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Create a Loving Cup of Tea in Illustrator CS5

This post is part of a series called Caffeine Fuelled Vector.
Design a Coffee Shop Menu Layout from Scratch - Part 2
Make a Sleek and Refreshing Vector Energy Drink

In today's tutorial, I'll show you how to create a quick, loving cup of tea using Adobe Illustrator CS5 using 3D effects and the Bristle Brush Tool.


I don't often get a chance to show my patriotic side in vector, but here today I'll show you how to create a British institution... a cup of tea and saucer!

The 3D effects in Adobe Illustrator can produce some amazing and quick effects. I've been playing with them quite a bit recently and found out how to make a quick cup of tea. I'm sure with some practice it will take you shorter than making a "cuppa" yourself!

Step 1

Using the Pen Tool (P) to draw two lines using an off gray stroke color. I've darkened it for the example below so you can see it better. These lines will be used to create the cup and saucer. Once drawn, apply the "15pt Round" brush to it from the default CMYK brush palette.

Step 2

Draw the shape below behind your lines with a light golden brown fill color (C=25, M=40, Y=45, K=0). This will be your tea! Depending on how you like it, darken or lighten the shade. Once done, Group (Command + G) all three objects.

Step 3

While the group is selected go to Effects > 3D > Revolve and use the settings below.

Step 4

To give the surface of the tea a "just stirred" look, use the Warp Tool (Shift + R) to tweak the top of the tea. This will give the tea a more fluid look.

Step 5

Use the Pen Tool (P) to create a curved, ear like shape for the handle with the same "15pt Brush," but with the Stroke Weight of 0.75pt. This stroke should also be off gray.

Step 6

Go to the Effects > 3D > Extrude & Bevel effect and use the below settings to create your handle.

Step 7

Copy (Command + C) and Paste (Command + V) the handle and go to Object > Expand. Use the Free Transform Tool (E) to rescale and rotate the hand to be a reflection on the side of the cup. Then change the Blending Mode to Multiply and Opacity to 30%.

Step 8

The cup will cast a shadow on the saucer, so I'm going to create a shadow using a black to black transparent radial gradient. First I'm going to select the group with our cup and saucer in and then Object > Expand it.

This is so it's easier to draw a shape for the gradient fill in due to Smart Guides. Set the shadow to Blending Mode Multiply.

Step 9

As our cup of tea has just been stirred, I'm going to add some bubbles to the surface. I've used a quick bubble technique inspired by a tutorial by Linah Ahmed here on Vectortuts+. So using the Ellipse Tool (L), create a squashed circle with a white to light golden brown filled linear gradient and set it to Blending Mode Multiply.

Now duplicate the shape and apply a white to light golden brown to transparent light golden brown radial gradient on top, then set the Opacity to 80%. Also, slightly offset it a few nudges with your arrow keys.

Step 10

Group your ellipses (Command + G) and then set the Opacity to 75%. Duplicate the bubble group several times. Modify the scale of them using the Free Transform Tool (E) to give a less carbon copy look and place them around the rim of the tea.

Step 11

Using the Ellipse Tool (L), line up two squashed circles and use Pathfinder > Intersect to create a shape to cover the surface of the tea. I used the Direct Selection Tool (V) to slightly modify the handles on the shape to get an exact fit.

Move the shape below the bubbles. Then fill with a light golden brown to white radial gradient, and set the Blending Mode to Luminosity.

Step 12

Use the Rectangle Tool (M) to create your background with a light green (C=50, M=0, Y=100, K=0) to white gradient. I'm using this green to give a better indication of the drink being tea (think tea leaves) rather than confusing it with coffee, which is usually represented by brown tones.

Step 13

Draw a circle with the Ellipse Tool (L) underneath the saucer with a black to black transparent radial gradient fill set to Multiply to create a shadow.

Step 14

I'm going to create a quick steam effect using the Bristle Brush, which can be found in AI CS5. However, if you've not got this version, you can create a smoke effect. I've modified the Round Fan Bristle Brush as shown below:

Then using the Paintbrush Tool (B), create some steam with a heart at the top with a white stroke color.


Us British often say life's problems can be solved with a cup of tea. It's true! Now you can create a quick cup of tea with little problems thanks to the ever wonderful 3D effects in Adobe Illustrator CS5. For the record, I like mine with two sweeteners and milky!

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