In the following tutorial, you'll learn how to make 3D shapes in Illustrator as we explore some of Illustrator's 3D features.
Once you learn how to make an object 3D in Illustrator, you can head over to Envato Elements where you can find plenty of 3D designs to inspire you. This subscription-based marketplace has over 2,000 Illustrator add-ons you can download without restrictions! This is one of the many examples.
Prefer video tutorials instead? Then you can't miss this new video from the Envato Tuts+ YouTube channel to learn how to make an object 3D in Illustrator:
What You'll Learn in This 3D Illustrator Tutorial
- How to add 3D effects in Illustrator
- How to make 3D shapes in Illustrator
- How to make an object 3D in Illustrator
- How to make multiple 3D objects in Illustrator
1. How to Create a New Document and Set Up a Grid
Hit Control-N to create a new document. Select Pixels from the Units drop-down menu, set the Width and Height to 850 px, and then click that Advanced Options button. Select RGB for the Color Mode and set the Raster Effects to Screen (72 ppi), and then click the Create button.
Enable the Grid (View > Show Grid or Control-") and Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid or Shift-Control-"). You will need a grid every 5 px, so simply go to Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid, and enter 5 in the Gridline every box and 1 in the Subdivisions box. Try not to get discouraged by all that grid—it will make your work easier, and keep in mind that you can easily enable or disable it using the Control-" keyboard shortcut.
You should also open the Info panel (Window > Info) for a live preview with the size and position of your shapes. Don't forget to set the unit of measurement to pixels from Edit > Preferences > Units. All these options will significantly increase your work speed.
2. How to Create Ice Cream Shapes
Pick the Ellipse Tool (L) from your Toolbar and then focus on the color settings. Select the stroke and remove the color, and then double-click the fill and replace the existing color with R=250 G=145 B=180.
Move to your artboard and simply click on it to create a 180 px circle.
Make sure that your pink circle is still selected and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Roughen. Enter the settings shown below, and then click OK to apply the effect.
Pick the Pen Tool (P) and use it to create a shape like the one shown below. Follow the gridlines if you wish to use the same dimensions.
Continue with the Pen Tool (P) and use it to create a second shape like the one shown below.
Use the Selection Tool (V) to select the two shapes made in the last two steps, and place them as shown in the first image.
Now select these shapes one by one and change the fill colors to the ones indicated below.
Reselect the Ellipse Tool (L), create a 50 px circle, and fill it with R=255 G=76 B=62.
Keep focusing on this red circle and switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A). Select the top anchor point and move it 5 px down, and then select the bottom anchor point and move it 5 px up.
Continue with the Anchor Point Tool (Shift-C) and click and drag the anchor points you just moved to add new handles. Hold down the Alt key as you click and drag one of these handles to disconnect it from the other handle, and then you can use the Direct Selection Tool (A) to adjust the position for each handle, as shown in the third image. Once again, the grid and Snap to Grid will come in handy.
Pick the Arc Tool and add a 35 x 55 px arc, as shown in the first image. Keep it selected, remove the fill color, set the stroke color to R=143 G=101 B=56, and increase the Weight to 3 px.
Continue with the Width Tool (Shift-W), focus on the top anchor point of your arc, and just click and drag to increase the weight of the stroke at that end of the path.
Select the two shapes that make up your cherry, rotate them, and place them as shown below. Then select all your shapes and press Control-G to Group them.
3. How to Make the Ice Cream 3D in Illustrator
Make sure that your group of shapes is selected, and go to Effect > 3D and Materials > Inflate. This will open the 3D and Materials panel, which you can use to adjust 3D objects in Illustrator.
First of all, click that top-right button to enable Ray Tracing. For this particular example, you need to set the Depth to about 4.4 px and the Twist to 0 degrees, while Taper and Volume should be kept at 100%. Move down to the Rotation section, select the Front preset, and make sure that the Perspective is set to 0 degrees.
Make sure that your 3D group is still selected, and keep focusing on the 3D and Materials panel. Switch from the Object tab to the Materials tab.
Keep the default material and focus on the Base Properties section, where you need to set the Roughness to 0.2 and keep Metallic at 0.
Keep focusing on the 3D and Materials panel and switch to the Lighting tab. Click that color box and make sure that it's set to white, and then enter all the settings shown below.
4. How to Add Some Ice Cream Sprinkles
For the next few steps, you can disable the grid (View > Hide Grid) and the Snap to Grid (Window > Snap to Grid).
Start with the Line Segment Tool (\) and use it to create a 7 px horizontal path. Just click on your artboard to open the Line Segment Tool Options window, set the Angle to 0 degrees and the Length to 7 px, and then click OK to create your line.
Keep it selected, remove the fill color, and set the stroke color to R=233 G=53 B=66. Increase the Weight to 4 px, and then click that Stroke text to open the Stroke fly-out panel, where you need to check that Round Cap button.
Multiply your red line (Control-C > Control-V), use the Selection Tool (V) to spread the copies as shown below, and replace the stroke color with yellow (R=249 G=237 B=50), green (R=94 G=182 B=145), blue (R=39 G=170 B=225), and purple (R=110 G=82 B=222).
Select all the colored lines and Group them (Control-G). Move to the Layers panel, where you should find your two groups, the 3D ice cream and the sprinkles.
Now, hold down the Alt key, click the target icon that stands for your 3D ice cream, and drag it onto the target icon that stands for your sprinkles group. This basically applies the same 3D effect that's used for the ice cream to the sprinkles.
Select your sprinkles group and go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Set the color to R=187 G=172 B=159, enter all the settings shown below, and then click OK.
5. How to Create a Grid and Save It as a Symbol
First of all, focus on your Toolbar and set the fill color to R=234 G=167 B=87 and the stroke color to R=214 G=147 B=67.
Pick the Rectangular Grid Tool and click on your artboard to open the Rectangular Grid Tool Options window. Set Width and Height to 390 px, increase the number of horizontal and vertical dividers to 25, don't forget to check both of those bottom boxes, and then click OK to create your grid. With the grid selected, focus on the control panel and increase the stroke Weight to 4 px.
Make sure that your grid is still selected and open the Symbols panel (Window > Symbols). Just click New Symbol to save your grid as a symbol.
6. How to Create the Ice Cream Cone Shapes
Let's turn back on the grid (View > Show Grid) and Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid).
Pick the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 120 x 140 px shape, and fill it with R=234 G=167 B=87. Continue with the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the bottom anchor points of this rectangle, and go to Object > Path > Average. Check Both and click OK to turn your rectangle into a triangle.
Now, you need to remove one of the two overlapping anchor points that make up the bottom corner of your triangle. Pick the Delete Anchor Point Tool (-) and simply click that point once.
Switch to the Anchor Point Tool (Shift-C), click and drag the remaining anchor point, and drag those handles 40 px horizontally, as shown below.
Reselect the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 160 x 30 px shape, and place it as shown below.
Continue with the Direct Selection Tool (A), use it to select the bottom anchor points of this rectangle, focus on the control panel, and set the Corners radius to 15 px.
Make sure that the shape made in the previous step is still selected, and go to Effect > Warp > Arc Lower. Enter the settings shown below, click OK to apply the effect, and then expand it by going to Object > Expand Appearance.
Reselect the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 180 x 25 px shape, and place it as shown below. Keep this rectangle selected and switch to the Direct Selection Tool (A) to set the Corners radius to 10 px.
Reselect the Rectangle Tool (M) and use it to create a shape which covers the left half of the shapes that make up your ice cream cone.
Select the rectangle made in the previous step along with the three shapes that make up your cone, and pick the Shape Builder Tool (Shift-M).
Hold down the Alt key and simply click and drag across that rectangle to easily remove it along with the shape sections that lie in the back. Before we continue, remember to Group (Control-G) the remaining shapes.
7. How to Make the Ice Cream Cone 3D in Illustrator
Make sure that your ice cream cone group is selected and go to Effect > 3D and Materials > Revolve. Let's keep the Ray Tracing turned off for this one.
Select that same Front preset and keep the Perspective set to 0 degrees, and then enter the rest of the settings shown below.
Continue with the Lighting tab and enter the settings shown below.
Move to the Materials tab, and first of all lower the Roughness to 0.2.
Switch to the Graphics tab and click your grid symbol to apply it to your 3D object in Illustrator. Make sure that your symbol is selected from the Properties list, and set its Rotation to 45 degrees.
In the end, your 3D ice cream cone should look somewhat like this.
8. How to Add a 3D Ice Cream Drip
Use the Pen Tool (P) or the Brush Tool (B) to draw a drip shape roughly as shown in the first image. Fill it with R=250 G=145 B=180 and again use those target icons from the Layers panel to apply the same 3D effect that you applied for the ice cream group.
To further amplify the 3D look, let's also apply a Drop Shadow effect for this drip shape. Have it selected and go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow. Enter the settings shown below and click OK.
9. How to Create the Background
Pick the Rectangle Tool (M) to create a shape which covers your entire artboard, send it to the back (Shift-Control-[), and fill it with the radial gradient shown below. You can use the Gradient Tool (G) to stretch the gradient as shown in the following image.
Finally, let's add a subtle shadow below the ice cream. Use the Ellipse Tool (L) to create a 50 x 20 px shape, fill it with R=54 G=135 B=101, and lower its Opacity to 15%.
Congratulations! You're Done!
Here is how your 3D ice cream design should look. I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial and can apply these techniques in your future projects.
Feel free to adjust the final 3D illustration and make it your own. You can find some great sources of inspiration at Envato Elements, with interesting solutions to improve your 3D designs.
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Here's another great example of what can be achieved using vibrant colors and 3D effects in Illustrator.
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