Breathe Life Into Your Art: How to Make a 3d Shape in Illustrator

How to Make a 3d Shape in Illustrator

Are you ready to unlock the power of 3D design in Illustrator? In this article, I’ll be sharing my tried-and-tested methods for creating eye-catching 3D shapes that will make your designs stand out from the crowd. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned designer, this comprehensive guide will equip you with the knowledge and skills you need to master the art of 3D design in Illustrator. Get ready to unleash your creativity and bring your designs to life with stunning 3D effects.

Understanding 3D Shapes in Illustrator

What Are 3D Shapes?

In Illustrator, 3D shapes are digital objects that have height, width, and depth, giving them a realistic appearance. These shapes can be created and manipulated using various tools and functions within the software. By combining different shapes, colors, and effects, you can bring your designs to life and add depth and dimension to your artwork.

Why Use 3D Shapes in Illustrator?

  1. Enhanced Visual Appeal: Incorporating 3D shapes in your designs can take them from flat and two-dimensional to visually striking and dynamic. The use of shadows, highlights, and textures can create a sense of depth and realism, making your artwork more engaging and captivating.
  2. Effective Communication: By using 3D representations, you can provide a clearer visualization of your message, making it easier for your audience to grasp and retain information.
  3. Versatility: Illustrator offers a wide range of tools and features specifically designed for creating and manipulating 3D shapes. Whether you’re working on illustrations, logos, packaging designs, or even architectural renderings, the flexibility of 3D shapes allows you to adapt and customize your designs to suit your specific needs.
  4. Realistic Product Mockups: If you’re a product designer or working on a branding project, using 3D shapes in Illustrator can help you create realistic product mockups. By accurately representing the shape, texture, and lighting of a product, you can provide your clients or stakeholders with a realistic preview of the final result.
  5. Creativity and Innovation: Incorporating 3D shapes in your designs allows you to push the boundaries of traditional flat design and explore new artistic possibilities. By experimenting with different shapes, angles, and perspectives, you can unleash your creativity and create unique and visually stunning artwork.

Creating Basic 3D Shapes in Illustrator

Using The Shape Tools

When it comes to creating 3D shapes in Illustrator, the Shape Tools are your best friends. These tools allow you to easily draw basic shapes that will serve as the foundation for your 3D designs. Here’s how you can use them:

  1. Rectangle Tool: Start by selecting the Rectangle Tool from the Tools panel. Click and drag on the artboard to create a rectangle shape. To make it 3D, go to the Effect menu, navigate to 3D, and choose Extrude & Bevel.
  2. Ellipse Tool: Similar to the Rectangle Tool, the Ellipse Tool allows you to create circular or oval shapes. Once you’ve drawn an ellipse, apply the Extrude & Bevel effect to give it a 3D appearance.
  3. Polygon Tool: With the Polygon Tool, you can create shapes with any number of sides. Simply select the tool, click on the artboard, and enter the number of sides you want in the dialogue box. Apply the Extrude & Bevel effect to transform it into a 3D polygon.
  4. Star Tool: The Star Tool enables you to create star-shaped objects. Click and drag on the artboard to draw a star, and then apply the Extrude & Bevel effect to make it 3D.

Applying 3D Effects

Once you’ve created your basic 3D shapes using the Shape Tools, it’s time to take it to the next level by applying various 3D effects in Illustrator. These effects allow you to add depth, shadows, and highlights to your shapes, making them appear more realistic and visually appealing. Here are some popular 3D effects to try:

  1. Extrude & Bevel: This effect is the go-to for creating 3D shapes in Illustrator. It allows you to extrude a flat shape into a 3D object by adding depth and beveling the edges. Experiment with different settings such as extrusion depth, bevel angle, and shading to achieve the desired look.
  2. Revolve: The Revolve effect is perfect for creating cylindrical or spherical shapes. It allows you to revolve a 2D shape around an axis to create a 3D object. Play around with the settings to control the rotation and perspective of the shape.
  3. Rotate: The Rotate effect enables you to rotate a shape in 3D space, giving it a dynamic and eye-catching look. Use this effect to add movement and depth to your designs.
  4. Lighting: Don’t forget about lighting! Adding light sources to your 3D shapes can greatly enhance their realism. Illustrator provides various lighting options, such as Point Light, Spot Light, and Infinite Light. Experiment with different positions and intensities to achieve the desired lighting effect.


Creating 3D shapes in Illustrator is a valuable skill for designers looking to enhance their work. By understanding the software’s tools and functions, you can achieve stunning 3D effects that add visual appeal and improve communication. The versatility of 3D shapes allows for realistic product mockups and encourages creativity and innovation in design. Now armed with the knowledge and techniques provided in this article, you are well-equipped to create impressive 3D shapes in Illustrator. So, go ahead and explore the possibilities that 3D design has to offer!