Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Tutorial: How to Draw a Clock Face with Adobe Illustrator?

Drawing a clock with Adobe Illustrator can be very difficult if you do not know the trick and technique. Here, in this tutorial, I will explain to you how to do it the simple way. 

First, draw 2 rectangles like the below. They must have the exact X coordinate. These rectangles will represent the hour of a clock.

Group them and Rotate it by 30 degree. Remember to use Copy function instead of just rotating it.

To repeat the rotation and Copy, go to Object > Transform > Transform Again. Repeat this until you get all the 12 rectangles.

Now, repeat the above steps for the minutes. Instead of rotating it by 30 degree, you should rotate this by 5 degree because these rectangles will represent the minutes. You may want to use a small rectangle for a better visual.

After you have successfully adding the minutes, you should now put the numbers. See the below for example. Remember, the number (text) should be Aligned Center. To do this, go to Window > Type > Paragraph.

 Using the same method, rotate the group by 30 degree to get the below.

Change all the numbers accordingly.

Now, you will have to rotate back the numbers to straight view. In order to do that, you will have to rotate them manually one by one using Object > Transform > Rotate. The below list may help you.

Hour 1 = 30 degree
Hour 2 = 60 degree
Hour 3 = 90 degree
Hour 4 = 120 degree
Hour 5 = 150 degree
Hour 6 = 180 degree
Hour 7 = 210 degree
Hour 8 = 240 degree
Hour 9 = 270 degree
Hour 10 = 300 degree
Hour 11 = 330 degree

After you have rotate them, you may notice that the alignment of the numbers and the clock are not accurate.

So, what you can do is to Expand the numbers into object. In order to do that, select all the numbers and go to Object > Expand. Once all your number is Expanded and Grouped, align them accordingly with the feature Window > Align. I believe you have no problem doing this, right?

To add the hands of the clock, draw the below. Yes, together with the blue circle outside the clock.

The usage of the blue circle is for you to rotate the hands. How you are going to do this is to Select both the circle and the hands - and Rotate them together.

My tutorial on how to draw a clock face ends here. If you have any question, please write in the comment :)

Below is an example of a vector watch I draw for IStockPhoto. For the details of pricing and number of downloads, please go to http://www.istockphoto.com/file_closeup.php?id=15216729


  1. I read your blog with much relish as i am just starting out as a vector artist,however your vectors seems to be of very high quality and yet you call yourself average(well that is humility).
    My question to you is
    1.Are you a self taught vector artist
    2.How come you learn to design vectors so cool
    3.Any tutorial or advice you can give a newbie like me on how to acquire the kind of skills you have.

    Your response will be much appreciated


  2. Hello, thanks for reading my blog. To answer your questions, yes I am self taught.

    It is not that hard when you start to spend a few hours everyday doing the same thing over and over again :)

    As an advice for a new-comer, I suggest that you should master:
    1. The Pen Tool
    2. Selection Tool / Direction Select Tool
    3. Shortcut Keys (always use shortcut key)
    4. Pathfinder
    5. understanding of Coordinate (X, Y)
    6. Align

    Colors and gradient may come later as these are more complex and require patient to get beautiful colors.

    Apart from the above, do start with simple vectors first like 1 dimensional object.

    Hope my advice helps :)