Do you want to make your flat objects look more intricate and detailed? Follow this tutorial and learn how to create a stylish retro pocket camera, mastering the gradients for lights and shadows and using the built-in Adobe Illustrator swatches for a semi-realistic surface texture!
If you enjoy creating flat-style objects with realistic details and would like to learn some new techniques about using and modifying basic shapes, mastering gradients, creating and applying textures, then I invite you to join the Creating Flat Workspace Elements for Advertisements course! From there you will also learn how to make a realistic textured wooden background for your objects.
1. Create the Base of the Camera With Simple Shapes
Start forming the base of the camera by making a 165 x 170 px rectangle with the Rectangle Tool (M).
Copy it and Paste in Back (Control-C > Control-B). Squash the copy to about 140 px height and make it wider to about 280 px, thus creating two overlapping rectangles.
Select both shapes and Unite them in Pathfinder. Make the corners rounded by pulling the circle markers of the Live Corners down to their maximum.
The Live Corners feature is available only in Adobe Illustrator CC. In case if you’re using earlier versions of the program, feel free to apply Effect > Stylize > Round Corners.
Take the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a horizontal stripe across the upper part of the camera. Hold Alt-Shift and drag it down, creating a copy in the bottom part.
Select all the elements, take the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M), hold the Alt key and click to delete the unneeded pieces outside the camera.
Now let’s make the most essential part of every camera: the lens!
Start by making a 150 x 150 px circle using the Ellipse Tool (L). Place it almost in the center of the camera, a bit closer to the right.
Let’s add the shutter button to our camera. Create a 40 x 20 px rectangle with the Rectangle Tool (M). Make its corners slightly rounded, using the Live Corners function. Create a copy by holding Alt-Shift and dragging the shape to the left in order to create another button. Make the new button a bit smaller, setting its width to 30 px in the Transform panel on top.
2. Apply the Colors to the Camera
Now we can apply the colors to our camera and add more details. Fill the base of the camera with dark-grey linear gradient, placing it vertically.
And let’s make the upper stripe on the camera silver by applying a vertical gradient from grey to light grey. Apply the same color to the bottom stripe, picking it with the Eyedropper Tool (I), but placing the colors upside-down.
And apply the same silver color to the buttons as well. Send the buttons to Back (Control-Shift-[), behind the camera.
Now let’s add more details to the lens. Fill its base with vertical linear gradient from dark-grey color in the bottom to silver-grey on top.
And let’s add another ring to the lens. Go to Object > Path > Offset Path. Set the Offset value to -7 px, creating a smaller circle inside the first one. Fill it with light-grey gradient.
Let’s use the Offset Path function again to add another ring, but this time set the Offset value to -3 px. Apply a dark-grey gradient, with a darker shade of grey on top.
Continue repeating the same action and apply a -7 px Offset to create a new ring with linear gradient of lighter color. Add another shape with -3 px Offset value and darker gradient, which you can pick from one of the previously created rings, using the Eyedropper Tool (I).
Continue adding Offset Paths with the same settings, varying -7 px and -3 px values and alternating dark and light gradients, until you have about ten circles in total.
Now let’s form the inner part of the lens, its aperture. This time set the Offset value to -15 px, creating a small circle.
At this step we can already delete the outlines, as all the main shapes are colored. Select everything (Control-A) and set the Stroke color to None in the Color panel.
Let’s Сopy the smallest circle and Paste it in Front (Control-C > Control-F). Fill it with linear gradient from blue to black. Set the Blending Mode to Screen, making the black side of the gradient transparent and thus creating an overtone.
You can change the direction of the gradient, placing it diagonally, using the Gradient Tool (G).
Let’s duplicate this overtone (Control-C > Control-F) and make it smaller.
Place the bottom overtone on top of the smaller one by Bringing it to Front (Control-Shift-]). Keeping the shape selected, take the Eraser Tool (Shift-E) and draw a line across the highlight, dividing it into two parts.
For the upper half of the overtone, let’s change the blue part of the gradient fill to dark-purple. And apply a red color instead of blue for the bottom half of the overtone.
Make the grey circle beneath the highlight a bit darker.
Let’s Group (Control-G) the elements of the aperture and make them a bit larger.
You can edit the colors of the lens a bit, making our gradients darker in order to add more contrast to the shapes.
3. Add More Details to the Camera
Now let’s make our camera more realistic and three-dimensional by adding minor details. First of all, let’s add the shadow from the lens.
Select the biggest bottom circle of the lens, Copy it and Paste in Back (Control-C > Control-B). Make the shape a bit larger and fill it with linear gradient from grey to white. Make the gradient go diagonally to the right. Switch to Multiply Blending Mode, thus making the white side of the gradient transparent.
Let’s delete the lower part of the shadow with the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M). Select both the shadow and the base of the camera, hold down Alt and click the unneeded part of the shadow outside the camera to delete it.
Now let’s form the camera grip at the left side of the camera to make it more true-to-life. Draw a rectangle the same height as our camera. Fill the shape with vertical gradient from dark-grey to black and switch the Blending Mode to Screen, making the black part transparent and forming a highlight.
Duplicate the rectangle (Control-C > Control-F) and drag it to the right, attaching the created copy next to the first rectangle and making it much narrower.
Use the Eyedropper Tool (I) to pick the appearance from the shadow under the lens, applying a dark-grey gradient in Multiply Blending Mode to the newly created rectangle. Put the gradient horizontally, making a subtle shadow from the camera grip.
Let’s add more details, such as the flash and indicators, to the top part of our camera.
Make a 50 x 30 px rectangle and place it in the top right corner of the camera. Make it slightly rounded, using the Live Corners function, and apply a dark-grey vertical gradient, picking the color from the base of our camera with the Eyedropper Tool (I).
Apply the Offset Path with -10 px Offset value and make the shape rounded. Fill the created shape with a light-grey vertical gradient, forming the flash.
Make another rectangle of 30 x 10 px size. Make its corners fully rounded and fill it with a bright-yellow linear gradient.
Make a 20 x 20 px circle and place it by the left side of the lens. Apply a silver linear gradient. Make another circle of 10 x 10 px next to the first one and fill it with bright-yellow linear gradient.
4. Create a Leather Texture Effect
Make the base of the camera a bit darker. Copy it and Paste in Front (Control-C > Control-F).
And now let’s make the base of the camera textured, using the built-in patterns of Adobe Illustrator!
Open the Swatches panel in Window > Swatches. Go to the Swatches Library > Patterns > Basic Graphics > Basic Graphics_Textures.
Here we have some nice realistic textures, which can create a detailed and fancy look. Let’s find something that imitates a leather surface. For example, the swatch called USGS 21 Intricate Surface. Click to apply the texture to the selected shape.
Let’s tweak our texture a bit, using some of the tools, which allow us to work with the applied swatches and patterns.
Keeping the textured shape selected, double-click the Scale Tool (S) in the Tools panel to open the Scale options window. Here, uncheck all the options except the Transform Patterns box. And set the Uniform Scale value to 90%, making the elements of the texture slightly smaller.
And let’s change the direction of our pattern a bit. Keeping the textured selected, double-click the Rotate Tool (R). Check the Transform Patterns box and set the Angle to 30 degrees.
Finally, switch the Blending Mode of the pattern shape to Multiply and decrease its Opacity to 30% in the Transparency panel, making it blend with the dark base, so that it fits the camera.
And here we have it! Our semi-realistic flat camera with textured surface is ready! I hope you’ve enjoyed following this tutorial and discovered some new tips and tricks about modifying basic shapes and applying patterns to make a flat object look more detailed.
Keep making creative things, and let the inspiration guide you!