Illustrator Tutorial: 3D Gear

3D Gear

I will be showing you how to draw a 3d gear easily in this Illustrator tutorial. To make things more interesting, I will be using opacity mask to show through the wireframe of the gear. After this tutorial you will have a better understanding on drawing gears and 3D extrude tool in Adobe Illustrator.

1. Create the gear shape

Let’s star by turning on our Ruler by pressing Ctrl/Command+R. Drag 2 lines from the ruler to crate a center point. Now select you Circle Tool and press Alt/Option+Shift and drag from the center point to draw a circle.

Select the Star Tool. Click and drag front the center point to create a basic star. Without releasing your mouse, press Arrow Up key to increase the number of points. Hold Ctrl/Command and drag to adjust the radius until you get the shape below. Now select the circle and star shape and go to Window>Pathfinder and hold Alt/Option and click Add to shape area. This will create a sun flare effect as shown below.

illustrator star tool

Draw a new circle from the center point. This will define the outer edge of our gear. Now select both the sun flare and our circle and hold Alt/Option and select Intersect shape area.

Finally, draw a small circle in the middle. Next select both shapes and hold Alt/Option and choose Subtract from shape area to punch a hole in the middle. Our gear shape is finally out!

2. 3D Extrude

Select your gear shape and go Effect>3D>Extrude & Bevel. Select Plastic Shading for the Surface and move the spotlight on the sphere until you see something you like. Click OK to confirm.

3. Create the wireframe effect

Make a duplicate of the 3D gear shape by pressing Ctrl/Command+C and Ctrl/Command+F to paste it in front. Go to layers palette and hide the new pasted gear. Select the gear and go Window>Appearance to to open up your Appearance Palette. Double click 3D Extrude & Bevel to edit the options. Now select Wireframe for Surface.

Now unhide our grey gear from the Layers Palette. Next draw a square and fill it with a gradient from white to black with our Gradient Tool. The black will mask away the shape whereas the white areas will show through. Now select both the grey gear and the gradient and open up your Transparency Palette. Choose Make Opacity Mask to fade away the black areas.

This is our final gear. To make changes to the mask, select the gradient mask in the Transparency Palette. Then go to the gear and click and drag to change gradient angle.

Download Source File
Download Source File

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About The Author: Tony Soh

Hi. I'm the founder of Vector Diary. Illustrator is my passion and I have written numerous tutorials on illustrator helping people learn illustrator. My most popular tutorial on learn illustrator has been a hit. It makes learning illustrator so easy and has benefited more than 20,000 people worldwide. Also, I've revealed some of my secret techniques in the premium tutorials. So don't forget to check it out!

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February 6th at 6:47 am

+Add Comment25 Comments

  1. Gravtar for M. Asim  J
    M. Asim J May 15th

    Really nice work…Thanks!

  2. Gravtar for Abhijit V. Chaore
    Abhijit V. Chaore May 29th

    Simple and nice. Good. Thanks.

  3. Gravtar for Le Bich
    Le Bich June 18th

    It’s so nice. Thanks

  4. Gravtar for Lou
    Lou June 21st

    Great Tutorial, thx for the class……….Lou

  5. Gravtar for darek
    darek June 22nd

    Very useful and easy to follow. Thanks.

  6. Gravtar for sathish
    sathish June 23rd

    its very easy to learn

  7. Gravtar for Khawla
    Khawla June 23rd

    This is a great tutorial! Thanks for sharing!

  8. Gravtar for Daniel
    Daniel June 24th

    nice tutorial!!! thank you so much..

  9. Gravtar for Imran Shuja
    Imran Shuja July 29th

    Good Work.I like your siquance..

  10. Gravtar for Karl
    Karl October 29th

    This was a great quick way to draw gears… just what I needed. Thanks a lot!

  11. Gravtar for Susan
    Susan November 4th

    Thank you for your very easy to follow directions!

  12. Gravtar for daniel
    daniel December 5th

    Very good application of the opacity mask, nice tutorial

  13. Gravtar for Greg
    Greg December 9th

    Brilliant tutorial. Thankyou for sharing your knowledge with us.

  14. Gravtar for Peter
    Peter December 16th

    Super. I try to learn without any book and this is quite difficult.

  15. Gravtar for Mark
    Mark December 23rd

    Nice effect with the gradient on the end. Thanks!

  16. Gravtar for Gd Ney Brasil
    Gd Ney Brasil February 16th

    Quero parabenizá-los pelo site, está me ajudando muito.

    Abração!! Gd.

  17. Gravtar for April 19th

    Amazing tutorial, easy to follow, thank you very much for the hard work.

  18. Gravtar for yayoscar
    yayoscar May 5th

    Muchas gracias….

  19. Gravtar for karla
    karla May 22nd


  20. Gravtar for Stephanie
    Stephanie May 25th

    thank you so much.. haven’t learned anything new in illustrator for a while… this was great 🙂

  21. Gravtar for jaydeb
    jaydeb April 19th

    Nice effect with the gradient on the end. Thanks

  22. Gravtar for NEON
    NEON November 17th

    very special tut. Thanks

  23. Gravtar for Rakesh Garasia
    Rakesh Garasia January 19th

    Great Great Great Tutorials. Thanks you so much.

  24. Gravtar for kabeer khan
    kabeer khan July 25th

    Very simple techniques ! Thanx for sharing

  25. Gravtar for Jolie
    Jolie April 8th

    Thank you for the tutorial! Great use of pathfinder!