Creating Isometric Graphics in Adobe Illustrator

Launchpad X - Transformation Tools

In this article, I will be explaining the steps I took to create this isometric graphic I made. The software I used was Adobe Illustrator.

This time, I based it on a new product from Novation, the Launchpad X.

First steps

Launchpad X - Traced

For the first stage, I took a front-facing bitmap image and started the tracing process. As this product is a simple square shape, the rectangle tool sufficed.

To make the buttons, a simple radial gradient worked fine, so I used the eyedropper tool on the original image to get the right tones. There are eight colours used in the product image – to make things easier, I took advantage of “graphic styles” by first making one of each, then creating a style for them.

As there are so many buttons, the “Transform Again” (Ctrl-D or Cmd-D on a Mac) makes things a lot easier.

The four middle buttons are shaped slightly differently, so I created a square and rotated it 45 degrees. I then used the “Subtract from Shape Area” mode in pathfinder. Just had to make sure the area I want to cut out is on top!

Attempt 1: Using 3d Extrude and Bevel

Launchpad X - Extrude and Bevel

I first tried using the built in “Extrude and Bevel” effect, which did indeed give me the isometric shape I was looking for. However, it created a bunch of extra faces for the buttons, making it more complicated than it needed to be. The next step of making the buttons look more 3D rather than looking flat would be more trouble than it would be worth, with all the extra faces to delete. So I tried another method.

Attempt 2: Transformation Tools

Launchpad X - Transformation Tools

Using the transformation tools created a similar effect, but without the extra 3D faces that would prove to be a hassle to remove later.

For the isometric effect, I first reduced the width to 86.6%, applied a shear of 30 degrees, then rotated it by -120 degrees.

This gave me something that was a lot easier to work with.

Making the buttons look more convincing

Now, I could stop there, but everything still looks a bit flat. So, the next step was making the buttons look more 3D. This time, the extrude and bevel tool worked fine here, so I did that for each color of button, then put them in their respective places.

Launchpad X 3D Buttons

For the black buttons on the edge, there are some extra details like text and other icon marks that are missing. This time however I kept things simple.

If I were to improve it, I would like to place it in a dark environment with the glow of the buttons standing out. For now, I created a basic model in the isometric style.

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