There are model railroad geeks. And there are vector graphics geeks. In this episode of Deke’s Techniques, the two groups of geeks get to meet. Because this week, I show you how to make a railroad track in Illustrator, using nothing more than a single perpendicular path outline and a whole lot of strokes.
Here’s the official description from lynda.com:
In this week’s free video, Deke shows you how to create train tracks in Illustrator. And not your simple Thomas the Tank Engine tracks, but real honest-to-goodness wooden ties with shiny rails using nothing more than strokes in Illustrator. Okay, so the technique involves a total of 19 strokes heaped onto a single path outline. And you have to keep track of what you’re doing. But the bottom line is that, at least where the drawing is concerned, all that’s required is a single perpendicular path. The rest is just a bunch of colors and numerical settings applied from the Appearance panel.
The key is leveraging Illustrator’s ability to apply a multitude of attributes to a single path and carefully offsetting them so that you create the shadows and highlights that really sell the effect. The result is this authentic railroad track that will make any HO-scale train nerd proud.
Just so you have an adequate appreciation of what’s going on, here’s your everyday-average Illustrator train track effect (just 3 strokes):
And here’s Deke’s subtly more sophisticated effect (19 strokes):
If you’re not a straight-and-narrow (gauge) type of artist, Deke has an exclusive movie for lynda.com members this week, in which he shows you an alternative technique that allows you to create curvy tracks.
Speaking of those curvy tracks, here’s the story: The curvy approach is slightly simpler—just 17 strokes as opposed to 19—but the effect is mitigated my its symmetrical highlights and shadows, which don’t happen in “real life.” But you wouldn’t know it from this graphic:
And since when are model railways “real life” anyway?
Oh, check back in tomorrow night. Adobe and I have a special treat that’ll blow your mind.