An Illustrator’s Foray into Adobe Illustrator – Week 2

Anyone who has done any graphic work, from MS Paint to Photoshop, seeks a way to make a 2D object look 3D.  In fact, even with pencil and paper the goal is an illusion of three dimensions using perspective and shadow.  I understand how to do that on paper.  It took some time to figure it out in Photoshop … and more online tutorials to sort out the details in Illustrator.

Some objects are relatively easy to 3D-up … as we learned from elementary school, anyone can draw the transparent cube … but spheres are different.  An imprecise circle looks imprecise, so a 3D version of it does so even more.  Once again turning to good ole Google with a “How to make a ball in Illustrator” search provided me with this result, which was actually how to give an object a gloss effect:

http://www.calstatela.edu/its/docs/pdf/illustratorcs5p2.pdf

This tutorial shows how, in typical pencil artist fashion, to make a 2D object appear 3D without rendering graphics.  I understood the concept immediately, and it bridged the gap to rendering using the effects tool in Illustrator, which admittedly I didn’t understand at all.

This is the imperfect result of the tutorial, as for some reason the transparent gloss wouldn’t screen properly.  The effect still works though!

It really LOOKS like a ball! Just a circle with the right colors. Now that’s something a penciller understands …

The added benefit to this tutorial is that for Web design (something I’ll be doing more of and most of us in the graphic design world will be tangling with all too frequently … if nothing else to pay the bills …) you can apply these concepts easily to make flashier buttons, borders, and graphic elements to a page.  You could grab the magnifying glass, stick it on a globe like this one, and suddenly you’ve got a punched-up search page.  Made even more impressive by effectively matching color schemes, themes, and shapes to help users navigate the page naturally.

This tutorial was another step in using Illustrator’s tools and navigating the page.  Looking at each tool or cursor and seeing semi-psychotic things occurring on your art board gets old quickly. Even though some of the tutorials might only show simple things like gradients and how to use shapes, they actually helped me get comfortable with working in the program.  From what I’ve found gaining comfort in the program is the most important step to using it well.

The next tutorial I found built on this one … and was my first attempt at 3D rendering in Illustrator …

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