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How To: Explaining the Illustrator 3D Filter

by Sara Froehlich

 

Illustrator’s 3D Filters can be confusing until you understand how each of the three filters of this trio work. Here’s how to know what to choose for the effect you want…

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Illustrator’s 3D Filters can be confusing until you understand how each of the three filters of this trio work. Here’s how to know what to choose for the effect you want.


Illustrator CS and CS2 have a 3D Effects filter. These effects can be found on the Effect > 3D submenu, and there are three to choose from. Which you choose depends on the effect you want:

The 3D Extrude and Bevel filter makes three dimensional shapes from flat shapes.


3D Revolve spins a path in a circular direction around the vertical axis of a path.


3D Rotate alters the perspective of a 2D object in three dimensional space, like rotating a piece of paper to look as if it is lying on a table.

Several features are common across all three 3D Effects. Let’s look at these before we use the effects.


Position Menu

The position menu in all three 3D Effects contains many presets that you can choose. These presets simulate looking at the object from different angles. Open the popup menu and make your choice. That may be all you need to do. Make sure the preview box is checked so you can see the effect in real time on the object.

position

TIP! While using the 3D effect, save OFTEN. It’s very processor intensive and Illustrator can crash without warning, even if you have lots of ram, especially if you’ve been working for a long time.


Custom Rotation

All three of the 3D Effects let you set custom rotations by clicking and dragging the cube, and if you check the preview box you can see the effect on your object. Be aware, however, that this can be slow to render, and take a lot of processing power. Depending on the complexity of the object, the settings you select, and the power of your computer, rendering the final effect could take a while, so be patient. You might want to turn preview on and off as you work in the 3D dialogs so you don’t spend so much time waiting.

Now let’s look at the different 3D effects.

 

Effect > 3D > Extrude and Bevel

This effect makes an object appear 3D by adding depth. A solid or hollow appearance can be made by capping or uncapping the extruded object. The Position menu has presets you can choose, or you can click and drag the cube to rotate your object, or type in angles in the boxes. You also have the option of choosing preset bevels and adjusting the height. The preview area lets you click and drag the preview cube to rotate your object in three-dimensional space; or, if you prefer, you can type in precise measurements.

extrude

Click the More Options button to change the light settings and shading color.

more

The appearance of the original object also makes a difference how the effect works on the object. A stroked object with no fill looks like an uncapped object. In the following examples the same settings were applied to the same object, but it had different strokes and fills.

extrude

extrude

 

extrude

extrude 5

extrude6

This effect is great for making boxes, 3D text, and other 3D objects.

hearts

TIP! Whenever you’re using the 3D filters and you want to start over from within the 3D dialog boxes, hold the opt/alt key and the Cancel button turns into a Reset button. Click the Reset button to start over.


Effect > 3D > Revolve

Next we’ll look at the 3D > Revolve effect. The 3D revolve effect spins a path in a circular direction around the vertical axis. It creates great cylindrical shapes and spheres.

To try 3D Revolve, draw a circle with the ellipse tool with no fill and a light blue stroke. Make sure to hold the shift key to draw a perfect circle. I used light blue because I want to make a globe using the map be using the circle in a project in a few minutes.

Use the scissors tool to cut the top and bottom points so you have a semi-circle. To “cut” the circle, click once with the scissors exactly on the top and bottom points of the circle.

scissors

Click on the right side of the circle and delete it. You should have a blue semi-circle left. You could actually use either side of the circle, but it will make a difference in the settings in the Revolve effect dialog if you use the right side, and I want to show you a common hiccup new users of this effect often get stuck on.

Go to Effect > 3D > Revolve to open the Revolve filter.

revolve

In the Position Menu, choose Off-Axis Front. The preset will work fine here. The Revolve Angle in the center section is set to 360º; this means it will revolve a full circle around the vertical axis. If you entered 180º, it would only revolve half way around the circle, which is a great way to show something in cutaway view.

Make sure the solid cap is chosen as in the screenshot, and make sure Preview is ticked. Offset should be 0 pt. Any higher than 0 and it will leave a hole down the middle.

From: Change this to Right Edge. The vertical axis we want to revolve around is on the right edge of the semi-circle; if you leave it set on Left Edge, you would see something like this:

revolve

Of course, if you were using the right half of the circle, then the opposite would be true and the sphere would result from using the Left Edge setting. Basically, what this means is if you get something off-the-wall like the above, switch to Right Edge or Left Edge, whichever you are not using, to correct it.Of course, if you were using the right half of the circle, then the opposite would be true and the sphere would result from using the Left Edge setting. Basically, what this means is if you get something off-the-wall like the above, switch to Right Edge or Left Edge, whichever you are not using, to correct it.

Choose Diffuse shading for Surface. In different projects you will want other shading, most of the time Plastic Shading because it is shinier, but this time, use Diffuse. Your sphere should look very much like this one:

revolve

If you want to try mapping a texture to the sphere as I did in the map art tutorial, save the sphere document now. You can use this effect to make vases, bowls, and other objects you want to be totally three-dimensional.

Effect > 3D > Rotate

Any flat artwork can be rotated in 3D space with the 3D Rotate effect. The object in this effect, however, remains two dimensional. Either drag the cube in the preview area to rotate the object or type in measurements and perspective.

rotate

rotate

To learn to map artwork to the 3D shapes you create, try this tutorial.

Reprinted from Designorati.com

 


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©2005-2008 Sara Froehlich