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  • Nov

    Creating Colorful 3D Graphs in Illustrator


    by Chad Neuman

    Bar graphs and pie charts can be boring. But Adobe Illustrator offers many tools to spice up those graphs for your next business meeting or classroom presentation.

    Step 1
    Open up a new document in Illustrator. On the Toolbar, click-and-hold the Column Graph tool. This brings out many other options. Click the Pie Graph tool, second from the right.


    Step 2
    Click once anywhere in the Artboard area. The Pie Graph tool will open up a dialog. Enter 300 pt for both the height and the width. Click OK and another dialog will appear.



    Step 3
    Enter 25, 30, 20, and 45 across the top values. You can click in each field and enter the value or tab from field to field. Click the checkmark in the upper right hand corner to apply the values to the graph.



    Step 4
    Your pie chart should look something like this. Boring, right? That will change.


    Step 5
    Go to Object>Ungroup. A warning will appear that basically states that you will not be able to edit the graph values once you ungroup it. That is fine as we are done adding values and simply want to play with the design of the graph. Press OK. Go to Object>Ungroup a second time. With the Selection tool, click on each pie piece and change its Fill and Stroke to different colors. For the outside of the pie chart to be the same as the inside, make the Fill and Stroke the same for each piece.


    Step 6
    Now click on a pie piece with the Selection tool, and go to Effect>3D>Extrude and Bevel. Check the Preview box to see what the pie piece will look like. Rotate it using Custom Rotation area—click-and-drag to move it around. You can also mimic my settings from the image below. The angle of the chart depends largely on the layout of the  project or presentation. Change the Extrude Depth to 25 pts. Press OK.



    Step 7
    With the edited pie piece we just made 3D selected, open the Graphic Styles palette (Window>Graphic Styles) and press the New Graphic Style icon.


    Step 8
    Select the other pie pieces, clicking the graphic style we just created in the palette each time you select a new piece. This applies the same angle and 3D depth to the other pieces. At this point your pie may look like a mess because of the arrangement of the pieces.


    Step 9
    Using the Selection tool, click-and-drag the pieces so they work well together. Some pieces will be on top of the others, so go to Object>Arrange>Bring Forward or Object>Arrange>Send Backward when one of the pieces is selected you want to move in front or behind another piece so it makes sense. Now you have a nice, colorful 3D graph. You can focus on one particular pie piece by clicking-and-dragging it with the Selection tool to move it up, creating the illusion that it is lifted up out of the pie.


    We can also adjust the Opacity of the shapes for various pie chart designs.

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