Adobe Illustrator: How To Make 3D letters without using the 3D tool in Adobe Illustrator

This tutorial will show you how to create block 3D letters in Illustrator without using the 3D tool, our trainer could teach you this and a lot more useful things in our Illustrator courses.. First thing you will need to do is to open a new document. You can have it any size you like but I suggest that you make it 600px to 300px and have it landscape so you have enough room to make your letters.


Next thing you will have to do is set your text up. If you used the same page settings as me then you should have your text size as 130pt and change your tracking to 100. If You don’t know where to find these settings on the right hand side where you have your gradient and pathfinder icons you should see a letter A with al line next to this where you will find those settings.


Write the word you would like, it would be easier to follow the tutorial if you use the word vector because that’s what I used but feel free to use whatever you like.


Next you need to add an 8pt stroke to your letter, it does not matter what colour it is as the colours will be changed later on.


Now you need to expand and ungroup the text. To do this you need to go to “Object”, “Expand” a dialog box will come up just click ok. The now back to “Objects” and go to “Ungroup”. Now this will turn the text into individual letters, but to turn the stroke in to a shape you need to repeat this process one more time.


Next select all the letters and go to the “Pathfinder” panel and chose the first tool “Unite” this will join everything together. Now you should copy and paste this over the other one and change the colour so you can easily see the two copies. Now because you used the Unite tool you might need to expand and ungroup them again so you should do this now.


You should now have something that looks like the above picture. To make the text look 3D you will need to do the following. Use the pen tool and fill in the gaps in-between the two letters. The curved letters are a bit different so we will come to those after but let’s start with the block letters. Let’s start with the letter V, what you need to do is to select the pen tool and join up the point show in the diagrams below. This will give you the edges of your letters.















There are two parts in doing the R first you need to do the straight parts and then the curved area. You do the straight parts just like you have been for the last 3 letters.



To do the curves of a letter you need to select the letter you want so In this case the R then go to the Pathfinder panel and select the second option in, “Minus” this will make the orange part a separate shape so you can colour it when need be.



It’s time to move onto the C. The first thing you will have to do is to join up the points with the pen tool just like before on the other letters.


You will see that part of what you have just done goes over the side of the C, the easiest way to get around this is to just copy and past a C over the top of this one that way it will cover that tiny little bit. After you have done that you will need to select the the direct selection tool from the menu and on the red part on the outside of the black C you need to stretch out the end points a tiny bit this will give it more of a 3D look when coloured.


The O is a little bit different; to do this all you have to do is to copy and paste one on top of it then go to the pathfinder panel and select minus, then grab your direct selection tool again and do the same thing as you did with the C.


Now you should have something which will look like this and it’s time to add some colour! You need it all to be same colour but it needs to be different shades for the different areas, you should have the lightest colour as the main one, a slightly darker shade as the colour on the sides and then an even darker shade on the bottom. For the curved areas you need to use a gradient which will make it look 3D.


For the curved areas you need to use a gradient which will make it look 3D. For the gradient you need to use the two secondary colours and have the darker shade on the right and the slightly lighter shade on the left hand side of the gradient. You can edit the gradient anyway you like just make sure that it is a linear gradient and not a radial.


Your lettering should now be coloured and completed and should look like this.



Want to learn how to turn a hand drawn image into a vector image in illustrator? Read this article to find out more.