Illustrator Tutorial: How to create an orange peel effect

The question of how to create this effect came up over in the Adobe forum for Illustrator. The “orange peel” example serves as a good introduction to using map art with the 3D Revolve Effect, so I decided I’d go ahead and do a step-by-step tutorial of how to create this effect. This tutorial is intended for intermediate Illustrator users and above.

Orange peel images
Orange Peel Effect created in Adobe Illustrator

The following Adobe Illustrator tools/features will be used in this tutorial:

  • Selection Tool
  • Ellipse Tool
  • Pen Tool
  • Add Anchor Point Tool
  • Delete Anchor Point Tool
  • 3D Revolve
  • Layers Palette
For this example, open a new 640px x 480px CMYK document in Adobe Illustrator.

Step One: Create Map Art

The first step toward achieving this effect, is to create and image map that we will later apply our revolved object, which will result in a spherical shape. In the Layers Palette, double-click on Layer 1 and name it “Map Art.”

We’ll start by creating a set of guides to help us draw our map art. Make sure you have your rulers visible (View>Show Rulers or Ctrl/Cmd-R) and that your guides are not set to locked (View>Guides>Lock Guides should be unchecked), and drag out 7 horizontal guides and two vertical guides and arrange somewhat like the guides in the image below. Select the guides using the Selection Tool and then use the Vertical Distribute Space option in the Align Palette to evenly distribute the vertical spacing between the 7 horizontal guides.

Vertically distribute guides
Select the guides and use the Align Palette to vertically distribute the horizontal guides evenly.

Once you have vertically distributed the guides, your guides should look similar to the image below. If you need to adjust the two vertical guides so that they look close to the image below, do so now. The placement of the vertical guides does not need to be exact, but it should look similar to the example image.

Guides image
Your guide placement should look similar to these guides.

Once you have your guides in place, you can lock them (View>Guides>Lock Guides). Next, we’re going to activate the Pen Tool and create a series of diagonal lines. In this example, I’m using a orange stroke color (C=0 M=50 Y=100 K=0). For the first line, we’ll place our starting point at the upper-left intersection between the top horizontal guide and the left vertical. The end point will be the intersection of the second-most upper horizontal guide and the right vertical guide (see image below).

Create lines image
Use the Pen Tool and the guides to create a diagonal line

Now, using the intersections of our guides at starting and ending points for our lines, we’re going to create 5 more lines parallel to our first line and evenly distributed, as seen in the image below.

map art lines image
Using the guides create 5 more evenly distribute parallel lines.

Once you have all 6 lines drawn using the method above, simultaneously select all 6 lines and group them together (Object>Group or Ctrl/Cmd-G). With the lines grouped, set the stroke weight of the lines to 20pt.

Orange peel lines image
With the grouped lines selected, set Stroke Weight = 20pt

Next, we want to expand our strokes into shapes. With the grouped lines still selected, go to Object>Expand and click “OK.” You now should have a group of six filled shapes.

Expand stroke image
Expand the strokes to shapes

If you look closely at our resultant shapes, you’ll see that the bottom-left corners extend past the left vertical guide and that the upper-right corners extend past the right vertical guide. We want the edges of our shapes to be flush with our vertical guides. To achieve this, we’ll start by using the Selection Tool to horizontally expand our group of shapes, so that the upper-left corners are aligned to the left vertical guide and the bottom-right corners are aligned to the right vertical guide. With the group of shapes selected zoom in to area indicated in the image below (using either the Navigator or the Magnifying Glass Tool).

Zoom in image
Zoom in on the circled area.

Use the Selection Tool to drag the control point of the selection marquee until the upper-left corner is aligned with the left vertical guide.

align upper corners image
Align the upper-left corner with the vertical guide.

Following the same method, zoom in on the right side of our grouped object.

zoom in image
Zoom in on the circled area.

Now, use the Selection Tool to drag to control point of the selection marquee until the lower-right corner is aligned with the right vertical guide.

align bottom right corners image
Align bottom-right corners with vertical guide.

Now, we have our upper-left corners aligned to the left vertical guide, and our lower-right corners aligned to the right vertical guide, but what about the upper-right and lower-left corners that extend beyond the vertical guides? We’re going to take care of those, next. Activate the Add Anchor Point Tool (it is grouped with the Pen Tool; Keyboard Shortcut is +), and add anchor points at the intersections of the right vertical guide and the top of edges of each of our shapes.

add points right image
Add anchor points at the intersection of the top edge of each shape and the right vertical guide.

On the left side of our shapes, we’re going to add anchor points at the intersection of the bottom edge of our shapes and the left vertical guide.

add points left image
Add points at the intersection of the bottom edge and the left vertical guide.

Now, we’re going to activate that Delete Anchor Point Tool (Keyboard Shortcut -) and delete the far lower-left corner points on each of our shapes (these are the points that extend past the left vertical guide).

delete left points image
Delete the lower-left corner points from each shape.

Using the Delete Anchor Point Tool, move over to the right side of our grouped object and delete the upper-right corner points.

delete points right
Delete the upper right corner points for each shape.

Once you’ve deleted the point extending beyond the vertical guides, the side edges of your shapes should be aligned with the vertical guides on each side.

edges aligned image
Edges should now be aligned with the vertical guides.

Your resultant object should now look like this.

orange peel lines image
Edges on both sides should be aligned with the vertical guides.

Using the Add Anchor Point Tool, add a point to the top edge of the bottom shape just a little to the right of the midpoint between the left and right guides (see image).

add point lower image
Add an anchor point to the top edge of the bottom shape just to the right of the center.

Use the Delete Anchor Point to delete the two corner points on the right side of the bottom shape to get the resultant shape below.

resultant lower image
Resultant shape after deleting the two corner points on the right side of the bottom shape.

Next, we’ll use the same method on the top-shape, only with the sides reversed. Add the new anchor point to the bottom edge of the top shape just to the left of the midpoint between the vertical guides, then delete the two left corner points. This will create the appearance of a notch at the top and the base of your peel where the stem/core would have been. You should now have a resultant object similar to the image below.

resultant image
This is the resultant shape for our map art.

This is the final shape for our image map. Our next step is to drag our map art to the Symbols Palette to create a new symbol based on this object. (If the Symbols Palette is not visible go to Window>Symbols Palette.)

drag to symbols
Drag the grouped object over into the Symbols Palette to convert it to a symbol.

When you drag the object into the Symbols Palette, the Symbol Options dialog box will appear. Give this symbol a name, such as Orange_Peel, and click “OK” (you don’t need to modify any of the other options for this example).

symbol options
Name the symbol and click OK.

Since we are finished with our map_art, go ahead an lock the map_art layer and turn the visibility for it off.

Step Two: Using the 3D Revolve Effect

With our map art completed and converted to a symbol, we’re ready to create our shape that we will be applying the map art to. Create a new layer in the Layers Palette, double-click it, and name Orange_Peel. Activate the Ellipse Tool, and create a circular shape in the middle of the artboard (in this example, I created a circle with 125px radius).

create ellipse image
Create a circular shape with the Ellipse Tool.

Activate the Direct Selection Tool and select the right control point on our ellipse/circle and then hit the Delete key (follow this method, and do not try to use the Delete Anchor Point Tool for this step).

select left point
Use the Direct Selection Tool to select the left point and then hit the Delete key.

You should now be left with a semi-circle path like the image below.

resultant semi-circle image
Resultant semi-circle path.

With this path selected, go to Effects>3D>Revolve. This will bring up the 3D Revolve Options dialog box.

3d revolve options image
3D Revolve Options

Click on the Map Art button to bring up the Map Art dialog box. At the upper-right of the Map Art Options box, there is a drop-down menu labeled Symbol, click on the drop-down box and select the Orange_Peel symbol that we just created. The symbol should appear below on the image map. Click on the Scale to Fit button in the lower-left to expand the symbol to fit the image map. Then check the checkboxes next to Shade Artwork and Invisible Geometry. The Shade Artwork option will create more of a sense of depth through shading, while the Invisible Geometry will make our shape invisible allowing only the map art to be seen.

map art image
Map Art Options: click on Scale to Fit, and check Shade Artwork and Invisible Geometry.

Click OK to return to the main 3D Revolve Options dialog box. You’ll notice that there are setting for rotation angles in the X, Y, and Z planes. These values will determine the perspective of your 3D object. You can either enter numeric values in the text boxes, or simply click and drag on the cube to modify its position. If you click on the More Options button on the 3D Revolve Options dialog box you can modify the lighting settings, modify the position and number of light sources, and modify the shading used. For simplicity’s sake, I’m going to leave these values at the default settings for this example. Feel free to experiment with these settings. Clicking on the Preview checkbox will give you a preview of what your resultant 3D shape will look like based on the current settings, but it can slow down performance when you start creating more complex shapes. When you are satisfied with your settings, click OK, and you should end up with a nice “orange peel” effect like the images below.

view 01 image
Orange Peel View 01
View 02 image
Orange Peel View 2 (modified angle)
View 03 image
Orange Peel View 3 (modified angle)

This should be a good example to get you started with using Map Art with the 3D Revolve Effect. Feel free to try out other art on the spherical shape. You can create new objects, like a beach ball, for instance, just by changing the selected symbol in the Map Art options.

beach ball image
Beach Ball created by simply changing the map art on the orange peel sphere.


Avatar of Erika Snow Robinson
Posted by Erika Snow RobinsonSep 02, 2011 at 1:41 am

OHMIGOSH - YOU ROCK! I actually was explaining to my Illustrator teacher what I wanted to do, and he said HE HAD NO IDEA how to do what I wanted to do (which was to create a watch band that was more like a bracelet that wrapped around the arm) and KABAM! I FOUND YOUR POST. I did EXACTLY what you said to do, but did it with a rectangle (cylinder) shape instead - WORKED LIKE A CHARM! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!

Avatar of George Probst
Posted by George ProbstSep 02, 2011 at 6:10 am

Glad I could help you out with the tutorial! smile

Avatar of Yuvraj Sharma
Posted by Yuvraj SharmaJul 06, 2013 at 8:46 am

Your work is rally awesome bro ! im new to illustrator, still didn’t face much problem in making as per your guidelines.

thanx, keep it up

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