Here is a quick way to create a rope or a twist with a few basics shapes and basic steps. And then I up the game with a real mind bender and create a looped rope effect where it looks like it goes over and under. Enjoy!
To start a twist, draw a rectangle. Fill with no stroke.
Use the DIRECT SELECTION Tool and click on the upper right corner widget. Hold SHIFT then Direct Select the lower right corner widget.
Pull the upper right and lower left corner widget into the center of the shape. This rounds the opposite corners.
Rotate the shape 45°.
Select the Shape and OPTION + CLICK and DRAG down.
Use COMMAND + D to duplicate the shapes in succession.
To add a highlight or shadow noodle, use the ARC Tool (hold SHIFT when you draw it). Add a stroke and add a rounded end cap (hot dog the ends) in the Stroke Panel.
Add lighter noodles and darker noodles to give it depth.
You can swap the fill for the stroke to change the look.
Select the shapes, RIGHT + CLICK and choose Transform>Reflect. Reflect on the vertical axis.
Line up the shapes for a twist effect
Add highlight noodles if desired.
Here is a knot in the rope. This is a mind bender for sure but it is quite easy.
Start off with a rounded rectangle, stroke with no fill. Make sure the ends are completely round, no flat spots on the top or bottom.
Use the Curvature Tool and click on the center of the vertical side and pull in toward the center. Do this on both sides symmetrically.
Use the DIRECT SELECTION Tool and pull the corner widgets into the center the max amount. This will round the points formed from the Curvature Tool.
Use the Scissor Tool and click on the center points of the lines (the same location used to pull in the sides) This will cut the lines. Cut both sides. Use the Selection Tool to move the parts, this should be an equal loop top and bottom.
Open the Appearance Panel (Menu> Appearance). Select the loops and on the Appearance Panel click on the lower left icon (stroke "square" in the lower left of the panel. This will add another stroke to the existing stroke. The Orange stroke is on top at 25 px and the second stroke will be BEHIND (under), in white, at 50 px.
This is what it looks like on a colored background so you can see the added stroke BEHIND the first stroke. Yes there is a stroke under a stroke!!
Duplicate the bottom shape using the OPTION + CLICK & DRAG down to the point where the tips are at the bottom of the Loop. Send this duplicate Loop to the back. Object> Arrange> Send Backward.
Duplicate the top loop, move it down and send it behind the top loop. Loop 1 is on TOP. Loop 2 is behind Loop 1. Loop 3 is behind Loop 2. Loop 4 is behind them all of the loops.
This is the same as the last step, just without the color in the background so you can visualize the results.
Loop 2 needs longer legs to make it complete. Use the Line Tool to Draw a line with the same stroke but not the added stroke of the other shapes. Draw a line on both legs.
Send both those legs behind all the loops and you are there! You did it! It is a mind bender for sure.