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I need to learn a skill to design a circular tube like this in a circular path (I might need to distort the path a bit, so not perfect circle).

enter image description here

By specific path, I mean I should be able to make it of any shape, like O, P, S, 7, 8, oval, rectangle, circle etc. from any view (top, side etc.) Not just circle.

Also, I don't want to use a 3D software. If it is possible using Photoshop or Illustrator (2nd choice) that will be helpful.

Further, I don't want it to be very realistic. I know Photoshop has many blending options and effects, so it can be possible, but I don't know how to use them.

For example, today, for a different project, I made a BP monitor's tube, which is non transparent. And it followed the specific path I defined it before giving it the effects. (I used Inner shadow blending option on a specified stroke).

enter image description here

This is what I know so far.

Is it possible to design it using Photoshop? (Not necessarily very realistic)

PS: Circular is not necessary, what is important is a way to draw the shape in any shape as mentioned above. If effect is there, I guess I would be able to manipulate the path. It's basically a side view of a curved pipe.

EDIT: Those who are saying to add what I've tried: See, if I was able to draw something close, I wouldn't ask this question. If you see my past questions, wherever possible, I've added what I've tried so far. And according to their logic, many many question would deserve down votes, because they haven't shown their efforts and what they have tried so far.

  • 2
    What have you tried? – SZCZERZO KŁY Jul 29 at 7:28
  • @SZCZERZOKŁY I took a sample of this pipe, and created a brush from it. But it created 2 problems. First, it didn't give me continuous tube structure. The joints are visible easily. 2nd, I can't make it circular. – Vikas Jul 29 at 7:37
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    very much related if not duplicate graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/questions/105667/… – Luciano Jul 29 at 10:09
  • @Downvoter please explain. – Vikas Jul 29 at 10:47
  • Have you considered taking a picture of one and using it instead? – Emilie Jul 30 at 20:59
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I wouldn't try to create whole thing at once. IMHO there is no need (as people won't notice) and it add to the difficulty.
First I draw a path image 1 and stroke it with black. Black because when I stroke it again with gray the black will create thin black outline.

image2 Then I would repeat the process how many times you want. Each time making a little different shape on different layer.

Then I would make a simple shape underneath them all that would act as end of tube image3

Then add a little bevel& emboss image4 Make for one layer then copy and paste style for all others.

Then select all layers, and on ANOTHER extra layers add some shadow and highlights. I've also played with some opacity of each layer and added hue/saturation for a blueish hue. But you could also just use some light blue instead of gray. enter image description here

  • Is there any warp tool in Photoshop similar to Warp tool in Illustrator? So that path can be distorted here an there little bit? – Vikas Jul 29 at 8:53
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If absolute realism isn't necessarily the goal, I'd use Illustrator for this. Although, you can get pretty close to realism with enough care.


You can simply use a Gradient on a path in Illustrator....

enter image description here

The gradient stops have varying opacities.


If you want to be more intricate with the "tubelike" appearance you could use an Artbrush.

  • Draw two rectangles on top of each other - one black with a white rectangle on top.

  • Select both rectangles and choose Object > Blend > Make

  • Select each rectangle individually with the Direct Selection tool and adjust its opacity.

  • Drag the Blend to the Brush Panel and create an Artbrush of the blend.

  • Apply that Artbrush to a path.

enter image description here

enter image description here

You'll need to split and align paths for any "overlaps" of the tube. But that shouldn't be too difficult. (The circle shape above is actually 2 paths to accommodate the overlap)

Then, if you need it in Photoshop, copy/paste.


The blend in the Artbrush can slow the appearance redrawing in Illustrator. What I've shown here is a simple 2 object blend and it still takes a couple seconds for AICS6 to draw the shape (CC may be better). It is possible to take more care with the blend for added realism, it will simply be slower to redraw.


I did think this may be possible with stroking paths in Photoshop and a custom brush, but, well, that proved to be more troubling and time consuming due to how Photoshop brushes work. I lost interest in trying to sort it out in Photoshop alone.

  • It's top view.. – Vikas Jul 30 at 2:16
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    Sorry for being a little rude and less explanation. The shape you made looks like a tube, but I wanted it from a side view. Is it possible to make a side view of the same using some shadows/effects? – Vikas Jul 30 at 16:07
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The questioner wrote that it should be made in Photoshop or mostly in Illustrator. That's no problem for a person who has seriously trained few years drawing and painting. With sharp eyes and some real talent he can pick the curves, glosses, shadows and transparency by watching a real thing or existing image a while and output them to a paper or into his computer.

The rest of us must have some help. Unfortunately Photoshop and Illustrator cannot make the glosses and shadows right except in very few cases. The apparent projection must be straight on the face without perspective. Then one can use for ex. stretch along a path a gradient or a drawn piece of tube.

Drawing it like a non-shaded technical line drawing is one possibility, but I guess it's not acceptable elsewhere than in technical documents. A cartoon style drawing with solid colors, outlines and some glosses is the next level in complexity, but integrating it into realistic image is a style problem.

One Photoshop trick can be useful: The mixer Brush. It can create the shading of the tube with relatively low effort. No photorealism nor plausible transparency, but the simplest possible light and shadow:

enter image description here

The gradient rectangle in top right is the loading area of my Mixer Brush. It was used only once because I set my brush never exhausting.

The stroke in top middle is painted with the mouse. The dark stays in the bottom side as long as the drawing direction isn't upwards. Complex curves and windings must be drawn in pieces, because one cannot draw upwards - at least not with a mouse. Brush rotating advanced graphic tablets are different, but I haven't one and that functionality isn't in my legacy Photoshop.

The loop in the bottom is made to several layers by stroking paths. They are drawn to the right directions with the Pen and stroked to different layers to be able to fine tune their placings and layering order. With paths the result is smooth without having a graphic tablet.

As you can see, some shadows are missing - the turns of the tube loop do not know of each other. But it's easy to insert a couple of shadow layers where one can paint a little transparent black on:

enter image description here

As said, it's not a realistic plastic tube - there's no transparency nor complex glosses. One can try to make a more complex mixer brush loading gradient, have a color and insert a drop shadow. But it will still be better for drawing toothpaste or sausages. Half a second look at a 3D CAD rendering proves it with no doubt:

enter image description here

It also proves that painting it without practicing years to develop the needed skills is impossible.

  • Well I don't want it to be very realistic. – Vikas Jul 29 at 9:08
  • I said not very realistic. It's too fake. – Vikas Jul 30 at 2:16
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    @Vikas, that's not a very polite answer to someone who has just voluntarily spent time trying to help you with a solution. Could you please try that statement again, but less aggravating? – PieBie Jul 30 at 15:17
  • @user287001 though I mentioned not very realistic, but I wanted a result which looks like a tube, especially it should be transparent. What you have explained looks like tube, but at the same time it also look like a solid wire. Can it be little more like transparent tube? (And please ignore my last comment). – Vikas Jul 30 at 16:04
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    @Vikas I think you should make an edit to your question and show something. Here is a perfect example of someone trying to help you while you may not have intended to be rude it comes off like that. If you showed what you've tried and explained your issue after your attempt you'd likely have gotten a better answer. – DᴀʀᴛʜVᴀᴅᴇʀ Jul 30 at 20:41

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