By Carlos Garro

The launch of Astui marks the first step of the many hours of work put in by programmers, designers and technicians. Although it might look like the end of a project, it’s actually the start of revealing technology to the public that some of us have been using for months.
In the preliminary stages we used an adapted version of an exercise I use in my Illustrator class. This design became the image that represents the launch of Astui.

000_BIG_Astui

This design simulates the 3D isometric projection of an element (in this case a word). I started by using the “Blend” tool to simulate the extrusion of the letters. Nevertheless, the final result wasn’t very aesthetic, due to how it created a jagged effect around the edges. Additionally, if we increment the step number in the blend options frequently the file would become heavy and in some occasion affect the computers performance.

Astute Graphics - Astui Tutorial

To expand the appearance and unite the objects required prior work on removing unnecessary anchor points. This meant investing a lot of time on simple artworks. So, the Wizards that program at Astute Graphics consult some old mathematics to find a solution to our problem.

But before we continue, we must explain how to modify elements to create a isometric representation without using any grid…

One of the most utilized methods for 3d representation is isometric projection.

Isometric (meaning “equal measure”) is a type of parallel (axonometric) projection, where the X and Z axes are inclined to the horizontal plane at the angle of 30⁰. The angle between axonometric axes equals 120⁰. More Information here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isometric_projection

For this example, we will use the SSR30º method:
S = Scale height to 86.6%
 S = Skew at 30º
 R = Rotate at 30º

The steps represented on the image can be recorded as an action in Illustrator so that it can used later on any element.

Now that we have solve the Isometric projection topic lets go back to the tutorial.

The inclusion of Offset Path in Astui and its wonderful ability of creating multiple tracings with a single click (or by dragging the tool) inspired me to create the following image:

Astute Graphics - Astui Tutorial

By this stage, Long Shadows was already created and we had tested it in multiple ways (every angle possible from 0 to 360). This meant that those hours invested fixing a “Blend” were going to be reduced to a few minutes. Remember Astui includes plug-ins for Adobe Illustrator, Adobe XD y Sketch.

Base construction

We start by creating a RGB document, 1200 by 1500 px, with “Align to Pixel Grid” off.

Afterwards we write the word on which we are going to work on, in my case by using the Helvetica Now Text Black 200 pt font.

Astute Graphics - Astui Tutorial

Then we convert the text to outlines. (Type > Create Outlines)

Astute Graphics - Astui Tutorial

The following steps are going to helps us prepare our main object. I prefer that the word be a Compound Path, so after converting the text to a drawing, we ungroup it (Object > Ungroup), then we apply the Compound Path (Object > Compound Path > Make), and we paint the stroke of the result black with no filling for the moment.

Astute Graphics - Astui Tutorial

With the object selected, we can access the Astui Offset Path panel (Window > Astui > Astui Offset Path) and apply the following parameters: Distance 20 pt, 3 Steps.

Astute Graphics - Astui Tutorial

I advise on saving a copy of the result on a different layer in case we need it later on.

Astute Graphics - Astui Tutorial

The 3D simulation

We apply the SSR30 on our design this way:
Vertical scale at 86.6%

Astute Graphics - Astui Tutorial

Shear, horizontal axis: 30º

Astute Graphics - Astui Tutorial

Rotation a -30º

Astute Graphics - Astui Tutorial

Then we paint the objects different colors and duplicate the elements that will serve as a guide further on to align the objects.

Astute Graphics - Astui Tutorial

Then we select the green object so that we can apply our first Long Shadow. Afterwards we access Window > Astui > Astui Long Shadows and apply the following parameters: Length 200 pt, Angle -90º, "Shadow Simple Strokes" untick.

Astute Graphics - Astui Tutorial

We apply the original color to the shadow, and then we activate a darker value of our initial tone.

The plug in creates a black fill object by default, however we can apply the same color as the origin but with a slightly darker shade. We can do by using the Color Guide (Window > Color Guide). Color Guide allows you to create variations of my color by using pre established harmonies. For this example we are going to use “Shades”.

Astute Graphics - Astui Tutorial

We group up both green objects for better manipulation. (Note: we apply a black 1 pt border on it).

Astute Graphics - Astui Tutorial

In the following step we are going to take advantage of the created objects to simulate a tridimensional space.

We select and copy the 3 remaining objects 3 objects (orange, light orange and white in the example).

Using the orange object for the second object. Once again using Astui Long Shadows, we apply the following parameters: Length 150 pt, Angle 90º.

Astute Graphics - Astui Tutorial

We move the elements upwards and align them with the superior border of the shadow.

Astute Graphics - Astui Tutorial

Once again using Color Guide, we paint the shadow a darker shade of orange:

Astute Graphics - Astui Tutorial

We then group the elements.

Astute Graphics - Astui Tutorial

Then we repeat the process, this time with light orange object: Length 75 pt, Angle 90º.

Astute Graphics - Astui Tutorial

Paint and move it.

Astute Graphics - Astui Tutorial

Group up and name.

Astute Graphics - Astui Tutorial

And we finish with the white letters: Length 200 pt, Angle 90º.

Astute Graphics - Astui Tutorial

I’ve decided to Paint the shadow yellow. Similarly we group up the elements.

Astute Graphics - Astui Tutorial

An important detail before final adjustments is that we apply “Round Join” to avoid pointy edges to all shapes.

Astute Graphics - Astui Tutorial

Accessing isolation mode (by double clicking each group), we’ll draw lines connecting each dot in the groups. In the next figure this lines are marked red.

Astute Graphics - Astui Tutorial

Once the connection is finished in each group, we create a background layer were we place a dark object.

Astute Graphics - Astui Tutorial

But, Surprise! By mistake the white letters ended up being taller than necessary and we need to fix them.

Let’s do it! To avoid any problems, we are going to block all layers except the one containing the white letter using the lasso to select the upper part.

Astute Graphics - Astui Tutorial

Then, using the Object > Transform > Move command, we are going to move the anchor points 75 pts downward.

Astute Graphics - Astui Tutorial

The next step is to simulate that our blocks are over a shiny floor, therefore these should reflect. Due to how the objects are organized in their respective layers, this job should be easy.

First we are going to organize them in our work area: (Note how I changed the name of the layers)

Astute Graphics - Astui Tutorial

We then duplicate the “Blocks” layer, change its name to “Reflection” and place it below.

Additionally, we are going to lower the opacity of this layer by 60% (in the normal blend mode).

Astute Graphics - Astui Tutorial

To reproduce the reflection, we have to re organize our layers: basically changing their order… With the guide we should accomplish the perfect order.

Astute Graphics - Astui Tutorial

Step 1. Green object: move it and align to the original one.

Astute Graphics - Astui Tutorial

Step 2. Moving the Orange object underneath the Green one.

Astute Graphics - Astui Tutorial

Step 3. Moving the Light Orange object underneath the Orange one.

Astute Graphics - Astui Tutorial

Step 4. Moving the White block underneath the Light Orange one.

Astute Graphics - Astui Tutorial

Astute Graphics - Astui Tutorial

Step 5. Apply the opacity mask to the layer. To do this we are going to draw a rectangle with a filling that is a gradient that goes from white to black. (It looks different in the image due to how it’s affected by the general opacity of the layer).

Astute Graphics - Astui Tutorial

But the result is as expected.

Astute Graphics - Astui Tutorial

The final detail is creating a faint shadow of the whole figure on the floor.

Once again, we are tricking our eyes: for this shadow we are using the base of the Green block and using the Long Shadows Tool (not the panel).

We are going to create a copy of the Green base to its respective layer.

Astute Graphics - Astui Tutorial

Then we are going to chose the Long Shadows tool.

Astute Graphics - Astui Tutorial

Click and drag to create a shadow.

Astute Graphics - Astui Tutorial

Modify the blending mode and the opacity.

Astute Graphics - Astui Tutorial

After that we perform so final adjustments to our image.

Astute Graphics - Astui Tutorial

Even if the artwork does not accurately represent the shadows in the correct way, our wonderful mind completes the missing information and we perceive some tridimensional text blocks.

We hope you enjoyed this tutorial – you can find out more about Astui Tech plugins at astui.tech

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