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In Illustrator we have basic rules. For example, we know that we have vector paths and then we apply appearances to those vector paths by the fills and strokes and then we can also apply effects. Now the 3D feature inside of Illustrator is a Live Effect and hence it abides by all these rules. So at a very basic level, it's important to realize how 3D works with fills and strokes. So let's take a look, I have two objects that appear over here. Very simple objects, one is just a regular live text object and here is just a regular basic path. Both of these have fill and stroke attributes applied to them.
I have the identical objects over here. However, in this particular case, there are no strokes, there are only fills applied to the same objects. So I'm going to apply a basic 3D effect to all of these objects so we can see a difference between objects that do or do not have stroke attributes applied. So I'm just going to press Command+A or Ctrl+A to select all the objects on my artboard here. I'm now going to go over to the Effect menu, I'm going to choose 3D and then I'll choose Extrude & Bevel. We'll just do a basic Extrude here. We'll click on the Preview button, and now what I'm going to do is I'm going to come down here to the Extrude Depth just to make it a little bit more, so you could see it. Make it about 100 points.
Now I'm going to simply click OK and let's see what we have on the artboard. Let's first take a look at the ones on the right here. These are the objects that do not have strokes applied to them. Here you will see that the actual fill attribute has been extruded. So the Extrude Color that's over here is actually red, the same as the red that I have used for the fill. The only difference out here is that obviously I see a shaded area. This red over here is darker due to the lighting that's applied to that object. The same thing is down here. I have a regular path. That path was filled purple; the extruded area is also colored in purple. Now let's take a look at what we have here on the left, notice that over here the Extrude color is not the fill color but it's the stroke color. So at first when you look at this, you might say to yourself, well, obviously whenever I have a fill and a stroke attribute, if I have a stroke applied to an object, Illustrator uses that stroke color as the color that is used for the extruded area of that object, for example, this area right here.
But in reality there is more going on behind the scenes. In order to apply a 3D effect to an object inside of Illustrator, the 3D effect breaks an object down to its very basic parts. In fact, the way that Illustrator actually does that is it uses the flattener code, which is used for flattening transparency. So when I have an object that has just a fill, that's already at a very basic level, but an object that has a fill and a stroke are actually broken down into two separate objects. The stroke is outlined and turned to its own object and extruded. So in reality, if you take a look at this example right over here, this is two objects that are extruded. One is the fill. The stroke is actually expanded and then extruded as well. So you can really think of this as two objects being extruded. You can see this clearly by doing the following, when I click on this one object right here, I'm actually going to set its fill attribute to None and you can actually see now that the stroke has been extruded and you can see right through the object, it's hollow.
In fact, if you think of an object that has both a fill and a stroke attribute, what Illustrator does is it creates two separate objects, the fill and the stroke and you could think of the stroke that basically includes or surrounds the entire exterior area of the fill. Let me press Undo to bring that back to where it was before. So if you think about it, anytime that you apply a 3D effect to an option that has both a fill and a stroke attribute applied, Illustrator has to do double the work to apply that 3D effect and that's because it's applying the 3D effect to two distinct objects, not just one.
Now on a basic shape like I have right over here, doesn't really make that much of difference but if I had a very complex shape it would take twice as long for Illustrator to render that graphic. More so, if I have a different fill and stroke color applied to an object, I'll obviously see different results. For example, take a look at the two words that I have here and these are the same words but this one has a stroke and this one does not. Here the Extrude Color is red which is the fill color, here the Extrude Color is the purple which is the stroke color. Now, in a case over here with text I may want the Extrude Color to be different and in that case I would apply a stroke attribute. But if you will take a look, you can actually see the thickness of the stroke that appears here on the front face of the object.
So here it probably makes the most sense to use a very, very small stroke amount. I'll click on this text here and instead of a two point stroke I'll reduce that to half a point. But at the end of the day, here is how I look at 3D in working with fills and strokes. For the most part whenever I'm working with 3D objects, I do not use stroke attributes. In doing so, I get better performance and I'll have more control over the objects that I'm working with. The only exception to that is when I specifically want my Extrude Color to be a different color. Such as this example over here with the text. And only in those cases where I'll actually add a stroke attribute to my artwork. So now that we have a good understanding of how fills and strokes work with 3D, we can dive right into the 3D feature and learn about all of its settings.
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