Gradients and 3D Extrusion – Illustrator Tutorial

Today’s lesson was all about using gradients and the 3D tool to extrude our line paths into 3D editable shapes.

Our first task consisted on the making of letters with the addition of gradients as shading elements. This was done using the gradient tool, the pathfinder tool and the shape builder tool.

Tracing Tutorial

The second task was about using the mesh tool as well as the shape builder tool to create a realistic looking object so I decided to go for a ball with a very harsh light reflection. I also learnt that the shortcut for the mesh tool was the letter U.

Mesh Tool

The following task was about using gradients and layers to recreate a 3D looking object. It went as follows, I started making a circle using the shape tool, then i copied the circle made it smaller and added a radial gradient to it from the centre. The next step was to create many more duplicates of the main shape and adjusting the colour to a darker one then I added another layer with a black and white gradient. I then created a mask out of such layer and this in turn created a shadow which gave the bottom of the sphere a darker look. Here’s the result:

3D realism

This next task was all about using the 3D extrusion tool to create objects with bevels and angles. I made a basic shape in illustrator and then I proceeded to play with the settings in the 3D-Extrude tool that can be found under the Effect > 3D menu.


For the next task we were told to make a Glass Cup using the 3D-Revolve tool which can be found under the Effect > 3D > Revolve tool menu. Using the pen tool I made a simple path for the tool to follow (Of half of the image) and after fiddling with the settings I managed to get the cup to look right:

3D Cup

I learnt quite a lot from this task, from how to make gradients to how to make realistic looking 3D shapes on a 2D vector image making software. I am quite pleased with the outcomes of my experiments and hope to learn more about this in the future.


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