3D Text In Illustrator

Sometimes flat just doesn’t cut it. If you’re big into design trends, then you know what I am talking about. Right now, flat is all the rage in the world of design. However, what if you don’t want your work to be flat? Sometimes you just need to add dimension to your work, and in this tutorial I’ll show you how to do that. We are going to use the extrude and bevel options under the 3D menu in effects. You can use a simple default setting, or we will show you how to play with the settings to get a unique and more dimensional look that might fit your project better. In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to create 3D text in Illustrator. If you want to know how to edit 3D objects in Adobe Illustrator, I have a tutorial for that, too.

Start by creating a new document of any size in Illustrator. I chose web and 1024 x 768. Select your type tool and choose your word or phrase, making the color a mid-tone gray. I tend to use gray, because it is easier to use a color overlay when sending it to Photoshop for more effects. I do this by default for my particular workflow, but you can do what works for you.

How to Create 3D Text In Illustrator

With your text selected, go to Effects> 3D> Extrude and Bevel, and the menu options will come up. I always click preview, so that I can preview the results. With the default results, you get a very boring, 3/4 turn perspective, that probably wouldn’t fit your purposes. One key element that we are going to use is the perspective setting. This really adds an interesting angle to your text. With the perspective set to 130°, we get very different options than simply using the plain default settings. Play with these settings to get different results. Depending on the position of your object (The top 2 settings), your object will look very different. To get to the other settings, click more options in the top right corner.

Create 3D Text In Illustrator

Next we will change the type of bevel and the lighting settings. For my purposes, I am using rounded. The different bevels will give you different looks, but I just wanted a smooth rounded edge. I chose rounded and set the height to around 4 or 4. The higher the setting, the more of the edge that is cut into, or beveled. I also chose bevel extent out.

Working with 3D Text In Illustrator

For the lighting, you will have to do this to taste. The spherical object shows you where the light will be coming from, and you can click and drag the dot to different angles depending what lighting angle you need. You can also create a new lighting point as well, which you can edit the lighting settings separately for each lighting source. The first option will even shine light from behind your selected object. For the settings, I always tend to turn up the blend steps to around 50, so that you won’t get as much banding, or visible transitions between colors. For shading, you can get some great color effects by choosing your own custom shading color, or you can leave it to black if you are going to export it to Photoshop anyway.

Adjusting 3D Text In Illustrator

Add color to 3D Text In Illustrator

With a different shading color.

Another setting that will give you an interesting result is the drop down menu for plastic shading. If you choose wireframe, you get something that looks like a blueprint, or CAD drawing.

3d text in Illustrator

To add color to your text, simply click on the text and change the color in the Swatches Panel or the Color Panel. If the color isn’t vibrant enough, you can always adjust the lighting settings to increase the vibrancy of the colors.

If you like using Photoshop and Illustrator together, you can paste your 3D text in Photoshop, too. However, if you have Photoshop, you can always create 3D text inside of Photoshop. This wasn’t always the case. You used to only be able to create 3D text in Illustrator. After exporting to Photoshop, you can apply vibrant color overlays and effects to your 3D text. All you have to do is select your 3D text, hit command (Ctrl on the PC) and the letter C, and switch to Photoshop, where you can paste as a smart objects. From there, double click the layer to bring up the blending options, select color overlay, choose your color and set the blend mode to overlay.

Purple 3D Text In Illustrator


I am a professional graphic designer and web designer with years of experience. I am also an illustrator and Wordpress theme creator and author of this design blog. I write tutorials and build custom websites. I do what I love, and I love what I do! You can: Follow Me on Twitter, Join Me on Facebook, & Or Follow James George on Google+