point, outward.

Step 3

Duplicate what you've done so far (Edit > Copy, Edit > Paste) and drag it off to the side. This will be our base, but we need the original copy of the circles to create our white strips.

Step 4

At the center point of our original circle, use the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a rectangle, see the example below for approximate size. Again, for more realism, you could measure the exact dimensions of the strip. Once created, drag the rectangle to the top of the circle, allow the rectangle to overhang off the edge of the circle.

Step 5

Using the techniques in Step 2, create another circle from the center point of the original. Be sure to make the circle large enough to allow the rectangle you drew in Step 4 to hang off the bottom of this circle.

Step 6

If you look at the original poker chip, we have six large white strips that encompass the face of the poker chip. We need to duplicate the rectangle we just created five more times to cover the perimeter chip.

Select the rectangle you created in Step 4. Now select the Rotate Tool (R). Locate the center of the poker chip. With the cursor over the center point of the circle (it may be easier to find in Outline mode), hold the Option key and click your mouse button. The rotation dialog box will pop up. Since we want a total of 6 rectangles around the circle, we divide 360 by 6, giving us 60 degrees. Enter 60 in the Angle: dialog box. Then press Copy not OK.

Step 7

A second rectangle is created 60 degrees from the center of the circle.

Step 8

We can now press Command + D four times. This repeats the last command given. In this case, rotating and coping the rectangle. We now have six rectangles around our circle.

Step 9

Select the six rectangles we just created, along with the outer circle and first inner circle. In the Pathfinder Palette, click the Divide button while holding down the Option key. This will separate all intersecting lines.

Step 10

Trim away the excess shapes and group. You have just created the large white strips on the face of the poker chip.

Step 11

We will now create the smaller white strips, using the same technique as before. Begin by creating a rectangle in the center of the circle. Notice that the smaller strips have a smaller width, than the larger ones. Create your rectangle and make sure the rectangle is positioned high to overlap both circles. Drag it up and overlap the two circles.

Note: you can always scale the rectangle larger or smaller once it has been moved.

Step 12

Select the Rotate Tool (R). Locate the center of the circle (it may be easier to find in Outline mode). With the cursor over the center point of the circle, hold the Option key and click your mouse button. The Rotate dialog box will pop up. Since we want a total of 12 rectangles around the circle, we divide 360 by 12, giving us 30 degrees. Enter 30 in the Angle field of the Rotate dialog box. Then press Copy not OK.

Step 13

We can again press Command + D to duplicate our last action. Hit Command + D until you have enough rectangles to encompass the circles (should be ten times).

Step 14

Select the twelve rectangles we just created, along with the two circles. In the Pathfinder Palette, click the Divide button while holding down the Option key. This will separate all intersecting lines.

Step 15

Trim away the excess shapes and group those remaining. You have just created the twelve small white strips on the face of the poker chip.

Step 16

Drag the white strips we created over to the copy of the original circles we created in Step 3, then place them on top.

Step 17

At this point we will add some generic color. In this case, 5% black for the white strips (I feel pure white flattens things). For the red color I used 100% magenta and yellow. I kept the black 1pt stroke on the circles as well. We will change the color later on.

Step 18

I’m now going to use a technique that I employ for creating isometric objects. Select all the objects that comprise the face of our poker chip. Double-click the Scale Tool (S) in the toolbar. This will bring up the Scale dialog box. Select the Non-Uniform check box and type the following; Horizontal of 100%, Vertical of 86.6%, and then click OK.

Step 19

With all the objects still selected, double-click the Shear Tool in the toolbox palette. This will bring up the Shear dialog box. In the Shear Angle field type 30 and press OK. Make sure the Horizontal check box is selected under the Axis group.

Step 20

With all the objects still selected, double-click the Rotate Tool in the toolbox. This will bring up the Rotate dialog box. In the Angle field type -30 and press OK.

Step 21

The face of the poker chip is now in an isometric angle. Another way to achieve this effect is to just scale the circle 100% horizontal and 57% vertical. Note: You can create any shape and run it through Steps 18-20 to create an isometric top view.

Step 22

We will now give the illusion depth by extruding the circle.

In order to properly achieve this effect, we need to add some anchor points to our isometric circle. Draw a vertical line with the Pen Tool (P). We will use this line for a guide. Drag the line until it intersects with the left edge of the circle. Again, with Smart guides turned on, Illustrator will snap the line to the isometric circle where they intersect.

Step 23

Select the vertical line and lock it into place using Command + 2. Zoom in as much as you can and switch to Outline mode. Use the Add Anchor Point Tool (+) to add an anchor point to the isometric circle where it intersects with the vertical guide line you locked into place. Repeat this step for the right hand side of the circle.

Step 24

When you select the circle you should have two new anchor points on the left and right edge of the circle.

Step 25

I selected the large white strips, then hid them using Command + 2. This will make things easier to see and they will not interfere when we select anchor points in the next step.

Note: If you have two objects that overlap one another and you select the Add Anchor Point Tool, Illustrator wants to add that anchor point to the Top object. Sometimes it is necessary to either lock (Command + 2) or hide (Command + 3) an object in order to work with the objects below them.

Step 26

Grab the Direct Selection Tool (A), then select the two lower anchor points. Note: Use the Shift key to select both anchor points at once. With points selected, Copy > Paste in Front (Command + F). We have now created a half circle path on top of our circle.

Step 27

Use the Selection Tool (V) to select the new path you have just created, then drag it straight down.

Note: Just move it to the depth you think the poker chip should be. We can always make it thicker or thinner later on. With the object still selected remove the red fill color.

Step 28

With the Direct Selection tool (A), select the two lower anchor points.

Note: Use the Shift key to select both anchor points at once. With points selected, go to Edit > Copy > Paste in Front. We have now created another half circle path on top of our circle.

Step 29

You should have created two half circles with open ended paths. One directly on top of our isometric circle and one slightly below the circle. Now we just have to connect the open paths.

Step 30

Grab your pen tool. On the left hand side of the poker chip, zoom in on the two open paths of the half circles we created. Click on the bottom open path with the Pen Tool (P). Notice that when the Pen Tool (P) is over the open path, it changes to show a back slash. This indicates you are on an open path. Click on the open path with the Pen Tool (P).

Step 31

Move your Pen Tool (P) up to the next open path. Notice how the pen tool changes again. This time a closed path symbol shows up on the right hand side of the Pen tool. When you see this symbol, click on the path. This connects both objects with a line and closes the path.

Step 32

Repeat steps 30 and 31 on the right hand side. The poker chip should look like the one shown below.

Note: If you want to make the poker chip thinner or thicker, just select the four anchor points below. Then use the Direct Selection tool (A) along with the Shift key to move the selected anchor points up or down on a constrained angle. Moving the anchor points down, will make the poker chip thicker, moving them up will make it appear thinner.

Step 33

Un-hide (Command + Shift + 3) the white strips that we hid in Step 25. In order to give our white strips the same depth, we need to repeat the steps we used for the body of the poker chip. Lets start by selecting the body of the poker chip we just created and sending it to the back (Command + Left Bracket key).

Step 34

On the left white strip, use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to select the anchor point in the middle of the strip, then Edit > Copy > Paste in Front. You have created an open path on top the white strip.

Step 35

With the open path already selected, move it straight down to the bottom of the poker chip. Remove the white fill color.

Note: If you select the open path with the Selection Tool (V), it will select all the white poker strips. Use the Group Selection Tool and just click and drag on the open path to move it to the bottom of the poker chip. With Smart Guides turned on, the path should snap to the bottom path.

Step 36

Use the Direct Selection Tool (A) and select the anchor point in the middle of the strip, then Edit > Copy > Paste in Front. You have created another open path on top the white strip.

Step 37

Connect the open paths with the Pen Tool (P), similar to Steps 30 and 31.

Step 38

Repeat the steps for the next 2 white strips. It should now look like the image below.

Note: For the next two strips, there is not an anchor point in the middle of the two anchor points. To copy the line segment, just click on the line in between the two anchor points with the Direct Selection Tool. This will select the line segment, between the anchor point. Select Edit > Copy > Paste in Front. You will now have an open path on top of the white strip.

Step 39

The inner circle on the poker chip is recessed a bit. In order to accomplish this, lets first hide the smaller, inner most circle by selecting it and hitting Command + 2.

Step 40

Select the inner circle wit the Direct Selection Tool (V). Use the Edit > Copy > Paste in Front command to create another instance of this circle.

Step 41

Drag the circle you just created straight down, just a hair. This is the depth of the recess.

Step 42

Select both circles. In the Pathfinder Palette, click the Divide button while holding down the Option key. This will separate all intersecting lines.

Step 43

The two circles are now divided at their intersecting points. This creates three separate objects. We want to select and delete the lower object.

Step 44

Select the small white strips, then move them down to become flush with the lower circle.

Step 45

Select the inner circle and Edit > Copy > Paste In Front to create a second copy. We will use this object to trim away the excess from the small white strips that would not be visible because of the inner recess.

Step 46

Select the circle you just duplicated, along with any of the white strips that overlap it.

Note: The small white strips are in a group. Therefore if you try and select them with the Selection Tool (V), all the small white strips will be selected. Use the Group Selection Tool and the Shift key, to select each strip individually, along with the circle.

When all the overlapping elements are selected, go to the Pathfinder Palette, click the Divide button while holding down the Option key. This will separate all intersecting lines.

Step 47

Select and delete all the excess pieces (highlighted in yellow).

Step 48

Un-hide (Command + Shift + 3) the inner most circle we set to Hide in Step 39. Note: You may need to bring this object to the front. With the inner circle selected, go to Edit > Copy > Paste in Front. This will give us a duplicate circle on top the original.

Step 49

Drag the circle you just pasted straight down until it just touches the small white strips.

Step 50

With the circle in the correct position, and still selected, chose, Object > Arrange > Send Backward. This will put the selected circle behind the original.

Step 51

Now lets add some color. Start by selecting all the objects and removing the black stroke applied to them. Then we need to decide where the light source is coming from.

Step 52

For the body of the poker chip, I created a gradient with darker shades of red on the outer edges, with the lighter shade of red at the origin of the light source.

Step 53

I added the same gradient to all the forward facing objects.

Step 54

For the top, I created a simple gradient with the light shade of red in front and the darker shade of red in back.

Step 55

For the recessed part, I used the same gradient applied to the top, but reversed the darker and light shades. This gives the area more contrast.

Step 56

I varied the tones of the white strips on the side of the poker chip. I used a higher percentage of black, the farther a strip was to the light source.

Step 57

I want to give the appearance of a slight bevel on the chip. Start by selecting the large circle, and Edit > Copy > Paste in Front. We now have two circles directly on top of one another.

Step 58

With the top circle selected, double-click the Scale Tool (S). This will bring up the Scale dialog box. Type 99% in the Scale field and hit return. We now have a slightly smaller circle on top of another.

Step 59

With the Selection tool (V), move the smaller circle directly up until it intersects with the edge of the larger circle.

Step 60

Select the larger, lower circle, give this circle a lighter shade of red. It now appears that the poker chip has a slight bevel to it.

Step 61

From here we can add a few elements to pop this object off the page. Let's start with a thicker stroke around the whole chip.

Select just the larger top circle (the lighter red one, we used for the bevel) and the front body of the chip, then go to Edit > Copy > Paste in Place.

Step 62

With those objects still selected, go to your Pathfinder palette, click the Merge button while holding down the Option key. This will merge all the objects selected into one object.

Step 63

With the newly merged object still selected, assign a 3 pt black stroke to the object. Send the object to the back, using Object > Arrange > Send to Back.

Step 64

Below is what we should have so far. In order to further enhance the image, let's create a simple shadow. There are several ways to create shadows in Illustrator. I prefer this one. If you have a better one, use it.

Start by going to Edit > Copy > Paste the largest circle on the poker chip (it’s the light red one) and dragging it off to the side.

Step 65

Position the circle you just created, casting out from the light source.

Step 66

Send the circle you just positioned to the back of all the objects, using Object > Arrange >Send to Back.

Step 67

Draw a guide line that will intersect with both the poker chip and the circle you just sent to the back.

Step 68

Add an anchor point to the circle where the line intersects with the Add Anchor Point tool (+). Delete the guide line after you have added the anchor point.

Step 69

Delete the line segment between the two anchor point shown below.

Step 70

Use the Pen Tool (P) to draw a line segment from the open path to the edge of the poker chip.

Step 71

Give the circle a fill color of 100% K

Step 72

With the black circle selected, choose Effect > Stylize > Feather. In the Feather dialog box, put in 9pt and click OK.

Step 73

Use the Transparency palette to give the shadow an Opacity of 50%.

Step 74

Duplicate your chip using Edit > Copy > Paste and apply different types of color.

Conclusion

Stack the chips as you see fit, add a background of your choice! And we're finished!

Also, if you're looking for more techniques for creating poker chips, Grant Friedman wrote a two part tutorial over at AiBURN on Creating an Animated 3D Poker Chip in Illustrator (Parts One and Two), which uses 3D tools to compose the chip and then exports as Flash. It's a much different workflow than the above tutorial.

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