Making Spheres with Illustrator CS

It is easy to make spheres using the new 3D Effects, but there are some hints that will help a lot. One such is knowing how to make a sphere with the least number of sides. If you are not going to map the object, it is not too important, but if you are going to map artwork on to it, having the fewest sides helps. Notice that selecting a fill only will generate the fewest sides.

15 Sides
12 Sides
3 Sides

The following steps will show you how to create a sphere using Illustrator CS's 3D Effects.

Step 1
Step 2
Step 3
Step 4

1- Create a circle with a fill only and the stroke having no color.

2 - Select the knife tool and cut the circle in half.

3 - Select half of the circle and pull it apart.

4 - Select a half circle.

5 - With the half circle selected, click on Effects>3D>Revolve. You must click on the Preview button. It will always be off when you open the menu. Keep all setting Default. Then, click OK. Notice the Appearance Menu. To make changes to the object, click on the highlighted area in the Appearance menu. The sphere can be moved around in different directions by reactivating the 3D effects Revolve Menu through clicking on the appropriate step in the Appearance menu.

3D Effects Revolve
Appearance Menu

6 - In order to map a picture onto the sphere, the picture needs to be a symbol. See the tutorial on creating animation in order to learn how to create a symbol. For this exercise, use a ready made symbol from the symbol library. Once a symbol is in the symbol palette, it will appear in the drop down menu on the Map Art section of the 3D Effects Revolve Menu. At least I have found on a PC under Windows 2000, I can only map a piece of art to an object if it first resides in the Symbol Palette because it must be available from the drop down menu on the Map Art part of 3D Effects.

Symbol Palette
Map Art

7 - Pull the symbol over from the drop down menu and place it on the grid and click OK.

8 - If you want to change the position of the symbol after you have finished it, click on the appropriate line in the Appearance Palette, and reposition it from the Revolve menu which will come up automatically. Always remember to click on the Preview button.

Two Examples
Appearance Palette