My latest 14-day design challenge was to find the photo of a watch we like and recreate it in Illustrator. The watch had to have moving parts and a quartz display, so smartwatches like the Apple Watch were out of the picture. After some research, I settled on the "Ora Lattea" wristwatch by Nava. I was fascinated by the minimalist theme and the movement of the watch hands – like planets rotating around the sun at different intervals.

The first step in my process was to gather as much information as I could about the watch, by viewing photographs taken from different angles. Using these photos, I began drawing some rough concepts and making notes to help me better understand how highlights and shadows interact with the object.

Once I had a concept of the watch's structure and the shapes that comprise it, I began the process of recreating the watch in Illustrator.

I imported the photo of the watch I would be trying to mimic and locked it in a reference layer. I then drew some guides to help me understand the proportions of the watch and make it easier to create the circles of the watch face accurately.

With the guides drawn, I began building the shapes of the watch using mostly the Shape Builder tool and the corner rounding widget, as most of the watch shapes are geometrically simple.

The project became much more complicated once I started the process of adding shading.

I must say that I am in love with the new "Freeform Gradient" tool that Adobe added in Illustrator CC 2019. It allows you to create complex gradients by simply placing color "points" and drawing "lines" between those points on your object. It saved me a lot of time drawing traditional gradients or having to turn more of my shapes into gradient meshes. There were still a few complex areas on the watch band that required meshes, but I was still able to use the Freeform Gradient tool to add simple highlights and shadows to shapes.

The process felt almost criminally-simple using the new tool. Thanks, Adobe.

Tools Used