An Illustrator’s Foray into Adobe Illustrator – Week 3

More spheres!  Admittedly working all of these tutorials was pretty addictive and once I started learning how to use Illustrator’s various functions it was hard to stop seeking out new applications to learn.

After designing the previous sphere, which was of course simply a circle shaded to resemble a 3D object, I became curious about the rendering capabilities of Illustrator.  While cruising the forums the rendering features are often discussed and, much like pathfinder tools, which can be a little confusing for beginners like me, the 3D rendering feature feels inaccessible.

My first attempt to create something in 3D without instructions was a sphere, what could be simpler than a circle, right?  So I created an ellipse and tried a few of the 3D options, creating a cylinder, a disc, and finally this thing:

The Great Black Oil Donut

I clearly needed some assistance with this feature and while searching for “How to Create Spheres” I found another tutorial that showed, as an element of the exercise, how to create 3D spheres.  Once you see how it’s done it feels a little less psychotic than all the random shapes you can create just trying to make a polygon a 3D polygon.  The tutorial taught how to make a “peel effect” which is similar to the AT&T logo of a shape wrapped around an invisible sphere.

The tutorial:

Not only does this teach how to make 3D spheres using the rendering tools, but how to repeat graphic shapes using transform, how to create symbols, and of course how to apply the symbols to make the peel effect.

During one of the steps it shows how to easily create a 3D rendered sphere like this:

My first sphere rendered in 3D.

It was one of my favorite basic illustrator tutorials.  It was very easy to follow and provided clear steps in the multiple tools used to create the graphic.  Also it teaches by osmosis several other useful tools and finally hammered into my analog brain how digital 3D rendering works. I used it to create the peel effect he shows:

I admit when it worked I did say aloud, “What the…that actually worked!”

One slightly more difficult one of my own:

It was just an attempt to apply the rectangles in an overlapping fashion but it came out looking a bit like a Christmas tree ornament. It let me try the process one more time though!

And then combined it with what I learned in the previous tutorials to create this original graphic inspired by the wonderful, colorful, world of James Rolfe’s AVGN:

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it is…an F-Bomb… And I think the Nerd would approve since it looks like a Nintendo 64 graphic.

The above graphic was created using the 3D rendering sphere technique learned in the tutorial from this week; the cylinders I created by accident using “bevel and extrude” trying to create spheres before I learned how to do it properly; radial gradient shading learned from last week’s tutorial; and the pen tool (which I accidentally left on the gradient fill and made a nice fire effect).  It goes to show, once you learn enough to operate properly, classic trial-and-error methodology still has skills it can impart…and that feels like a Mr. Miyagi-level lesson.

Next week is the last tutorial about making spheres and how they’re used to create textures and even characters.  I’m sure there are plenty of other ways to use the 3D rendering tool so feel free to share creative ways to use them.  To quote Bender Bending Rrrrrodriguez: Learning is fun.

The inspiration for the F-Bomb:

Support James Rolfe and the AVGN Movie at!

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:

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 …