An Apple Watch a Day

A little over 2 weeks ago, I thought that I was pretty savvy at Adobe Illustrator. I knew that I didn’t know everything, but I felt like I at least understood everything that Illustrator could do.

Boy, was I wrong.

For the past 2 weeks, I have spent my life at my laptop, working on this project. The purpose of this project was to create a realistic timepiece. This project was meant to teach me how to use gradients, to understand highlights and shadows, and to see the world in a different way so that I might be able to create a photorealistic image using nothing but Adobe Illustrator. After working on this image for many days, I finally feel comfortable enough with it to present it to the world. So, without further ado, here is the Apple Watch I have created using nothing but Adobe Illustrator.

The Sketching

On day 1, I wasn’t entirely sure which watch I wanted to re-create. I played around with a lot of different ideas, from alarm clocks to apple watches. I even had the idea to create a laptop with the time displayed on the screen (perhaps I’ll tackle this another day).

Eventually, I decided on an Apple Watch. I’ve always liked the look of the Apple Watch, and thought it would be interesting to try to re-create the digital time piece. Once I decided on the type of watch, I pulled up a few reference images and began sketching some more ideas. I like to do another round of sketches once I have a more finalized concept using reference images because it forces me to pay attention to the smaller details that are easy to skip over, and I’m able to recall these details later on much easier.

The Draft

After sketching, and spending some time looking at reference photos and reading articles on the mechanics of Apple Watches, I took what I had to Illustrator. For this project, I used mainly the shape and gradient tools. This was a nice contrast from previous projects, because I often use the pen tool for much of my designs. However, this time around I wanted to challenge myself, while also making my life a little easier. I used the shape tools and the pathfinder quite a bit to create the different shapes, shadows, and highlights in the watch itself. For me, the gradients were the toughest part. I spent about an hour on one of the gradients in the image, simply moving the sliders around ever so slightly so it was just right. Overall, I was proud of my draft and how smoothly (albeit slowly) my image was coming along. 

The Final Product

After receiving some critique on this draft, I went back to illustrator to tweak some small issues and start working on the watch band. I decided to re-create a matte, rubber band, and to work on the highlights and shadows. I looked at many different images of Apple Watches, to see how light hit them from each angle.

My image didn’t seem quite right to me though. I felt like I was missing something, or that my image wasn’t quite right. Around this time, I also started to notice Apple Watches on people around me. In fact, I flew to New York for the weekend and the woman who sat next to me had an Apple Watch. I spent a good amount of time looking at her watch and the way the light hit it. Thinking back on this, she probably thought I was weird. But it seems to have paid off, because I understood the uses of light and shadow more effectively, and my final image was born.

Overall, I enjoyed the challenge this project presented. I learned to look at things differently than before, and I learned how to take an image from paper to final product. Although it was tough, I’m proud of my work and what I have been able to accomplish over the last few weeks.


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