At the minimalismo.com site, I came across an article showing re-issued line of Braun watches from the seventies, designed by Dieter Rams and Dietrich Lubs. At the same time I was trying to solve a long time issue I have been dealing with in Illustrator, where I was trying to find a formula to use with Illustrators Transform Effect. I used a portion of this drawing to explain that issue solving. So I when I was showing this problem to others I kept getting questions about the drawing itself and in the end I decided to make a tutorial for everyone to play with.
There are several ways one could make a vector drawing of this watch but the way I am showing here aims at making some major elements of the drawing reusable. This may seem to make it more complicated but I am hoping that this will open someones eyes for methods they might not have been using until now.
This tutorial is loaded with tips and tricks and is a bit advanced. Don’t let this scare you off. This means you will learn a lot, but I hope I have managed to make everything easy to understand. I use millimeters for measuring but those who use other units should simply type in like: 22 mm in the input fields and Illustrator will convert for you instantly. Every input field in Illustrator is a little calculator and we will use this great feature later in this tutorial. Now, that was a new trick for someone wasn’t it?
Two more things: First, I am doing this on a mac but those using a PC please remember to use the Control key where I say Cmd. Secondly, I am using many layers and if you are not used to that, please try it out this time. You will see as we go along how useful it can be.
Here is the final image we are going to make.
Start the job by making a New Document with one Artboard. Make the width 480 mm and height 565 mm. This is more than we need but we can always adjust the size later. Set Raster Effects to High (300 ppi) instead of the default 72. This is important later on.
Let’s make it an RGB document because I am going to use RGB color values in this tutorial.
We start with some preparation work. Hit Cmd + 0 to make the artboard fit the screen. Put Illustrator Rulers on, Cmd + R. Drag a horizontal guide line from the top ruler to about the center of the artboard. Then another one, again from the top ruler but this time holding the Alt key to shift this guide line to a vertical guide. For some, like me, panels are sometimes in the way over the vertical ruler so it’s nice to have this option. Drag this guide to about the center of the artboard too. We now have these two guides in a cross on the artboard and we use the intersection as a center for the drawing.
Open the Layers panel, double click on the Layer 1 and rename it to Guides. Hold down the Alt key, click on the New Layer icon at the bottom of the layers panel. This does two things. It makes a new layer on top of the selected one and it opens a dialog box to name it right away. Name the new layer Face.
Select the Ellipse tool by hitting the L key. Holding the Alt key, click on the center. Put 230 mm into both fields, hit OK and fill this circle with black fill and no stroke.
Make a new layer above the Face layer and name it 12 hours. Zoom far in. Select the Rectangle tool (M), hold down the Alt key and click on the vertical guide. Type 2 mm in the Width field and 25,4 mm into the Height field. Drag this box holding down the Shift key, until the top of the box snaps to the edge of the circle. Fill with white, no stroke.
We need 11 copies distributed around the circle. There are several ways to do this but the far best way is to do it like this:
Click this link to get to the Illustrator Circle Calculator. Type in the diameter of the Face which we know is 230 mm. Put in the total number of items we need to use, 12. (The calculator is set to these values the first time you load this page anyway because I made this calculator when I was preparing this drawing). This shows Horizontal and Vertical which we need to use in the next step.
With this 12 o’clock mark selected, go to Effects > Distort & Transform > Transform. We need to fill in values from the calculator.
First, put on the Preview.
Angle: Fill in: 360/12 and this field will calculated it to be 30°
Horizontal value: -57,5 mm
Vertical value: 15,407 mm
Horizontal and Vertical values from the calculator into the Move section. Change the Horizontal value to negative value by adding a minus in the field. (FYI: If you want to use a positive value you have to change the Angle to: 360 – (360/12)= 330°)
Note that the Reference Point Locator (in the red) has to be on top because the top of the box aligns with the edge of the circle. The calculation is based on the diameter of the circle. Also beware that if you need to edit Effects like this one you have to access it through the Appearance panel.
Next we need the 60 minutes. Make a new layer above the 12 hours layer and name it 60 minutes. At the 12 o’clock position draw a box the same way as before using Alt + Click to make it draw from the center of the guide and call up the dialog box. Make it 0,64 mm wide and 14,75 mm heigh.
We need to get new values from the Circle Calculator. Since we are using the same diameter we only have to change the Number of items in circle input to 60. Then go again to Effects > Distort & Transform > Transform and set Copies to 59, Angle to 6°, Horizontal movement to -12,021 mm and Vertical movement to 0,630 mm.
The main advantage of using the Transform Effect for this is that if you need to edit the marks, like changing its shape you only need to edit the original box and all the others will change according to it.
Make a new layer on top of the 60 minutes layer. Name it Numbers. Select the Ellipse tool (L). Alt+Click in the center to make a circle of 137 mm in diameter. Then make another circle of 163 mm in diameter. Select both circles and turn them into guides by: View > Guides > Make Guides, or simply hit Cmd + 5.
Type the number 12 at the top position between these guides and Alt+Drag copies to all the other positions and edit the numbers. I am using 52 pt Helvetica Neue Roman which is included on the macs but if you don’t have that font try to find a similar sans serif type. Just make sure it fills the height of the guide lines.
This is already beginning to look like a clock but maybe not like a watch. But let’s continue and make the clock pointers.
Make yet another layer on top of all others. Name it Pointers. The minutes and hour pointers are made in the same manner as we did the marks. The only difference is that we let the bottom of the boxes stay exactly on the center of our drawing. Alt+Click on the vertical guide using the Rectangle tool and use these measurements:
The hours pointer: W: 4,92 mm, H: 62 mm
The minutes pointer: W: 3,28 mm, H: 93,72 mm
Time is now 12 o’clock… We want to change that. Of course we can use the Rotate tool, Bounding box to name a few options to move the pointers. Let’s use the Transform Effect again and start with the longer one.
While it’s selected go to the Transform Effects. This time we don’t need any copies or calculating but we use only the Angle field. First set the Reference Point Locator to be at the bottom center, check the Preview box and then go to the angle field (why not just click on the word Angle). Now, tap on the down arrow key on your keyboard to see how cool this is. The pointer starts moving like a real clock! Add the Shift key to the combo to get increments of 10. When you have had enough, finish off by setting the angle to -58°.
It’s no later than now that you have to open the Appearance panel if you haven’t already. Click with your mouse on the FX icon at the bottom of the panel and select Stylize > Drop Shadow. Set the offsets to -2 mm for x axis and 2 mm for the y axis and keep the Blur at 1,76 mm (default setting).
Do exactly the same for the hours pointer except the angle should be 54°
The seconds pointer needs a different treatment. Still working on the Pointers layer, select the Ellipse tool (L). Alt+Click on the center and give make a circle of 15 mm by 15 mm.
While the circle is still selected, open the Color panel and mix a color of R 248, G 195, B 46 and make sure it’s a Fill color. Hold down the Cmd and Shift key and drag this color to the Swatch panel. This not only adds the color to the Swatches but at the same time makes it a Global color. Global color is a color that is linked to the objects and means that you can edit it any time and everything that has been colored with it will change too. So, click on this new swatch and you have linked it to the seconds pointer. So, why not use the opportunity and change the black color we used for the Face to a Global Color since we are at it?
Make a new circle the same way. Make it 7 mm by 7 mm. Double click the Selection tool, the black arrow, to get the Move dialog box and insert -15 mm in the vertical field. Click OK.
Using the Rectangle tool (M), Alt+Click on the vertical guideline and make a box 7 mm wide and 15 mm high. Move it down so it sits on the horizontal guideline.
Make yet another box in the same way. This one should be 2,5 mm wide and 92,5 mm high. Move it holding down the Shift key until the top side aligns with the horizontal guide. Deselect the box (Cmd + Shift + A). Select the Direct Selection tool (A), (the white arrow) and use it to select only the two bottom anchor points of the box. Zoom close in, 300% or so. Select the Scale tool (S). Alt+Click on the vertical guide and in the dialog box insert 50% horizontal scaling in the Non-uniform section.
Open the Pathfinder panel and choose Unite to join all four parts together.
To turn this pointer we have to use the Rotate tool because our reference point is not on any of the 9-point reference location. Select the Rotate tool, Alt+Click on the Center, put the Preview on and type in -29° (you can of course use the up and down arrows to rotate the seconds pointer).
Add a Drop Shadow to this pointer with the same values as the others. Finish off by adding a small black dot, 1,5 mm by 1,5 mm over the center.
The watch should look like this at this stage.
The body of the watch is next. Make a new layer beneath the Face layer. A little trick here is to select the Face layer and click on the New Layer icon holding down the Alt and Command keys. Call this new layer Body.
Draw three circles out from the center. Make them in these diameters: 251 mm, 240 mm and 230 mm. The last 230 mm circle is right under the Face shape path, so we have to lock the Face layer. You might as well hide some other layers while you work on this but it’s up to you. You see that using multiple layers has already started to pay off.
[When you need to hide or show many layers in a row you can click + hold on one eye and drag over the others.]
Select the outmost circle. Open the Gradient panel and select the Gradient tool. Stretch the Gradient Annotator a little bit out of the circle, about 5 mm, because we need to move it slightly in a bit. Make a gradient with three color stops, gray to white, using these values:
R 255, G 255, B 255
R 172, G 172, B 172
R 83, G 83, B 83.
Grab the center of the Gradient Annotator and move it 2 mm to right and 2 mm up. You will now see why this darkest gray is outside of the circle. It because by dragging the gradient this way more gray will enter the left side of the circle while the right side goes whiter to make kind of a metal look.
Lock this path Cmd + 2. Select the two other circles we made. Make a Compound Path, Cmd + 8 or Object > Compound Path > Make.
While selected, make a new gradient. This time make the color stops:
R 198, G 198, B 198
R 97, G 97, B 97
R 58, G 58, B 58.
The glass edges we make this way: Make a new layer above the Pointers layer. Call in Glass. Draw two circles from the center, first one of 230 mm and the second of 218 mm. Make a Compound Path, Cmd + 8 or Object > Compound Path > Make.
Lock all other layers. Make one more circle, this time 235 mm and fill it with black.
Select the Gradient Mesh tool (U) and click on point 1. In the Color panel change this color to white. Click on point 2. It should also be white. Then use the Direct Selection tool to change point 3 to 70% black.
Select the whole circle and Send to back. Select the compounded circles and the gradient mesh circle and make a Clipping Mask, Cmd + 7.
Change the Transparency to 50%
Make a new layer beneath the Body layer. Call it Winder. Make shapes like these. The big shape is 13,2 mm wide and 25 mm tall. The little boxes are 7 mm wide and 1,7 mm high. The lower one is a copy of the top one.
Fill with gradients. For the big shape use 30, 30, 30 for the ends and 55, 55, 55, for the middle gray. Two white color stops 255, 255, 255.
The small box is just black to white but the annotator is stretched little bit out of the shape to so it’s not fully white or black. Copy the top box down and use the blend tool to add 12 steps in between.
Move the blend over the winder and change the transparency to 60%.
Add the Braun logo on a separate layer over the Glass layer. I found the logo on brandsoftheworld.com. You will have to sign up to be allowed to download.
This makes up the watch itself. But we would like to add a leather strap to the drawing.
Make a layer called Strap beneath the Winder layer. With the Rectangle tool, Alt + Click on the center and make a black filled rectangle of 140 mm wide and 478 mm tall. Use the Gradient Mesh tool to add a few mesh lines on the rectangle.
Use the Direct Selection (A) tool to round the corners. Start by moving the corner anchor points inwards and then straighten the control handles so they appear like a smooth point.
Also move the nearest anchor points slightly inwards. When we have finished all corners we leave it as it is for a moment. Hide this layer by clicking the eye in the layer panel.
Make a new rectangle filled with black color from the center in a new layer called Mezzo. Make it be above the Strap layer. Make the box 160 x 500 mm.
While selected go to Effects > Pixelate > Mezzotint and apply Coarse Dots to the rectangle.
To make a mask for the Mezzotint which is exactly like the strap we do this:
Turn visibility of the Strap layer back on. Select the strap gradient mesh. Go to Object > Path > Offset Path… and type in 0 (zero) in the input field. Select this new path and drag the colored dot in the Strap layer up to the Mezzo layer. While selected add the mezzotint texture to the selection and Make Clipping mask Cmd + 7. In the Transparency panel set blending to Multiply and 50% transparency.
Lock the Mezzo layer and unlock the Strap layer. Use the Direct Selection tool (A) to select three of the anchor points in the middle. Reduce the black color to let the grain show through. Also move individual points to shape the light.
The Braun watch drawing is now finished. I hope you have enjoyed this and learned something new along the way.
Using layers this extensively makes it possible to export to a .psd file with everything intact if you want to add some extra flavor to any parts of the drawing. Any part where Transform Effect was used can be edited. You can change the shape of the pointers, markers, shadows and more. Using Global Color makes changing colors a snap and so on.