Vector Skyscrapers

In this tutorial we will learn how to create the effect of linear perspective using the Width Gradient Tool, which is one of the tools of the new WidthScribe plugin. In addition, for the coloring of variable width paths, we will use the Gradient on a Path feature in Adobe Illustrator CS6. Thus, today, we are using two new techniques of vector graphics. Read on to work more creatively and efficiently!

Step 1

As a reference image I will use an International Business Centre from Shutterstock.

Vector Skyscrapers

With the help of the Pen Tool (P) create basic shapes of buildings.

Vector Skyscrapers

Step 2

Let's simply limit the space of our composition. Create a rectangle using the Rectangle Tool (M) and fill it with a radial gradient that includes two shades of blue color. Place the rectangle below all the created objects.

Vector Skyscrapers

Step 3

With the help of the Line Segment Tool () create a set of lines, which correspond to the position of window frames. These are uniform paths 1px thick.

Vector Skyscrapers

The distance between them is determined by the shape of the building and the perspective. In this work I referred to the reference image. To create curved segments, use the Pen Tool (P) or InkScribe Tool (DrawScribe plugin).

Vector Skyscrapers

Thus, I created windows on all the buildings.

Vector Skyscrapers

Step 4

Hide the parts of paths that go beyond the buildings. Group up the paths (Command / Ctrl + G), which correspond to the front of the skyscraper located on the left.

Vector Skyscrapers

Copy and paste in front (Cmd / Ctrl + C; Cmd / Ctrl + F) the front side of this skyscraper, and then place a new shape above all the created objects (Shift + Cmd / Ctrl +]).

Vector Skyscrapers

Select the group that you created in this step and the upper shape of the skyscraper, then create a Clipping Mask, using Cmd / Ctrl + 7 shortcut.

Vector Skyscrapers

Apply this technique to the rest of the skyscrapers.

Vector Skyscrapers

Step 5

Copy the shape of the background and paste it in front, and then place a new shape above all the created objects.

Vector Skyscrapers

Select all the created objects (Cmd / Ctrl + A) and apply a Clipping Mask again (Cmd / Ctrl + 7).

Vector Skyscrapers

Step 6

Now to apply the effect of linear perspective to uniform strokes, transforming them into variable width paths that narrow at the top of the skyscrapers (towards the direction of the vanishing point). For these purposes, we will use the Width Gradient Tool, which is one of the tools of the WidthScribe plugin. To open its panel, go to Window > WidthScribe > Gradient Width Panel.

Vector Skyscrapers

Choose a linear gradient and set the starting and ending width of the paths.

Vector Skyscrapers

Step 7

In the Layers panel, locate and select paths' group to which we will apply the Width Gradient.

Vector Skyscrapers

Take Width Gradient Tool and drag a gradient in the right direction.

Vector Skyscrapers

During the application of the gradient we are able to see the preview of the Width Gradient Tool impact. While the mouse button is held down, we can change the direction and length of the gradient.

Vector Skyscrapers

To move the starting point of the gradient, hold down the Space bar.

Vector Skyscrapers

I will mention a few shortcuts, which will also help you manage the Width Gradient:

  • Up Arrow increases start width;
  • Down Arrow decreases start width;
  • Right Arrow increases end width;
  • Left Arrow decreases end width.

As you can see, Width Gradient Tool is a very flexible and easily manageable tool that will help you achieve the desired result. Having applied the Width Gradient to the paths' groups of all the skyscrapers, I got the results shown in the following picture.

Vector Skyscrapers

Step 8

Apply regular linear gradients to the surfaces of skyscrapers in order to reproduce the distribution of light on them (visibility of variable width paths is off for visual purposes).

Vector Skyscrapers

Vector Skyscrapers

Vector Skyscrapers

I applied fills with solid colors to the skyscraper on the right.

Vector Skyscrapers

Vector Skyscrapers

Step 9

We now apply a linear gradient to variable width paths. I would like to mention that the Gradient on a Path feature is only available in Adobe Illustrator CS6 and above.

Vector Skyscrapers

I think this is a good example of a combination of two new techniques of vector graphics; the Width Gradient and Gradient on a Path.

Step 10

Copy the selected paths, and then paste them back (Cmd / Ctrl + C; Cmd / Ctrl + B). Shift new paths slightly to the right, fill them with a solid gray color and apply the Multiply blending mode.

Vector Skyscrapers

Thus, we have created the shadow of the window frames on the windows of skyscrapers. Using this technique, paint the whole variable width paths to skyscrapers.

Vector Skyscrapers

Vector Skyscrapers

The Width Gradient Tool can also be applied to create different decorative effects — as well as in engineering drawings — easily changing the thickness of the paths' group and controlling the position of vanishing points. This will be demonstrated further in forthcoming tutorials due to be published on the AG Blog!

Note: the original Illustrator vector artwork used in this tutorial is supplied with the WidthScribe 14 day trial download!

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