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Make an Eye-Popping Vector Eyeball

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Need to improve your Illustrator skills? Learn to make an eye-popping vector eyeball with this intermediate Illustrator tutorial. We'll use numerous Illustrator tools, including 3D tools, to create this illustration. Let's get started!

Final Image Preview

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Tutorial Details

  • Program: Adobe Illustrator CS4
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Estimated Completion Time: 1.5 Hours

Step 1

Draw the circle shown below using the Ellipse Tool (L).

Step 2

Select the circle and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Roughen. Change the Size and Detail so your shape becomes star-like.

Step 3

To further work with the star shape you will need to first expand it by selecting it and going to Object > Expand Appearance. After that, draw another circle behind the star shape.

Step 4

Select both shapes and in the Pathfinder Palette click Intersect.

Step 5

This is what you'll be left with.

Step 6

Draw another circle that's the same size as the star shape in the previous step. Give it a radial gradient with 3 points of color.

With Adobe Illustrator CS4 you now have the ability to precisely control and see how the gradient is applied to the object. Highlighted below you'll notice that you can control where the color changes by using the slider!

Step 7

Make sure the star shape is in front of the circle you just drew. Give the star shape a green to transparent radial gradient. To change the opacity of a color simply select it in the Gradient Palette and move the Opacity slider to 0%. Below you'll notice the top palette has a 0% Opacity while the bottom palette has a 100% Opacity. Note: you will not have two palettes. I've duplicated the palette in Photoshop to show you how both points of color should be handled.

Step 8

You can copy, paste and rotate the star shape to build up more levels.

Step 9

Draw another circle that will become the pupil. Use the Align Palette to make sure all your elements are perfectly centered. Select Align To Selection if need be.

Step 10

Draw yet another circle and simply give it a white outline in the Stroke Palette.

Step 11

Select the outline and go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Enter a value that looks good to you.

Step 12

We'll apply the eye graphic to a 3D object to easily add curvature to it. Group all the parts of the eye and drag them into the Symbols Palette. Select the Graphic in the dialog box that pops up and click OK.

Step 13

Draw another circle and drag a guide into the center if it.

Step 14

Draw a rectangle using the Rectangle Tool (M). Place the rectangle right at the edge of the guide. Select the circle and rectangle and in the Pathfinder Palette select Minus Front.

Step 15

This is the shape you'll be left with.

Step 16

Select the half circle shape and go to Effect > 3D > Revolve. Enter 0 for the X, Y and Z rotations at the top. Select Right Edge for the Revolve. Enter 1 for Blend Steps. Now, click Map Art...

Step 17

Under the Symbol drop-down select the eye graphic. Position the eye at the location you'd like it to be on the sphere. Click OK on this dialog as well as the next.

Step 18

This is what you should be left with. Now that we have a slight curvature to the iris we can get rid of the gray area. Go to Object > Expand Appearance. Using the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the gray shape and press Delete. Continue to select any other extraneous shapes that need to be removed and get rid of those too.

Step 19

Ultimately, you want to be left with only the eye shown below. One thing to be aware of is that mapping certain objects to a shape may cause the graphic to become rasterized. This is the case with our eye graphic. Our final graphic won't need to be seen at a very large scale so this is not a problem.

Step 20

Draw another circle shape behind the eye and give it a Radial Gradient fill. Notice on the bottom-right side I've given the eye a white color (instead of just fading from white to gray). This extra white area is called reflective light. Reflective light gives the eyeball an even greater level of realism.

Step 21

To easily make the veins on the eye we'll use a brush that's built into Illustrator. Go to Window > Brush Libraries > Artistic > Artistic_Ink. Select the brush that tapers down to a point. Select the Pencil Tool (N) and in the Stroke Palette give your pencil a stroke that's fairly small. Using the Pencil Tool, draw an arbitrary squiggly line as shown. Overlap the edge of the eyeball slightly, as we'll be masking the areas that fall outside the eye in a later step.

Step 22

Continue to draw the other veins on the rest of the eye.

Step 23

Select all the veins and go to Object > Expand then click OK. Give the veins a pink to dark pink and back to pink gradient. Try to use the same angle you used for the shading on the eyeball.

Step 24

Copy and paste the circle for the eyeball. Bring the shape to the front and remove both the stroke and fill. Select all the veins and the circle shape (with no stroke or fill) and go to Object > Clipping Mask > Make.

Step 25

Now, your veins will be masked precisely at the edge of the eyeball!

Step 26

To make a shadow, draw another circle and give it a radial gradient.

Step 27

We'll give the eye a reflection by first using the Pencil Tool to draw a random shape like below. Tip: Hold down the Option key to close a shape that's being drawn with the Pencil Tool.

Step 28

Give the shape a white to transparent Linear Gradient.

Step 29

Use the Pencil Tool again to create a unique shape around the edge of the eyeball.

Step 30

Duplicate the eyeball shape. Select both the eyeball shape and the red edge shape, then in the Pathfinder press Intersect.

Step 31

Move the shape into position. Give the shape a red to transparent Radial Gradient.

Step 32

You can also take advantage of Illustrator's built in ink splatters. To access them go to Window > Brush Libraries > Artistic > Artistic_Ink. You can drag these ink splatters directly to your artboard. Note: In order to change their color or further manipulate them, you will need to expand them.

Step 33

Another small detail that helps the overall look of the website is the catchlight. Draw a circle, condense it slightly then rotate it. Give it a white to transparent Radial Gradient.

Step 34

We'll make a crescent shape that will act as a reflection on the edge of the eye by drawing two circle shapes and overlapping them, as shown below. In the Pathfinder Palette click Minus Front.

Step 35

Put the shape into position and fill it with a white to transparent Gradient.

Step 36

To make the eye chart simply type your text onto a few lines. I've used a font called Trajan Pro.

Step 37

Flip your text using the Reflect Tool (O). Drag the text into the Symbols Palette and select Graphic, as we did when we created a symbol out of the eye.

Step 38

Map the letters to a sphere as we did in Step 17. After you map the letters you'll again expand the shape and get rid of the extra gray area so you're left with only the letters.

Step 39

Draw a triangle-like shape using the Pen Tool (P). Give the shape a white to transparent Gradient.

Step 40

Give the triangle shape a small stroke.

Step 41

Draw a blue circle in the background and give it a blur by going to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur.


Complete the illustration by filling the letters with a color if desired. You've just learned how to create an eye-popping vector eyeball!

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