2 January 2009

How I Created: 3d Isometric Vector Icon Tutorial

WHAT IS ISOMETRIC ANYWAYS?

Isometric projection is a 3d method, being a form of ortographic projection; representing a 3 dimensional object in 2 dimensions.

In a bit simpler english; we can make 2d objects easily converted to 3d objects by adding equally measured perspectives. That’s what we will do to create our 3d vector icon =)

Here is what we will try to achieve:

final

Phase 1: Making the Square into a 3d Box with Isometric Projection

1- Okay. To do that, we will need a square first.

Open a new Illustrator document, preferably in cmyk color and draw a 100pt x 100pt square:

01_draw_a_square

2- Next, we will need to duplicate that square 2 times to prepare the front left and front right sides of the box imitation:

02_create_sides

3- Now we will rotate our top side isometrically to build the top side of the box.

To do that, let’s go to effect > 3d > rotate > select isometric top:

03_rotate_top

4- Ok now let’s do the same for the front left side with one difference; the rotation will be isometric left:

04_rotate_fleft

5- Same goes for the fron right side; rotating isometric right:

05_rotate_fright

6- Now let’s object > expand appearance them to make the 3d rotated sides more editable:

06_expand

7- We can now put them all together, to form a box:

07_put_together_the_sides

Since we are almost done with the basic shape, we can move along with the effects to apply on it.

Phase 2: Adding the Effects

8- We have got ourselves a lovely hexagon from 3 squares.

Of course there are a couple of much shorter ways to achieve that, but I made it the long way for you to better understand what we are doing.

Onwards; let’s duplicate (copy/paster or ctrl+alt+click move) the top side of the box and prepare the gradient toolbox ready:

08_duplicate_top

9- Now let’s add a shiner on the top.

To do that, we will apply radial gradient from white to full black(

black cmyk values:

  • C: 100
  • M: 100
  • Y: 100
  • K: 100

) on the duplicated top side:

09_radial_gradient_w_fullblack

10- To remove the black, let’s set the transparency level to screen:

10_apply_screen

11- Sexy, ha.

Now we will do the same for the front left and right sides, with their own 45 degree gradient angles:

11_same_goes_for_next_sides

12- We are halfway done.

Now after screening the sides, let’s get back to our base hexacon and unite the sides to make the base 3 sides one piece:

12_unite_pieces

13- Now we will duplicate that base hexagon and place it on the top of the original hexagon, scaling down a bit with giving 90 percent multiply level to it.

This will give us an inner cube:

13_duplicate_and_multiply

14-Beautiful!

But seems like screen levels on the front sides are too heavy.

Considering the lightsource coming from the top center, it is supposed to spread along the front left and right size among with losing strength.

Let’s reduce the screen levels just a bit:

14_decrease_mutliply_level

Since we are done with the main parts of the cube, we can add a little more details about light:

Now we will apply the final light touches to the icon:

Pahse 3: Finalizing The Icon

15 - Let’s have two copies from the top side and place them overlapping each other, with the one top moved a little higher.

Next, we will apply minus front to gain a slim two sided corner:

15_minus_front_the_duplicateds

16- Since we have a nice shining corner, let’s place that corner on the top with screen level:

16_place_screened

17- To get a another shining line on the front center, we will first duplicate the base hexagon:

17_duplicate_skeleton

18- Now let’s create a dummy mask from filled rectangles, leaving only a place for front center shiner:

18_create_mask_area

19- We are so close to be done.

Now we will minus front these to crop the shiner:

19_minus_front

20- Finally, let’s place that shiner on the front center to complete our cube icon:

20_done

That’s it!

You’ve got yourself a nice lovely shining cube, and it is scalable!

well_done

If you like, you can play more to achieve different colors and shades/glows:

See how it turns out:

final

I’ve included the illustrator file used for this tutorial.

You can download it from here.

I hope you enjoyed doing as much as I enjoyed tutoring it :)

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