In this tutorial I will be showing you how to create a Les Paul Electric Guitar Vector Image in Adobe Illustrator. This is a really in depth Tutorial, probably the most in depth one I have ever written as I have tried to cater for the needs of people who are not confident in Illustrator. Purely because when I was trying to learn the program many of the tutorials for it assume you can already use it. So feedback would be appreciated =D
Version: CS or Higher
Estimated Completion Time: 4 Hours
Final Image Preview:
AI File: lespaul_tut.ai
Open a new document in Illustrator that is 1000px high by 400 wide.
I usually work on a green screen in Illustrator as I find I use this colour less than, say, White or Black. So choose the Rectangle Tool (M). Choose a Green Colour from the swatches or Color panel, then drag it over your entire document. Lock this layer then create a new layer above it.
Start with the body of the guitar. I am going to create a Gibson Les Paul, so I found myself one on Google Images, and to create the base shape I am going to use 3 circles as a guide to start with.
Paste your guitar guide image in and name the layer “Template”. Lock the layer and create a new layer above it called “Body”. Select the Ellipse Tool (L) and draw 3 circles to represent the curves in the body.
Take the Pen Tool (P) and follow the rest of the body’s curves. TIP: When using the pen tool sometimes curves seem to do their own thing. Hold down Alt and drag the Handle Points to adjust where you want the curve to go.
Now, as you can see from this picture my guitar body is not one complete shape.
It is a series of overlapped shapes, and they do give the same appearance, but, we want it to be one solid shape. So choose Select > All to make sure you select all your shapes. Note: If you select the background or the Template Image you have not locked the layers.
Then choose Window > Path Finder. Click the Unite (Add Shape To Area) button. This will make our body one full shape.
With the body shape selected, choose Object > Path > Offset Path. Set the Offset to -5px, if you dont put the minus symbol you will add 5px onto the body instead of subtracting it.
Once subtracted, choose the outer shape and change the colour. I have hid my Template Layer in the below image just to show exactly what we have created.
Hide the Body Layer using the little Eye Icon next to the Lock Layer Icon. Create a new layer and call it Pickups. Choose the Rounded Rectangle Tool from the same Icon as the Rectangle and Ellipse Tool. Do not drag this box, simply click once on the canvass. Enter the values accordingly.
Change the colour to Black and position the rectangle over the pickup.
We cannot use the Offset Path Tool this time as the proportions are not exactly the same. So, choose a Yellow/Gold colour, select the Rounded Rectangle Tool again and do a single click on the canvass. Set the values accordingly.
Choose a lighter colour, and select the Ellipse Tool (L). Draw in a circle to represent the screw. Copy and Paste it another five times to make six in total.
Create two more small circles for the side screws then Copy and Paste the entire pickup and position it at the top.
Lock and Hide the Pickups layer and create a new one, call it “Bridge”. Use the Ellipse Tool (L) to draw a circle at either side of the bridge.
Use the Pen Tool (P) and connect the two together to complete the base for the bridge. Highlight it all like we did earlier and turn them all into one shape using Window > Pathfinder > Unite (Add To Shape).
Now we need to add some detail to the bridge, but we cant see any of the detail as we have placed a huge opaque shape over the top of it, so use the Opacity Tool and set it to about 50%.
Now we can draw in some of the detail, use the Rectangle Tool (M), and a different colour, to create the uprights for the string retainers. Colour preference is not really important at this stage as we will be going back over all these shapes to style them later on.
Use a different colour and create the horizontals.
Finally add the screws and set your opacity back to 100% on the base layer. I also lined my horizontals up a bit better.
Lock and Hide the Bridge Layer.
Create a new layer called “Tail Piece”. Choose the Rounded Rectangle Tool and like before do a single click on the canvass, set the values accordingly.
Again reduce the Opacity to 50% and draw in the circles for the screws and a rectangle for the chamfered plate. Remember to reset the Opacity when you are finished.
Lock and Hide the Layer.
Create a new layer and call it “Scratch Plate”. Choose a yellowy colour and start with the gold bracket at the far right. Use the Rectangle Tool (M) and then rotate it into place.
Next, choose the colour Black and select the Pen Tool (P). Draw around the outline of the scratch plate. Note: Un-hide the Pickups Layer but dont unlock it, this way you can guage the spaces between them and the scratch plate as you draw it.
Again, change the Opacity to 50% and draw some circles using the Ellipse Tool (L) for the screws.
Lock and Hide the Layer.
Create a new layer and name it Rhythm Switch. Use the Ellipse Tool (L) and with black draw in the backing plate.
Set the Opacity to 50%. Choose a Yellowy colour again and draw a smaller circle inside for the insert.
Choose Object > Path > Offset path, and change the value to -4px.
Change the colour slightly of the inner circle to something slightly darker.
Again choose Object > Path > Offset and change the value to -1px. Change this circle to the same colour as the first one we drew. Tip: Choose the Eye Dropper Tool (I) and simply click on the first circle to steal its colour profile.
Next, draw a big circle and a smaller circle off to one side. Tip: To align the centre of an object you can click on the x in the cenre and drag it onto the centre lines of other objects.
Next take the Pen Tool (P) and connect up the circles, use the Path Finder Tool to make them all one shape like we did with the bridge earlier.
Position it and Re-size it inside the inner most circle. You can also change the colour so you can identify it better. Don’t worry too much about the colours too much, like I say we will set all these later on, at the moment it is basically to get an idea of where shapes should be etc rather than what colours they should be.
Take the Ellipse Tool (L) and draw a White circle at the top of the switch.
Lock and Hide the Rhythm Switch Layer.
Create a new layer and name it “Tone Controls”. Take the colour Black and the Ellipse Tool (L) and draw a circle over one of the Volume/Tone Control Knobs. Note: Just the top face do not worry about the 3D effect for now.
Now, with the Path selected, choose Effect > 3D Extrude & Bevel. Set the values to the following, note the Shading Color option is in the More Options Panel.
Now, this next bit gets a little complicated, I will try to explain as best as I can, because I know when I was learning Illustrator many people are vague and assume you know how to use every function in the program.
Choose the 3D Tone Knob we have just created. Note how the circle path is not the outline of the entire 3D object, but actually of the original 2D circle we drew, so, choose Object > Expand Appearance. What this does is allows us to edit the object as a solid 3D model as opposed to a projected visual of the original 2D circle. You will notice now the path follows the entire 3D shape.
Now, duplicate this for each of the control knobs. Ideally we should style one then do the duplicating, as we will only have to change them all later. But i prefer to lay them all out so I can see the shell of the finished product before delving into making things look fancy.
Now, it looks rough – but the base of the entire body is done.
Hide and Lock each of the layers we have created and create a new layer at the top. Call it “Head Stock”.
Use the Pen Tool (P) and draw around half the Head Stock. We are only doing half because it ensures symmetry.
With the half selected choose Edit > Copy. Then choose Edit > Paste and Cmd-Click/Right-Click the new half. Choose Transform > Reflect and choose Vertical as the Axis.
Position it along side the other half and use the Path Finder Tool to create one entire shape.
Next, set the opacity to 50% like we did previously and draw in a Yellow Circle for the String Anchoring part of a Tuning Key. Note: Because of the contour of the guitar and the perspective of the Template Photograph, this circle will actually be Oval in shape.
Like we did with the Tone Control, choose Effect > 3D Extrude and Bevel. Set the Values accordingly.
Next, choose the Polygon Tool from the same menu we get the Ellipse and Rectangle Tools. Draw a Hexagon off to one side of the 3D washer we just made.
Choose the Ellipse Tool (L) and draw a circle into the centre of the Hexagon. Note: Remember you can drag the centre lines together to align it correctly.
Next, select the Ellipse and the Hexagon and choose Window > Path Finder, choose the Minus Front (Subtract From Shape) Tool to pop the centre out the Hexagon.
Choose Effect > 3D Extrude and Bevel. Set the values accordingly.
Re-size and position the nut over the washer. Then draw two circles of the same size off to the side. Link them using the Pen Tool (P) and the Path Finder Tool. then reposition the shape over the nut.
Draw an oval off to one side of the Anchor Pin.
Re-size the whole thing and copy and paste it over the other 5 pins.
With the Black Head Stock at 50% again use the Pen Tool. Using a series of clicks trace over the Head Stock Graphic. Tip: Holding Shift down will ensure your lines stay square.
Next download and install the font Trekker2. Type out Gibson, or whatever you want to place on the headstock of your guitar.
Choose Object > Expand to make each letter selectable, choose the Direct Selection Tool (A) and move each letter in turn to take up the gaps.
Next, choose the Pen Tool (P), like we did with the Head Stock draw Half of the Custom Badge.
Duplicate it and Reflect it again, use the Path Finder Tool join them as one shape. Then choose Object > Path > Offset. Set the value to -1px.
Change the colour to black. Then choose a calligraphy font. I chose Edwardian Script. Type Les Paul and position it on the plate.
Choose the font Copperplate Gothic Light and do the same for the word Custom.
Choose the Pen Tool (P) and draw the head of a Tuning Key.
Use the Rectangle Tool to extend it into the headstock. Then combine the two to make one shape using the Path Finder Tool.
Now, this will overlap the Head Stock because the layer is newer and therefor higher up. So, click on the tuning key, Cmd-Click/Right-Click inside the selection and choose Arrange > Send To Back. Then Copy and Paste in the remaining five keys.
Lock the Head Stock Layer.
Create a new layer and call it “Neck”. Unhide the Pickup and Scratch Plate Layers. Create your neck from the sides of the Headstock down to the top of the Pickup making you follow the edges flush.
Choose Object > Path > Offset Path and set the value to -2px.
Change the colour of the outer neck to a light Gray (almost White) then set the Opacity of both to 50%.
Use the Rectangle Tool (M) to draw in a divide between two frets. Note: Make sure you set the height to 2px, this can be set after the rectangle has been drawn.
Now we need to make some triangles. There is no Triangle Tool in Illustrator (that I know of) so if anybody knows a better way of making triangles please let me know!
The way I do it is to choose the Star Tool from the same menu as the Rectangle and Ellipse Tool. Click once on the canvass. Set the number of points to 3. Radius 1 and Radius 2 are for the size of the triangle. Whatever value you put in Radius 1, Radius 2 must be exactly HALF. So if I put 1px in Radius 1, 0.5px goes in Radius 2. This will give us a perfect equilateral triangle.
Choose the Delete Anchor Points Tool (-) and remove the central anchor points and we are left with a perfect vector triangle.
Set the colour to White, Rotate, Re-size and Position it on the left hand side of the rectangle.
Copy and Paste another Triangle onto the right hand side of the rectangle. Then select the rectangle itself and choose Window > Gradient. Set a Linear Gradient, set the angle to 90. It is a 3 colour Grayscale Gradient – Gray | White | Gray.
Now, simply Copy and Paste the fret divider repeatedly, re-sizing each one to fit. Note: Make sure to take the triangles with you when you Copy and Paste.
Take the Rectangle Tool (M) and draw a rectangle over one of the Fret Board Inserts.
Choose Window > Gradient and apply a soft Gray Linear Gradient the same as before but with a 0 degree angle.
Copy and Paste the insert, re-sizing accordingly for the rest of the fretboard.
Now we have our base shapes pretty much done, lets start to style it. Choose the Brown of the Neck Layer. Change the colour to #8B5E3C. Next, draw a new Rectangle off to one side. Fill it with #603913 and change its Opacity to 40%.
Next choose Effect > Sketch > Graphic Pen. Set the values accordingly.
Next choose Object > Expand Appearance. With the texture still selected choose Object > Live Trace > Tracing Options and change the values to the following.
Click Trace, then find the Expand Button in the Control Panel.
Re-size the whole rectangle to fit over one entire fret. Stretch it out.
Choose Object > Arrange > Send To Back, it will vanish but don’t worry. Choose Object > Arrange > Bring Forward. Repeat until it becomes visible on top of the wood but below the Insert.
Next choose the Direct Selection Tool (A). Click the grains that are overlapping the sides and delete them.
Copy and Paste and repeat for every fret.
Lock this layer.
Return to the Rhythm Switch Layer. Choose the font Arial. Use the Text Tool and type Rhythm. Rotate it and position it on the switch and set the colour to #FFD72E.
Do the same again but type the word Treble.
Select the Rhythm text and choose Object > Arrage > Send To Back, then bring it forward one layer at a time like we did with the wood grain until it becomes visible over the black but under the switch.
Next select the outer Yellow circle and choose Window > Gradient. Add a Radial Gradient using three colours.
From left to right the colour settings are:
R G B
231 204 168
231 204 111
202 158 57
Next choose the middle circle. Again apply a Radial Gradient using the same colours. Tip: Use the Eye Dropper Tool (I) and simply click the gradient on the other circle to steal its colour profile.
Next add a gradient to the final inner circle. Use the colours (again from left to right):
R G B
140 125 104
156 141 17
150 119 39
Next choose the stem of the switch. Again add a gradient, only this time use a Linear Gradient. The Gradient is made up of five colours, it is the same three bright colours we used on the first two circles in the order: Dark, Med, Light, Med, Dark.
So the colour settings, from left to right, are:
R G B
231 204 168
231 204 111
202 158 57
231 204 111
202 158 57
Select the white ball at the top of the stem. Duplicate it using Edit > Copy followed by Edit > Paste. Make the second ball slightly smaller and move it down the stem keeping it central to the original white ball.
Use the Pen Tool (P) to connect the two up and then make them all one shape using the Path Finder Tool.
To complete the Rhythm Switch, select the black circle and add a slight Linear Gradient to it, use Black and an ever so slightly lighter variant. I used R:59 G:59 B:60.
Lock the layer.
Next, choose the Pickups Layer. Select the Yellow Plate. Apply a three Colour Gradient using the three bright Yellows from the Rhythm Switch. Set the Angle to -30 degrees.
Next, select one of the small circles that will represent the screws and apply the same Linear Gradient.
Choose the Rectangle Tool (M) and draw a small rectangle inside of the circle. Use a three colour linear gradient using the Dark and Mid colours from earlier. Dark=R:202 G:158 B:57 Mid=R:231 G:204 B:11. From left to right it should be Dark, Mid, Dark and set the angle to 90 degrees.
Now either repeat this process on each screw. Or, Copy and Paste this screw head over the top of the other ones on this Pickup. But remember to delete the previous one from under it.
Now, obviously on a real guitar the screws would not be all perfectly aligned like they are here. So you can rotate them if you wish, but you must remember to alter the angles of your gradients or it will make your light source inaccurate. For the purpose of the tutorial I am leaving them all as they are.
Next, take the Pen Tool (P) and draw a curved path from the top right corner to midway down the left hand side of the Pickup Plate and follow the contour of the pickup to create a White shape.
Set the Opacity to 20%.
Select the Outline of the Pickup Plate, then choose Object > Path > Offset Path. Set the Value to -1. Now select the outer edge of the Pickup Plate and simply edit the gradient colours. The idea is to make the Dark and Mid sections darker, and the Light section white, to really put emphasis on the highlight. From left to right the colours are:
R G B
255 255 255
189 168 92
178 138 23
Make sure you have the Angle still set to -30.
Next choose the Black Casing of the Pickup, apply a two colour Gradient like we did with the Rhythm Switch.
Now, Duplicate the Black Casing using Edit > Copy followed by Edit > Paste In Back. Change the colour to Black and move out out down to the bottom right slightly using the Arrow Keys.
From the Top Toolbar choose Effect > Blur > Gausian Blur. Set the Radius to 3px.
Now, with the pickup complete, Duplicate it and position it over the other one. Again make sure you delete the un-styled Pickup.
Lock this layer.
Choose the Bridge Layer. Apply our Gold -30 degree Gradient to the Base Layer like we did for the Pickup Plate.
Next, apply a simple two colour Gradient to the Horizontals. Use the Dark and Light tones from earlier. Set the angle to 90 degrees.
Apply another simple two colour gradient to the Uprights in the Bridge. Use the colours:
Light=R:174 G:156 B:129
Dark=R:155 G:123 B:41.
Go back to the Pickups Layer and Copy one of the Screw Heads, Paste it twice into the Bridge Layer. Again remember to delete the un-styled circles.
Now, choose the Base Layer again, because I applied a flat looking gradient to something that is round (My Bad). Change the gradient settings to a five colour Gradient, Dark, Med, Light, Med, Dark. Set the Angle to -87.
Apply a shadow the same way we did with the Pickup. Copy it, Paste in Back, change the colour to Black, move it down and right slightly, Gaussian Blur = 3px.
Lock the layer.
Select the Tail Piece Layer. Select the Base Layer and copy the Gradient Settings from the Base Layer of the Bridge with the Eye Dropper Tool (I).
Change the Angle of the Gradient to -90 degrees.
Make the Dark Colour at the top of the gradient slightly lighter. I used the colour R:252 G:242 B:225, I also made this change to the Bridge Layer as I felt it looked better. (I know, I’m annoying).
Againt Copy and Paste in a Screw Head from a previous layer. Re-size and position it over each circle, and be sure to delete the un-styled circles after.
Select the rectangle in the Tail Piece. Use the Eye Dropper Tool (I) and use it on the Pick Up Plate Gradient. Set the angle to -90.
Do the same thing we did with the highlight on the Pick Up Plate. Draw the shape in with the Pen Tool (P) in White and set the opacity to 20%.
Lock this layer.
Choose the Scratch Plate Layer. Select the Outline and choose Object > Path > Offset Path. Set the value to -1px. Change the colour of the inside shape to White.
Again, choose Object > Path > Offset Path, set the value to 0.3px and change the colour of the shape back to Black. This should put a thin white trim around the scratch plate.
Again steal some Screws from a previous layer and paste those onto the Scratch Plate, and again be sure to remove the un-styled ones.
Next choose the Bracket on the side. Use the eye dropper tool to steal the Gradient Settings off the Pickup Plate. Set the angle to -50.
Select the Pen Tool (P), and with white draw in a highlight shape, and again set the Opacity to 20%.
Now for the shadow. Select the very outer Scratch Plate path outline, hold down shift and select the Bracket to include it. Copy and Paste in Back. Set the colour to Black and move it out slightly. Apply the Gaussian Blur using a radius of 5px.
Lock this layer.
Select the Tone Controls Layer. Pick one of the knobs and choose the front face with the Direct Selection Tool (A). Use the Eye Dropper Tool (I) and use it on the Black Casing on the Pickup. Set the angle to -30.
With the Direct Selection Tool, draw a box through the entire Knob making sure you hit the curved section to select it all, then hold down Shift and click the front face. This will leave us with just the curved section selected. Use the Path Finder Tool to make this all one shape.
With the curved area selected, use the Eye Dropper Tool (I) to again steal the Gradient settings from the Front Face.
Set the angle to 30 degrees and add a third Black colour. So from left to right the gradient is Black, Lighter, Black. Note: Adjust the Diamonds at the top of the Gradient Bar so that the lighter section becomes wider.
Choose the Pen Tool (P) and draw a vertical line at 12 o’clock. Choose the Stroke setting and make it 0.5px White.
Now, choose the Rotate Tool (R). Hold down Alt and choose the centre of the Front Face. The volume control on a Les Paul Guitar has ten settings, so we need ten lines around the Front Face of our Control Knob. So, in the Angle box, type in 360/10. This is telling the Rotate Tool we need to divide 360 degrees (a complete circle) by 10.
Upon pressing ok you will notice the mark now rotates slightly. Choose Edit > Copy followed by Edit Paste in Front. Then, choose Object > Transform > Transform Again, which will cause the new shape to be rotated further around our circle. Repeat the steps until all ten marks are present.
Click on one of the marks, hold down Shift and choose the other nine, set the Opacity to 50%.
Select the Direct Selection Tool (A). Choose the Front Face, select Edit > Copy followed by Edit > Paste in Back. Change the colour to Black, offset it and set a Gaussian Blur with a radius of 5px to add the shadow and finish the Control Knob.
Copy and Paste it to replace the other dials.
Lock the layer.
Choose the Body Layer. Select the inner light gray area. Change the colour to #E2E2E2. Hide all the other layes so you are left with just the body of the guitar. Choose Object > Path > Offset Path and set the value to -1px. Change the colour to White.
Take the Scissors Tool (C). Click with the Tool at the very bottom in the centre, and on the curve of the Cut Away. Use the Direct Selection Tool (A) and click the left hand side of the outline of the shape, hit Delete, and you should notice the path starting to be cut out.
Continue to select points along the left hand outline path and hitting delete until you are left with just the right hand shape.
Next, take the Pen Tool (P). Choose the Anchor Point at the bottom where we cut with the Scissor Tool. Create an S-shaped curve from this point up to the other place we cut on the Cut Away.
Next, take the Pen Tool (P) again, draw another shape on the left hand side of the guitar. Fit it to the shape as best you can.
Choose Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set the radius to 10px. Do this for both shapes. Select the light gray section of the guitar, and apply a two colour Gradient. Set the angle to 90 and use two shades of light gray.
Apply a gradient using two shades of darker gray to the outer shape to finish the body.
Lock this layer.
Choose the Headstock Layer. Select the Black Base Layer and use the Eye Dropper Tool (I) to take the gradient from the Pickup Surround. Set the angle to -30.
On the Anchor Pin, select the oval washer, choose Object > Expand Appearance. Use the Direct Selection Tool (A) and choose the top face of the Washer, use the Eye Dropper Tool to take the Gradient from the Pickup Plate. Do this also for the Nut.
Choose the curved edge of the Washer and use the Path Finder Tool to make it all one shape. Use the Gradient Tool to apply a Dark, Light, Dark gradient to edge of the washer.
Use the Direct Selection Tool (A) and choose the bottom edge, and the right hand edge of the nut. Change the colour to #6D5519. Choose the left hand edge of the Nut and change the colour to #C9AD73.
Next, choose the rounded upright section and use the Eye Dropper Tool (I) on the top face of the Washer. Leave the angle at 0.
Choose the small circle and set the colour to #6D5622 and shrink it slightly.
Copy and Paste the whole assembly over the other five.
Choose the text. Use the Path Finder Tool and make the text all one shape (this is just so when we apply the gradient we wont see the joins between the text).
Choose the graphic and the text and apply a two colour gradient using dark grey and light grey.
Select one of the tuning keys. Use the Eye Dropper Tool (I) and take the gradient off the top face of the Washer. Choose the Pen Tool (P) and draw a similar shape the the head of the key, but make it offset. Set the same gradient as on the Base Layer of the key.
Now, draw a shape around the bottom edge with White.
Choose Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Set the radius to 3px and set the Opacity to 30%.
Copy and Paste to replace all the keys on the head stock. With each one highlighted choose Object > Arrange > Send To Back. This will stop any overlap on the Head Stock.
Lock this layer.
Ok, almost done, just the main feature of a guitar missing now, the strings!
Create a new layer right at the top and name it “Strings”. The strings of a guitar bend from the Tail Piece over the Bridge, up the Neck and into a recess on the Head Stock, so our lines will not be perfectly straight.
Choose the Pen Tool (P) and select the very centre of the left hand String Stock on the Brige. Hold down Shift and draw a vertical line to the edge of the rectangle on the Tail Piece.
Set the stroke to 1pt and the colour to #808285.
With the Pen Tool, choose the anchor point at the top of the line and draw your line all the way up the neck to bottom of the Head Stock.
The E String on a Les Paul is wired into the Bottom Left Tuning Key. So take your string up to the hole on the tuning key. With the Pen Tool add a curve or two around the Retainer so that it looks as if the string is wrapped around it.
Choose the string from the Tail Piece up the the hole (but not the wrapped bits). Choose Object > Expand. Then use the Eye Dropper Tool (I) to take the gradient from the Graphic or Text. Set the angle to -30.
Then do the same for each of the curves. Doing them separate ensures they all get the full gradient.
Repeat this step for each string, but make the stroke smaller each time by 0.1pt. So we did a 1pt sting, next will be 0.9pt, then 0.8pt etc.
It is probably best to hide your Neck Layer and un-hide the Template Layer to make sure you get the spacing on your strings right.
With your strings finished, the Tutorial is finished!
Please leave any comments or suggestions below. This is my first Tutorial for Illustrator so feedback would be appreciated.