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Mapping Artwork onto 3D Effects in Illustrator CS4

Article Description

If you're not using Illustrator's 3D effects, you're missing out on some exciting possibilities. David Karlins, author of Adobe Illustrator CS4 HOW-TOs: 100 Essential Techniques, shows some of the cool projects you can create with these effects - particularly how to map (attach) artwork to a rotated 3D effect, in this case literally painting a map of the world onto a sphere.

Extrude and Bevel Text

Okay, with that conceptual overview in your head, we'll quickly look at the Extrude and Bevel 3D effect. Extrusion generates a vanishing point, so that objects appear to diminish as they approach that point. Beveling is similar to extrusion but is usually applied to shapes or curves to transform them into 3D objects.

Let's work through a basic example using the Extrude and Bevel 3D effect to apply some dynamism to text:

  1. With any Illustrator document open, type HELP! Then assign the Impact font and 48-point size from the control panel.
  2. Normally, type in Illustrator has a fill and no stroke, but for this project we'll make an exception. Apply an orange stroke (two points works well) and a bright colored fill (try yellow or cyan), as shown in Figure 1.
    Figure 1

    Figure 1 Creating type to be extruded.

  3. Select the text and choose Effect > 3D > Extrude & Bevel.
  4. Select the Preview checkbox to see the effect applied live to your text on the artboard.
  5. Leave the Surface pop-up set to Plastic Shading. This is the default setting, and it's the only option that really works to create interesting extrusion effects.
  6. Interactively rotate the cube in the Position area to define the direction of extrusion, changing the vanishing point.
  7. Test (preview) different settings on the Extrude Depth slider (see Figure 2). Higher values create a deeper extrusion.
    Figure 2

    Figure 2 Experimenting with extrusion settings.

Before you click OK to apply the extrusion effect, experiment with some beveling:

  1. Choose the Classic bevel from the Bevel pop-up.
  2. Experiment with a 6-point setting in the Bevel Height slider.
  3. Click the Bevel Extent Out button to extend the beveling from the original path.
  4. Examine the affect of your extrusion and beveling settings on the text in the artboard. Fiddle around with the settings, and when you're pleased with the results click OK to apply the effect (see Figure 3).
    Figure 3

    Figure 3 Applying beveling with bevel extent out.

There's more to explore in extrusion and beveling effects, but you understand the basic concept, and you can experiment with different ways to apply these effects. Now that you've been introduced to the concept of 3D effects—effects that add depth and dimension to a 2D path—let's consider 3D rotation.

3. 3D Rotation | Next Section Previous Section