Jasmina Stanojevic September 19th, 2011

Magnifying Glass Tutorial for Adobe Illustrator

In this tutorial we will be learning how to create a Magnifying glass in perspective in Adobe Illustrator. When it comes to creating semi-realistic vector illustrations the most important items are to find the easiest way to create them, make sure to create reliability and to try to keep from creating objects with too many anchor points in order to avoid an obstacle in the printing process.

In this tutorial we wont use some of the amazing Illustrator features within the 3D Effect. Using them would make the creation process much easier for sure, but on the other hand there are a few disadvantages we would like to avoid (creating numerous anchor points as previously mentioned). We will try to create a magnifying glass just with the Pen Tool (P) and a few ellipses. Some details will helps us to improve the illustration.

Let’s get down to business!

We will be creating this.

Creating the Head of the Magnifying Glass

Since we are creating a magnifying glass in perspective we will start with the ellipse. Grab the Ellipse Tool (L) and create the ellipse as it is shown in the picture below.

Grab the Selection Tool (V) and rotate this ellipse.

Duplicate (Ctrl / Cmd + C, Ctrl / Cmd + F) the ellipse and move the copy to the left.

With the Direct Selection Tool (A) select the anchor point on the right side. Hit the Delete key on the keyboard to remove it. Make sure to match end points of the curved path and the red ellipse.

Now we have to close the path. Select the Pen Tool (P) from the Tool Panel to close the path. Send the new shape behind the ellipse (Shift + Ctrl / Cmd + [).

Select the ellipse and under the Object select Path > Offset Path. Set the value for Offset to -5 pt.

Repeat the previous step and offset the smaller ellipse for another -5 pt. Grab the Selection Tool (V) and move the smallest ellipse to the left lower corner, as it shown on the picture below.

Applying a Color Gradients

Now, it is time to apply some nice color gradients. We have to simulate the look of the metal frame and the look of the magnifying glass. On the following pictures you can see the information about color gradients you can use.

As you can see, a nice color contrast has contributed to the semi-realistic look of the metal frame.

To make the illustration more authentic there is one thing we should not forget, the metal part of the framework that can be seen through the glass.

Duplicate (Ctrl / Cmd + C, Ctrl / Cmd + F) the glass twice and move one of the copies to the left. Select both ellipses and under the Pathfinder Panel hit the Minus Front button.

You should end up with the shape like this.

Apply a linear gradient as it shown on the picture below. The gradient we are using for this part is actually the same gradient we have used for the inner part of the frame. We have adjusted the colors inside the gradient by giving them a nice bluish tone.

Two highlighted edges will improve the illustration. Duplicate (Ctrl / Cmd + C, Ctrl / Cmd + F) the ellipse twice that represents the inner part of the metal frame. Move one of the copies to the left 1 pixel. Select both copies under the Pathfinder Panel hit the Minus Front button. Set the Fill color of the highlight to #FFFDE5.

We will create another highlight for the outer side of the metal frame.

Grab the Ellipse Tool (L) from the Tool Panel and create a small circle. Apply a radial white-transparent gradient.

Duplicate (Ctrl / Cmd + C, Ctrl / Cmd + F) the circle from the previous step and place it on the right part of the metal frame. It will emphasize the metal look of the frame a little bit.

Group (Ctrl / Cmd + G) all the elements.

Creating the Handle

Grab the Pen Tool (P) from the Tool Panel and create the shape of the handle.

Apply the linear gradient to the handle. Just make sure to create the highlight that will follow the shape of the handle.

Select the Pen Tool (P) from the Tool Panel and create two curved paths as it’s shown on the picture below.

Select the handle and both paths and under the Pathfinder Panel hit the Divide button.

Apply the linear gradient, but make sure to create the same highlight we have created for the handle.

Use the same technique to create one more metal part of the handle.

And our magnifying glass is done. To make the illustration more interesting we will create a nice bit of additional text.

Creating Magnified Text

Let’s try to create a magnification effect. You can do it with any shape you like, but we will do it with text.

Grab the Type Tool (T) from the Tool Panel and type a word (we’ve used Noupe). You can choose any Font you like.

We will have to edit the letters a little bit. To be able to do that we have to transform them into editable shapes. Under the right click menu select Create Outlines.

Duplicate (Ctrl / Cmd + C, Ctrl / Cmd + F) the letters and Ungroup the copy (Shift + Ctrl / Cmd + G). Remove N and O from the copied word. Change the Fill color of the original letters to green (just to be able to see what we are doing, later we will set the Fill color back to black).

Select all three black letters (u, p and e), scale them up a little bit and move them to the right.

Under the Object select Envelope Distort > Make with Warp.

The Warp Options box will pop up. Set the Style to Fisheye  and the value for Bend to 25%. Hit the OK button.

If you are not quite happy with the result you have achieved, feel free to grab the Direct Selection Tool (A) and to adjust some anchor points. Under the Object select Expand. This way we will turn the letters back into an editable shape.

Now we have to duplicate (Ctrl / Cmd + C, Ctrl / Cmd + F) the ellipse that represents the glass. Bring it to front (Shift + Ctrl / Cmd + ]) and remove the Stroke and Fill colors. Select the ellipse and U, P, E letters and under the Object select Clipping Mask > Make.

Ungroup (Shift + Ctrl / Cmd + G) the green letters and remove the p and e letters at the end of the word. Set the Fill color for the rest of the letters to black (#000000) and send them back (Shift + Ctrl / Cmd + [).

For the end duplicate (Ctrl / Cmd + C, Ctrl / Cmd + F) the black shape of the handle, apply a nice linear gradient (#FFFFFF to # BDBDBD) and place it as it shown in the picture below.

And our magnifying glass is done!


This tutorial can be a nice practice for creating objects in perspective. If you are unsure how to put all the elements together, feel free to use a reference image (tracing technique can help a lot in this situation). There is one more thing I would like to encourage you about. Take your time when you are applying color gradients. Instead of using Blending Modes and transparency try to simulate a certain look by using the right combination of colors and gradients (just like we did in this tutorial with the part of the metal frame seen through the glass).

If you have any comments or questions please post them in the comments section below. Really hope you like this tutorial. Thank you for following along.


Jasmina Stanojevic

I am a self taught vector illustrator from Serbia. Working as a freelance designer for five years now. My biggest passion is in vector illustrations and motion graphic design. In my spare time I like to read comic books and to play Call of Duty 2. You can check out my portfolio at http://muschmule.daportfolio.com/ and follow me on Twitter @muschmule.


  1. Thanks for the cool tutorial, very interesting. I have one problem – i can’t seem to find where to create the gradient with transparency for the small highlight circles. My dialog box looks just like the one in your picture, except there’s no option for opacity. I am working in CS2 — is that the problem? thanks!!

    1. Hi Laura,

      I’m glad you like this tutorial. Thank you. Illustrator CS2 might be the problem. But, there is solution for that as well.

      Make sure to apply radial gradient to the circle (white – black gradient) and under the Transparent panel for the Blend Mode select Screen. There is just one thing you have to pay attention to. Black color within the gradient have to be 100% black (C=100%, M=100%, Y=100%, K=100%). I hope you’ll manage to do this.

      If you still have problems with this effect just let me know :-)

  2. Another amazing tutrorial! Can’t wait to see some new stuff from you Jasmina. Keep up the good work! Thanks!

  3. What can i say it is really fantastic . superb creation . There is important think what i saw in this tutorial that is Gradient mapping . again thanks

  4. This is an amazing turorial man, is there any problem if i use this tutorial to make an icon for a school project? I mean, a non-commercial software that i am developing..

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