In this tutorial, we’ll show the advanced Adobe Illustrator artist how to make a realistic sports car dashboard. You should have a solid understanding of Adobe Illustrator tools before you begin this tutorial. We’ll be using a variety of tools to create this illustration.
Final Image Preview
Let’s take a look at the image we’ll be creating.
Start off by making a matte that has rounded corners.
Draw a circle to start off the gauge cluster.
Stretch the circle vertically. Duplicate the oval and layer them on top of each other to add depth. Then add a gradient to the outermost oval to simulate metal.
Make a new circle inside the oval and add a blue-green gradient to it.
Add an inner glow by going to the top of the screen and selecting Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow.
Draw a circle and cut off the top, as shown below.
Round the corners by going to the top of the screen and selecting Effect > Stylize > Round Corners. Note, your values may be drastically different than what is shown below. Values are dependent upon the size of the artwork. If you are adding the rounded corners to an object that is very small, you will not have to enter as high of a value as I have entered. If your object is really big, then your values will be higher.
Add an inner glow by going to the top of your screen and selecting Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow.
Create the tick marks around the gauges by drawing a rectangle, while rotating and copying at the same time. Rotate and copy at the same time by first selecting the object, then select the Rotate Tool (R) (shown at the very bottom), and hold down Alt while you click-and-drag. Then release the mouse at the location where you’d like the copied object to fall. Below we are not using any mathematical system to decide where the lines will fall. Just use your eye and make it look good.
Once you have the shapes made, use the Pathfinder to merge them. Draw a circle slightly smaller than the tick marks and use the Pathfinder again to eliminate the middle of the tick marks.
Create other widths and lengths of tick marks to achieve the effect shown below.
Place the tick marks over the top of the gauge.
Add numbers using a modern font. The font I’ve chosen is Dicot. Add an Outer Glow around the numbers to create realism. Again, your variables may not be exactly the same as the variables below. As long as you’re satisfied with what it looks like, that’s all that matters!
Make two arrows that point left and right.
Duplicate the arrows and stagger them slightly. Use the Pathfinder Palette to break apart the shapes.
Make the top of the arrows black so that the arrows look recessed.
Draw a circle and a triangle to begin making the gauge needles.
Add a gradient to the circle and one mesh point to the triangle, using the Gradient Mesh Tool. Change the color of the mesh point to pink to give the needle depth.
Add a drop shadow using the settings shown below.
Position the gauge needle over the gauge.
Make the left gauge by duplicating the oval from the first gauge. Rotate the oval slightly to give the impression of foreshortening.
Add tick marks around the edges using the tick marks from the first gauge.
Small details go a long way in the overall look of the piece. This icon was drawn using mostly simple rectangle shapes.
This icon was drawn predominantly using the Rounded Rectangle Tool.
Add the gauge needles, half circle, and the temperature.
The gauge for RPM’s is slightly different than the other two gauges. Use a variation of the tick marks you created before and draw a circle on top of them.
Expand the circle by going to the top of your screen and selecting Object > Expand. Select the boxes, as shown below, and click OK. Use the Pathfinder Palette to break apart the shapes. Now you can color each section of the RPM indicator.
This is what the completed RPM gauge looks like.
Line up all three gauges and make the center gauge the largest.
Duplicate the circles that are highlighted below. We will use these circles to make consistent reflections across all three gauges.
Draw an oval that covers all three circles. Use the Pathfinder Palette to break apart the shapes. Then delete the portions of the broken-apart shapes that you do not need.
Select the objects shown below and go to Object > Transform > Transform Each. Enter the variables shown below to reduce the shapes simultaneously. Reducing the shapes highlighted will create the impression of a recessed area around the shapes.
Fill the shapes will a gradient. Then adjust the blending mode and transparency to achieve a translucent effect.
Now we’re ready to create the dashboard. Start off by drawing an oval. You can achieve some interesting shapes by warping your object. Warp an object by going to Object > Envelope Distort > Make with Warp. Experiment with different styles to create a shape that you like. Get creative, this is all about creativity, not technical prowess.
Duplicate the dash board and enlarge or shrink it slightly to create depth.
Add a few mesh points using the Gradient Mesh Tool and change their color to create a highlight.
Place your gauges on top of the dashboard. Add a subtle Outer Glow around the gauges to help give them brilliance.
Don’t forget small details. Details really make an illustration appear complete.
Gradients are a quick way to simulate depth.
Draw a line that follows the perimeter of your dash board. Check Dashed Line in the Strokes Palette and enter a value in the first box to turn your line into a dashed line.
We want to add a gradient to the dashed line but gradients cannot be applied to a stroke. We solve this problem by going to Object > Flatten Transparency. Move the Raster/Vector Balance slider all the way to the right, as shown below, then click OK. This will break apart the line and allow you to use a gradient as a fill.
Go ahead and add a gradient.
Achieve the illusion of motion by first drawing arched shapes similar to the shapes below.
Apply a black and red gradient and blur the shape by going to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur. In your Transparency Palette select Lighten from the drop down list so that the shape blends in with the artwork behind it. Experiment with the opacity, if your shape is too dark.
Give the background an atmosphere by adding a moody gradient.
Draw circles and give them different effects to add interest to the background.
Add an Outer Glow to the dash board.
Last, we’ll create a random burst pattern in the background by first drawing a circle. Next go to the top of the screen and select Effect > Distort & Transform > Roughen.
Experiment with different variables to give the circle an array of pointed corners. When you’re done, place the object behind the artwork, and adjust its opacity to achieve the final effect.
Final Image Preview
The sports car dashboard is complete!