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There is somewhat of a paradox that lives inside of Illustrator. If you think about it, Illustrator itself is a two-dimensional program, but yet the 3D feature allows you to create 3D objects and somehow on an Illustrator artboard these 2D and 3D worlds collide. Let me explain to you exactly how this works. I'm going to create just a simple print document. Choose regular basic settings. I'm going to use my Rectangle tool to click once on my artboard, because I want to draw a rectangle. Let's say I choose specifically 3"x3". I'm going to click OK to accept that value. One of the things that I really love about working with 3D in Illustrator is that it allows me to be as precise with 3D as I am with anything else inside of Illustrator. I'm going to fill my objects here with a red fill and I want to give it no stroke at all. I'm going to select the piece of artwork, go to the Effect menu, let's move it to the side just a little bit here, so we can see this better. Click on the Effect menu, choose 3D > Extrude & Bevel, and because I want to create a perfect cube, I can actually change my Extrude Depth to exactly three inches.
By the way the default setting here is always going to be in points, but I can type in any other value, by typing let's say 3 in for inches, or mm for millimeters, cm for centimeters, so on and so forth. Hit the Tab key to accept that value and click Preview, and I can see that I have created a cube. Now here is the important distinction inside of Illustrator. What I'm seeing in my artboard right now is a two- dimensional object that looks like it's 3D, because Illustrator's artboard itself is two dimensional, not three dimensional. However, when I have the 3D Extrude & Bevel options dialog box open, I'm now living in this real 3D environment and I can actually click and spin on this particular track cube to change the rotation or to see how my artwork looks like when I rotate it in 3D space.
But each time that I change a different position of my object, Illustrator takes that and creates a two- dimensional object that appears on my artboard that looks like it's 3D according to the settings that are defined here. Now I know that sounds somewhat complicated. But let me show you exactly what's happening and you will understand. I'm going to change the Position back to the Off-Axis Front. We'll just leave it as a regular cube. I'm looking straight at it over here. I'm going to click OK and I'm going to go over here to the Object menu and I'm going to choose Expand Appearance. Now what that does is it basically breaks apart the 3D shape as a regular plain object; it's no longer a live effect. And you can see here that I have this object that is now two-dimensional. It's look like a 3D, but it's only 2D.
In fact, it's made up of these sides. But you see the back of the cube is not even here. All I see are the three faces that are part of my object. I'm going to press Undo two times to go back to my original shape. Now my live effect is still in effect. I'm going to go now to the Appearance panel. I'm going to go ahead to Extrude & Bevel to click on it to edit it. Preview it so I can see it. And now I'm going to click on this button here called More Options. Illustrator is very much aware that when I go ahead and I adjust the rotation of my object, that right now I'm in a 3D space, but it knows that eventually my artwork is going to need to be displayed on this two dimensional artboard.
Now a cube, a 3D cube for that matter, always has six sides. It has a top, a bottom, a front, a back, a left, and a right side. But in the world of 2D, at any one time, I'll only be able to view up to three of those sides. I can't see the other sides. Illustrator is a very smart program. It knows that rendering 3D artwork can take some computing power and therefore since it knows it will never see three of those sides of the object, Illustrator to save rendering time never renders those sides. That's why when I expand my object, I only see the three surfaces that I'm looking at right now. It doesn't bother to draw the other parts of the artwork because it knows I'll never see it.
However, if I take a look over here at the bottom of this dialog box, because I clicked on the More Options button, I now see some additional options here, including this option called Draw Hidden Faces. That particular setting allows me to force Illustrator to actually draw and render all the sides of the cube. In this case here it would be six sides, not just three. Even though I will not be able to see it. So if I click on the Draw Hidden Faces option right now, I don't see any change at all in my artwork over here because again, in this world of 2D I can only see three sides. Illustrator has drawn and rendered the three objects that are at the back of this option. To prove that, I'll click OK and now I'll go choose Object and I'll expand the appearance and you can now see that Illustrator actually rendered all of the side to that object, not just the front three, but the back three as well. Why is this important? Well, two things come immediately to mind. First of all, we know that in Illustrator I do have the ability to apply transparency attributes to an object.
Well, if I were to make the cube transparent, if Illustrator doesn't draw the back sides, I won't be able to actually see a true transparent cube where I can through the front of the cube to the back of the cube. The reason is because if Illustrator doesn't draw or render the back of the cube, how do I see it through the front of the object? So if I am working with transparency, I do want to make sure that the Draw Hidden Faces option is chosen. Secondly, I may be using the 3D effect so that I can later on expand it and work with the shapes like I have done over here. In that case if I want to make sure that all the geometry for the 3D object is here, I want to make sure that the Draw Hidden Faces option is turned on.
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