Wiring and plumbing are used as metaphors and icons for connections, relationships and processes. And you may want to represent an actual pipe or wire; who knows?
I used wires and connectors in my famous post on meters and gauges.
Wires can be created by drawing a Curve, adjusting the line width, and applying 3d Format/Top Bevel/Circle; here’s what this looks like:
The line is 20 pts wide; the bevel is 10 pts wide (half the line width) and 10 pts high. You will have to pay attention to these dimensions to get the desired appearance.
But what about the ends? They don’t look like a wire.
There are a couple of ways to eliminate the unwanted bevel; both involve first converting the line to a picture (Cut/Paste Special/Picture (png) or (jpg)):
- Cropping: use the Crop tool to eliminate the offending parts of the converted line image; as you can see, this isn’t the best result (although it’s easy):
- The second method is to use another object and Merge Shapes/Subtract to “trim” the wire image (I have added red outlines to clarify):
The”subtraction” method makes it possible to make the cut at right angles to the wire.
You can use these techniques to create an exposed conductor (starting with a 16 pt line for the conductor):
Lines that loop don’t make a convincing wire:
You can fix this by creating a clipped segment and laying it over the intersection:
You can also use the bevel effect on text. Using simple “skinny” fonts creates a wiry effect; these examples are Gulim and Comic Sans:
I used simple shapes with mild bevels to create a USB connector:
You can make other connectors, too, but let’s wait until after we do some plumbing.
The most familiar kind of plumbing uses rigid pipes along with other pieces (“fittings”) to connect the pipes. Creating a pipe is easy; I used a rectangle 1 inch high with a Circle bevel (width and height 36 pts = 1/2 inch), converted to png and cropped to remove the unwanted bevel on the ends:
This pipe image can be resized and also used as parts of other piping components. Another useful shape is a Donut with a bevel effect. Converting it to a picture and cropping it results in an elbow shape:
The red rectangle (1 inch high) is used to help set the thickness of the Donut to match the pipe.
Here is the coupler – the element used to attach the pipes and fittings:
Creating this piece is a little tricky; here’s how I did it:
- Start with the pipe image; resize it.
- Apply a narrow Circle bevel to the image (8 pts).
- Convert to png (Copy/Paste Special).
- Create a Rounded Rectangle (shown in red) to use as a “cookie cutter” to get the right shape (Drawing Tools/Merge Shapes/Intersection). Set the round corners to match, more or less, the bevel. The result has the right shape as well as the rounded corners.
Use the pipe image, the elbow image and two “couplers” to get this:
Here’s how I made a more complicated fitting (a “sanitary wye”):
- Create the Rectangle and the Block Arc; align as shown.
- Use Merge Shapes/Union to create the combined shape. (The Union operation may create extra points if the two source shapes are not sized and aligned carefully. This can lead to unwanted artifacts in the “3d” version.)
- Apply the Circle Bevel.
- Convert to png and Crop.
- Group with the couplers.
You can create other parts with the same techniques; here’s a valve:
You can make additional pieces like tanks and pumps to complete your metaphor.
Some of these techniques help in making wiring connectors; here’s a simple example:
If you want a free PowerPoint file containing some of these objects, use the form below. If you don’t get a response in a few days, try again after double checking your email address.