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How to create complex 3d lineart used in Adobe Illustrator!

Community Beginner ,
Mar 21, 2024 Mar 21, 2024

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Hello, all of my lovely illustrator fiends!

 

I wanted to share a workflow that I have found for easily converting complex 3d forms into lineart in Adobe Illustrator without fiddling with the usual perspective grid shenanigans.

I hope this is an acceptable post because it does involve a secondary program— Blender (it's free don't worry), but the result from the program is used in Illustrator entirely and I'm new to the forums so the TOS aren't exactly drilled into my mind yet, but its seems like it's allowed from what I can tell, and there are some prerequisites as far as knowing how to operate Blender, but everything is easily understood with a little bit of research on your end if you've never touched it before. 

 

First: Modeling

 

Model the object that you are trying to use within an illustrator composition inside Blender, or find/purchase a 3d model if you can't do it yourself—  this will be the hardest step if you've never used 3d software.

 

Next: Creating the 3D lineart

 

You can create line art from an object, the entire scene, or a collection if it's multiple specific objects you want to be outlined with: add>grease pencil> (scene/collection/object) line art.

 

The grease pencil can be tweaked to only project to where you want them if needed in the modifier settings (it's pretty good by default usually). 

 

Next: Camera set-up

 

Set up your camera to where you want it to be viewed from, change lens characteristics, change aspect ratio etc.

 

This step is important for good results because the grease pencil operates off of the active camera's perspective.

 

Lastly: Exporting the lineart for use in Illustrator

 

Export the line art to SVG

You will go to file>export>SVG 

 

This will export an SVG file to your computer which can then be imported to Illustrator.

 

If all you need is simple line art, this is the last step! Otherwise, to create color fills, create a layer beneath the line art to color block, as the paths in the resulting SVG will most likely not be connected!

 

Notes for troubleshooting

 

You need to be in object mode to export the SVG!! It will not give you the option to export SVG in edit mode.

 

The grease pencil projects from the camera, but the exported SVG will be from the actual viewport, not just where you place the camera, so make sure you are viewing the active camera or an appropriate viewing angle (for orthographic lineart) before export.

 

The paths may not be connected, so it might not always be as simple as drag>drop>color, and if not, selecting paths then right-click>join can sometimes work but more often than not, it won't work as you intend it to, so using the grease pencil as a guide for your color blocks in a secondary color layer underneath the lineart is usually the best route. Also, locking the grease pencil line art layer to prevent accidentally connecting to incomplete paths is a lifesaver and will save you from so many headaches.

 

Just because the grease pencil lines within Blender are small or large relative to the object, doesn't mean the paths will be that way in Illustrator, so when you set up the grease pencil, the thickness scale should remain around 1.00 (equates to about 1pt stroke), but it can be changed later on in Illustrator itself, so it's not the end of the world if the stroke is too big or small in illustrator. 

 

Thanks for reading this, and I hope this can save at least one person from struggling with the prepackaged 3d tools and perspective grid within Illustrator, which are great tools on their own, but just lack the capability of a purpose-built 3d program like Blender to produce complex 3d objects intuitively in my opinion, but I have seen some incredible results done entirely in Adobe Illustrator, so to each their own.

 

Feel free to reply if anything is unclear and I'll try my best to help you out— but if you can't model I can't help you out, it's a skill just like any other, so practice makes perfect.

 

Happy Illustrating! Cheers!

 

TOPICS
Draw and design , Experiment , How-to , Import and export , Third party plugins , Tools

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Adobe
Community Beginner ,
Mar 21, 2024 Mar 21, 2024

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Here's a very quick and dirty poster I made using this technique, as an example of an application of this process in Illustrator!

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