Creating graphs, Part 2
In the first part of the tutorial I showed you how to create three dimensional charts using Adobe Illustrator CS2. In the second part we will focus on how to visually enhance those charts.
Now that we’ve learned how to create basic charts using Illustrator’s 3D functionality we will enhance them by applying some reflections and subtle gradients. After creating your chart it will probably look similar to the one show in the screenshot on the left.
In a first step select the chart and duplicate it by pressing Cmd+C and Cmd+F. This will create a copy of the selected object and paste it in front of the initial object. In order to better distinguish between the two objects move the new one a few pixel to the top. Personally I prefer to use the arrow keys (Shift+Up) since it’s easier to move the object back to its initial position afterwards.
Now that we have duplicated the graph we need to expand the graph. This is necessary because it’s not possible to edit smart objects such as graphs etc. So select the object and choose “Object — Expand…” from the main menu. The result should look similar to the screenshot on the left.
Now we ungroup the object using the shortcut Cmd+Shift+G twice. After that we can modify each part of the graph. In a next step select all slices via Shift+Click and make sure that the pathfinder palette is being displayed. If that’s not the case you can display it via the “Window” menu or by pressing Shift+F8.
Now with the slices selected first click the “Add to shape area” button (1) and afterwards the “Expand” button (2). We have just combined the different slices to one ellipse.
Now fill the shape with white color, duplicate it and move it up two or three pixels. Now with both shapes selected first click the “Subtract from shape area” button and afterwards the “Expand” button in the pathfinder palette.
In a next step we apply an opacity mask to the new shape. So make sure that the shape is still selected and choose “Make opacity mask” from the transparency palette. Now switch to the mask mode by clicking the black rectangle in the transparency palette and draw a white rectangle as shown in the screenshot.
Select the gradient tool from the tools palette on the left and fill the rectangle with a radial gradient (white to black). The result should look similar to the screenshot on the elft. You may now exit the mask mode by clicking the white rectangle in the transparency palette.
You have just created the main reflection for our chart. Next we will create the subtle reflection on the lower left part of the chart. Select the lower part of the graph, right click and select “Release Clipping Mask” from the context menu. Then click “Add to shape area” and afterwards the “Expand” button in the pathfinder palette. Now you have a single shape we can fill with white color.
In a next step apply an opacity mask on the newly created shape, draw a rectangle and fill it with a linear gradient so that the result looks similar to the screenshot below.
Now move both shapes down to their initial position. Then select the lower shape, head over to the trasparency palette, change its layer style to “overlay” and its opacity to about 40%.
Basically you’re finished. Now it’s up to you whether you additionally apply a dropshadow, some further reflections, gradients etc. Enjoy.