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Can anyone please help me with plotting two kinds of wavy plates using Adobe Illustrator. What in my mind are something like this. enter image description here

The first one is a plate with sinusoidal pattern and the second one also with sinusoidal pattern but the wavy striations have an angle with respect to the edge of the plate. In other words, in the right panel, when observed the cross section along the red line, we can see a sinusoidal curve while the black solid/dashed lines stand for wave crests/troughs.

I can find on the site about how to draw a sinusoidal curve but I didn't find how to draw a sinusoidal plate with a finite thickness.

Thank you very much!

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  • Thou shall use offset. – joojaa Jun 7 at 5:53
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I'm writing an answer for 2nd type of plate inspired from Billy's answer and joojaa's comments.

  1. Create a stroke and apply Effect > Distort > Zig-zag effect and then apply Effect > 3D > Extrude & Bevel. Expand it.

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  1. Rotate it and crop/clipping mask it to create a rectangle with different angle (to apply clipping mask, draw any shape above the expanded artwork, then select both shape and artwork and Object > Clipping Mask > Make)

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  1. Again, apply 3D rotate and perspective to it so it looks somewhat like this or whatever angle you need

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  1. Create 2 more strokes (they can be vertical initially) and apply Zig-zag effect and Perspective effect to both of them. (Perspective and rotate is so that curves seem narrowing at farther end). Experiment with settings for each stroke and move the strokes up and down till it kind of matches with the plate curves. Keep stroke lengths longer than required as it will help while you move it up and down, to properly sync with curves of plate.

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  1. Do the finishing using colors and clipping masks (for clipping mask you'll need to manually draw a shape which hides unwanted parts and creates curves on father edges of plate).

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Further you can use Photoshop for minor tweaks.

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Note: It will take a lot of time if you aren't experienced with Illustrator 3D and rotate tool. For example, it took me around 3 hours to do this (my PC is also a bit slow for 3D). The cross section edge still looks a bit flat. I couldn't figure out a way at this time to make it more realistic but you can experiment.

If you can invest a lot of time and attention to details, you can proceed. Otherwise I think 3D software could be a better solution.


You can try following approach also. When you apply extrude to the zig-zag stroke, rotate it something like this:

enter image description here

Then expand it, make it vertical and crop it using a rectangle clipping mask.

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You'll still need to give it some perspective/rotation again (but only a very small amount otherwise it will affect existing cross section and curves) using 3D rotate & Bevel and manually add cross section effect and curves.

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  • I want to follow your 1st method and can do the 1st step. After I draw a rectangle over the wavy plate, I don't know how to proceed. Could you add more detailed steps about how to crop/clipping mask it to create a rectangle with striation pattern having an angle w.r.t. the edge of the plate. – Nobody Jun 9 at 2:18
  • I've updated it @Nobody hope it's more clear now. – Vikas Jun 9 at 5:41
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Illustrator's 3D effects are underpowered for drawing the wanted plate number 2 easily. With a 3D program one would make it in few minutes and any viewing direction would be as easy.

Drawing it in 2D from scratch (=not importing from 3D) is, of course possible, but the plate should be seen to be sure how it should be drawn.

To see it I made this in a CAD program. It's far from photorealistic.:

enter image description here

It shows that from certain direction so little of bottom side is visible than it can be omitted without substantial error and still all edges are wavy. The edges are skewed sine curves. The apparent thickness could be achieved by stroke width, offset path or by making a shifted copy. The last is easy option but it makes the plate thickness uneven. I guess It can be accepted.

One can also see that all edges are sinusoidal with the same amplitude, only the wavelengths are different. So one can start by drawing the sine curves for the edges. The curve should be simple and have nodes at top and bottom, so it's easiest to replicate 2 node paths:

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These are my edge curves - they have same amplitude, different wavelengths and different numbers of full sine periods which can be selected arbitarily:

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The CAD program was needed to see which kinds of curves can be used and what viewing direction shows the waviness of all edges, but maybe saves some work. Now the rest is only putting the parts together in 2D.

One gets the outline of the top surface of the plate by duplicating and skewing the curves. I used vertical skew angles plus 30 degrees and minus 30 degrees:

enter image description here

The endpoints snap perfectly.

Skewing unfortunately adds and moves the nodes, but one can easily add well fitting form lines between the nodes in the long sides. Having right snap on the short sides was difficult, so I copied long lines (=red) and placed them on the nodes in the long sides:

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They are shortened with the Shape Builder without causing wrong snaps to unwanted nodes on the short sides. The fake thickness is made by inserting copies of the edge curves and short lines at the cusps:

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As said ,this is fake. It makes the plate thickness non-uniform.

The left corner needs fixing because there should be a hidden line and the leftmost edge of the ridge is missing:

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One can remove the extras with the shape builder without moving the rest. After wiping off the hidden lines, inserting a missing line and coloring all black the corner is this:

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The line ends are made round to avoid weird joints.

The next step is to insert shading. I made closed areas with the Shape Builder and inserted only solid fill colors.

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More plausible result would be possible with gradients and by removing the strokes.

It may be good enough for something, but the list of cut corners is long:

  • the apparent plate thickness isn't uniform
  • it's seen from quite easy to draw direction and it's parallel projection, there's no perspective.
  • the selection of the viewing angle wasn't 100% successful, because a little of the bottom surface should be visible. It's omitted here.
  • it's a colored line drawing, there's no smooth shading

BTW. The same edge curves are valid also for other wave directions. There's much more hidden lines, but it's no problem to delete the extras with the Shape Builder. Here's the result without coloring attempts:

enter image description here

The nodes on the sine curves were useless for snapping in this case. The drawn form lines were eyeballed to right places. Fortunately all lines have the same direction and Smart Guides gave clear indication when a line end was on a curve.

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  • If one wants to shade it then its better to use common tangent script and only make one wave – joojaa Jun 8 at 18:26
  • @user287001 thank you for your detailed answer. I learnt a lot from your method. But I have no 3D software and cannot start from the 1st step. So, I have accepted Vikas' answer. – Nobody Jun 9 at 1:52
  • A CAD program is useful if one wants to construct a 3D scene to see it better. It can be used as a part of the drawing, too if one can accept not so fine rendering of simple programs. I have based in this site several of my writings on a construction in a CAD program. Get some simple to use freeware CAD to know something about the subject. I have recommended here Design Spark Mechanical. – user287001 Jun 9 at 3:07
  • I noticed one thing that makes my cross section a bit less real. Yours have variable width along the curves which looks more realistic. I'll need to find a way how to make it variable in Illustrator. – Vikas Jun 9 at 3:28
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I've no idea what the rightmost drawing is supposed to represent. Sorry. However, it's easy enough to make a wavy plate/surface using 3D Extrude and Bevel. The shape on the left is straight line, with a Zig Zag effect applied, then Expanded to make a shape to use for the 3D extrusion.

enter image description here

It can of course be rotated to any desired angle

enter image description here

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  • I think OP problem is this? So not the same one you have drawn – joojaa Jun 7 at 11:54
  • @joojaa yeah possibly. In that case then it's probably beyond the capabilities of Illustrator, and more easily achieved using true 3D modelling software. – Billy Kerr Jun 7 at 11:58
  • @kerr Obviously you can do it. You juts have to manually do it. – joojaa Jun 7 at 12:59
  • @joojaa yes what I mean for the second wavy plate is exactly what is shown in that link, but I do not need to render it so complex. For example, the shadow is not required. Thank you! – Nobody Jun 8 at 1:40
  • @BillyKerr thanks for the help. Your drawing is very close to my aim. What I want for the second kind of wavy plate is something like that indicated by joojaa, but I don't need the shadow. Alternatively, is it possible to cut a sub-rectangular region from your first drawing to highlight the striations having an angle with respect to the edge of the plate? Thank you very much! – Nobody Jun 8 at 1:46

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