Vector tutorial on drawing a coil Spring.
Creating vector line art of coiled valve springs and shock springs in perspective.
All Tutorial Text & Images - Copyright © 2011 KHI, Inc.
Creating a coiled spring that would typically be found in a piece of machinery or automotive assembly is a relatively easy process when using a vector drawing program. The total process requirs a few initial steps which are moderately difficult, followed by several repetitive steps that are very simple. The key to success is in spending the upfront time creating the first and second coil of the spring, with the second coil being duplicated several times thereafter. This process will work for every type of spring, including compression springs, extension springs, torsion springs and wire form steel springs in any gauge, thickness or diameter.
We will start this spring tutorial with the creation of an elliptical shape which will be created by dragging the Ellipse Tool (L) horizontally (Fig. 1). The ellipse ratio (width-to-height) in this example is around 35 percent, and this ratio is fundamentally tied to the ellipse perspective in the spring's final location.
Drawing Coiled Compression, Extension & Torsion Springs
Once the ellipse shape has been created we will cut the left and right anchor-points with the Scissors Tool, creating two equal halves - a top and a bottom half. Next we will activate the lower half of our ellipse (Fig. 2) by clicking with the Selection Tool (V) and dragging it downward while holding the Option>Command keys to create a duplicate copy (Fig. 3)
Next we will use the Free-Transform Tool (E) to distort the shape of the half-ellipse by clicking and dragging the central-left anchor point downward, or by dragging the center-right anchor point upward. This will distort the shape in a counter-clockwise rotation. You can also do this step by clicking the center-bottom and center-left anchor points and using the nudge key to move them downward incrementally (Fig. 3 above).
Technical Note: Start out with a very thin line thickness or "Weight" of around 0.15 pt. This will need to be manually entered in the "Stroke" dialogue box as the smallest native increment is 0.25 pt or 1/4 of a point. For this demonstration I am using a slightly thicker line of 0.75 pt
The next step will be to click and drag our newly-distorted lower half to duplicate it again (Fig. 4, above). We will also twist it counter-clockwise a bit more using the same procedure we followed in Fig. 3. We will also add a bit more to the upper-left side of the ellipse, extending it until it touches the previous ellipse.
Now we will duplicate it again, but this time we will shrink the copy by dragging one of the corner anchor-points inward diagonally while holding the Option>Shift keys. This will constrain the size decrease centrally, keeping it centered in the larger outer ellipse. After you have done this you will need to move it up slightly to locate it in its final position (Fig. 5 above) so that the coil has the correct thickness or "gauge." Now we will select both the inner and outer ellipse and group them using Command>G (Fig. 6 above).
Next we will need to duplicate the upper portion of our original ellipse and drag the duplication downward to the position in Fig. 7. Once in position we will use the same process we did in the preceding paragraph, duplicating the upper half, then shrinking it centrally so that the diameter of the spring coil (gauge, thickness, etc.) is consistently thick. Once we have all of the pieces in place we will group them all together and trim any overhanging pieces that extend into the coil above (Fig. 8 above).
Now it is just a matter of clicking and dragging the entire grouping of pieces to duplicate them over and over, as many times as you need for your completed spring.
Once the process of duplication is completed and you have the proper length of spring with the correct amount of windings, you will simply rotate it onto position in the final master drawing. This exact same process would be used for every conceivable type of coiled spring, no matter what gauge, thickness, diameter, perspective ratio or type of machinery it will be used in. Note: The following hardware and software was used in this tutorial: Apple Mac Pro, a Wacom Intuos 6x8 drawing tablet and Adobe Illustrator CS-CS5 or CorelDRAW vector drawing software.
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