Designing in 3D – Illustrator

Design ideas and design process

The use of boxes and geometric shapes was my main concept for this project, as this is not only the style of work I relish engendering but also something I thought of being a personal challenge for myself in this particular task. I was also very keen on utilizing the letter ‘a’ in most of my sketches as I conceived of it as a ‘logo’ for the podcast: letter ‘a’ stands for the word aperture, as well as visualises the concrete feature of this letterform.

Design Idea 01
Figure 01

Albeit quite simple, my first design concept (Figure 01)inspired the rest of my final designs for this task in a subtle way. The sticker features a 3D letter ‘a’, which I have previously utilized for the branding of the podcast, as well as text that I positioned parallel to the x-height of the letter ‘a’. I have made this decision based on the designs I have fabricated for this project before producing the stickers.

Design Idea 02
Figure 02

The second design idea (Figure 02) was a lot more complex and has challenged me in many ways. The design features a block building with text that was carefully rendered on the ‘roof’ of the construction. I have also added geometrical ‘clouds’ to give this image more dimension and indicate some movement, rather than a still object/image. Regarding the colours, I have set with yellow and pink as they not only complement each other but also mimic the appearance of a sunset, decorating this image with more realistic elements.

Figure 03

My personal favourite was the last design idea presented on this page (Figure 03). Although I have had it in mind from the starting stages of the project, It took me a lot of experimentation and development to finalise this concept.

I have first begun by creating flat shapes (boxes) in the centre of the page. I have then used the ‘extrude & bevel’ tool to transform the 2D squares into cubes etc. Using these, I built the ‘box’ part of the design. I have repeated these steps for the letters and type in my design.  At that point, I was quite happy with what I have had produced, and therefore I continued adding more effects such as the pink glow, that’s emerging from the box (Figure 04&05), to add a surreal element to the image. While I was quite fond of what I have created, I still felt like the image looked lifeless and flat, despite being portrayed in its 3D form.

Figure 04

To adapt this design, I used what I learnt – through my research about the program – to create and apply various effects. Firstly, I decided to intensify the glow emerging from the box. Since I made this using a semi-transparent gradient,

Figure 05

I attempted to change the colour to something lighter and more vibrant, but in the end, I decided to simply change the layer style to hard light, which seemed to work best with my design. Additionally, decided to add a glowing rim around the edge of the box, which is seen in the podcast cover and postcard designs. Although there’s an option in illustrator to create such effect within seconds, there’s little flexibility with this tool; therefore, I created the effect from scratch. Initially, I have duplicated outer rim of the box twice. Subsequently, I chose the colours and locked one of the copies in place, while increasing the stroke width of the second outline. Lastly, I applied a gaussian blur to the thicker outline which softened the stroke, resulting in a glowing effect (Figure 06).

Figure 06

To make this design even more vivid, I experimented with the shadows around the box, finally deciding on using a shade of fuchsia pink (Figure 07&08), which I selected using the colour guide tool in illustrator. I feel like this adaptation to my initial design is what really elevated it, and made it look more like the stickers I looked at while preparing for this task.

Figure 07
Figure 08

Once satisfied with the outcome, I added a few more finishing touches including more floating letters, with varied angles and perspectives to make them appear like they are levitating in the air.

Software tutorials

As I haven’t used Illustrator for over eight months, the essential tutorials refreshed my recollection on this subject. Preferably, I fixated on watching a few more tutorials on LinkedIn learning. I probed for videos about logo design, as I considered the sticker as something that can be utilized as a logo for the podcast. One video that I found auxiliary in my studies was Logo Design: Techniques (2016), as it explicated how to produce different effects that we visually perceive in subsisting logo designs. The video, in lieu of explicating how to utilize the built-in implements in Illustrator, gave an in-depth guide on how to create those effects using paths/transformation tools etc. which gave me flexibility within my design. Furthermore, I’ve also watched a few sections from Illustrator Essential Training (2020) to help me become more confident at using the pen tool, which I relied on to create the cutting outlines for my designs. Since my sticker designs were purely typographical and geometrical, I haven’t had the chance to improve my ability to use the pen tool: I’d like to create more complex vector illustrations using this tool, to help me with work on other modules. Over the next few months, I’d like to develop this skill, by watching more creating more logo and sticker designs based on what I have learnt.

Resources for research and inspiration
Figure 10

I have first approached this project by producing a rough plan of what I’d like to-do: where to commence, what existing imagery I should visually examine etc (Figure 10). Once I’ve done that, I began sketching conceptions by hand; these were rough drawings of visuals/shapes I wished to include in my design. I have also looked at existing sticker designs across a popular merchandise website, that sells stickers made by contemporary designers, like myself,  I have also visited Behance and looked at how professional designers create their stickers and artwork, what features, colours and effects they use. Analysing these, prior to the design stage, helped me figure out how I’d like my sticker to look like, in terms of colour and its overall aesthetic. I’ve created a mood board using a few screen-shots of my favourite imagery for reference, to look back at when I’m searching for inspiration.

Figure 11
Figure 12
Figure 12





Collaboration piece, Movies Monsters 2:
Anastasiya Brykova. Acer x Skillbox Sticker pack #1:
MIGHTY SHORT, Le Sticker pack #1:

Sérgio Bergocce, Sotaques:
Juan Afanador, Fat and Ninja: