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Design

Yum! How to Create a Stack of Pancakes With Syrup in Adobe Illustrator

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Difficulty:IntermediateLength:LongLanguages:
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

In this tutorial you will learn how to draw a stack of delicious pancakes with syrup and blueberries in vector form. 

We will start with the basic shape of a pancake and continue with the texture for which you will use different techniques, effects and brushes to get as close to realistic as possible. Next it's the white plate, and after that, it's all about stacking those delicious pancakes. 

For the syrup, you will use a combination of blending modes to make it golden and semi-transparent along with brush strokes to make it glossy. At the end, we'll decorate the stack of pancakes with blueberries drawn with the help of the Gradient Mesh option, which is always the way to go if you want a realistic look. Let's start the fun!

If you are hungry for more food icons or vector icons in general, then hop over to GraphicRiver and you'll surely find what are you looking for there.

1. How to Open a New Document 

Launch Illustrator and go to File > New to open a blank document. Type a name for your file, set up the dimensions, and select Pixels as Units and RGB as Color Mode. Make sure that Align New Objects to Pixel Grid is not checked.

Next, go to Edit > Preferences > General and set the Keyboard Increment to 1 px and while there, go to Units to make sure they are set as in the following image. I usually work with these settings and they will help you throughout the drawing process.

open new illustrator document

2. How to Create a Basic Pancake 

Step 1

To create the shape of the pancake start from an ellipse with a size of about 240 x 110 px. With the help of the Add Anchor Point Tool (+), add more points at the bottom of the ellipse and after that, switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A) and move these points in order to distort the shape a little. No pancake is perfectly smooth on the edges.

Next, create a similar shape behind the first, but make it bigger at the bottom to give the impression of a thick pancake.

I will refer to the first shape as the “top shape” and to the second shape as the “bottom shape” of the pancake throughout the tutorial. 

draw a plain pancake

Step 2

While the bottom shape of the pancake stays selected, add a New Fill above the first and use the same color. Go to Effect > Texture > Texturizer and apply the settings shown below. Set this Fill attribute to Blending Mode Soft Light to create a soft texture on the pancake. 

add soft texture to pancake bottom

Step 3

With the bottom shape of the pancake still selected, go to Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow and apply the settings shown.

define bottom edge of the pancake

Step 4

Use the Pencil Tool (N) or the Pen Tool (P) to draw a path following the bottom edge of the pancake and use a warm brown color (1). Stroke this path with the Charcoal – Rough Art Brush from the Brush Libraries Menu > Artistic > Artistic_ChalkCharcoalPencil and reduce the Stroke Weight to 0.25 pt (2).

Next, go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur and apply a Radius of 2 px; then reduce the Opacity to 50%. This will create the golden-brown edge that a cooked pancake should have (3).

create golden brown edge on pancake bottom

Step 5

Select the bottom shape of the pancake and then Copy and Paste in Place (Shift-Control-V) in order to make a copy of it. Set this copy to stroke-none and fill-none and we'll use it to clean up the edges (1).

Now, select this copy along with the bottom shape of the pancake and the brown edge and go to Object > Clipping Mask > Make (Control-7). You can name the resulting group “pancake bottom” (2). The top shape of the pancake remains on top of everything. 

mask the pancake bottom

3. How to Add Texture on the Pancake

Step 1

Select the top shape of the pancake and add a New Fill above the first using the same color. Apply the Texturizer effect as before to create that soft texture. Set this Fill attribute to Blending Mode Soft Light.

add soft texture to pancake top

Step 2

Draw an ellipse shape in the center of the pancake and fill it with the radial gradient shown (1). To smooth out the edges, apply a 5 px Gaussian Blur and after that, set this ellipse to Blending Mode Multiply and 75% Opacity (2). 

create browned center on pancake

Step 3

It's time to create the outer golden-brown edge that a cooked pancake should have. Take the Pencil Tool (N) or the Pen Tool (P) and draw short paths following the outer edge of the pancake (1). Before you continue, make copies of the paths for later use.

Stroke all these paths with the Charcoal-Thick Art Brush from the Brush Libraries Menu > Artistic > Artistic_ChalkCharcoalPencil and reduce the Stroke Weight to 0.75 pt (1). Use a warm brown color, and you can see the result in the image below (2).

To smooth out the brown edge, first Group (Control-G) all these paths and then apply a 2 px Gaussian Blur to the entire group (3). 

create browned outer edges on pancake

Step 4

Grab the copies of the paths from the previous step and stroke them with the Charcoal-Thick Art Brush again but reduce the Stroke Weight to 0.5 pt and use a cooler shade of brown. We won't apply the Gaussian Blur effect this time so just Group (Control-G) all the paths. 

create browned edges on pancake

Step 5

Now, take the Pencil Tool (N) and draw a random circular path over the pancake (1). Stroke it with the Ink Splats Scatter Brush from the Brush Libraries Menu > Artistic > Artistic_Ink and reduce the Stroke Weight to 0.25 pt. Next, go to the Appearance panel, open the Stroke Options window and change some of the settings as indicated below. The purpose is to get a multitude of tiny specks all over the surface of the pancake (2).

Use a warm brown color as the stroke and then set this path to Blending Mode Color Burn and 20% Opacity (3). 

create tiny browned specks on pancake top

Step 6

Draw another random circular path over the pancake with the help of the Pencil Tool (N). Stroke it with the Ink Splats Scatter Brush again and reduce the Stroke Weight to 0.25 pt, but this time use a pale yellow color (1). Set this path to Blending Mode Overlay and 20% Opacity (2).

create tiny light specks on pancake top

Step 7

Next, take the Pen Tool (P) and draw a straight path over the pancake. Stroke it with the Chalk Art Brush from the Brush Libraries Menu > Artistic > Artistic_ChalkCharcoalPencil and increase the Stroke Weight to 5 pt in order to get bigger pieces of texture (1). Set this path to Blending Mode Soft Light and 75% Opacity (2). 

create browned texture on pancake top

Step 8

It's finally time to mask everything. Select the top shape of the pancake and then Copy and Paste in Place (Shift-Control-V) in order to make a copy of it. Set this copy to stroke-none and fill-none.

Now, select this copy along with the top shape of the pancake and all the texture paths that were created in this section of the tutorial and go to Object > Clipping Mask > Make (Control-7).

At this point, you should have the “pancake bottom” group and the new group “pancake top” in the Appearance panel. These are the two main parts that make up your first pancake.

mask texture on pancake top

4. How to Create a White Plate

Step 1

To create the plate, start with a white ellipse about 410 x 190 px. After that, draw a new ellipse filled with gray and send it behind the first. 

draw the plate shapes

Step 2

While the two ellipses stay selected, go to Object > Blend > Blend Options, choose Smooth Color and hit OK. Go back to Object > Blend > Make (Alt-Control-B) after that. 

blend the plate shapes

Step 3

Draw a new white ellipse in front in order to sharpen the rim of the plate as indicated in the image below. 

draw the plate top

Step 4

Draw other two ellipses, fill them with the colors indicated and arrange them like in the next image. After that, blend them as you did earlier in order to get a smooth transition between them.

create the bottom of the plate

Step 5

Draw two new ellipses, fill them with the colors indicated and arrange them as shown in the image below. After that, blend them as you did earlier, and you will highlight the bottom of the plate.

highlight the bottom of the plate

Step 6

Now, select the last two blend groups from the center of the plate and Group (Control-G) them. Reduce the Opacity of the resulting group to 50%.

finalize the bottom of the plate

Step 7

Let's create the shadow under the plate. Take the Ellipse Tool (L) again and draw two new ellipses in a new layer behind the plate. Fill the smaller one with gray and the bigger one with white and arrange them on the lower left side of your plate.

Blend the two ellipses as you did earlier to obtain the smooth transition between them. Set the Blending Mode of the resulting blend group to Multiply (white becomes transparent). You can also reduce the opacity if needed. 

create shadow under the plate

5. How to Create the Stack of Pancakes

Step 1

Group (Control-G) all the shapes that make up the first pancake and move it on the plate. Scale the plate if needed (1).

Now, select only the bottom shape of the pancake and then Copy and Paste in Place (Shift-Control-V) in order to make a copy of it. Move this copy behind the pancake group and then fill it with a darker shade of brown. With this shape still selected, press the Down Arrow key on your keyboard twice to move it 2 px downwards (2).

Go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur and apply a Radius of 2 px and reduce the Opacity to 25%. This will create the appearance of a smooth shadow under the pancake (3).

create smooth shadow under first pancake

Step 2

Make another copy of the bottom shape of the pancake just as you did earlier, and then move it behind the pancake (1).

While the new copy stays selected, press the Down Arrow key once in order to move it 1 px downwards. Fill it with black and reduce the Opacity to 20% (2). No need for a blur because we want a sharper shadow under the pancake this time (3).

create sharp shadow under first pancake

Step 3

At this point you have the first pancake on the plate. You can make a copy of it and then rotate and arrange it on top to obtain the second pancake. Don't forget about the two shadow shapes under the new pancake.

To make the final image more appealing and realistic, I drew the second pancake from scratch with a slightly different shape. You can do so as well because the process and all the settings remain the same. 

add second pancake

Step 4

Following the same technique, you can stack as many pancakes as you want. It's easier to keep each pancake in a separate layer along with its two shadow shapes. 

add more pancakes

6. How to Create the Shadow Under the Stack of Pancakes

Step 1

Select only the bottom shape of the first pancake along with the bottom shape of the second pancake and then Copy and Paste in Place (Shift-Control-V) to make copies of both. While these two copies stay selected, press Unite in the Pathfinder panel to merge them into a single shape. Move the resulting shape to a new layer between the pancakes and the plate. 

create shadow shape under the pancakes

Step 2

With the shadow shape still selected, go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow and apply this effect four times. 

add shadow under the stack of pancakes

Here are the settings for the Drop Shadow effects:

drop shadow settings

7. How to Create the Syrup on the Stack of Pancakes

Step 1

First, add a new layer above the pancakes and name it “syrup”. Now, grab the Pen Tool (P) and draw the shape of the dripping syrup. This will take some time but make adjustments as you go until you are happy with the end result (1).

Fill this shape with brown; then go to Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow and apply the settings shown. Set the Blending Mode to Soft Light to obtain the semi-transparent look. (2).

draw the big syrup shape on pancakes

Step 2

Copy and Paste in Front (Control-F) the syrup shape and change the fill color to a warmer shade of brown. Leave the other settings as they are. As a result, the syrup will look more golden.

create the golden syrup look

Step 3

Now, focus on the syrup that falls on the plate and draw two smaller shapes with the Pen Tool (P). Send them behind the syrup shape and fill them with the radial gradient shown. To smooth out the edges, apply a 2 px Gaussian Blur and then reduce the Opacity to 35%

darken parts of the flowing syrup

Step 4

At this point you can add more syrup to create the appearance of layers flowing over the pancakes so draw two new shapes (or more) like in the image below. Apply the same settings as before for the big syrup shape (1).

Copy and Paste in Front (Control-F) these two shapes and then choose a warmer shade of brown as the fill color just like you did earlier whilst keeping the other settings (2).

create more layers of syrup

Step 5

Select the big syrup shape and then Copy and Paste in Place (Shift-Control-V) to make a copy of it. Remove all existing appearances and select any fill color (1).

Copy and Paste in Back (Control-B) the blue shape and move it 2 px to the left by pressing the Left Arrow key on your keyboard twice. Choose a different fill color so you can see better the two new shapes (2).

While these two shapes stay selected, press Minus Front in the Pathfinder panel. If you get multiple shapes instead of one, Ungroup (Shift-Control-G) them and then go to Object > Compound Path > Make (Control-8). You can see the resulting shape in the image below (3).

create shadow shape for syrup

Step 6

Fill the compound shape from the previous step with black and move it behind the syrup (1). To obtain a smooth look, apply a 1 px Gaussian Blur and set the Blending Mode to Soft Light. This will create a soft shadow on the left side of the flowing syrup (2). 

create shadow for flowing syrup

Step 7

Following the technique explained in the previous two steps, create the shadow on the left side of the smaller syrup shapes. The settings remain the same. 

create shadow for smaller layers of syrup

8. How to Add Shine on the Syrup

Step 1

Take the Pen Tool (P) and draw some random elongated shapes following the wavy edges of the syrup (1). Fill all of them with pale yellow and then apply a 2.2 px Gaussian Blur (2). Reduce the opacity for some of them if needed and Group (Control-G) all the shapes at the end.

add highlights on syrup

Step 2

Use the Pen Tool (P) again and draw a bunch of short paths above the blurry ones from the previous step (1). Stroke all of them with the Black Blend Art Brush from another tutorial of mine How to Create a Set of Multi-Use Blend Brushes (step 5.2) dedicated to blend brushes and how great they are. I use these brushes all the time.

Since the Colorization of the brush is set to Tints, you can choose any color and the brush stroke will update itself. In this case, choose a very pale yellow and you will get that specific shine of the syrup (2). 

add extraa shine on syrup

9. How to Create a Realistic Blueberry

Step 1

First, use the Ellipse Tool (L) to draw a small 35 x 35 px circle (1). While the circle stays selected, go to Object > Create Gradient Mesh and choose 5 Rows and 5 Columns. As a result you will get the mesh lines and all the mesh points (2).

Each of these mesh points can be colored with a different shade of blue in order to obtain a more realistic look. You will find all the colors in the Swatches panel in the attached Illustrator file if you download it (3). You can see the end result in the image below (4). 

create the blueberry shape

Step 2

With the help of the Pen Tool (P) draw a rounded shape on the blueberry and fill it with the radial gradient shown. After that, draw a tiny circle in the center and fill it with the other radial gradient. 

define the top of the blueberry

Step 3

Use the Pen Tool (P) again to draw five petal-like shapes around the previous shapes. Fill all of them with the radial gradient shown.

Group (Control-G) all the shapes that make up the blueberry and move it on top of the stack of pancakes. 

add details on the blueberry

Step 4

Take the Ellipse Tool (L) and draw an ellipse about the size of the blueberry filled with white (1). Draw a smaller ellipse filled with gray above the first, as shown in the image below (2).

While the two shapes stay selected, go to Object > Blend > Blend Options and choose Smooth Color. Hit OK and then go back to Object > Blend > Make (Alt-Control-B). Set the Blending Mode of the resulting blend group to Multiply (white becomes transparent) and send it behind the blueberry (3). Reduce the opacity of the shadow if necessary. 

create shadow under the blueberry

Step 5

Make copies of the blueberry and add as many as you want on the pancakes. Create the shadow under each blueberry as explained in the previous step. 

add more blueberries on pancakes

Congratulations, You're Done!

The stack of pancakes is ready. I wish we could eat them because they look delicious. If you recreate them, don't forget to share your final image with us.

You can also let me know what is your favorite food and maybe I will draw it in the future.

stack of pancakes with syrup and blueberries final image
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