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You can render that kind of thing in Illustrator with alot of tedious drawing with grads, blends, mesh grads, etc., etc. But the reason you see so much of that nowadays is, it's generally done with some kind of quick & easy raster effect. For example, this took about 30 seconds with a filter that comes in Xara Xtreme:
The text and paths are all live and editable; but it's still rendered as an on-the-fly raster effect that gets "nailed down" to pixels on export, much as Illustrator's raster effects are (except alot faster). There are probably add-on plug-ins for something similar in AI, if you like paying extra for that stuff. You can monkey around with the Chrome Photoshop Effect applied in Illustrator, but it's not as flexible and takes more twiddling.
Actually, I think one hack I can make in Illustrator is just to choose the bevel height to be very large so that it would mostly be a raised object like I want and I can cover the small central portion with a fill. The only problem is that my path as defined is not smooth and when I blow up bevel height the imperfections show through in the surface finish. Is there a way to automatically fix that?
I attach a picture of what I get. Notice the thick dark green line which looks like my path (blue dots and lines) but offset by the bevel thickness. I can cover anything inside that line with a uniform color and I can live with that because if I could push bevel height to very large numbers then I could shrink the inner area in proportion to the whole image to where it would be negligible. But what I then need is to avoid those ugly "crumples" (where lighting highlights become discontinuous). How do I do that?
bevel_ex.png 1.2 MB
Notice how the bevel and the top surfaces do not match and neither looks like a light is shining on it. In fact, it is relatively easy to play with gradients on top surface to make it look like it is illuminated. Even easier for the bevel. But making the two surfaces to match perfectly along the edge is the hard part.
//This is a scientific illustration not a web design so the level of care is a bit higher.
Well f you are going to criticize my art wrk I am not going to play!
And that's that!
But you can keep in mind the original question is was about raise surfaces not shiny metal texture.
You would probably create the shiny metal surfaces with gradient meshe.
This is no real attempt to make a convincing shiny surface but with a little imagination you can get the point
I bet there will others to stop by and show how you can make art that can be mapped the is more convincing.
First, I want to apologize if I came off as criticising your artwork. My only point was that the proposed solution does not do what I need.
You are right that I do not care about the specific texture. What I want is something that takes a path and makes it look like a cookie that rose in the oven. A smooth 3D hill with a bottom cross-section being the path. Or think about a piece of rubber stretched on a rigid holder in the shape of the path and held horizontally. Now imagine air blowing upward. That's the shape I am looking for. Texture and finish are mostly irrelevant so long as the surface looks smooth. The thing I was pointing out is that your bevel solution does not look smooth and it is inherently hard to make it look perfectly smooth with any non-trivial texture or finish (not just metal). But again, this was not a criticism of your artwork.
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If you're looking for that kind of perfection, simply use a 3D program. All the gradient meshes or blend shapes in teh world won't give you that flexibility and perfection. For perfectly smooth shading, you will have to stack many separate instances on top of each other and then it becomes a nightmare if you ever need to change or adjust it.
Thanks. One last question following from your answer but perhaps offtopic to the original thread.
Is there a NURBS plugin for AI?
when I blow up bevel height the imperfections show through in the surface finish. Is there a way to automatically fix that?
Well, as explained, my way of "automatically" avoiding those problems would be to use something else entirely. Illustrator's 3D Effect is well-known for its inherent difficulty with self-join intersections. Having to manually clean that stuff up is part of the tweaking and twiddling I aluded to.
Note that my "30 second" solution does not have that problem:
The specific sample you showed as what you are trying to emulate (the yin-yang) has the specific look of such things done in Xara Xtreme; thus my recommendation.
> All the gradient meshes or blend shapes in teh world won't give you that flexibility and perfection.
I quite disagree. All the gradient meshes and/or blend shapes, etc., etc, in the world can very well give you photorealism.
The practical question, though, is whether a simple replication of the target sample total_noob posted is worth all the etc., etc. in the world. ;-)
Well to be frank that is far from beg photo-real.
I was joking about criticizing my work it was only crudely drawn and
certainly had plenty of problems.
AI's 3D is not intended to give the user full 3D capabilities it is
just a tool to give the use some basic capabilities never intended to
replace 3D programs.
The idea was to give the user who need to create a simple 3D object
that really did not warrant the expense of purchasing a 3D program and
mastering the nuances of that program.
It can do for the user what it is intended to do and with some clever
adaptation perhaps a little more but it is not a 3D program it is just
an effect. It was my hope that eventually it would evolve to something
more if it got a lot of user attention and it does get that here in
the forum and there are users that have more needs than just this
basic 3D and it seems like a lot of them.
However as of today as we see there has not been an advancement in
this area so I hold little hope there ever will be.
There are many people here as you can see who complain about it the 3D
effect but that is a bit unrealistic since it is only an effect. What
they are really saying is that they hope the
illustrator evolves to the point that there will be a 3D space and
modeling capabilities, I don't know if that will happen but the 3D
Effect is not probably capable of such a task.
But it is fun to speculate.