one of those rare rebellious things that ended up changing the lives of thousands if not millions of kids around the world. It’s
something that continues to fascinate me, and that is why I decided to create
this in-depth tutorial on how to design your own skateboard piece using Adobe
The process will rely on the use of basic shapes
(rectangles, rounded rectangles and circles), and some help here and there from
the Pathfinder panel.
1. Setting Up Our
already have Illustrator up and running, create a New Document (File > New) and adjust the settings as follows:
- Number of Artboards: 1
And from the Advanced tab:
- Color Mode:
- Raster Effects:
- Align New Objects to
Pixel Grid: checked
2. Layering Our
created a fresh document, go to the Layers
panel and make sure to create seven layers and name them as follows:
3. Setting Up a
If you are
familiar with the way Illustrator works, you should know that it gives you the
option to snap your design to its Pixel
Grid. That means that each anchor point will be positioned at the middle
intersection of four pixels.
are different situations that require different grid settings, sometimes you
might find yourself in the position to adjust the ones running on your version
of Adobe Illustrator.
have gone for the lowest and at the same time the most accurate settings, because I
feel I have more control over my designs.
To change these settings, you must go to Edit > Preferences > Guides &
Grid. From there, a little popup will appear, where we need to adjust the
- Gridline every:
adjusted these settings, all you need to do in order to make everything pixel
crisp is enable the Snap to Grid option
located under the View menu.
You should know that the Snap to Grid option
will transform into Snap to Pixel
every time you enter Pixel Preview Mode,
but don’t worry—that’s totally fine. Most of the time you will be going
back and forward with this display mode.
4. Creating the
Position yourself on the skateboard layer, making
sure to lock all the other ones. Using the Rounded Rectangle Tool, create a 132 x 520 px shape with a Corner
Radius of 66 px. Color the board
#F47D7D and then position it by inputting the following coordinates into
the Transform panel.
- Y: 400 px
Once we have our board in place, we need to
create its outline. To do so, we will first create a duplicate by copying (Control-C) and then pasting (Control-F)
our original shape. Change the duplicate’s color to
#44423E and then, while having it selected, go to Effect >
Path > Offset Path.
Adjust the Offset
- Miter limit:
Quick tip: once you have created the offset, you can
either expand it (Object >
Expand) or leave it as it is so that
you can adjust the thickness later on with the help of the Appearance panel.
Also, once you’ve created the outline shape, for
both the deck and future objects, make sure to send it to the back of the main
shape using the Send to Back option.
Once we have our deck and its outline, we need
to create the holes to which you would normally attach the trucks. To do so, create a 4 x 4 px circle, and
position it as follows:
With the first hole positioned, create a
duplicate by dragging to the right side while holding down Alt, and position it at a distance of about 20 px from the original shape, making sure to group the two (Control-G).
As soon as you’ve created the first two holes,
create a duplicate row by using the same dragging trick, but this time towards
the bottom. Then select both the first row and the newly created one, and
distance the duplicate group at about 40
Because any normal skate deck has a total of
eight holes, we need to add the bottom ones to ours. First create a copy of the
ones we have right now (Control-C >
Control-F) and then position the duplicates with the help of the Transform panel:
As you might
have guessed, once we have all our holes in place we need to actually cut them
out of both the deck and the outline. To do so, we first have to select the
circles and make sure they aren’t grouped together (right-click > Ungroup), otherwise Pathfinder won’t be able to extract
them from the shapes.
Once you’ve made sure that the elements are not
in a group, create a copy (Control-C), which we will need in a couple of seconds), and then select both them and the
skate deck and use Pathfinder’s Minus Front function.
Paste the previously copied circles (Control-F) and this time select them
and the outline and repeat the same process as before with Minus Front. Once the holes are extracted, your outline shape will
be positioned on top of the deck, so you will need to send it to the back one
more time (right-click > Send
Remember I told
you to keep a copy of the little holes a few steps ago? Well, I hope you did, because we need to create the outlines for the deck’s cutouts.
Simply paste the circles (Control-F) on top of the deck, change their color to
then flip the stroke with the fill (Shift-X). Change the thickness to 4 px and
make sure to Align the Stroke to Outside.
You should now have something like this.
Once we have our
basic skateboard deck, it’s time to add some highlights and shadows to make it
Before we begin creating the highlights, we first
have to create a duplicate of the pinkish deck. Once we have our copies, use the
Ellipse Tool (L) to create a 148 x 30 px shape, which we will vertically
center to the board, and then move it towards the bottom by about 64 px.
With both the ellipse and the pink deck
selected, use Pathfinder’s Minus Front option.
Once you have extracted the ellipse, you will
have two sections of the deck grouped together. As we only need the top part,
ungroup them (right-click > Ungroup)
and delete the bottom one. Change the color of the remaining object to white (
and set its Blending Mode to Soft Light, lowering the Opacity to 20%.
To create the top section’s smaller highlight, we
will first have to create two copies of the deck, and then move the upper one 4 px towards the bottom. Once we have them
both selected, go to the Pathfinder panel
and use Minus Front.
Quick tip: when you use Minus Front on objects that have sections cut out of them, in our
case the deck, you will manage to get your desired shape, but you will also get
a bunch of remaining sections. To correct this, simply ungroup them (right-click > Ungroup) and then
deselect the one you need, in our case the top curved section, deleting the
Change the color of our newly created highlight
to white (
#FFFFFF) and its Blending Mode
to Overlay, adjusting its Opacity to a value of 20%.
Create the bottom section shadows by duplicating
the highlights that we already have, horizontally reflecting them (right-click
> Transform > Reflect). Position the duplicates by
selecting them and the deck, and then using the Vertical Align to Bottom option found in the Align panel.
Color both sections black (
#000000) and then change the Blending
Mode of the bigger section to Multiply
and also lower its Opacity to 6%. For the smaller section, set the Blending Mode to Multiply but keep a higher value (20%) for the Opacity.
Once you have created all the elements of the skateboard deck, group them
together (Control-G) so that things
won’t get lost if you move them by mistake.
To create the grip tape, simply copy the pink
shape, move it to the left at about 38
px and then change its color to
Add a nice little texture onto the grip, by
duplicating (Control-C > Control-F) the object and then going to
Effect > Texture > Grain and adjusting
the settings in the popup as follows:
- Grain Type: Sprinkles
Quick tip: I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but when
you create textures onto shapes that are aligned to the pixel grid, the texture
itself will often go outside of the surface of the object
underneath it. To fix this, simply paste a copy of the shape onto the texture
and with both selected, right-click > Make Clipping Mask. If the option doesn’t appear, then you should
go to Object > Clipping Mask >
5. Creating the
finished building the skate deck and the grip, it’s time to move on to the
trucks layer and create the little parts.
Grab the Rounded
Rectangle Tool and create a 36 x 56
px shape with a Corner Radius of
4 px, color it using
then position it at about 80 px from
our previously created skateboard.
Create an outline by duplicating the shape and
using the Offset Path effect,
remembering to send the offset to the back.
- Miter limit:
Add a highlight by duplicating the main shape
twice, and moving the upper one 4 px
towards the bottom. Select both of the copies and then use Minus Front from the Pathfinder panel, making sure to change
the resulting shape’s color to
Copy and horizontally reflect the shape we just
created, moving it towards the bottom section of the larger object. Change its
color to black (
#000000) and then set its Blending
Mode to Multiply, lowering the Opacity to 20%.
Now it’s time to add the bolts that hold the
truck to the deck. First create a 4 x 4
px circle and position it at about 4
px from the top and left side of the truck’s main shape. To be more
accurate, enter Pixel Preview mode by pressing Alt-Control-Y (View > Pixel
Create three more bolts and position them towards
the remaining sides of the truck, keeping the same 4 px gap as before.
Once we have the baseplate, we need to work on
the hanger. Using the Rounded Rectangle
Tool, create an 88 x 12 px shape
with a Corner Radius of 2 px, and change its color to a lighter
#DDDEED. Position the object at 20 px from
the plate’s top section.
Give the hanger an outline of 6 px using the Offset Path effect (Effect
> Path > Offset Path).
Add a subtle highlight by duplicating the
hanger’s main shape, twice, and moving the upper copy downwards by 4 px. Select them both and use Minus Front. Once the new shape is obtained,
change its color to white (
#FFFFFF), Blending Mode to Overlay, and its Opacity to 40%.
Add a bottom shadow by copying and horizontally
reflecting the highlight, changing its color to black (
Mode to Multiply, and its Opacity level to 20%, making sure to align it to the bottom of the hanger.
Add a bottom section to the hanger’s outline by
creating a 32 x 32 px circle (
and aligning it to the top section of the outline.
Next we need to create the darker area for where
the bushing goes. Grab the Ellipse Tool
(L) and draw a 20 x 20 px shape,
color it using
#AFB0BD, and then position it by vertically aligning it to the
top section of the hanger’s main shape, not its outline.
finished step 12, it’s time to add the kingpin (a larger bolt) that holds the
hanger to the baseplate.
Grab the Polygon
Tool and create an object that has 6
sides and a total radius of 5.6569
px (don’t worry, we’ll fix this in a couple of seconds). Position it exactly
at the center of our previously created shape, and then change its Width to 12 px. That should fix any misalignment problems, making it snap to
the Pixel Grid.
Next we will add the lateral axles that go on
each side of the hanger. Select the Rounded
Rectangle Tool and create a 120 x 8
px shape, with a Corner Radius of
2 px, color it using the same
as we used for most of our outlines, and make sure to position it under the
hanger itself, centering it both vertically and horizontally.
Once we’ve created our axles, it’s time to add a
nut to each side. First let’s create the base shape by drawing an 8 x 12 px rounded rectangle with a Corner Radius of 2 px. Color it using
#DDDEED and then position it at a distance of 4 px from the left axle.
Add a top highlight and bottom shadow using the
same quick process and colors as we did in steps 9 and 10, finishing the piece
with a 6 px outline. Group the nut (Control-G) and then create a duplicate and position it on the right side of
the hanger at 8 px from its outline.
Finish up the truck by adding a subtle shadow
right under the hanger and its round middle section. We can quickly accomplish
this by using the Direct Selection Tool
(A). First we need to enter Isolation Mode for the truck’s baseplate (right click on the group and select Enter Isolation Mode, or simply double click on the group). Then we use the Direct Selection Tool to create a set of duplicates by selecting the hanger’s outline and
round section, copying (Control-C)
and then pasting them (Control-F).
After you’ve pasted the two, group them (Control-G) and then move them down by 4 px. Change their Blending Mode to Multiply and
lower their Opacity to 20%. As we want the shadow to appear
only on top of the truck’s baseplate, we need to create a Clipping Mask using the plate’s main shape as a mask.
Once you have the first truck completely
finished, group all of its elements (Control-G)
and then create a duplicate which we will position at a distance of 36 px from the original.
6. Creating the Wheels
Moving up to the wheels layer, grab the Ellipse Tool (L) and create a 14 x 14 px circle. Flip its fill with
its stroke (Shift-X), making sure to
Align the Stroke to Outline and then
adjust them as follows:
Bottom Circle (the Outline)
Weight: 20 px
Middle Circle (Our Wheel’s Base Shape)
- Stroke Weight: 14 px
Top Circle (the Inner Outline)
- Stroke Weight: 4 px
Once you have all three circles created, expand
them (Object > Expand), and then group
them together (Control-G).
Finish up the wheel by creating a 42 x 42 px circle, and flip its fill with
its stroke (Shift-X), making sure to Align the Stroke to Inside. Give it a 4 px Stroke Weight and expand it.
the ring in half, and change the top section’s color to white (
#FFFFFF), its Blending Mode to Soft Light, and its Opacity to 40%. Create a duplicate, flipping it horizontally (right-click > Transform > Reflect > Horizontal)
and then align it to the bottom of the wheel, changing its color to black (
#000000), its Blending Mode to Multiply and
its Opacity to 20%.
Create three additional wheels by copying the
original we just created and positioning the copies at a distance of 48 px, displaying them in a square
7. Creating the Wrench
The wrench is
basically a cross that has multiple segments duplicated and then rotated at a 90° angle.
First let’s draw some of the
basic shapes. Grab the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a 4 x 144 px shape, color it using
#DDDEED, and position it right in the middle of the square like the formation of the wheels.
Add a 14 x 26 px rectangle
with a Corner Radius of 8 px. With the help of the Direct
Selection Tool (A) delete its top anchor point, and unite the remaining ones (Control-J),
aligning the newly created shape to the top section of rectangle we created a
few moments ago.
Add a 14 x 4 px subtle white highlight (Blending Mode set on Overlay with a 40% Opacity level),
a bottom shadow (Blending Mode set on Multiply with a 20%
Opacity level) and a 4 x 4 px circle (
#44423E) which you will center
to the top section of the wrench.
For the bottom section simply group the top ones we already have, flip them horizontally, and then position them to the bottom, inverting the Blending Mode and Opacity levels of the highlight
Group the entire
vertical section of the wrench that we have so far, and rotate it at a 90° angle (right-click > Transform > Rotate).
Get rid of all shadows and highlights, leaving only the little darker circles. Create a set of two highlights, keeping
the same settings as before.
Next, build the middle round section of the
wrench by creating a base shape of 24 x
24 px (
#DDDEED), on top of which we will add a darker 16 x 16 px shape (
#44423E). Then add another smaller and lighter 12 x 12 px circle (
#BEBFCC), on top of
which we will create a double colored ring similar to the one from step 2 of
the Creating the Wheels section, adjusting it to the following values:
- Stroke Weight:
- Blending Mode:
- Opacity: 20%
Once you have the top section of the ring,
reflect it horizontally and change its color to white (
#FFFFFF) making sure to
set the Blending Mode to Overlay and the Opacity to 50%.
Group all the elements (Control-G) and position them at the intersection of the two arms of
All we need to do now in order to finish the
wrench is create its outline. To do so, we will have to select the wrench’s
arms, the heads, and the round center, group them, and apply an Offset Path of 4 px to the whole group. This is better than uniting them and adding the
effect afterwards, which would make some parts fall off the Pixel Grid.
8. Creating the
Assuming you’re already on the plates layer,
grab the Rounded Rectangle Tool and
create a 48 x 68 px shape with a Corner Radius of 10 px, color it using
#44423E and then top align it at about 30 px from the first truck we created a
Add a highlight and a shadow by repeating the
same trick of creating two copies, moving one downwards by 4 px and then extracting the top one from the one underneath.
you have the top section created, create another one from it by dragging down
while holding Alt, making sure to
reflect the piece horizontally. Change the settings of the top and bottom sections as follows:
Top Section (the Highlight)
- Blending Mode: Overlay
- Opacity: 40%
Bottom Section (the Shadow)
- Blending Mode: Multiply
- Opacity: 20%
Once we have our
highlight and shadow, we need to create the four little cutouts as we did with
the skate deck. First create a 4 x 4 px circle,
position it at a distance of 10 px both
to the top and left side of the plate, and then create another three copies, maintaining the specified distance towards the outside margins.
Once you have all four circles positioned,
select them and the plate, and use Pathfinder’s
Minus Front option to cut them out.
Once the cutouts are made, your shape should
have covered your previously created highlight and shadow. To correct this, select the object, and right-click >
Arrange > Send to Back. With everything stacked correctly, select all
the elements of the plate and group them together (Control-G).
The last step we need to take now is to create a
copy of our first plate, and then position it at a distance of 36 px towards the bottom.
9. Creating the Bearings
The last and final piece of our skateboarder pack is a set of eight little
bearings. As you might have guessed, we will create one and then multiply it
until we get the rest of the bunch.
Grab the Ellipse
Tool (L) and create a 4 x 4 px circle,
color it using
#44423E, and then position it using the following coordinates:
- Y: 443 px
circle’s fill with its stroke, aligning the stroke to the outside, giving it a Weight of 11 px. Create another duplicate circle, and change its color to
and its Weight to 5 px.
Create a ring
circle of 14 x 14 px, flip its fill
to stroke (Shift-X), and give it a Stroke Weight of 1 px. Remove the bottom half, and color the remaining section black
#000000) setting the Blending Mode to
Multiply and its Opacity to 20%. Duplicate it and flip it horizontally, changing its color to
#FFFFFF), its Blending Mode to
Overlay and its Opacity to 40%.
Last but not least, create another 4 x 4 px circle, flip its fill with its
stroke (Shift-X) and give it a Stroke Weight of 2 px, making sure to Align
the Stroke to Outside.
Once you have the first bearing complete, group
all of its elements (Control-G) and
then create a copy to its left, at about 12
px. Group the two to create a row, and then create three more rows towards
the bottom, distanced at 10 px from
Quick tip: you could accomplish the same result by
entering Pixel Preview mode and
manually dragging the first row downwards 10
px while holding Alt and then
pressing Control-D twice more to
replicate the action and get the rest of the rows.
10. Adding the Background
The last and final piece of our illustration
will be the background. To add it, simply create a rectangle that has exactly the same dimensions as our Artboard (1000 x 800 px), color it using a dark
#EFEFEF), and then center it both vertically and horizontally using the Align panel.
Grab your skateboard ’cause we got ourselves one
nice looking pack, and most importantly learned some neat tricks along the way.