Join Deke McClelland for an in-depth discussion in this video Rotating objects in 3D space, part of Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Advanced.
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In this exercise, I am going to show you something that is completely unrelated to Blends and Masks inside of Illustrator. So feel free to skip this exercise if you want to. However, I am here to tell you this is really cool. What we are going to do is we are going to rotate a couple of objects in 3D space, so that we match the perspective of our scene. I have gone ahead and saved my progress as Blended groups.ai, and I'm zoomed in on this fence right here. And I don't know how this slipped my notice, but this sort of back edge has gotten wedged in back of the face of the sarcophagus, and that's a real problem.
This guy right there, in other words, he should be in front. And the reason he's where he is at, he used to be in the right position, but I had to bring the face of the sarcophagus up front in order to make it a clipping mask and it ended up covering up this shape. So this is really easy Illustrator stuff. It's just that we need to take care of the problem. So I will go ahead and select it with my Black Arrow tool, I will press Ctrl+X, Cmd+X on the Mac in order to cut it. Click on the face of the sarcophagus and then I will press Ctrl+F or Cmd+F on the Mac in order to paste it in front. So that's done, that was easy.
All right, now if you're working along with me, I want you to go to your Layers panel, and notice that there is a layer that's currently turned off right now, called Type & Crest. I want you to turn it on, and you'll see some type that could be live text. This would work with live text inside of Illustrator. I've turned it into path outlines just to sort of simplify things and to keep the live text from getting in our way when we are working on other objects. And then I've also got this crest up here at the top. I went ahead and drew this crest using several passes of the ellipse tool, so I drew a bunch of circles and then I assigned some strokes and I outlined the strokes, and I combined them all together using a pathfinder operation.
And that was too complicated to do in perspective. So after creating the shape and after creating the text, I then need to place them in perspective, so I want to match the perspective of the scene. So we will start with the text down here. I will go ahead and click on it to make it selected, and if I press Ctrl+H or Cmd+H, so that I hide the selection outlines for a moment. And this is a good idea when you're rotating things in 3D space, because you can better see what's going on without the selection edges in your way. Now I am going to go ahead and zoom-in. You can see that I've created a kind of embedded effect here, that is, the letters look like they're carved out of something, out of thin air in our case, because the letters are just floating on top of the scene.
If you go over to the Appearance panel, you'll see that I have two different gradient Fills set up here in the Stroke, and I have set up the Fills so that they are offset with respect to each other. I have got an Offset Path effect assigned and I have got a Transform effect. Now coming up, we have got a chapter on Advanced Type in which I'm going to tell you about how to create cool type of effects and how to create logos and all that stuff. So just stay tuned for that. In the meantime, rather than walk you through everything that's going on here, and of course, you can explore it on your own just by clicking on any one of these links, and you'll see the effects that I have applied.
But so far you don't really have the information you need to process what's going on inside these dialog boxes. So, like I say, stay tuned for the full story later. In the meantime we are just going to rotate this text in 3D space using a fairly complicated, but really super cool command that I usually don't document inside of Illustrator, and it's up here under the Effect menu. You go to 3D, and then you choose this command right there, Rotate. Now in the mastery portion of this series, I have an entire chapter devoted to the topic of 3D; however, I focus on these commands, Extrude & Bevel.
Extrude creates a 3-D effect by extruding something into space, so you take a square, make it a cube. You take a circle, make it a cylinder, you'll see. And Revolve, you take a shape and revolve it around an axis to create a different kind of 3D shape. So basically you can take half a lamp, and revolve it around an axis and you have a whole 3-D lamp. Rotate is the simplest of the commands, what it does, it just rotates a 2-D object in 3-D space, kind of like you printed it on a piece of paper and you're just rotating the piece of paper around in space, and that's what we are going to do here.
So go ahead and choose the Rotate command and you get this cube, which may seem fairly daunting at first that you are supposed to use a cube in order to rotate this guy. First thing I want you to do is turn on the Preview check box, so you can see what you're doing and you'll immediately rotate the text to some degree that's already specified here inside the dialog box. The position is Off-Axis Front, for what it's worth, and you have these other options you can choose from, these Presets, but we're going to give them the slip, because none of them are going to do us any good. Instead, we are going to start just dragging this guy around, and for starters here, I want you to find the blue edges.
So notice we've got this red option right there, and we have got a green option, and we have got a blue option. And what we are doing here is we are doing an X axis rotation, which is as we'll see, either moves the edge forward or backward, like so. So that's an X axis rotation, and the reason I mentioned the colors is because they correspond to the colors of the edges, notice that. So if I drag that top edge, that's a red edge, so that performs an X axis rotation, then we've got a Y axis rotation and you drag one of these side edges to perform that.
And you'll see this wireframe preview in the background as you drag around and then you release and you let the preview update onscreen. It will take just a moment, because we do have two different gradient fills and a stroke assigned to this shape. And then finally if you drag on this edge over here, so the depth edge, you get that blue line, that is to say, it corresponds to the Z axis rotation, and then you can drag, like so. Now if you know anything about aviation, I don't expect that you do, but just to give you a sense if you know basically how the plane shifts in space as it's flying or how your car shifts as it's driving on the road, you've got pitch, which is your X axis rotation, you've got yaw, which is your Y axis rotation, and you've got roll, which is your Z axis rotation.
So anyway, I am going to go ahead and drag this blue edge like so until I get the text more or less at the angle I want it to be, along the top of the post. And then I also want to shift the text back, that is, I want to pitch it back, I want to lean it back by dragging one of these red edges, and I'll drag up like so in order to lean that text back. And no matter what I do though, it's still just straight-on text, we don't have any perspective. And that's because my perspective value is set to 0 degrees. I want you just to go ahead and raise that value, you can experiment if you want to.
You can go ahead and grab the slider right there and do this number in order to introduce or get rid of perspective. But the value that we are looking for is 100 degrees, just go ahead and enter 100 degrees into that option, and then that will give you a better sense of what's going on. Now you can continue to drag this text round in any way that you see fit. I am going to go ahead and move this guy down forward, I am going to pitch the text forward a little bit, I might go ahead and drag this Z axis edge right there, the blue edge, down like so in order to achieve this effect.
So what you basically do is you whittle your way to finally getting the effect you are looking for. Now I've done this work in advance, so I will just tell you the values that I came up with. For the X axis value, I came up with 20 degrees, so go ahead and enter that if you want to work along with me, press the Tab Key. And for Y, I came up with -29; this is all trial and error by the way. I can't just look at a scene and know these numbers off the top of my head. I have to just sort of mess around with this box until I get it right, so I am just trying to simplify things for you.
I will enter 29 degree and press the Tab Key. And now it's almost where it needs to be, I could just go ahead and drag this blue edge down a little bit, but I am going too far with my modifications. About there is right, actually, -6 degrees ends up working out pretty well, you can try -7, press the Down Arrow key to reduce it a little if I wanted to. But I think given the nature of my posts that -6 degrees looks better. So again, everything got goofed up, because I dragged that edge right there. What I want is 20 degrees for the X value.
And what you would end up doing is after you get things more or less right, you would sort of up and down arrow these values until you got things exactly right. So I press the Down Arrow Key in the case of the yaw value here, the Y axis value, to take it down to -29 degrees and then I do think I want to take the Z value down to -7 degrees as well by pressing the Down Arrow key. And unfortunately you can't split the difference; you have to work in whole degree increments. It would be nice to set this guy to like -6.5 degrees, but that's not going to work for you. So anyway, this ends up looking pretty good. I'll click OK.
And then we need to perform a similar modification, though not the same modification, because this crest here is at a different point inside of my perspective scene, but I will go ahead and click on it to select it, and I can't see the selection edges, because I press Ctrl+H, Cmd+H on the Mac. If I want to confirm that this is selected, I'll press Ctrl+H, Cmd+H and I can see my selection edges now. And I might as well leave them visible, because this time I am just going to tell you some values you can experiment as well if you want to, just to get a sense of how things work. However, here is what you do. Go up to the Effect menu and go ahead and choose the second command Rotate... or you can mash your fist down and press the E key for Effect, that's Ctrl+Shift+Alt+E on the PC or Cmd+ Shift+Option+E on the Mac, and that's going to repeat the last effect applied using different settings, that's what that second command in the Effect menu always does.
It will bring back up your last settings that you applied. This time around, I just want you to enter some values before you turn on the Preview check box, because it will make it quicker. Just enter 38 for the red X value, enter -26 for the green Y value, and then enter -15 for the blue Z value. Leave perspective set to 100%, that's very important. Turn on the Preview check box and you end up getting a dead match, like so. Then click OK in order to accept that modification. So I'll click off the shape, and we can see what we have been able to achieve here.
And those are my 3-D effects. We have just rotated 2-D objects in 3-D space in order to simulate the perspective of our environment. As I say, it has nothing whatsoever to do with Blends and Masks inside of Illustrator, but it's still extremely useful information. We will be covering 3-D in a great deal of detail inside of a chapter in the Mastery series. In the next exercise, I am going to show you how to create a poor man's perspective grid.
- Tracing a pixel-based image
- Sketching and drawing for Illustrator
- Creating and editing gradients
- Creating multi-colored blends
- Creating seamlessly repeating tile patterns
- Creating interlocking artwork with Live Paint
- Designing advanced type effects
- Recoloring artwork with color harmonies
- Making the most of symbols
- Integrating Illustrator with Photoshop
- Using transparency, blend modes, and opacity masks