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Design

How to Create a Detailed Stack of Books in Adobe Illustrator

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Difficulty:IntermediateLength:MediumLanguages:
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

Follow this tutorial and learn how to easily create books with the help of the 3D effect in Adobe Illustrator. Play with the settings to change the position of the books and create a stack of them. Learn how to create the pages and add extra details to level them up. Let's start!

Need more education resources and vectors? Head over to GraphicRiver and you'll find plenty of designs to choose from.

Tutorial Assets

To complete the tutorial, you will need the following assets:

1. How to Open a New Document 

Launch Illustrator and go to File > New to open a blank document. Type a name for your file, set the dimensions, and then select Pixels as Units and RGB as Color Mode.

Next, go to Edit > Preferences > General and set the Keyboard Increment to 1 px and, while there, go to Units to make sure they are set as in the following image. I usually work with these settings, and they will help you throughout the drawing process.

how to open new Illustrator document

2. How to Create a 3D Book

Step 1

Grab the Rounded Rectangle Tool and draw a shape with the dimensions shown (1). Use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to select only the two points on the right side and press the Delete key on your keyboard to delete them. For the resulting path, select a 3 pt brown Stroke and press the Round Cap option in the Stroke panel to get the rounded ends (2).

how to create a 3D book path

Step 2

While the path stays selected, go to Effect > 3D > Extrude & Bevel. There, set the Coordinates, the Depth, and the type of Surface, and you will get the 3D book. How easy was that?

how to create a 3D book

3. How to Map the Text on the 3D Book

Step 1

Let's create a new symbol. Grab the Type Tool (T) and write “Dictionary” on your artboard. Choose Expand from the Object menu and then Rotate -90 degrees in the Transform panel.

Now, go to Symbol Libraries Menu > Maps and find the Distance Maker symbol. Drag it onto your artboard, Expand it, and then change the fill color to black. Arrange one of these symbols at each end of the text and, after you are done, drag everything into the Symbols panel to save it.

how to create a new symbol

Step 2

While the 3D book stays selected, open the Extrude & Bevel window again from the Appearance panel. Press on the Map Art button and then select the surface where you want to map the text along with the symbol that you have saved. In my case, the side of the book was Surface 12 of 14. You can scale the symbol and move it slightly until you like the result. Hit OK.

how to map text on the 3D book

4. How to Create the Pages of the Book

Step 1

With the 3D book still selected, choose Expand Appearance from the Object menu and then Ungroup (Shift-Control-G) once. Now, take a look at the Appearance panel and open the resulting group, which I've named “brown book”. You will see a bunch of other groups and shapes. Select them to see which one is which, and you can even rename some of them like “top cover”, “bottom cover”, and others.

Whilst there, also find the shape shown below (1), which is the front edge of the book, and then Ungroup (Shift-Control-G) and Copy and Paste in Place (Shift-Control-V) to make a copy of it, the blue edge (2). Grab the Scissors Tool (C) and click on the two points indicated to cut the shape in two and keep only the inner path (3). Now, select the end points of this path and press Control-J to join them. You will obtain the shape of the pages inside the book (4).

how to create the book pages

Step 2

Fill the shape of the pages with the linear gradient shown (1); then select only the points on the right side and move them slightly inwards to reveal the corners of the book cover. Also, add an extra point in the middle using the Add Anchor Point Tool (+) and make that side a little rounded (2). Drag this shape in the “brown book” group, under the “top cover” but above the “bottom cover”.

how to color the book pages

Step 3

Copy and Paste in Back (Control-B) the shape of the pages and replace the gradient with a dark gray. Now, select the original shape of the pages again and move it 1 px upwards and 2 px to the right using the arrow keys on your keyboard to reveal the shadow shape underneath.

how to create shadow under book pages

Step 4

Let's add some details and create the appearance of actual pages. Use the Pen Tool (P) to draw a bunch of straight paths of different lengths on top of the pages shape (1). Do the same thing on the left side (2). Give them a 2 pt light gray Stroke and select the Width Profile 4 in the Stroke panel (3).

how to add details on book pages

Step 5

Select the shape of the pages and then Copy and Paste in Place (Shift-Control-V) to make a copy of it in front of everything. Set this copy to stroke-none and fill-none. Now, select the group of lines along with this copy (1) and go to Object > Clipping Mask > Make (Control-7). Name the resulting group “page details” (2).

how to mask the book pages

Step 6

Use the Pen Tool (P) to draw a path on the upper left side of the pages (1). Give it a 2 pt black Stroke; then go to Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur and apply a Radius of 3 px (2). Drag this path in the “page details” group under the mask. Also, drag the “page details” group in the “brown book” group above the pages (3).

how to add shadow on book pages

5. How to Color the Text on the Book

Go to the Layers panel, and in the “brown book” group, find and select the text that was mapped on the side. Drag this group of text to the top in the Layers panel (1). Change the fill color and then apply the Drop Shadow effect.

how to color the text on the book

6. How to Create Shading and Highlights on the Book

Step 1

Let's create the masking shape first. Go to the Layers panel, and in the “brown book” group, find and select the groups that make up the side of the book. I had three groups (1). Copy and Paste in Place (Shift-Control-V) to make copies of them in front of everything. Press Unite in the Pathfinder panel to merge them into a single shape (2).

how to create the side shape of the book

Step 2

Use the Pen Tool (P) to draw a straight path along the side of the book. Give it a 2 pt black Stroke and then apply a 5 px Gaussian Blur.

how to create shading on side of the book

Step 3

Draw another path along the side of the book to create a highlight this time. Give it a 2 pt beige Stroke and then apply a 5 px Gaussian Blur.

how to create highlight on side of book

Step 4

Now, select the shading and highlight paths along with the mask shape created earlier that should be in front, and set to stroke-none and fill-none. Go to Object > Clipping Mask > Make (Control-7). Name the resulting group “side shading & highlight” and drag it to the top of the “brown book” group in the Layers panel.

how to mask shading and highlight on side of book

Step 5

Use the Pen Tool (P) to draw a path as shown below. Give it a 1 pt white Stroke and also use the Black Blend Art Brush 100x3 (info below). Set the Blending Mode to Soft Light and the Opacity to 75%.

I have an entire tutorial dedicated to Blend Art Brushes and how useful they are. I use them in my drawings all the time. You can find out how to create and save the Black Blend Art Brush 100x3 that we are using today in How to Create a Set of Multi-Use Blend Brushes in Adobe Illustrator.

Since the Colorization of the brush is set to Tints, when you select white as the stroke color, the brush becomes white as well, despite its name. The same thing happens with any other color.

how to highlight the edge of book

7. How to Create the Stack of Books

Step 1

At this point, the brown book is ready, and you can create others in the same way. Use a similar path as for the brown book, give it a 3 pt blue Stroke, and don't forget to press the Round Cap option in the Stroke panel. Apply the 3D Extrude & Bevel effect with the settings shown below, and you will get a new 3D book (2). 

After that, follow the techniques explained so far to create the pages and the details on the pages and to add shading and highlights, and use the same settings. You can see the end result in the image below (3).

how to create a blue 3D book

Step 2

Use another similar path, but slightly bigger, for the third book. Give it a 3.5 pt red Stroke and then apply the 3D Extrude & Bevel effect to obtain the 3D book. You can also map some text on the side of the book as you did for the brown book (1). Finalize the book by creating the pages, the details, the shading and highlights, and color the text on the side (2).

how to create a red 3D book

Step 3

Here are the settings and the final result of the fourth and final book, the green one.

how to create a green 3D book

8. How to Create Shadows of the Books

Step 1

To create the shadows between the books, we will use the Blend Tool. Focus on the green and red books and draw a path as shown in the next image. Fill it with black and set the Opacity to 0% (1). Draw another shape closer to the edge of the green book and fill it with black at 100% Opacity (2).

While the two paths stay selected, go to Object > Blend > Blend Options and choose 10 Specified Steps. Go back to Object > Blend > Make (Alt-Control-B). You can see the result in the image below (3). You can modify these shapes and adjust the shadow if needed.

how to create shadow between books

Step 2

Use the same technique to create shadows between the red and blue books and between the blue and brown books, as shown in the next image.

how to create shadows in the stack of books

Congratulations, You're Done!

Here is the final image of the stack of books. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and learned new things today. Apply these techniques in other projects as well.

Need more inspiration and resources? Head over to GraphicRiver, and you'll find plenty of designs to choose from. 

stack of 3D books final image

Looking to learn more? I recommend the following tutorials:

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