Powerglobe for Illustrator

PowerGlobe for Illustrator: create your free 3D globe in just 5 minutes


Today I am talking about a new free product I am now using all the time when I quickly need a custom edited globe for one of my designs.

I don’t know about you, but in the past, when I wanted to use a globe in a project, I had my fair share of difficulties:

  • searching all over the place for the right globe clip art
  • the globe was not centered entirely to the area I was looking for
  • It took time to make the globe look the way I wanted

Not anymore with this PowerGlobe for Illustrator.

I will show you step-by-step all the things you need to know and even share the PowerGlobe I have created myself and that I use in my day-to-day work. It’s really easy.

This is not the only free thing we share on our site.
We have a host of free maps and the library is growing all the time.

How the PowerGlobe for Illustrator helped me to level up my work

This globe can be used for any type of artwork, whether it would be designing a poster, brochure, invitation, you name it. The globe is completely vectorized, meaning, you won’t lose any quality when you need to show it big. You will end up easily with a globe that is centered to the exact area you want and that you can edit any way you want by using the tools in Adobe Illustrator and by accessing all the available layers, like countries, sea, coastline and so on.

Some examples of the PowerGlobe in action:

Example of the PowerGlobe used for an illustration made for the Atlas of Groupe Erasme

This is an illustration I made for the ‘Atlas Espace et Société 2015’ from Erasme, a french speaking publisher. The PowerGlobe does it work even for print design!

Example map for Wikipedia - Inca Road System

This is the featured map on a Wikipedia article about the Inca Road System. I have drawn this map using our map style Summit. With the PowerGlobe it was easy to locate the area of the map on a globe. I have used the same map style Summit for the globe, so the globe is blending into the main map pretty nice.

Example map for Action Against Hunger - States where Action Against Hunger is currently active

Action Against Hunger, an international humanitarian organization, asked me to make a map about their presence in South Sudan. I added a location map highlighting the country of South-Sudan on a globe. I tweaked the style Defined so it fits right into the main map.  The PowerGlobe made me do that in a matter of minutes.

Once again, the PowerGlobe is suitable for every type of artwork, not only maps. It’s a great tool for graphic design in general.

This is what you get:

You will get a high-quality 3D vector globe or sphere that gives you the opportunity to edit the content easily and that you can rotate to your area of interest with one click of a button.

I have included three map styles in the PowerGlobe to have a solid starting point for your new project. Each map style includes layers with named objects for easy editing and selecting.

5 Steps to turn the PowerGlobe for Illustrator into your own globe

I will give you a step-by-step explanation for working with the PowerGlobe for Illustrator. When you get the hang of it, it does not need to take more than a few minutes to create your own custom base globe, centered on the area of your interest.

The PowerGlobe for Illustrator is suitable for Adobe Illustrator versions CS6 and above. The reason for not supporting earlier versions of Illustrator is that Adobe changed the way drop shadows worked between version CS5 and CS6. Drop shadows are used in the PowerGlobe to add more depth.

 1  Prepare the PowerGlobe file

Due to the nature of how things work in the PowerGlobe, it is best practice to maintain a master copy of the file. So start your work with a fresh copy of the original Illustrator file.

Open up this newly created copy and make sure all layers are locked. As you are working with the file, you see that you can easily select the wrong objects as you don’t pay attention to the currently active layer. Therefore, just lock all layers. We will unlock the layers one by one as we are working on the file.

 2  Choose your globe style in the Symbols palette

First make up your mind about how the globe should look like. You can alter the looks of globe yourself (more on that later), but I have prepared three map styles you can use right away. To choose your style, you need to open up the Symbols palette.

The symbols palette contains four symbols

The Symbols palette contains four symbols:

The default symbol that is the one being used for your actual globe:

  • PowerGlobe

Three symbols with map styles you can use:

  • World vector Summit
  • World vector Defined
  • World vector Sci-Fi

Drag and drop a map style over the symbol PowerGlobe while pressing ALT

Changing the default map style of the globe is done by dragging and dropping the symbol of your preferred map style over the default one named ‘PowerGlobe’ by pressing and holding the ALT-key.

You will notice that the style of the globe in the artboard changes.

Note the layer ‘Sci-Fi’ in the layers palette. Turn this layer to visible when using the map style ‘World Vector Sci-Fi’, as this layer contains a texture that is specifically made to complement the Sci-Fi look.

 3  Center the globe over your area of interest

So far, so good. Now it’s time to unlock your first layer ‘PowerGlobe’.

Select the PowerGlobe object by clicking on the left part of the globe with the selection tool or by selecting everything pressing CMD+A or CTRL+A. With everything selected, open up the Graphic Styles palette.

The Graphic Styles palette contains several styles to control the rotation and lightning of the globe

The Graphic Styles palette contains several styles to control the rotation of the globe and to choose different lights for illuminating the globe. The names of the graphic styles for choosing your lights all start with the word ‘Light’. All the other graphic styles are for controlling the rotation of the globe.

In this step we are going to focus on the graphic styles for controlling the rotation of the globe. I tried to give these graphic styles a clear name, so you would know instantly to what rotation the graphic style refers to. For instance, clicking on the ‘(continent) Asia’ graphic style, will rotate your globe to have the continent of Asia in the center of it. If you can’t find the center position you’re after in the Graphic Styles palette, you can easily rotate the globe yourself. More on this later on.

Be sure to lock back the layer ‘PowerGlobe’ when you’re done with centering the globe.

 4  Give the globe a more natural feel with Lights

To alter the feel of your globe with lights, unlock the layer ‘Lights’ and lock all the other layers. Select the Lights object by clicking on the left part of the globe with the selection tool or by selecting everything by pressing CMD+A or CTRL+A. With the object selected go back to the Graphic Styles palette and now click on one of the graphic styles with the word ‘Light’ in the name. Pick the one you like and lock back the layer.

You don’t need to have lights, if you prefer a flat look then you just set the Lights layer invisible.

 5  Tweak or remove the drop shadow on the back of the globe

Make sure only the layer ‘Shadow’ is unlocked. Select the actual shadow by clicking somewhere on the globe with the selection tool or by pressing CMD+A or CTRL+A to select everything on the layer. Next open up the Appearance palette.

In the Appearance palette click on 'Drop Shadow'

In the appearance palette click on the line that says ‘Drop Shadow’. This will open up the ‘Drop Shadow’ dialog box.

Dial in your values for the drop shadow
Dial in your values for the drop shadow

From here you can dial in the values you like for your drop shadow. When checking the box next to ‘Preview’, you can see those changes applied in real time.

If you don’t need a drop shadow, just set the layer ‘Shadow’ invisible.

Don’t forget to lock the layer ‘Shadow’ as soon as you are done with it.

Edit the content and create your own map style by editing an existing map style

Once again, for your own safety, begin by making sure all layers are locked.

Duplicate a symbol in the Symbols palette

In the Symbols palette choose the map style you want to edit and make a copy of it by selecting the symbol and choosing ‘Duplicate Symbol’ from the Symbols palette options menu.

Now double-click on your duplicated symbol. This will open the symbol itself in editing mode. Each map style contains several layers, making it easy for you to target the objects you want.

Viewing a symbol in editing mode

You can view this symbol in editing mode as a regular Adobe Illustrator file, meaning you can edit objects on a certain layer, set layers invisible, create new layers and so on.

Let’s say you want to make a globe with the continent of Africa highlighted. You would select all countries belonging to Africa and give it the color you want. If you don’t want to see the country boundaries, just set the appropriate layer to invisible.
Double-click in the artboard somewhere when you’re done working on the symbol. You will be taken back to the main view of the globe.

Now it’s time to make your edited symbol the default one to be used by the globe. As mentioned earlier, just select the edited symbol in the Symbols palette and drag and drop the symbol onto the symbol ‘PowerGlobe’ by pressing and holding the ALT-key. Notice the globe in the artboard will now show your custom edited map style.

Are you asking yourself why not make the edits to the PowerGlobe symbol directly? Don’t. You are going to get yourself into trouble at some time or another. Because dropping another map style symbol onto the PowerGlobe symbol, will erase the actual content of the PowerGlobe symbol entirely and does leading you to lose all edits made directly to the PowerGlobe symbol.

Center the globe manually

There may be a time when you don’t have enough with the standard centering options the PowerGlobe provides. No problem, you can do this manually, but be aware that it is a bit tricky to get the rotation just right.

Make sure only the layer ‘PowerGlobe’ is unlocked. Select the one object present on the PowerGlobe layer by clicking on the left part of the globe with the selection tool or by selecting everything pressing cmd+A or CTRL+A. Now open up the Appearance palette.

In the Appearance palette click on '3D Revolve (Mapped)'
In the Appearance palette click on ‘3D Revolve (Mapped)’

In the Appearance palette click on the line ‘3D Revolve (Mapped)’. This will take you to the 3D Revolve Options dialog box.

The 3D Revolve Options dialog box

In this dialog box turn on the preview mode by checking the ‘Preview’ box in the bottom left. Next change the ‘Surface’-field to ‘Wireframe’.

Dialing in the rotation values by hand is almost impossible to do. I have tried to come up with some sort of formula, so you could easily calculate the right values. But for the purpose of rotating a 3D globe, it was getting way too complicated. If someone can point me in the right direction, please do.

My alternative can be a little bit tricky, but overall it is fairly easy.

Hover over the cube and drag it in your desired direction in the 3D Revolve Options dialog box

In the 3D Revolve Options dialog box, hover over the cube (located in the top left) and drag it into your desired direction.

Notice that you see that while you drag the cube in the 3D Revolve Options dialog box, the wireframe in your artboard changes. The key is to make sure the imaginary line between the poles (north and south of the globe) are vertically aligned to one another. Otherwise you could end up with a globe that looks like it’s lying on it’s back or something. When done, be sure to turn the ‘Surface’-field back from ‘Wireframe’ to ‘No Shading’.

Use the finished globe in your project

Well, that’s easy, just unlock the appropriate layers, select everything you need and copy/paste it into your other document. You could also export the globe to a bitmap file like JPEG or TIF and use it wherever you want. Export to PNG if you want to maintain transparency around the globe.


I am sure the PowerGlobe will get you up and running with 3D vector globes rapidly. It is by far the fastest method to get results quickly and beautiful. And maybe it could be the only 3D globe you’ll ever need.

Imagine you had to create this kind of globes by hand, think about the time you would need to achieve similar results.

Now you get one globe, that comes with several map styles included, that is centered to the area of your interest with one click and that is totally customizable to fit your needs.

Maybe you come up with map styles of your own; I would like to hear about them! What else do you think about our PowerGlobe? Is there something I could have done better? Please share it, because I wanna know.

If you get some value from the PowerGlobe I would surely appreciate it that you like this post. Follow us on our social networks to stay on top of new products as they arrive.

Your support is what gets us going!

In a previous blog post I revealed the simple trick that is the base idea behind the PowerGlobe. Find out how easy it is to make a 3D globe from scratch.

FREE download – PowerGlobe for Illustrator (90 MB)

Download and use the PowerGlobe for Illustrator for free.

The PowerGlobe is suitable for Adobe Illustrator version CS6 and above and is published under a Creative Commons License (CC-BY). This means you can use it for any kind of work, even commercially, as long as you give attribution:

‘PowerGlobe by www.onestopmap.com / CC BY’

or online

PowerGlobe by One Stop Map / CC BY

<a title="PowerGlobe for Illustrator" href="https://www.onestopmap.com/blog/powerglobe-for-illustrator/">PowerGlobe</a> by One Stop Map / CC BY

PowerGlobe for Illustrator

13 Responses

    1. Thanks Paul 🙂

      The only map style that has its limits regarding quality in print design is the one with the shaded relief (bitmap) in the back. It’s the symbol ‘World Vector Summit’. The actual bitmap used here is 3000px wide. Translated for print it has a 300 dpi resolution and its dimensions are 10 in wide x 5 in high (approximately 25 x 13 cm).

      So it’s a high-quality bitmap. When used in print I think you could scale the globe up to about 5 inches wide and still have a sharp 300 dpi image.

      If you’re not using this map style Summit, you can scale the globe up to whatever dimension you have in mind, since all objects are vectors.

      1. Thank you Koen.
        But what I really mean: can I use this globe in the design of my brochure without having problems afterwards?

      2. Sorry for the misunderstanding. To answer your question: sure thing!
        As I mentioned in the article, the PowerGlobe is published under a Creative Commons License (CC-BY). Which means that you can use the file anyway you want, even commercially, as long as you give credit to One Stop Map. For your brochure, a tiny line of text along the side saying: ‘PowerGlobe by onestopmap.com / CC BY’ is sufficient. So no problem at all to use the globe for your brochure.

        As I am curious to what people are doing with the globe, you may always send me a screenshot of the finished product if you want 🙂 Or post a link here in the comments section, so everyone can see your work.

  1. Koen,

    Thanks for making this great tool CC-BY. I wonder if you have any suggestions on how to scale the globe without the map resizing? When I grab the globe to resize it, the map on the surface becomes distorted. Is there are way around this? Thanks so much.


    1. Hi, Eric, great to hear!
      As I just explained you on chat, there are multiple ways to fix the distortion of your globe when scaling it up/down.
      It can be a post on its own (and maybe it will) to explain in detail what you need to do, but as you have noticed it’s pretty simple.
      After copy/paste the globe into a new document and scaling it up/down you need to select the object that was on your ‘PowerGlobe layer’ in your source file.
      Either go to Object / Expand Appearance to have it fixed or look in the ‘Appearance Palette for the line ‘3D Revolve (Mapped) and click on this one. Next, click on the ‘Map Art…’ button and then click on the ‘Scale to Fit’ button. Close the two boxes by clicking on OK and you should be all set.

  2. This is a great tool, and I love that you’ve made it CC-BY. I don’t work with globes much but when I do I’ll be sure to use this one!

    The one problem I’m having, though, is that Illustrator performs very slowly whenever I try to update the map symbol or rotate it. Either thing I do, I get a progress bar saying “Generating Geometry” and then “Rendering Artwork”… but it stops there. Sometimes if I hit “Stop” it actually updates the art, but sometimes nothing changes.

    I know this is a huge file, but I get this problem even if I delete all the layers I don’t need. Do you have any tips for helping Illustrator run more smoothly?

    1. Hi, appreciate your kind words 🙂

      The 3D Revolve effect is in Illustrator for a long time and all this time it had some quirks. The Illustrator team apparently never ironed them out.

      Two things that are important:

      How strong is your computer (RAM, CPU and so on)?
      It can have an impact when you’re working on a computer that does not have sufficient RAM to work with. Maybe have a look at your RAM-usage? It could cause a time-out of the Illustrator operation.

      What version of Illustrator are you using?
      We did not test this on every available Illustrator version, but the effects that are being used are part of Illustrator since version CS6 and above.
      In one of the latest releases of Illustrator Creative Cloud Adobe added an option ‘GPU performance’ in the preferences panel. You could try to toggle this ON or OFF to see if this gets you somewhere. Personally I’ve had my share of problems with this setting and I have it turned OFF all the time. It could very well be that the GPU performance is somehow incompatible with your setup?
      One other important preference setting is in the ‘File Handling & Clipboard’ tab. I have unchecked ‘automatically Save Recovery Data Every’ and have checked ‘Turn off Data Recovery for complex documents’. Those settings tended to bug me when working with more complex illustrations like some detailed maps we have to create from time to time.

      Let me know if it works out for you.

      1. Thanks for your suggestions, Koen. Unfortunately, Illustrator is still getting stuck on Rendering Artwork.

        I’m on a new iMac running macOS Sierra (10.12.4) with 8GB RAM (Illustrator is using less than 2GB while Rendering Artwork), and using the latest version of Illustrator CC 2017.

        I tried turning off both CPU Performance and Save Recovery Data, but it made no difference. I’m having the same problems whether I try it on the original PowerGlobe file or on my simplified version. And I get the Rendering Artwork progress bar when updating a map symbol, changing graphic styles/rotation, exporting to PNG, and even opening the file. In most cases hitting “Stop” lets me proceed without problem (weird, right?), but not when rotating the globe.

      2. Hi Shed, I happen to work on almost the same configuration as you are: iMac 27inch, late 2015 (still the latest version), 32GB RAM, 4 GHz Intel Core i7.
        I do most of the work currently still on Illustrator 2015.3. But I have the 2017 version and I just upgraded to the latest 2017 release just to test this.
        I can only say it just works for me. Your RAM should not be an issue. Maybe your processor is a bit slower, but I can’t think that this would be causing your problems. What do you say we talk more on the chat? Whenever you’re ready get in touch with me by email. That way we can continue this through imessage, maybe I can take over your screen if you want.

    1. Hi Jared, sorry to hear you’re having trouble with the PowerGlobe. Did you follow the steps outlined in the article? Also, what version of Illustrator are you using?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© 2021 One Stop Map - Alle rechten voorbehouden
Copy link