We’ll be building the shape in Illustrator using the 3D Revolve tool before going into Photoshop to texture it all up using clipping masks and blend modes and layer styles and all that modern doohickory.
1) Before I start trying to create anything based on the material world, I always spend at least five minutes gathering some reference materials - especially for things that I don’t come in contact with every day. I’m not a pipe smoker, so I don’t have a real one lying around the house that I can use so I grabbed this photo from Stock Exchange instead. My memory is so rubbish that I don’t trust it to recall the important details of anything (anniversaries, birthdays, modern smoking pipe construction), so I always use a reference.
Instantly, I start to see little details that will help our design read better. The features that jump out at me from this image are the two different materials and the little lip at the smoking end.
2) In order to accurately recreate the pipe, we’re going to have to divide it into two parts. This is because we’re going to need to revolve the pipe around two different axis. Hopefully this screenshot will make the things a little clearer.
3) Got it? No? Me either. Not to worry, when in doubt, just start - trial and error are your friends.
Let’s grab our pen tool (p) and start roughing out the shape of the stem. You need to imagine that you’re cutting a slice out of the tube, then cutting that slice down the middle. To help you understand that nonsense sentence, an example: If I was going to make a sphere, I’d draw out a half moon and revolve it around the straight edge. Play with the revolve tool until you figure it out - don’t worry, it took me a while too.
Here is the shape of my stem - I used no stroke and a fill of
#919191. I used this neutral grey because it will react better with the texture when we apply the blending mode in Photoshop. It doesn’t have to be perfect, as the 3D Revolve is an applied effect that can be edited or deleted later from the ‘appearances’ panel.
4) Using the pen tool again, we start on the bowl, again using no stroke and a fill of
#919191. I made something like this. Hopefully you can see the half-bowl shape. I’m going to be revolving it around the small edge, if that helps you understand it any better.
5) Once you’ve created your shapes, select the stem and go to
Revolve. Here are the settings I used for the stem:
6) And here are the settings for the bowl:
7) You’ll probably have to move the stem around so that it looks like it’s coming out of the bowl and not totally detached. This really is just trial and error (unless you smart folks know of a better way -
leave a comment if you do). You have to click and drag with your mouse, then let go of the button so that Illustrator can re-render the object. Repeat until it looks something like this:
8) That’s looking pretty pipe-shaped! All right, go get a coffee before we move on to the Photoshop stage - you’ve earned it.
Got one? Great, now let’s make it look more real.
Shift + click both paths to select them within Illustrator and then hit
Ctrl/Cmd + C. Start up Photoshop and open a new document. The size of the clipboard image will already be set, but because it’s going in as a vector, you can have it as large as you want. My document size was 700px x 400px (increase the size/DPI if you’re planning to use it for print). Go to
Edit -> Paste (or hit
Ctrl/Cmd + V) and Photoshop will ask you how you want to import it. Select
Smart Object and then OK and it’ll come in with a bounding box around it.
I made mine a little smaller (remember to hold shift to constrain ratios) because I like to have a little breathing room around my images, and then I confirm the transformation.
9) Name this layer ‘Pipe Original’, then duplicate it, lock it and hide it (I like to use non-destructive editing techniques - including keeping originals intact - wherever possible. This is just in case we decide to go back and edit the original pipe in future. Rename the duplicate ‘Pipe’, then
right/ctrl + click this layer and select ‘rasterize layer’.
10) Grab your favourite wood texture (I used the 4th one of these free wooden textures) and place it on a layer above the rasterized pipe. Call this ‘wood’ and resize it so that the texture’s scale matches that of the pipe. I also rotated mine slightly so that the grain is parallel to the stem.
Alt + click the line between the two layers to apply a clipping mask. Finally, change the ‘Wood’ layer’s blending mode to
Multiply. Boom! 3D wood.
11) Select the Wood layer and click on the layer mask icon. Make sure your foreground colour is set to black, then get a big, hard brush - make it big enough that the edge of it follows the curve of the wood nicely.
Ctrl/Cmd + click the small image on the Pipe layer within the layers panel to select it, then line it up between roughly half way between the bowl and the tip of the stem and click once. Finally, paint away all the wood between the tip of the stem and edge you just made, like so:
Ctrl/cmd+click the Pipe layer icon, then
Ctrl/Cmd+click the LAYER MASK image on the on the Wood layer, then press
Ctrl/Cmd+shift+i to invert the selection. Create a new layer, then select the fill tool and click once within the selection - it doesn’t matter what color you use. Rename this layer ‘Plastic’.
13) Drop the ‘plastic’ layer’s fill to 0, then double-click the layer to fire up the layer styles. Select gradient overlay and make something similar to this:
Make sure that you set the Blending Mode within the gradient style layer style, NOT on the layer itself, or else it won’t work right.
And there you have it! A realistic, 3D pipe to use anywhere in your illustrations