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Create a Coffee Cup Mock Up in Adobe Illustrator Using the 3D Revolve Effect

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This post is part of a series called Caffeine Fuelled Vector.
Quick Tip: Create a Seamless Coffee Bean Pattern in Illustrator
Creating a Coffee House Logo - From Theory to Vector in Adobe Illustrator

Adobe Illustrator's 3D effects can be a used to create quick, yet realistic product mock-ups. While not a full ray-tracing 3D application, Illustrator's 3D feature is quite sophisticated, and it has some advantages over its more expensive counterparts. For starters, vector objects and effects can be scaled to any size without loss of quality. It's easy to re-purpose vector art you've already created, plus you don't have to leave the friendly confines of Illustrator. And as you'll see in the following steps, the learning curve is not nearly as steep. Let's get started!

1. Draw the Outline of Half a Cup

The first step is to draw a path that will form the 3D shape. You might want to use a photograph for reference, or a sketch. Or you can just experiment, modifying the path after you apply the 3D effect. The 3D effect, like all Illustrator effects are "live". That means it can be edited as many times as you like, without degrading the quality of the image.

I used a photo reference to draw a simple path, as shown below. You don't have to draw the entire cup outline, just the right half of it.

coffee-cup_draw linecoffee-cup_draw linecoffee-cup_draw line

2. Add a Lip to the Top of the Cup

To create a the lip on the top of the cup, you can draw a small hook shape, as in the image below:

coffee-cup_draw line closeupcoffee-cup_draw line closeupcoffee-cup_draw line closeup

3. Change the Document Raster Effects Settings

Before applying any effects, go to the Effect > Document Raster Effects Settings. Choose at least 150ppi, preferably 300ppi.

coffee-cup_raster effectscoffee-cup_raster effectscoffee-cup_raster effects

4. Apply the 3D Revolve Effect

Change the Stroke color to white. With the path still selected, go to Effect > 3D > Revolve. Enter the following values in the dialog box. Make sure the Revolve originates from the left edge.

coffee-cup_3D revolvecoffee-cup_3D revolvecoffee-cup_3D revolve

5. Refine the Look of the Cup via More Options

Your cup should now look like the image below. It's a bit rough, so to edit the settings, click the effect's name in the Appearance panel.

coffee-cup_click to editcoffee-cup_click to editcoffee-cup_click to edit

If you don't see the surface and lighting options at the bottom of the dialog box, click More Options to reveal them. Increase the Blend Steps to 200. If you have the Preview box checked, you'll see that the surface of the cup is now much smoother.

coffee-cup_blend stepscoffee-cup_blend stepscoffee-cup_blend steps

6. Change the Lighting of the Cup

In the lighting section, click the new icon to add a new light. Adjust the Intensity and Ambient Light as shown below. You can drag the lights around on the sphere to position them.

coffee-cup_light 2coffee-cup_light 2coffee-cup_light 2

Click on the other light and adjust its settings as well. The light that is currently active will have a small square around it. Make sure you have the Preview button checked so you can see your updates.


With the new shading settings, the cup should look something like this:

coffee-cup_with lightscoffee-cup_with lightscoffee-cup_with lights

7. Turn Your Logo into a Symbol

To apply the logo, you created in a previous tutorial, to the 3D object, it must first be made into a Symbol. Drag the logo into the Symbols panel.

coffee-cup_drag symbolcoffee-cup_drag symbolcoffee-cup_drag symbol

You can give the new symbol a name if you wish, and you can ignore everything else in the dialog box.

coffee-cup_symbol opscoffee-cup_symbol opscoffee-cup_symbol ops

8. Go Back into 3D Revolve Options to Map Art

Click the 3D effect in the Appearance panel to edit it again, then click Map Art in the 3D Options dialog.

coffee-cup_click map artcoffee-cup_click map artcoffee-cup_click map art

Each if the object's surfaces is represented in the Map Art dialog. When you have a surface selected from the field at the top, its corresponding surface on the object will be highlighted in red. Light gray areas on the surface thumbnail in the center of the dialog are those that can be seen, and dark gray areas are those that are hidden from view.

coffee-cup_find surfacecoffee-cup_find surfacecoffee-cup_find surface

9. Apply the Logo to the Correct Surface

Once you've located the correct surface, choose the logo symbol from the Symbol drop-down menu.

coffee-cup_find surface2coffee-cup_find surface2coffee-cup_find surface2

Make sure you have the Preview button checked, then adjust the position of the symbol by dragging it within the surface thumbnail. You might have to stretch it a bit horizontally, depending on your original cup shape.

coffee-cup_map art previewcoffee-cup_map art previewcoffee-cup_map art preview

11. Add Grain to the Cup to Give it Texture

For added realism, keep the cup path selected and go back to the Effect > Texture > Grain.  Choose Soft grain, with a low intensity and a medium contrast.


This will add a subtle texture to the cup, making it look more like Styrofoam. Make sure the Grain effect is below the 3D effect in the Appearance panel, otherwise you'll get some unexpected results!


Sit Back & Relax, You're Now Finished!

Once you are satisfied with the 3D settings, you can create a new Graphic Style and quickly apply it to other paths to create different mock ups. Below are two examples, with their original paths. Creating a quick and easy mock-up with 3D is a great way to show your client how their logo can be used in a variety of scenarios.

coffee-cup_curved cupcoffee-cup_curved cupcoffee-cup_curved cup

Try Coffee Cup and Mug Mockup Templates by Placeit

Placeit is an online mockup generator that has over 11,000 ready to use photorealistic images in SMART Templates. All you need to do is pick a template, upload your design and you are ready to go. Here are a few examples of coffee cup and mug mockups

Label Mockup Featuring a Coffee Cup Standing on Top of a Newspaper
Coffee Cup Mockup of a Man at a Café Having a Coffee 
Man Reading a Book and Holding a Coffee Cup Mockup
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