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Create a 3D Sports Graphics Illustration

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In this tutorial, I will show you how to create a 3D sports graphics illustration using Adobe Illustrator to create and export basic paths, Cinema 4D to build the 3D, and Photoshop for the post-production. Let's get started!


Tutorial Assets

To complete the tutorial you will need the following assets. Please download them before you begin. If they are not available, you will need to find alternatives.


1. Export Paths to Cinema 4D

Step 1

The first step in our project is to create the shape of the base that we will create later in Cinema 4D. Create a new document in Illustrator.

New Document

Step 2

Select Type Tool, set Font to Impact and type text on new document.

type_tool

Step 3

In the next step choose Object > Expand and click OK.

expand

Step 4

Now we add another type (repeat Step 2 and 3)

another_type

Step 5

Select the new type and choose Object > Ungroup to ungroup the object.

ungroup

Step 6

Place the objects as shown below. Select all and align them using Align Horizontal Centers.

Align

Step 7

Select L and create a circle around thefirst Letter B. Copy the circle and move it to the last Type L. Select M and create a rectangle from the middle of the first circle to the other circle. Open Pathfinder (Window > Pathfinder) and click on Unite.

circle
pathfinder

Step 8

Create another rectangle (click M) and rotate it 45° (Object > Transform > Rotate) and place it in the middle

rotate
Align

Step 9

After that, you have to export your object to Cinema 4D. Select File > Save As and choose .ai format and save it for Adobe Illustrator 3. This is a really important step because if you save it for newer versions of Illustrator you wont be able to open it in Cinema 4D.

export

2. Importing, Creating Extrude Nurbs

Step 1

Now start Cinema 4D. Select File > Open from menu and open your saved .ai file. C4D will ask about some import parameters, ignore them and click OK.

import

Step 2

First we have to sort the Paths. Make a group (select Paths > Right Click > Group Objects)
for 20, BASEBALL, 13, the Rectangle and the Baseball Outline.

group

Step 3

Create an Extrude NURBS and drag the type outline path to it, change its z axis movement to 1.5 cm

extrude

Step 4

Select Extrude NURBS, go to Caps and select Fillet Cap, set Steps to 4 and Radius to 0.3 cm.

filletcap

Step 5

Hit the C Button. Select the Extrude NURBS Object and expand the folder, select all parts and Right Click > Connect Objects + Delete

connect

Step 6

Select all the Paths from BASEBALL and click Right Click > Connect Objects + Delete

baseball

Step 7

Repeat Step 3 with the BASEBALL Path.

repeat

Step 8

Select Extrude NURBS, go to Caps and select Fillet Cap, set Steps to 2 and Radius to 0.15 cm.

filletcap

Step 9

Select the type outline object, select Polygon Mode and select the surface.

polygonmode

Step 10

Click Right Click > Extrude Inner and then set Offset to 0.172 cm and hit Apply.

extrudeinner

Step 11

Click Right Click > Extrude and then set Offset to -1.224 cm and hit Apply.

offset

Step 12

Select the Baseball Type and scale it a bit down (T) and then move it towards the Surface of the type outline object.

scaledown

Step 13

Repeat Step 3 and Step 8 with the number 20 and 13

numbers

Step 14

Now create another Extrude NURBS, select the rectangle paths and drag one into it. Repeat the same for the second rectangle path.

paths

Step 15

Repeat Step 8 for both Extrude NURBS.

extrude

Step 16

Select the bigger rectangle and move it a little bit behind.

movebehind

Step 17

Repeat Step 5 for both Extrude NURBS.

repeat

Step 18

Select the smaller one, select Polygon Mode (Step 9) and select the surface.
Then Right Click > Extrude Inner > Offset 0.172 cm > hit Apply

extrudeinner

Step 19

Then Right Click > Extrude > Offset -0.373 cm > hit Apply

extrude

Step 20

Select the 4 surfaces around the rectangle, then Right Click > Extrude Inner > Offset 1.461 cm > hit Apply

4surfaces

Step 21

Then Right Click > Extrude > Offset 0.26 cm > hit Apply

extrude

3. Modeling a Baseball Bat

Step 1

Now we have to model the Baseball Bat.

baseballbat

Step 2

Create a Circle.

circle
circle

Step 3

Make 9 Copies of this circle and place them as shown below.

circle

Step 4

Next create a Loft NURBS and drag all the circles into it.

circle
circle

Step 5

By adjusting and moving the circles you will create a baseball bat.

circle

Step 6

Next we will work on the details. Create a Sweep NURBS

circle

Step 7

Create a Helix Object. I used the settings below but feel free to try other settings.

circle
circle

Step 8

Drag the circle and helix object into the Sweep NURBS

circle
circle

Step 9

Next select Freehand mode and draw a line.

circle
circle

Step 10

Create an Extrude NURBS and put the path into it.

circle

Step 11

Now that we have all the objects, we can copy them and put them in our main Object.

circle

4. Create Materials

Step 1

From material browser select Create > Shaders > VrayBridge > VrayAdvancedMaterial.

circle

Step 2

Double click on created material and set settings as on pictures below.

circle

Step 3

Repeat Step 1 and set settings as on pictures below.

circle
circle

Step 4

Repeat Step 1 and set settings as on pictures below.

circle
circle

Step 5

Repeat Step 1 and set settings as on pictures below.

circle
circle

Step 6

And now we have all materials, which we need for our 3D object. Apply all the materials to created objects. You should get similar result:

circle

5. Lighting and Rendering

Step 1

Create a new Vray Advanced Material and apply these settings:

circle

Step 2

Create a new object. Add Object > Plane.

circle

Step 3

Now we place the previous 3D object on the plane.

circle

Step 4

Drag the black Material on the plate.

circle

Step 5

Create 3 plates, which will be used as our lights. Drag the material from Step 1 onto them.

circle

Step 6

Change the view.

circle

Step 7

Now let's move on to the render settings:

circle
circle
circle
circle

Step 8

Hit render to picture viewer (Render > Render to picture viewer) and wait for the final render:

circle

Step 9

Next delete all objects except the 3D object. Unfold Everything > Select Everything > Right Click > Connect Objects + Delete.

circle

Step 10

Right click on the 3D object then add Compositing Tag and Enable Object Buffer

circle
circle

Step 11

Next we will change Renderer Mode to Standard. Then we activate Multi-Pass > Right Click > Activate Object Buffer

circle

Step 12

Save Multi-Pass Image.

circle

Step 13

Open both files in Photoshop

circle

Step 14

First select Multi-Pass Image > Channels > select Object Buffer Layer

circle

Step 15

Select All > Copy.

circle
circle

Step 16

Now move to the Render image.

circle

Step 17

Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All

circle

Step 18

Channels > Select Layer Mask

circle

Step 19

Edit > Paste

circle

Step 20

Now we have separated the 3D object from the background.

circle

6. Photoshop

Step 1

Create a new document (File > New...) using the settings shown below.

circle

Step 2

Next we fill out the Background with Black Color using the Bucket Tool.

circle

Step 3

Now open all the Stock images.

circle

Step 4

We have to separate the Baseball Players and the glove from the Background. Use the Polygonal Lasso Tool > set Feather to 1 px to select the players and the glove. When finished Right Click > Layer Via Copy

circle

Step 5

Next we will place the players on our document we created before.

circle

Step 6

Place the 3D Object that we separated before into your document. Place the glove above it. Be sure to group and organize your Layers to keep the overview over your project.

circle

Step 7

Select the Layer with Player 1 and Right Click > Duplicate Layer

circle

Step 8

Name it Player 1 BW

circle

Step 9

Select the new Layer and go to Image > Adjustments > Black & White

circle

Step 10

Hit ok.

circle

Step 11

Next change the Layer Style to Hard Light.

circle

Step 12

Change Opacity to 85%.

circle

Step 13

Repeat Step 7 - 12 for Player 2, the 3D object and the glove.

circle

7. Brushes

Step 1

Next we will use different brushes to illustrate the Background. Hit 'B' to select the Brush Tool.

circle

Step 2

Move the Opacity and Flow a bit down.

circle

Step 3

Feel free to change the size of the Brush. You can also move the arrow around to change the direction of the Brush.

circle

Step 4

Change the color of the Brush to Red

circle

Step 5

Create a new Layer underneath the Players, 3D Base and the glove.

circle

Step 6

Start to draw with your brush.

circle
circle

Step 7

Continue to Create New Layers > Change Brush > Bhange Color.

circle

Step 8

You can also change the opacity of each layer.

circle

Step 9

Add some nice nuances and shadings using white and black color.

circle

Step 10

Next we will create some shadows. Create a new Layer above the Player 2.

circle

Step 11

Select a Soft Round Brush and reduce its size. Also change the Layer Style to Soft Light.

circle

Step 12

With the Soft Brush paint over the dark areas to enhance the shadows. Repeat Step 10 and 11 for the following Parts.

circle
circle
circle
circle

Step 13

At this stage it should look somewhat like this:

circle

Step 14

Next put the Texture image on top of your image and stretch it to the edges so that it fits the image.

circle
circle

Step 15

Change the Layer Style to Overlay

circle
circle

Step 15

Next select Eraser Tool (E) and select a brush from your library. If needed change the size of your brush.

circle

Step 16

Start to erase parts of the texture layer.

circle

Conclusion

At this point, you're finished. If you would like to add some more details to your artwork, feel free to do so.

In this tutorial, you learned how to create a 3D sports graphic illustration using Adobe Illustrator, Cinema 4D, and Photoshop. I hope that you learned something new from this tutorial and that you can apply these techniques to your own work!

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