In my latest tutorial, I show you how to create a cocktail glass from scratch. This tutorial is aimed at intermediate illustrators. I approached this project by doing a quick hand drawn sketch of the glass and its elements just to break down the illustration to different stages, then I built it in Illustrator, which this tutorial covers. Let’s get going!
Final Image Preview
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Create a new layer and call it “Glass.” Make a quick drawing with your Pen Tool to create one half of the glass; fill it with black and no stroke. Duplicate the shape, reflect it horizontally and snap it to the first half.
Select both shapes and unite them with the option in the Pathfinder panel. Select the glass and give it a three-step linear gradient with: K=8 at 0%, CMYK=15, 0,35,8 at 72%, and K=8 at 100%.
Make an ellipse to form the opening of the glass. Fill it with a white-to-black linear gradient, no stroke, then set it to Screen blending mode and lower the Opacity to about 55%.
You can play with the settings for awhile until you get it right for your glass. Next, draw some highlights on the same layer to better define the opening. Use a gradient as shown below to fade the highlights at the ends and leave specular highlights on a few places. So much for the glass, moving on to the fluid.
On a new layer called “Fluid,” create a shape following the edges of the glass. Fill it with linear gradient of K=100 at 0%, white color at 35% and K=100 (with opacity set to 20%) at 100%. This effect gave me a nice front reflection that faded nicely to the right.
Next, give the fluid an Inner Glow set to Screen with a white color, Opacity of 100%, and blur of 100 pixels set to Edge. Finally, set the whole fluid shape to Lighten blending mode and lower the opacity to 55%.
It is definitely a challenge to create almost transparent fluid in a white-ish glass and still retain a good and believable look, so feel free to experiment with the settings, gradients, and blending modes.
Although our fluid shape is complete, the fluid is not nearly ready. I intent to put ice cubes, mint springs, as well as mimic club soda; all this is going to affect the final look of the fluid.
Doing ice cubes in Photoshop is easy, but doing them in Illustrator was an entirely different challenge and experience in my career of 10+ years in graphic design and illustration. I looked at some reference photographs online, but they were still photos.
All the vector ice cubes I found looked too cartoon-ish. I needed something that looked both photorealistic and still be an illustration. It also needed to fit the overall look of the drink. So, I decided to draw the cubes myself without using reference images. The following image shows the stages of my ice cubes, as I did the cube shape, the highlights, the shadows and some specular highlights.
Let’s create a new layer and call it “Ice.” I placed the two cubes in the glass, then duplicated and rotated them individually. I placed the big one on top – like it’s swimming on the surface. To finish the shape of the fluid, I made an ellipse and placed it behind the ice, then played with a black-to-white gradient to give a proper look.
I kept my “Ice” layer on top of my “Fluid” layer, because I noticed that the shadows of the ice don’t look good if I put the “Ice” below the “Fluid.” Now it doesn’t look right at all and the ice cubes are just sitting there, but all this is going to change soon.
Time to do the mint springs. On a new layer called “Springs,” draw the basic leaf shape. For the fill, I used a complex linear gradient with a few different shades of green, then rotated it to -20 degrees.
I added an Inner Glow with a darker green color set to Multiply, Opacity of 50%, and an edge blur of 5 pixels. I wanted the spring to follow the oval shape of the glass inside and not just hang in there, so I cut the right part of it. Next I made some shapes with the Pencil Tool for the darker parts of the leaf.
I experimented with white-to-black gradients and different opacities. My goal was to create very subtle dark areas inside the leaf. Finally, I set the shapes to a Multiply blending mode and lowered each opacity individually.
Let’s continue with the leaf. Here I used the Pen Tool to make draw the inner parts of the leaf. Again, to get rid of the flat look, I used gradients and some Inner Glow with lighter green. It is starting look like a leaf, doesn’t it.
I thought I needed some details here to give complexity to the whole shape, so I used the Pencil Tool to freely draw some lines with lighter, almost yellow green. I wanted to give the lines a soft but visible depth; I gave them a black color Drop Shadow set to Multiply, with a very slight X and Y offset by 0.5 pixels, and no blur. Finally, I lowered the stroke to 0.75 pt.
Using the same technique, I made some more mint springs. I experimented with lighter green colors, darker shadows and complex gradients. This was the most time consuming part of the whole illustration, because I had to approach every spring from a different perspective, use other colors and gradients, and so on. In the end, I was satisfied with five springs from top to bottom of the glass.
Every Mojito needs a lime or lemon. I decided to go with a lime and keep my image palette as green and desaturated yellow. Let’s turn everything off and leave only the glass on.
On a new layer called “Lime,” draw a quick outline of the lime. I was very careful to follow the edge of the glass. I separated the stroke and fill for the lime shape and colored the stroke with a very light green-yellow (CMYK: 11, 3, 73, 0). For the fill, I used CMYK of: 2, 2, 12, 0. I added an Inner Glow to the fill with the settings shown below.
Let’s give some perspective to the lime. To achieve that, draw a shape following the edge of the lime and going in. Apply a linear gradient going from darker green to a lighter lime color.
Time to put final touches on our lime piece. We need another fill that will represent the inner part of the lime and fade in both its ends. Draw a quick shape, again following the edges of the glass and apply a gradient.
I also made some lines with the Pencil Tool inside the lime to add some detail, like I did in the mint springs. I wanted them to be very subtle, so I set the stroke color to CMYK of: 6, 2, 36, 0. Then I added a Gaussian Blue of 2 pixels and set them to Lighten blending mode.
You have probably seen how glass distorts objects in the background. So now we should have a distorted part of the lime as well. I drew a shape and placed it right underneath the glass opening.
I applied a gradient and added a small shape on the left and colored it with dark green. I grouped both shapes and gave them a Gaussian Blur of 5 pixels. Now we have a part of the lime that is distorted by the glass. The lime is finished!
Let’s recap. So far we have five layers: “Lime,” “Springs,” “Ice,” “Fluid,” and “Glass.” See how the mint springs took care of the ice cubes that were just sitting there. The way the springs are covering the cubes, you can’t tell that the cubes are just two and were duplicated and rotated. This is a case of good planning and initial sketch drawings.
When I took the client’s order and was thinking about the concept, somewhere in the back of my mind I knew I had to deal with transparency and translucent objects. Sometimes you get problems with blending modes when you are not careful with the layer ordering. So, I did the sketch accordingly and covered some problematic places with the springs, because time was very short, but the concept was not set in stone and was open to interpretation.
Let’s simulate club soda by adding bubbles to the drink. I created a new “Bubbles” layer on top of my “Ice” layer and decided to make a custom brush. I created a circle of desaturated green color. With the circle selected, I offset the path: Object > Path > Offset Path. I gave it an offset of -5 pixels. I colored the inner circle in white.
Now let’s blend the two. Drag the new circle into the Brushes palette. Choose New Scatter Brush and enter the settings below. Now draw a curved line inside the glass. Finally, set the Opacity of the bubbles (the line) to about 70%.
Finally, I moved on to create reflections on the glass. I created a new “Reflections” layer on top of all the others. I made a few shapes and filled them with a white-to-black linear gradient, a Screen blending mode, and Opacity lowered to about 50%.
In the end, the finished cocktail glass exceeded my expectations and I made a few more examples for my client. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and you can leave questions or comments below, or contact me.
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