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Create a Detailed Baseball in Illustrator

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In this tutorial, you'll learn how to create a detailed baseball from a reference photo with the help of gradients and the 3D Revolve Effect. Enjoy!

Tutorial Assets

The following asset was used during the production of this tutorial: Baseball Reference Photo.

Step 1

Start by putting your reference image in the document. On a new layer, use the reference photo as a guide to create a circle using the Ellipse Tool.

Step 2

Using the Eyedropper Tool, sample a light and dark gray from the image.

Fill the circle with a radial gradient using the sampled colors.

Step 3

For now, hide the layer with the circle so we can see the reference photo. On a New Layer, use the Pen Tool to draw a line that follows the seam on the ball.

Step 4

Hide the reference photo and give the line a fill and a stroke. Use light gray for the fill, and black for the stroke with the settings shown.

Apply the Feather Effect (Effect > Stylize > Feather) and set this shape's Opacity to 20%.

Step 5

Do the same with the other seem.

Step 6

Now we are going to create some more realistic shading using the 3D Revolve Effect. But, before we do this, we need to copy the original circle and paste it in its own layer, which I have named "Overlay."

Step 7

Fill this new ellipse with the solid light gray color instead of the gradient color.

Step 8

Now, let's set this shape up to be revolved. Use the Pen Tool to delete the circle's left anchor point (simply hover over the existing anchor point).

Step 9

Use the Direct Selection Tool (D) and, while holding down Alt + Shift (Shift allows you to snap to 45 degree increments), manipulate the handles on the top and bottom anchor points so that the shape appears as shown.

Step 10

With the half-circle shape selected, go to Effect > 3D > Revolve and apply the settings shown. Note that we will be creating three lights (one front light and two back lights).

Step 11

When you're done, change the layer's Blending Mode to Overlay

Step 12

To start creating the stitches, hide all working layers so far, leaving the reference photo visible (it may help to reduce the opacity of the photo). Zoom in to one of the stitches and use the Ellipse Tool to create a shape that will become one of the stitching holes.

Step 13

Make a copy of the first shape and move it down slightly. Select both shapes and, in the Pathfinder Panel, select Divide. Get rid of the excess shapes.

Step 14

Fill the first shape with a dark brown color. Fill the other one with a tan-to-brown gradient.

Step 15

Use the Pen Tool to make the shape of the stitch. Fill this with a linear gradient using some colors sampled from the reference image.

Step 16

To create a highlight on the stitching, make a copy (Command + C) of the stitch shape and paste it on front (Command + F). Use the Pen Tool to create another shape as shown. Select the new shape and the top copy of the stitch, then Minus Front. Fill the resulting shape with the dark red color from the gradient.

Step 17

To make a stitch in the opposite direction, select all the shapes and go to Object > Transform > Reflect. Go ahead and reflect a Vertical Copy.

Step 18

Using the reference photo, position this new stitch. I have also adjusted the gradient slightly.

Step 19

We are going to work on the new stitch we just created, so hide the original stitch. I want the stitch on the right to appear that it is disappearing under the leather flap. To start, use the Pen Tool to draw a line through the shapes as shown. Copy (Command + C) and Paste the line in front of itself (Command + F). Select one of the copies of the line and one of the shapes from the stitch, then Divide. Select the remaining line and the other shape, then Divide. Now you can delete the tip of the stitch shapes.

Step 20

Select both stitches and press Command + G to make a group. Start to copy this group around the ball, using the reference photo as a guide. Use the Rotate Tool (R) to position the stitches accurately.

Step 21

As you get further along, you'll notice the perspective changes. Use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to select the stitches individually (the Lasso Tool can also be used). Now use the Scale Tool (S) to manipulate the size of the stitch so it more accurately resembles the reference image.

Step 22

Finish the rest of the stitches towards the top of the baseball using the same technique.

Step 23

Continue to add stitches toward the bottom of the ball. At a certain point on the ball, make a mirrored copy of the group by going to Object > Transform > Reflect. Also, adjust the colors so the highlight is still on the 'top' of the stitch. This will make the stitches appear more natural as they follow the ball's perspective in the opposite direction.

Step 24

Finish the stitches on the ball.

Do the same with the other side.

Step 25

We are going to finish the image by adding some final shading to the stitching. To start, hide the reference image and unhide the other layers. Create a new layer and place it jut below the layer containing all the stitches.

Step 26

Draw a line and give it a stroke weight of 10 points.

Step 27

Set the Blending Mode to Multiply, the Opacity to 14%, and give the line a Gaussian Blur of 8.8px.

You're image should resemble the following (this is meant to be very subtle).

Step 28

Do the same to treatment to each side of the stitching.


You're done. In the image below, I've added a shadow to ground the ball. You're image should resemble the following.

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