In this tutorial, we will draw a realistic-looking iPhone 4 using Photoshop. We will use various techniques that involve the Pen Tool, Photoshop shape tools, and layer styles to create this ubiquitous Apple mobile device. We will be intent on getting the details right to ensure that our end product looks as real as possible.

Preview

Preview

Preliminary Step: Research

Before drawing the iPhone, I suggest you search images of the iPhone and look at them. Getting familiar with the subject is a good preliminary step. For this particular example, check out Apple’s web pages for the iPhone as well as perform a Google Image search for "iPhone 4".

Better yet: If you have a real iPhone, examine it. Feel the phone’s textures and see how its various surfaces reflect light.

Step 1: Draw the iPhone Face

First, create a new Photoshop document with a canvas size of 1800x1600px. I always use a big canvas when drawing a realistic object because it helps me when drawing small details. Use the Rounded Rectangle Tool (U) with the Radius option at 60px and the Paths option selected to create a black rounded rectangle.

Draw the iPhone Face

Hit Ctrl/Cmd + T to activate Free Transform. Alt/Option + click-hold-and-drag down the top-right transform control to skew the shape.

Draw the iPhone Face

Remember the basic rule of drawing with accurate perspective: The farther the element, the smaller it should be. With that in mind, we should make the bottom-right corner a little smaller than the top-right corner.

Draw the iPhone Face

Duplicate the iPhone face. Use Free Transform to modify the duplicate shape; see the image below for reference.

Draw the iPhone Face

Give the duplicate a very subtle Gradient Overlay.

Draw the iPhone Face

This is the basic shape of the iPhone face:

Draw the iPhone Face

Step 2: Create the iPhone’s Side

Let’s create the side of the iPhone, technically called the iPhone 4′s band, which is made of stainless steel. Duplicate the previous shape, put it behind the other shapes, and then move it to the left. Change its color to a light gray (#dedbdc).

Create the iPhone's Side

Give the gray shape a Gradient Overlay.

Create the iPhone's Side

Here’s where we are now:

Create the iPhone's Side

Step 3: Shading the iPhone’s Side

Create new layer and put it on top of the iPhone side layer. Convert the new layer to a clipping mask by pressing Ctrl/Cmd + Alt/Option + G or right-clicking on the layer and choosing Create Clipping Mask. Creating a clipping mask makes sure everything we paint on the new layer will be within the sides of the iPhone.

Use the Brush Tool (B) with a soft brush set with the Opacity at 20-25% to paint a black shadow on the lower part of the iPhone.

Shading the iPhone's Side

Repeat this process to create more highlights and shadows. Use black for shadows and white for highlights. I suggest you use many layers and that you apply each brush stroke on a separate layer. This way, you can easily reduce a particular shadow or highlight’s effect by changing the layer’s opacity, make modifications to it with the Eraser Tool (E), or entirely deleting it if it doesn’t look good. I used about 10 layers to achieve the shading on the side; you can see the progression below:

Shading the iPhone's Side

Here is our iPhone now:

Shading the iPhone's Side

Step 4: Create a Hard Edge

Ctrl/Cmd + click the side layer to load a selection around the shape.

Create a Hard Edge

Create a new layer, then go to Edit > Stroke. In the Stroke window, set Color to black, Width to 1px, and Location to Inside (so that the stroke is made inside the selection).

Create a Hard Edge

Our iPhone should now have a nice, solid edge.

Create a Hard Edge

Step 5: Applying a Stainless Steel Texture

The iPhone 4 is a bit different from other previous generations because of its stainless steel band, which apparently makes the mobile device structurally stronger. This band also acts as the iPhone 4′s antenna. Let’s create this stainless steel surface on the iPhone’s side. To start, create a new layer and fill it with white.

Next, go to Filter > Noise > Add Noise.

Applying a Stainless Steel Texture

Then, go to Filter > Blur > Motion Blur.

Applying a Stainless Steel Texture

Place the layer on top of the side layer, but under all the highlight and shadow layers. Set the layer’s Blend Mode to Multiply.

Applying a Stainless Steel Texture

Step 6: Create an Inset Edge

Ctrl/Cmd + click on the iPhone face layer to load a selection around it. Move the selection 2px to the left using your arrow keys.

Create an Inset Edge

Create a new layer and fill the selection we made with white.

Create an Inset Edge

Ctrl/Cmd + click on the layer we have just created in the previous step to create a selection around the inset edge. Create new layer. Go to Edit > Stroke, and set Width to 1px, Color to black, and Location to Inside.

Detailing the Lower Part of the iPhone

Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur to soften the stroke.

Detailing the Lower Part of the iPhone

Step 7: Darken the Lower Part

Use the Brush Tool (B) to paint a shadow to darken the lower part of the iPhone.

Detailing the Lower Part of the iPhone

Step 8: Create the Screen of the iPhone

Create a black rectangle and then use Free Transform (Ctrl/Cmd + T) to modify the rectangle’s perspective to match the iPhone’s face.

Detailing the Lower Part of the iPhone

Double-click on the layer to open the Layer Style window, and then give the layer a Gradient Overlay and Stroke.

Gradient Overlay

Detailing the Lower Part of the iPhone

Stroke

Note that this stroke has a Fill Type of Gradient so that the stroke matches our light source.

Detailing the Lower Part of the iPhone

Here’s the result of the Gradient Overlay/Stroke layer style:

Detailing the Lower Part of the iPhone

The following image is a close-up view. As you can see, the stroke layer effect is giving the screen a nice, 1px highlight at the top-left of the screen.

Detailing the Lower Part of the iPhone

Step 9: Give the Screen an Inner Shadow

We need to add an inner shadow inside the screen. First, load a selection around the screen by Ctrl/Cmd + clicking the screen layer. Then, create a new layer and go to Edit > Stroke.

Detailing the Lower Part of the iPhone

Soften the stroke with a Gaussian Blur.

Detailing the Lower Part of the iPhone

We don’t need the inner shadow on some parts of the screen, so delete some of them using the Eraser Tool (E).

Detailing the Lower Part of the iPhone

Here is our iPhone now:

Detailing the Lower Part of the iPhone

Step 10: Add a Wallpaper

Locate an image that can go on the iPhone screen (it should be placed below the inner shadow layer); modify it using Free Transform to match the size, scale, and perspective of the screen. This image will be the iPhone’s wallpaper.

The inner shadow we created in the previous step is a very small and subtle detail–you may not even notice it, but it’s the details that bring our work close to realism. You can see the difference with and without the inner shadow when you add a wallpaper picture on the screen:

With Inner Shadow

Detailing the Lower Part of the iPhone

Without Inner Shadow

Detailing the Lower Part of the iPhone

Step 11: Create a Reflection on the iPhone’s Face

Duplicate the iPhone face shape. Use the Pen Tool with the Intersect path areas option selected in the Options Bar to create a triangular path on top of the iPhone face shape.

Create a Reflection on the iPhone's Face

Add a Gradient Overlay to the layer.

Create a Reflection on the iPhone's Face

As you can see below, we now have a nice surface reflection:

Create a Reflection on the iPhone's Face

Step 12: Create an Edge Highlight on the iPhone Face’s

Next is adding a subtle highlight on edge of the iPhone’s face. Load a selection around the iPhone’s face and then give the selection a stroke (on a new layer).

Create an Edge Highlight on the iPhone Face's

Blur the stroke using the Gaussian Blur filter.

Create an Edge Highlight on the iPhone Face's

Reduce the layer’s Opacity to about 20%.

This very subtle detail reinforces the realism of what we are trying to produce–see the before and after difference:

We will layer this highlighting effect by repeating a similar process. Load a selection around the iPhone’s face again, then give it a white stroke.

Apply the Gaussian Blur filter on the white stroke.

Now, we need to make sure that the highlight doesn’t spill into the iPhone screen. Create a selection around the iPhone screen and then invert the selection (Ctrl/Cmd + Shift + I). Click the Add layer mask button at the bottom of the Layers Panel to hide parts of the white highlight that spills into the screen.

Step 13: Draw the Home Button

The contextual button at the bottom part of the iPhone is called the Home button and it serves a multitude of functions for operating the device. To draw the basic shape of the Home button, use the Ellipse Tool (U) to draw a rounded shape under the iPhone screen. The Home button is actually a perfect circle when you look at it straight forward, but because of the perspective/angle of our iPhone, it should appear to be an ellipse.

Double-click on the Home button layer to access the Layer Style window. Give the layer a Gradient Overlay and Stroke.

Gradient Overlay

Draw the Home Button

Stroke

Draw the Home Button

Here is our (currently plain) Home button:

Draw the Home Button

Draw a rounded rectangle path on top of the button (with a Fill to 0%).

Draw the Home Button

Give the path a Stroke with Color at gray and Size at 3px.

Draw the Home Button

Here is our Home button with its icon drawn:

Draw the Home Button

Step 14: Draw the Front Camera

The iPhone 4 has two cameras: one in the back and one in the front. We will draw the front camera now. Use the Ellipse Tool (U) to create an ellipse at the top of the iPhone.

Draw the Home Button

Give the ellipse a Gradient Overlay and Stroke.

Gradient Overlay

Draw the Front Camera

Stroke

Draw the Front Camera

Here is the basic shape of our front camera:

Draw the Front Camera

Create a new layer on top of the camera. Use the Brush Tool (B) to paint a white highlight at the right portion of the camera, and then paint a small, black dot next to the highlight.

Draw the Front Camera

This is the camera close up:

Draw the Front Camera

Step 15: Draw the Receiver

Next, we need to create the iPhone’s receiver.  Draw a black, rounded rectangle next to the camera. Use Edit > Transform > Distort to modify the black, rounded rectangle so that it matches the perspective of the device.

Draw the Receiver

Give the receiver layer a Gradient Overlay and Stroke.

Gradient Overlay

Draw the Receiver

Stroke

Draw the Receiver

Here is the basic shape and color of the receiver:

Draw the Receiver

Create a new layer, and on it, use the Brush Tool (B) to paint white on the upper part of the receiver, then reduce the layer’s Opacity to about 40%. Create a new layer again, and paint a stronger highlight. To finish off the receiver, draw a smaller black, rounded rectangle inside of it.

Draw the Receiver

Step 16: Draw the Ring/Silent Switch

The topmost interface component on the side of the iPhone is a switch that toggles between silent mode and ring mode, which is super handy when you are in a team meeting or at a dinner and you don’t want your phone to make a noise when someone calls you.

To draw the ring/silent switch, start by creating a gray, rounded rectangle on the side of the iPhone. Remember that you need to use Free Transform (Ctrl/Cmd + T) to make modifications to the rectangle so that it matches the overall perspective of our iPhone.

Draw the Ring/Silent Switch

Let’s give the ring/silent switch an Inner Shadow and Inner Glow.

Inner Shadow

Draw the Ring/Silent Switch

Inner Glow

Draw the Ring/Silent Switch

Here is the basic shape and color of the ring/silent switch:

Draw the Ring/Silent Switch

Create a new layer on top of the switch, and then use the Brush Tool (B) to paint white highlights on the layer.

Draw the Ring/Silent Switch

Duplicate the switch layer and place it below the original layer. Switch to the Move Tool (V), then use your arrow keys to nudge the duplicate layer 3px to the right and 3px down.

Draw the Ring/Silent Switch

Load a selection around the duplicate layer by Ctrl/Cmd + clicking on it in the Layers Panel. Nudge the selection 3px to the right and 3px down. Create a new layer and fill (Shift + Backspace or Edit > Fill) it with black. Soften it using the Gaussian Blur filter.

Draw the Ring/Silent Switch

Step 17: Draw the Volume Buttons

The round buttons below the ring/silent switch of the iPhone 4 are volume buttons that control the volume of the receiver and speakers (which are not shown because they are located at the bottom of the iPhone).

Let us draw the "volume up" button first; use the Ellipse Tool to draw a round shape below the ring/silent switch.

Draw the Volume Buttons

Give the layer an Inner Shadow and Inner Glow.

Inner Shadow

Draw the Volume Buttons

Inner Glow

Draw the Volume Buttons

Here is the basic shape and color of the "volume up" button:

Draw the Volume Buttons

Create a new layer behind the button. Next, use the Elliptical Marquee Tool to create an elliptical selection that is bigger than the button. On the new layer, fill the selection with black. Give the layer a Gaussian Blur.

Draw the Volume Buttons

Draw a plus (+) sign on the button by intersecting two rectangles.

Draw the Volume Buttons

Give the plus sign an Inner Shadow and Inner Glow.

Inner Shadow

Draw the Volume Buttons

Inner Glow

Draw the Volume Buttons

Draw the Volume Buttons

Repeat the previous process to create the "volume down" button that should be below the "volume up" button.

Draw the Volume Buttons

Step 18: Create a Divider

There is this divider on the sides of the iPhone 4, toward the bottom. To create this divider, start by drawing a black, rectangular shape–draw it thinly. Use the Pen Tool (P) to add new anchor points to the rectangle, and pull these anchor points up to match the perspective of the iPhone.

Create a Divider

The following image shows a close-up of the divider:

Create a Divider

Step 19: Creating a Realistic Shadow

As a finishing step, let us give the iPhone a drop shadow. Many designers will just draw a black line or rectangle and then blur it using either the Gaussian Blur or Motion Blur filter to create shadows of an object they are drawing. However, if you are striving to make your artwork look as realistic as possible, that technique, most of the time, is not good enough. In reality, you almost never find a solid, unified, and uniform shadow.

We must remember that light bounces off on various portions of an object, and so the variations on the shadow’s shape are not uniform. Even though we have one light source, we will have multiple shadows in the end. Oftentimes, in order to achieve this outcome, we must manually paint and tweak an object’s shadow.

Start by using the Brush Tool (B) to paint a soft, dark gray horizontal line beneath the iPhone.

Creating a Realistic Shadow

Create new layer and paint another soft, dark gray line–this time, make it bigger and softer than the previous one.

Creating a Realistic Shadow

Create a new layer again. Paint under the iPhone again, but make this one a bit darker.

Creating a Realistic Shadow

Create another new layer. Use the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L) to make a selection as shown below, then fill the selection with black.

Creating a Realistic Shadow

Use the Gaussian Blur filter to soften the shadow.

Creating a Realistic Shadow

Switch to the Eraser Tool (E). Use a very big brush size and set the Eraser Tool’s Opacity option to 10-15%. Erase some parts of the shadow. If you find that the shadow is still too prominent, use the Gaussian Blur filter again to soften it and make it more subtle.

Creating a Realistic Shadow

Repeat the previous process to create another shadow.

Creating a Realistic Shadow

Tutorial Summary

In this tutorial, we created a realistic iPhone 4 from scratch using various shape tools, the Pen Tool, the Stroke command, layer styles, Photoshop filters like Gaussian Blur, and more.

In the process of constructing the iPhone in Photoshop, I hope that I have shown you that every little detail counts. We paid a lot of attention to perspective and the small things that make a world of difference when it comes to trying to achieve realistic-looking objects that are drawn digitally. For example, we made sure that the iPhone’s drop shadow is accurate, that the minute details of even a tiny component such as the front camera is just right, and that the different components of the mobile device match the perspective that we have established.

I hope you can use the techniques I’ve shared with you here when drawing your own realistic products. Share your thoughts, questions, and results in the comments and in our community Flickr group pool.

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Author:

Mohammad Jeprie is an author, blogger, and graphic designer from Indonesia. He knows his way around Photoshop and loves sharing his knowledge with others. He runs DesainDigital where he regularly shares tutorials, design information, and visual inspiration. Join him on Twitter and send him a tweet -- his handle is @desaindigital.