3D Globe Tutorial

Create a 3D Globe in Adobe Illustrator

Making a 3D rotatable globe or sphere in Adobe Illustrator is pretty straightforward, and the result will be more than you expect.This workflow can open up lots of opportunities, not only for creating a globe. You can just as easy use your own artwork, and the final result doesn’t have to be a globe or a sphere.

This workflow can open up lots of opportunities, not only for creating a globe. You can just as easy use your own artwork, and the final result doesn’t have to be a globe or a sphere.

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This tutorial is meant to be a complement for our free product PowerGlobe for Illustrator. Create your own accurate, custom 3D globe in a matter of minutes.
Check it out!

First, make sure to download this vector world map (Illustrator CS6 format) as it will be used to make our globe.

Vector World Map

Drag and drop bitmap into the Symbols palette

Let’s start our tutorial by creating a new document in Illustrator. Now open up the vector world map you just downloaded. Select all objects (CMD+A or CTRL+A) and copy/paste them into your new document.In your new document, select everything you just pasted and drag the selection into the Symbols palette. Now you may delete the world map (not the symbol), so you end up with an empty artboard.

In your new document, select everything you just pasted and drag the selection into the Symbols palette. Now you may delete the world map (not the symbol), so you end up with an empty artboard.

Draw a circle and select it

Next you have to draw a circle by using the Ellipse tool and holding ALT+SHIFT while you drag out the circle onto the artboard.

Delete right anchor point and end up with a half circle

Make sure the circle is selected and use the Direct Selection Tool to select the anchor point on the right and press the Delete key on your keyboard. You will end up with only the left part of the circle on your artboard.

Settings in the 3D Revolve Options palette

With this part selected, go to the menu and choose Effect / 3D / Revolve.
The first thing you have to do here is to change the ‘offset from’ field to ‘Right Edge’, and set the ‘Surface’ field to ‘No Shading’.

Next click on the ‘Map Art’ button (located in the bottom). This will take you to the ‘Map Art’ screen.

Map art using the bitmap symbol

On the top left of the ‘Map Art’ screen choose the symbol you created from the world map earlier. Then click on ‘Scale to fit’ in the bottom of the screen and choose OK to close the ‘Map Art’ screen. Once again click OK to close the ‘3D Revolve Options’ panel.

3D Globe finished
3D Globe finished

And that’s it. In the illustration above I have edited the final result with a drop shadow behind the globe and I have used the same technique on top of the globe to give more depth.

Have a look at my globe by downloading the final Illustrator CS6 file.

Final Illustrator File

You can rotate the globe by going into the ‘3D Revolve Options’ once again. Be sure the globe is selected and go back to Effect / 3D / Revolve. Now drag the cube on the top left of that screen to another position and click OK.

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All files posted in this tutorial maybe used freely, even commercially, as long as you credit One Stop Map (Creative Commons License CC-BY).
3D Globe Tutorial

5 Responses

  1. This looks awesome! I’m actually searching for a fun way to post a proposed route for a world cycle trip on my website. How does copyright work for something like this? Are there any restrictions on posting the globe on a website? Would a link/ reference to this site be required? Or something else? Thanks.

    1. Hi Kelly, thank you 🙂 Glad to hear you like it.
      You may use the globe and all the material posted in this tutorial to your own advantage.
      All free material on One Stop Map is posted under a Creative Commons License (CC-BY), meaning you can do anything with it, even commercially or for resale, as long as you credit One Stop Map.
      I have edited the post to clarify this.
      Have fun with your cycle trip 🙂

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