Illustrator Tutorial: How To Make 3D Vector Vintage Stars

by Jay Hilgert
on September 15, 2007

I’m going to walk you through a technique to create vintage looking 3d stars in Illustrator. You guessed it, 100% vector. By the time we’re done, there will be 0 (zero) effects, or filters. You will have a very useful vintage star vector on your artboard, and a new skill to go with it. With vector art gaining ground every day because of its long-term value and versatility, new vector art styles are constantly emerging. I’ve seen quite a few of these 3D style shapes that seem to ‘pop’ out at you being used in many different applications. As always, it’s not quite as hard as you would think. You might just need a little shove in the right direction. Ok, lets make one ourselves!

Illustrator Tutorial: How to Make A 3D Vector Vintage Star

1. Make your star shape

Use the Star tool and hold Shift to make a Star shape (or any shape you want, really) on the artboard. (everything you see here is exact size).

Illustrator Tutorial: How to Make A 3D Vector Vintage Star

2. Extrude your shape

With your Star selected, in the Effect menu go to 3D > Extrude and Bevel.

Illustrator Tutorial: How to Make A 3D Vector Vintage Star

Check the ‘Preview’ option so you can see what you’re working with.

Illustrator Tutorial: How to Make A 3D Vector Vintage Star

Now you should see something like this:

Illustrator Tutorial: How to Make A 3D Vector Vintage Star

Now take the ‘Perspective’ setting all the way to the right (160 degrees)

Illustrator Tutorial: How to Make A 3D Vector Vintage Star
Illustrator Tutorial: How to Make A 3D Vector Vintage Star

Now make your Extrude depth something like 900 or so.

Illustrator Tutorial: How to Make A 3D Vector Vintage Star
Illustrator Tutorial: How to Make A 3D Vector Vintage Star

Click on the blue box and drag to get your desired rotation.

Illustrator Tutorial: How to Make A 3D Vector Vintage Star

Click OK, and you should have something like this:

Illustrator Tutorial: How to Make A 3D Vector Vintage Star

3. Expand Appearance

Now that we have our 3D shape, we will most likely want to have a little more control over it. Go to Object > Expand Appearance and click OK to get rid of the effect and separate our effect into individual shapes that we can edit.

Illustrator Tutorial: How to Make A 3D Vector Vintage Star

You’ll notice that we now have individual shapes for each side of the 3D star shape (and the effect s gone as well, which is good). Great! Now lets make a few more changes.

Illustrator Tutorial: How to Make A 3D Vector Vintage Star

4. Fill the Sides with a Gradient.

To do this, you can either ungroup (about 3 times) until you can select the individual shapes, or you can use the Direct Select Tool (white arrow) to select the individual shapes and fill them with a gradient.

Illustrator Tutorial: How to Make A 3D Vector Vintage Star
Illustrator Tutorial: How to Make A 3D Vector Vintage Star

Do the same for all of the sides.

Illustrator Tutorial: How to Make A 3D Vector Vintage Star

This is pretty much a 3D Vintage Star already, but there are a few extra touches we can add to take it a step further.

5. Offset the Front Face of the Star

To do this you will, again, either have to ungroup everything until you can select an individual shape, or use the Direct Select Tool (white arrow).

Illustrator Tutorial: How to Make A 3D Vector Vintage Star

Select the face of the Star.

Illustrator Tutorial: How to Make A 3D Vector Vintage Star

In the menu, go to Object > Path > Offset Path.

Illustrator Tutorial: How to Make A 3D Vector Vintage Star

Choose a negative value for the offset. (Negative = Smaller/Inside the Selected Shape) I chose -8px.

Illustrator Tutorial: How to Make A 3D Vector Vintage Star

Click OK and you will see your original Star face, and the new offset one.

Illustrator Tutorial: How to Make A 3D Vector Vintage Star

Click once on the blank artboard to deselect everything, then use the Direct Select Tool to select the new (smaller) star.

Illustrator Tutorial: How to Make A 3D Vector Vintage Star
Illustrator Tutorial: How to Make A 3D Vector Vintage Star

Fill this smaller star with a different color to add something a little extra to your vintage star design.

Illustrator Tutorial: How to Make A 3D Vector Vintage Star

Take it a step further:

6. Add a stroke around the entire group.

Hit Command/Control + A to select everything, then hold Option/Alt, click, drag and release to duplicate your shape. (or you can copy and paste if you like)

Illustrator Tutorial: How to Make A 3D Vector Vintage Star

Now, select the NEW group of shapes and if they are grouped, you must ungroup them until you can select individual shapes with the black arrow. DON”T SKIP THIS STEP.

Illustrator Tutorial: How to Make A 3D Vector Vintage Star

Now, with all of the new (individual) shapes selected, in the Pathfinder palette (Window > Pathfinder) hit the “Add to Shape Area” button.

Illustrator Tutorial: How to Make A 3D Vector Vintage Star

Keep everything selected the way it is and immediately hit the “Expand” button in the Pathfinder palette.

Illustrator Tutorial: How to Make A 3D Vector Vintage Star

Sweetness! Now we have a single vector path that is an exact copy of our 3d Star shape. Now all we have to do is add a Stroke and Align. You can change the fill if you want, but you won’t be able to see it anyway. It’s up to you. I chose a dark 3px Stroke.

Illustrator Tutorial: How to Make A 3D Vector Vintage Star

7. Align Your 2 Shapes

IMPORTANT: To align, first, make sure your shape on the left (the ’3d’ shape is grouped). Then select both of your shapes like below, and hit these two buttons in the Align palette (Window > Align) in any order. (you probably want to uncheck ‘align to artboard’ in the palette options first).

Illustrator Tutorial: How to Make A 3D Vector Vintage Star

If your shape with the stroke is on top it will look like this. So all you have to do to get it behind the 3d shape is (with the black arrow) click on the blank artboard once to deselect everything. Then select your top shape with the stroke on it, and hit Command/Control + { until it gets behind your 3d star shape.

Illustrator Tutorial: How to Make A 3D Vector Vintage Star

Now it should look something like this!

Illustrator Tutorial: How to Make A 3D Vector Vintage Star

That should be enough to get you started, but I have one extra tip for you before you go…

Extra Bling

You can literally do anything you want from this point, but here is a quick tip to take it one more step:

You can easily make the front of your vintage star appear to be ‘inset’ by simply duplicating the smaller star shape, filling it with a dark color, and nudging it up and over. Like this:

Illustrator Tutorial: How to Make A 3D Vector Vintage Star
Illustrator Tutorial: How to Make A 3D Vector Vintage Star

Bonus Freebie:

You can download the file I used to make the Cover Image at the beginning of this tutorial! (vector)

Illustrator Tutorial: How to Make A 3D Vector Vintage Star

Download EPS (Ill version 8 eps)

Includes: – EPS (1)

Download SVG (svg 1.1)

Includes: – SVG (1)

About Jay Hilgert

Formally trained at Oklahoma State, Jay Hilgert is a graphic and web designer, font designer (Link), software developer (Brush Pilotâ„¢), and the founder of BittBox.

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