Derek Lea is an award-winning digital illustrator and author, with clients that include high-profile North American advertising agencies and corporations. He is also a professor in Graphic Design – Media at Centennial College in Toronto, Canada.

Illustrator’s superb tools for building 3D objects out of 2D shapes aren’t appreciated as much as they should be. Here Derek Lea shows you how to create an offbeat creature using Illustrator’s 3D Revolve effect, complete with a mouth, an eye and scaly skin that are simple to draw and wrap to the body and head.

It’s all very easy – in fact, a bit too easy. The problem with working with vectors in this way is that the results can look inherently digital and too perfect. One way to remedy this is with masking methods that let you combine pixel-based textures with vector imagery. Derek does this here by using an image as an opacity mask in Illustrator, giving the creature a worn-looking ‘skin’.

If you don’t have time to create the two symbols wrapped to the creature, grab Derek’s file from the download. Then go to the Symbols panel menu, choose Open Symbol Library > Other Library and navigate to the file.

This is an adapted version of a tutorial in Derek Lea’s book, Beyond Photoshop. Published by Focal Press, Beyond Photoshop shows you how can transfer your Photoshop skills into applications such as Illustrator, Painter, Cinema 4D, Poser and ZBrush – developing your style in new directions.

Project Files

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