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How to Make a Detailed 3D Vector Tire in Illustrator

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In this tutorial, I will show you how to create a vector tire with very easy tools and techniques. The important and trickier part of this tutorial is the tire stripes, but we'll solve this simply and we'll give it a great final look. The tutorial instruction is provided in Adobe Illustrator CS3.

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.

Step 1

Select a new 1024px by 768px web document with a color mode of RGB and Screen set to 72ppi.

Step 2

Select the Ellipse Tool (L) and click on your artboard in the Ellipse dialog box. Set the Width and Height at 400px and then click OK. Select the circle and set the foreground color to none and stroke color to K=88. Change this layer name to "tire."

Step 3

Select the circle, then go to Effect > 3D > Extrude and Bevel. Click the More Options button and set the options as shown below and then click OK.

Step 4

Select the Rectangle Tool or press M, then click on the artboard and in the dialogue box set the width
and height to 600px by 4px respectively. Now set the fill color to K=90. Then create a rectangle (M) with a width of 4px and height 14px respectively (see 4a below).

Set the fill color to K=90. For the two rectangles, select a foreground color of K=100 and set the stroke to none. Press Shift + F7 to bring up the Align pane. Now select these two newly created rectangles and click Vertical Align Bottom and Horizontal Align Left in the Align Objects group of the Align pane.

Select the mini rectangle and move it 7 pixels up by pressing the Up Arrow key. Then make a copy of the mini-rectangle (by pressing Command + C then Command + F) and move it to the right side of the long rectangle. Be sure to keep the Shift key pressed while moving it (4b).

Select the long rectangle and right mini-rectangle, then press Horizontal Align Right in the Align Objects group of the Align pane. Select the two mini-rectangles and go to Object > Blend > Blend Options... then in the Spacing section select Specified Steps value of 50 and set the Orientation to Align to Path, and click OK (4c).

Press Command + Alt + B to make a blend. Your result should be exactly as shown below (4d).

Step 5

Select the blended mini-rectangles and press Command + Alt + Shift + D, then in the dialogue box set the Vertical
value to -24 px in the Move group and click Copy (5a). Now select the long rectangle and upper blended mini-rectangle. Press Command + Alt + Shift + D again, then set the Vertical Align to 24 px. Now click Copy (5b). Keep the selection and press Command + D. Your result should to be exactly as shown below (5c).

Step 6

Press A or select the Direct Selection Tool from the Tool Pallet. Select the lower two points of
the right most and left most mini-rectangles of the very lower blended mini-rectangles (6a). Press the Shift key and then press the Right Arrow key once. Do the same for the upper blended mini-rectangles (6b).

Select all the blended mini-rectangles and go to Object > Expand, then in the Expand dialogue box make sure both Object and Fill are ticked, and click OK (6c). Group all the mini and long rectangles. Select the group, then copy (Command + C) and paste in place (Command + F). Drag it 150px down by pressing the Down Arrow key 15 times, also keep the Shift key pressed while dragging (6d).

Keep the selection of the lower group, and then copy it and paste it in front. Now press Shift + F8 to bring up the Transform Pallet. Don't loose the upper group selection, now in the Transform pallet set the width to 610px. Also, make sure your Constraining Width and Height Proportions is enabled (6e).

Now select the lower two stripes, then in the Pathfinder Pallet click Intersect Shape Areas, and click Expand in
the Shape Modes (6f). Now set the shaped stripe fill color to K=100 (6g). Select the upper and lower stripe and click Vertical Align Center in the Align Objects group of the Align Pallet (6h). The result is shown in the last image below (6i).

Step 7

Now select both stripes and drag them inside the Symbols Pallet in the Symbol Options dialogue box. Now name it "stripe" and set the Type to Graphic (7a). Now you can delete the stripe symbol from your artboard.

Step 8

Select the tire and press Shift + F6 to bring out the Appearance Pallet. In the Appearance Pallet you will find the 3D Extrude & Bevel option, go ahead and click on it. In the 3D Extrude & Bevel Options check the Preview (8a). Now click the Map Art button. In the Map Art dialogue box for the Surface field type 6 and then press Enter (8b). Now in the Symbol field select our stripe symbol (8c). Scale it as shown (8d), then click OK and back to the artboard. The result is shown in the last image below (8e).

Step 9

Select the tire and go to Object > Expand Appearance. Now Ungroup the tire three times and select the striped part of the tire (9a). Right-click on it and select Release Clipping Mask (9b).

Step 10

Select the tire stripe, cut it (Command + X) and make a new layer from the Layers Pallet. Now name it "stripe" and paste it in place (Command + F). Lock the "stripe" layer. Now select the whole tire layer, click Add to Shape Area, then Expand in the Pathfinder Pallet (10a).

Step 11

Make a new circle with 400px by 400px dimensions. Set the Stroke color to K=100, and set the fill color to none. Now select the circle and press the S key and Enter. Now in the Scale dialog box type 80 in the Scale field and click Copy (11a).

Keep the selection and then press the Enter key again. Type 90 in the Scale field and click Copy (11b). Select and cut (Command + X) the bigger circle. Create a new layer, name it "circle 1," and paste in front (Command + F).

Select and cut (Command + X) the medium circle. Make a new layer name it "circle 2." Paste in front (Command + F), then select the inner most circle. Cut (Command + X) it and take a make layer named "wheel," and paste in front (Command + F). The result so far is shown below (11c).

Step 12

Select the "wheel," press S, and then Enter. Now in the Scale dialogue box type 45 in the Scale
field, then click Copy. Cut the mini-circle and make a new layer and name it "mini_circle" (12a). Select "circle 2," then in the Stroke Pallet click Align Stroke to Inside, and enter a weight of 18pt (12b). Now select "wheel" and do the same as with "circle 2," but set its Stroke Weight to 80pt (12c).

Step 13

Select the wheel and set it's Dashed Line to 89pt for the first dash and gap to
92pt, as shown below (13a). Select the "wheel" and "circle 2" and go to Object > Expand Appearance, then click
Expand in the Pathfinder Pallet. Now you can delete the "circle 2" layer your "circle 2" is already
copied to the "wheel" layer. This is because the upper layer takes precedence, as shown below (13b).

Step 14

Select the "mini_circle," then press S. Enter a Scale value of 200 and press Copy. Again
select the "mini_Circle" and press S and then Enter. Now type in a Scale value of 130 and press Copy. Lock the "mini_circle" layer (14a).

Select the Add Anchor Point Tool. With this tool, add anchor points to every center of the wheel, as shown below (14b). Now with this tool, add more anchor points to the intersected area of the wheel with two newly create circles from the "mini_circle," as shown below (14c to 14d). Now unlock the "mini_circle" layer and select only the "mini_circle" and "wheel" layers, click Add to Shape Area, and then Expand in the Pathfinder Pallet.

Now delete those two circles, what we created from the "mini_circle" earlier. Change the name of the "mini_circle" to "wheel" and delete the older "wheel" layer. Select the Add Anchor Point Tool, now make some anchor points in the gap of the wheel to the edge of the "mini_circle" as shown (14e).

Step 15

Select the Delete Anchor Point Tool from the Tool Pallet. Now remove all the corner anchor points of the wheel as shown in (15a). Now use Convert Anchor Point Tool or press Shift + C to smooth the mini_circle edge as shown in image- 15b repeat this same mechanism to smooth all other mini_circle edges as well.

See this image to the idea how you should to convert your anchor points (15c). Now select the corner points(15d) with Direct Selection Tool (A) then click Convert Selected Anchor Points to Smooth as in (15e). Repeat these step to smooth all other corner points of the wheel. Your final image should to look like image (15f).

Step 16

Create a new layer name it "wheel top." Create a circle with 35px by 35px size. Then set its Fill and Stroke color to K=100. Also, set its Align Stroke to Outside, Weight to 37pt, Dashed Line to first dash 12pt and first gap 10pt (16a).

Lock all layers except the newly created "wheel top" layer. Select the "wheel top" and go to Object > Expand Appearance, then right-click on it and select Ungroup. Select the circle of the "wheel top" (16b) and make it slightly bigger by dragging it, keep pressing Command + Shift while dragging to get the perfect shape and position.

Now select the circle and stroke shape and click Add to Shape Area, then Expand in the Pathfinder Pallet as shown (16c). Create a new circle with 85px by 85px size and align it center of the "wheel top." Do this by selecting "wheel top" and the circle, then click Horizontal Align Center and Vertical Align Center in the Align Objects group of the Align Pallet (16d).

Step 17

Now select the circle and lock it (Command + 2), then make points of every intersecting path of "wheel top" with the circle and also make points in the middle of each outer long edge of "wheel top" (17a).

Now remove all corner points (17b). Convert the edge corners and rotate it as shown (17c). Select the corner points with the Direct Selection Tool and click Convert Selected Anchor Points to Smooth (17d). Now press Command +Alt + 2 to unlock the circle and delete it.

Step 18

Create a new circle at 22px by 22px size. Set its Fill color to dark brown (R=66 G=33 B=11). You will find it in default RGB Swatches Pallet and set its stroke color to brown (R=96 G=56 B=19). You will find this color just on left side of the your fill color (18a).

Now select the Polygon Tool, hold down Shift while drawing the polygon, then set its width to 19px. Make sure you have Constrains Width and Height Proportions enabled (18b).

Select the polygon and set its Fill color to None and Stroke to 3px and a black (K=100) color. Go to Object Expand in the dialog box and click OK. Now use Delete Anchor Point Tool to delete the inside points of the polygon as shown below (18d).

Select the polygon and fill it with a gradient as shown (18e). The colors are various shads of gray, with an Angle of -34. Set the polygon's Stroke color to dark gray with a Stroke Weight of 0.5pt. Now center the circle and the polygon together. Place it in the middle of one "wheel top" hand and copy it to all other hands, also rotate some screws to different angle.

Step 19

Add gradient overlay to "wheel top" as shown in image- 19a. Select "wheel top" and make a copy of it and paste in place. Now change its color to gray (K=30). Move it 1px left and 1px down, send it back by pressing Command + Left Bracket key (19b).

Select wheel and change its fill color to gradient (19c). Copy and paste in front of the wheel. Change its fill color to None and Stroke to dark gray (K=70), then send it back by pressing Command + Left Bracket key.

Now add a Stroke color of light gray (K=20) to "upper wheel." Select the upper and lower wheel and go to Object > Blend > Blend Options (19d). Press Command + Alt + B to make a blend (19e). Edit a logo as shown (19f). Place the text (19g). Now select "wheel," "wheel top," and the text group, and rename them "wheel" (19h).

Step 20

Select "wheel" and go to Effect > 3D > Rotate, then change settings as shown (20a). Keep the selection and go to Object > Expand Appearance (20b).

Step 21

Go and unlock the "tire" layer. Make a new circle 500px by 500px and set its fill color to None and Stroke color to black. Go to Effect > 3D > Rotate and change it as shown (21a). Now place it as shown below (21b).

Make a copy of this circle and paste in place. Change its size to 322px by 322px. Place that as shown (21c). Now make more two circles at 390px by 390px and 440px by 440px by coping it and place as shown (21d). We'll call these four strokes: "circle 1", "circle 2," "circle 3," and "circle 4" starting from the smaller one.

Step 22

Set the "circle 1" stroke color to gray (K=40) and the "circle 2" stroke color to light gray (K=20). Select "circle 1" and "circle 2 and make a copy. Keep the copy selected (22a).

Go to Object > Blend > Blend Options, set as shown (22b). Now press Command + Alt + B to blend. Now cut "wheel"" from its layer and paste it in the "tire" layer. Place it as shown (22c). Select "circle 1" and "circle 2" blend and press Command + Shift + Right Bracket key to bring it to the front.

Step 23

Take back the "circle 1" and "circle 2" copy and place it exactly in its previous state. Select it, then press Command + Shift + Right Bracket key to bring it to the front.

Change the "circle 1" color to gray (K=60) and "circle 2" to dark gray (K=80), as shown (23a). Set the "circle 3" Stroke color to dark gray (K=70), circle 4's Stroke the color to dark gray (K=80). Select "circle 2," "circle 3," and "circle 4." Set the blend mode and add it as shown (23b).

Step 24

Make a circle that is 220px by 220px and fill it with black. Go to Effect > 3D > Rotate... and change settings as shown (24a). Copy it and place in front (Command +F). Change the upper circle fill to dark gray (K=70). Move the copy 6px up and 6px right. Select the two circles and blend (4b). Now place it as shown below (24c).

Conclusion

I have finally added the branded text and modified it slightly to make it more apparent. One big problem with the wheel shape is that when we rotate it with the 3D tool it has lost the perfect look (especially with its holes) this can't be solved directly but we can solve it manually. So, it's a good idea to plan the angle the wheel will be placed in well from the beginning. This was my first tutorial and comments are welcome. Thanks for reading!

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