Illustrator Tutorial: How To Make 3D Vector Vintage Stars

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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).

Make your star shape

2. Extrude your shape

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

3D extrude and bevel

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

Previewing the shape

Now you should see something like this:

Preview of your 3D shape

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

Changing the perspective setting
Your star after the perspective change

Now make your Extrude depth something like 900 or so.

Changing the extrude depth

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

3D extrude and bevel options

Click OK, and you should have something like this:

What your shape should look like now

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.

Object Expand Appearance

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.

Star with 3D effect taking shape

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.

direct select tool
Adding gradient

Do the same for all of the sides.

Gradient for every side

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).

Choosing the direct select tool again

Select the face of the Star.

Selecting the face of the star

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

Offset path

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

Setting the value for offset

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

Start with original and offset one

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

The new smaller star selected

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

Giving the smaller star a color

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)

Copy and paste

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.


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


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


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.

Setting the stroke

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).

Aligning the shapes

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.

selecting the shape

Now it should look something like this!

Finished 3D shape

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:

Selecting the star for inset
End result

Bonus Freebie:

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

3D stars

Download EPS 

Download SVG