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Before we start learning about the 3D effect inside of Illustrator, it's important to set a few expectations. Once we understand exactly what the capabilities of 3D inside of Illustrator are we can use that to our advantage. The first thing to realize about 3D inside of Illustrator is that it's real 3D rendering. So it isn't some kind of a cheesy effect, at the same time, because it's real 3D rendering, it does take a lot of computer processing power and as such based on the complexity of your graphics, you may find yourself waiting a little bit for Illustrator to render the 3D. While 3D is real inside of Illustrator, it's also a vector-based implementation of 3D. Now if you have seen those 3D movies, like for example by Pixar, those are pixel-based renderings, not vector- based, and as such they have different types of shading capabilities that are not present inside of Illustrator.
At the same time, there are certain benefits of using vector based rendering, one of those being that your artwork is infinitely scalable. Speaking of artwork, Illustrator supports something called artwork mapping and that's the ability to take two-dimensional artwork and wrap it around the surface of a 3D object. This is actually a very cool feature inside of Illustrator and it allows you to create mock-ups of packages, labels on a bottle, and it also opens up an entire world of creative options. Now when it comes to the 3D inside of Illustrator, the 3D effect is actually applied as an attribute to a particular object. In other words just like in Illustrator you can apply a fill to an object, you can apply a 3D effect to an object. But because of that multiple objects don't share the same 3D effect. In other words, Illustrator's world is a two-dimensional world, not a three-dimensional world and as such there is certain limitations.
For example, I can't pierce one object through another, I can't a sphere and then have a rod go through the center of that sphere. Likewise, multiple objects will not share the same axis or the same vanishing point. Throughout the coming chapter though we'll learn a variety of techniques to get around some of these issues. The 3D feature in Illustrator is also proprietary and in that I mean that there is no integration from a 3D perspective between Illustrator and other programs. As we'll quickly see inside of Illustrator, when I apply 3D, the 3D applies strictly inside of Illustrator, so I have no way to export that 3D geometry to other programs, for example, like Photoshop or Maya or any other 3D applications.
The only artwork that I can export out of Illustrator is always going to be two-dimensional. Likewise, there is no way to import 3D geometry into Illustrator either. For example, I can't go to Google Warehouse and maybe export something from SketchUp and then bring that into Illustrator. Finally, Illustrator's 3D effect is applied as a Live Effect inside of Illustrator, and as such it lives by the rules of Live Effects, which actually opens up a whole bunch of options to me. First of all, I can apply it to Live text, I can apply the 3D effect to fills or strokes independently and once I apply a 3D effect that I like, I can save it as a graphic style to easily apply it to other objects.
So keeping all these things in mind, let's have some fun with using 3D in Illustrator.
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