Illustrator is an excellent tool for creating design work and professional illustrations. It is chock full of tools to make your life easier when creating vector illustrations, type treatments, cartoons and more, but for years, one of the toughest challenges when working inside of Adobe Illustrator was creating an illustration using perspective. You could literally spend hours setting up guides to keep your work aligned in perspective. Now, creating work in perspective inside of Adobe Illustrator is quick and easy with the addition of the perspective grid tool, and the perspective selection tool.
Found under the free transform tool, as shown above, the grid perspective tool automatically places a default grid layout on your artboard as shown below. Notice that the perspective grid is set up symmetrically to your artboard, giving you a centered starting point for your artwork. Most realistic perspective artwork isn’t created symmetrically like this, however, but with a few changes, you can set up your perspective guides exactly how you need them to create your desired perspective angles.
Each circle and diamond controls a different parameter for your perspective grid. Here is what each point controls:
The top controls the angle of the top portion of your perspective grid. When this is set high, you get sharp angles and an extreme sense of scale, as if you are closer to this object and it is higher above you. When it is lower, you get the appearance that the object that you are looking at is farther away.
The diamonds to the far left and far right of your artboard slide up and down, changing the horizon line of your perspective illustration. In the image above, it is dragged upward, giving you the perspective that you are above what you are looking at.
Dragging them downward will give you the sense that you are below what you are looking at. This really helps when you want a strong sense of height or vertical scale.
The circles to the left and right of your perspective grid slide left and right, allowing you to adjust the vanishing points on either side of your perspective grid, giving you asymmetrical perspective guides. This will allow you to set up more realistic perspective illustrations inside of Adobe Illustrator.
The middle diamonds control the back edges of the two perspective sides, so that you can control the depth of each side. You can control the thickness of each side quickly by dragging them to the right or left.
The middle white circle inside the grid controls the side of the grid itself. Drag it upward as shown above to make the grid larger, and drag it down to make the grid smaller, giving your grid more lines. This will allow you to work on more detailed work, ensuring that every element is aligned properly.
The bottom three gray circles control the planes themselves. The left and right circles control the side planes, and can drastically change the angles of your sides. The middle circle goes up and down, and controls your ground plane. Raising it brings the ground closer to you and lowering it takes it farther away.
The very bottom diamonds on the far left and right of your perspective grid allow you to move the entire grid around all at once, without changing any of the angles. This allows you to place your grid exactly how you want on your artboard.
Now that you know how to change the settings of your grid in order to set up your scene properly, now we can focus on how to create your artwork in perspective. This really depends on what you are working on. If you are working on an intricate logo of detailed design involving type, then I would suggest assembling it in flat space as you normally would, grouping it together, and then manipulating its perspective.
When you are creating your actual work in perspective, you will be using the Perspective Selection Tool, which is found under the perspective grid tool, if you click and hold down.
You will notice that in the top left portion of your screen, the icon shown above will be there. This is an important icon, because you will use this to determine what angle the object you are drawing will adhere to.
You can work in one of two different ways. The first method is to create your object and then alter it to a certain perspective. Use the rectangle tool to create your object and then click the Perspective Selection Tool.
Go up to the top left icon and click the left-angled square.
Now when you drag the rectangle you made, it will change to the perspective angle that you set in the top left icon. You can snap it to the grid and you can use the square points found on each corner and on the sides of your object to scale the object to the size that you want, or you can stretch the sides as you see fit. The best part is that when you do this, it will do all of this in the current perspective.
The second method is to have the perspective already selected, and then you can draw live in perspective mode. The first method is mainly for creating complex illustrations and putting them in the right perspective when you are done. The second is more for architectural and structural scenes, where you want all of your angles to align properly.
An example of custom 3D type that I made using the perspective tools is shown below.
To create this, I created the type, used the perspective selection tool and moved it into perspective. Then, I copied the text, pasted it in place and sent it behind all of the other artwork by choosing Object>Arrange>Send to Back. Then I selected the type layer in the very back and used the Perspective Selection Tool to scale the text down, and used the grid to align the text properly back and to the left of the text in front. This will match the perspective that you have set up. Then, right click on the rear text layer and choose Perspective>Release with perspective. Do the same for the front text layer.
Now, you are going to change your blend options. To do this, choose Object>Blend>Blend Options. Choose specified steps from the dropdown menu and make the setting high, such as 150-200 steps. Then, select both text layers and choose Object>Blend>Make.
To get the color gradation, you simply change the color of the front or back text. They are connected now, but all you have to do is double-click your text until you get to the individual text that you want to change. Here, you can still change the color, scale, and the height and width of each item. When you are done editing, you can double-click the pasteboard to get back to the main area.
Select the front text, copy it, and choose Edit>Paste in Front. Then choose a lighter color, such as the sky blue chosen in the example.
You can see just how powerful the Perspective tools in Illustrator are. In just a couple of minutes we created text in a custom perspective that is easily editable, scalable, and very colorful.