Deke's Techniques 241: Drawing an Orthogonal Cube with the Line Tool in Illustrator
This week, Deke's free Technique is about how to draw a perfectly orthogonal (that is, right-angled) cube using nothing but the line tool (and some handy dragging, duplicating, and rotating) in Illustrator. It's one of those things everyone should know how to do, and after watching this video, you will. Who knows, maybe it will come in handy one day when you are tasked with designing a cover for The New Yorker. (Sure, that's all it takes!)
The project starts with nothing but this simple straight line, drawn with the Line Segment tool in Illustrator:
If you can draw that, then the rest is just variations on a cubular theme. Check it out:
2) Click on the top of the line with the Rotate tool, set the angle to 120 degrees, and click Copy:
3) Press Command-D (Ctrl-D) to do it again (making another segment, another 120 degrees around):
4) Copy the left line to the two other places it belongs.
Drag the left-hand segment by its right-hand anchor point, then press the Alt (Option key). Snap a copy into place in both the lower left and upper right (as you can see below.) Make sure smart guides are on, and click those anchor points into place to ensure alignment.
5) Do the same for the other two lines.
The image below shows where to drag the vertical copies. Make sure each time that you're dragging from an anchor point and feeling them snap into place.
6) Join each side.
In order to shade the cube, each side must be it's own independent shape. Copy the three segments that make up the original center Y shape, then immediately paste it. (Select them, press Command/Ctrl-C to copy, then Command/Ctrl F to Paste in Front.) Then select the four segments that make up the right-hand side of the cube and press Command/Ctrl-J to join them. Then right-click, choose Arrange and then Send to Back so that those segments will be safe from your next join.
Note how I can now move that right-hand side out to assure that it's independently grouped. Repeat the process for the top and left sides.
7) Select each side in turn, and shade accordingly.
The result is a perfectly orthogonal square:
If you really have dreams of New Yorker covers, then also check out this week's member-exclusive movie, in which Deke creates this cube of cubes:
If you're not a member of lynda.com, you can get a free week's trial at lynda.com/deke. Plenty of time to try out this technique and a bunch of other dekeGoodness that's available at lynda.com.