Illustrator Tutorial: Disco Ball

Disco Ball Illustrator Tutorial

I did a quick search to find an illustrator tutorial on creating a vector disco ball but I couldn’t find one. So I’ve decided to write this tutorial to help those interested in creating this awesome disco ball effect. It is actually quite simple, the technique is to create the texture first and map it onto the 3D sphere. However, we will require Illustrator CS and above to create this awesome Illustrator effect.

1. Create the disco ball texture

First, we need to turn on the grid and enable snapping. Go View>Show Grid and View>Snap to Grid. With the Rectangle Tool draw a grey square with a 1pixel white stroke. You realise it will snap perfectly to the grid while drawing. Using the Selection Tool, select the grey square and hold Alt/Option as you drag to the side. This will duplicate a new square.

Press Ctrl/Command+D to duplicate a row of 20 squares. Select the whole row of squares. Hold Alt/Option and drag below to duplicate a new row of squares. Repeat this by pressing Ctrl/Command+D. Do this until you get a 20 by 20 rows of squares.

With the Selection Tool, select a square. Hold Shift and randomly select a number of different squares and fill it with a shade of teal color. Repeat the steps until you have a range of 5 different shades all spread out. Select all the squares and duplicate by holding Alt/Option and drag it to the right side. Now open your Symbols Palette by going to Window>Symbol. Create a new symbol by dragging all the square into it. And we are done with our texture.

2. Create a 3D sphere

Now draw a circle with the Circle Tool. Hold Shift as you drag to create a perfect circle. Next, draw a rectangle that overlaps the circle in the middle. Select both shapes and open up your Pathfinder Palette. Hold Alt/Option and click Subtract from shape area. This will create a semi-circle.

With the semi-circle still selected, go Effect>3D>Revolve. Choose Map Art and select the texture we created under Symbol. Click Scale to Fit to fill up the whole sphere. Press Ok to confirm.

Under 3D Revolve Options, select No Shading for Surface and turn the Preview option on. Spin the cube to create the angle of the disco ball you want. Click Ok to confirm. We are done with our disco ball.

3D Revolve Options

3. Add sparkles and glow

Draw a circle and fill it with Radial Gradient. Open up your Transparency Palette and set the Normal to Screen. This will create a glow on the disco ball.

We will need to add in more sparkles. Select the Star Tool, click and drag 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. Next, we draw a Circle and fill up with a Radial Gradient as shown below. Align both in the center and set them to Screen under Transparency Palette. Select both and duplicate a few with different sizes to add sparkles to the disco ball.

Star Tool

4. Disco Ball Reflections

Let’s begin to do the disco reflection. Create a black solid circle. Select it and press Ctrl/Command+C to copy it. Paste it to the front by pressing Ctrl/Command+F to paste in front. Hold Shift and grab to corners to resize it smaller. Fill it with white after that. Select the Blend Tool and click the white circle once then hold Alt/Option and click the black circle. The Blend Options will pop up. Set a value of 6 steps and choose Specified Steps for it. Expand it by going to Object>Expand to break them into individual circles.

Duplicate a few of the reflections and spread them around. Select all the reflections and group them by pressing Ctrl/Command+G and go Effect>Warp>Fisheye. Play around with the options until you find something you like. Go Object>Expand Appearances to expand the warp after that.

Next we create a new rectangle above the reflections. Give it a Radial Gradient from teal to black color. With the Gradient Tool we can click and drag in the gradient to create the gradient below. Open up Transparency Palette and set it to Multiply.

Finally we will create a faint glow for the disco cube. Draw a circle and fill it with Radial Gradient. Go to the Layers Palette and move it behind the disco ball and your done!

Here’s the final disco ball. Hope this tutorial has helped you have a better understanding of using the Map Art in 3D Revolve.

Disco Ball Final

Bonus Tip: We can further make changes to the disco ball by going to Window>Appearance and double click 3D Revolve (Mapped).

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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April 30th at 10:56 pm

+Add Comment75 Comments

  1. Gravtar for April 15th

    excellent tutorial!

  2. Gravtar for bnlake
    bnlake April 15th

    AWESOME tutorial!!! I’ve been BEGGING for someone to teach me what happened to the 3D distort! This is a beautiful work around! Thank you so much

  3. Gravtar for d-sine
    d-sine April 20th

    Great way of creating a disco ball, can see loads of applications for this technique:)
    thanks, bro

  4. Gravtar for ash
    ash April 23rd

    how do you apply the symbol to the sphere? i do what it says, but all i get is a silver ball.

  5. Gravtar for iStockdiary
    iStockdiary April 23rd

    When you Map Art, under symbol selection, select your new texture. It should work.

  6. Gravtar for ash
    ash April 23rd

    darn. it still doesn’t. oh well. good tutorial though. 🙂

  7. Gravtar for ash
    ash April 23rd

    I figured out what I did. Just in case you’re new like me…make sure the circle doesn’t have a stroke. I changed that and now it works. 🙂

  8. Gravtar for hfng
    hfng April 30th

    Great tutorial. Do you expand appearance after 3D revolve? I am not sure if Istock accepts it as is.

  9. Gravtar for iStockdiary
    iStockdiary April 30th

    Yes, you will need to expand it and clean up the file if you are submitting to istock. You will also need to give up transparency effects. It’s a lot more troublesome.

  10. Gravtar for Ramona Iftode
    Ramona Iftode April 30th

    This is just awesome. Excellent tutorial. I’ll come back for more 😉

  11. Gravtar for aaron
    aaron May 1st

    Want to save yourself A LOT of steps? To make the 20×20 grid do this instead. 1) Create a large square 2) Object > Envelope Distort > Make with mesh 3) Choose 20 columns by 20 rows 4) There is no step 4

  12. Gravtar for Phodana
    Phodana May 3rd

    very cool, thx

  13. Gravtar for Saliba Khoury
    Saliba Khoury May 4th

    Very Good Tutorial. Thanks

  14. Gravtar for Muhammad Shahid Akram
    Muhammad Shahid Akram May 7th

    That’s great

  15. Gravtar for J BUG
    J BUG May 9th


  16. Gravtar for Abhijit V. Chaore
    Abhijit V. Chaore May 12th

    fantastic tutorial. Thanks for sharing.

  17. Gravtar for Narasimha
    Narasimha May 12th

    yes, this is awsome tutorial… the great one… very easy to learn…. thanks allllllllloooooooooooottttttttttt……………………………

  18. Gravtar for skander
    skander May 19th

    very good tut, thank you

  19. Gravtar for tony
    tony May 23rd

    Great tutorial, but I can’t seem to get the final step , getting the final result to render. I am using CS2 and that might be why? When I try to use it effect on a full circle it works (donut shape) but with many tries on the half circle the best I get are the squars applied very much elongated horizontally.

    Thanks tho

  20. Gravtar for Me
    Me May 25th


  21. Gravtar for iToon
    iToon May 26th

    Want to save yourself some steps, to make the semi-circle?
    Use the direct selection tool to select one of the anchorpoint from the side of the circle
    Delete the selected anchorpoint, and use the pen tool to connect the open ends from the semi circle.

    awsome tut btw!

  22. Gravtar for Dwayne
    Dwayne May 27th

    For anyone getting the “donut” effect, change your offset in the revolve options from left or right or vise-versa.

  23. Gravtar for talal
    talal June 6th


  24. Gravtar for meshack
    meshack June 16th

    This is greater inspiration
    I done it!

  25. Gravtar for Raj
    Raj August 9th

    gr8 tutorial m8 🙂 Thanx a lot!

  26. Gravtar for skaevola
    skaevola August 26th

    yes, nice, only that the first step might be easier achieved by using Split into grid on a rectangle.

  27. Gravtar for ArthasMX
    ArthasMX September 11th

    Hi there!

    Men, what’s the font name u used on this design ? the “Disco Ball” ?


  28. Gravtar for rastakid27
    rastakid27 September 21st

    very good techniques…tnx

  29. Gravtar for Bob
    Bob October 12th

    Hey awesome tutorial. I’m a newbie…so how do you add the sparkles and then then the reflections and the faded white outline?

  30. Gravtar for Vectordiary
    Vectordiary October 12th

    Hi Bob, See step 3 to create sparkles and reflections. I guess a lot of people miss out page 2. Anyway I have combined all in a page. Hope it is better now.

  31. Gravtar for RAADHEESH
    RAADHEESH October 16th

    supper tutorials for beginners !!! it will causes to know what is Illustrator !!!

  32. Gravtar for Bob
    Bob October 17th

    Awesome thanks for your help. Sweet tutorial.

  33. Gravtar for Helen
    Helen October 24th

    A half bowl remain half after evolving 🙂 Sometimes it helps to re-read before publishing.

  34. Gravtar for sss_sarzzz
    sss_sarzzz October 29th

    i’m also a newbie here… and i love your tutorials! but in step 3 when i try to make that circle with a radial gradient and pretty much do it all, why is it that instead of a glow i just get a semi-transparent white circle?

  35. Gravtar for Vectordiary
    Vectordiary October 29th

    Once you set transparency to screen for your radial gradient the black areas will be semi transparent.

  36. Gravtar for Koby
    Koby November 12th

    I got the same problem as sss_sarzz. It is set on screen, but im not acheiving this glow effect.

  37. Gravtar for Vectordiary
    Vectordiary November 12th

    Hi Koby. Most probably your working in CMYK mode. Go File>Dcoument Color Mode>RGB to change it to RGB.

  38. Gravtar for Jos
    Jos November 17th

    Great tutorial, thanks a lot, it just help me for one of my homeworks, I was doing a very sucky disco ball by miself, so triying to vectorize from a real one I just find this tutorial and all I have to say is Thanks man!!!, you saved me a lot of time

  39. Gravtar for Vick
    Vick November 20th

    i dont understand how to do the 20 rows

  40. Gravtar for Barbara
    Barbara November 22nd

    Nice job. I have mapped a can with a label created. want to show the back of the can, but it is not mapping in color, only light shades of grey. I tried adjusting the plastic shade lighting effect. Any advice?

  41. Gravtar for Suicidal_Clown
    Suicidal_Clown December 10th

    This tutorial is fucking bullshit its fucking hard and stupid

  42. Gravtar for Vectordiary
    Vectordiary December 10th

    Hi Suicidal_Clown, maybe you can try something easier.

  43. Gravtar for Darlene Sanguenza
    Darlene Sanguenza December 10th

    cool! nice tutorial, very helpful!

  44. Gravtar for v-render
    v-render January 19th

    ammazing tutorial !

  45. Gravtar for Daisy
    Daisy February 16th

    This tutorial is very helpful! I followed you step by step and I did it! Great tutorial. Thanks 🙂

  46. Gravtar for ajesh j pious
    ajesh j pious March 26th

    hey man its nice tutorial…. thanks alot….

  47. Gravtar for ANNIKA
    ANNIKA April 4th

    Thanks to Ash for pointing out the stroke issue!!

    But now i cant seem to get the initial glow on the disco ball ( point #3). It still has a hard edge to it. Anyone know what i’m doing wrong? Thanks!

  48. Gravtar for ANNIKA
    ANNIKA April 4th

    Ah nevermind i figured it out!

    For those of you having the same problem, do an opacity mask 🙂

  49. Gravtar for Jessica
    Jessica April 11th

    Hi i was doing the tutorial and i am having trouble when i get to the 3-d revolve map art part. I scale to fit and after i did everything, the symbol didn’t show up on the ball it was just black is there something I am missing? I thought I was doing all the steps right. Please help.

  50. Gravtar for leecha
    leecha April 11th

    supper tutorials for beginners !!! it will causes to know what is Illustrator.AWESOME tutorial!!! I’ve been BEGGING for someone to teach me what happened to the 3D distort! This is a beautiful work around! Thank you so much

  51. Gravtar for ana
    ana April 13th

    excellent disco ball created from a equally great tutorial but i can’t seem to resize it in illustrator. i have tried to resize manually as well as using the scale tool. where am i going wrong? i have already expanded the disco ball.

  52. Gravtar for Rick Bowerman
    Rick Bowerman April 17th

    I have the same problem as ash and I can’t figure out what they mean by the stroke…the stroke of what??

  53. Gravtar for ANNIKA
    ANNIKA April 17th

    Rick, make sure that there is no Stroke on the half circle. Select the half circle and click the white square with the red line through it while the stroke feature is in the foreground of (and very bottom of) your tools palette.

  54. Gravtar for ormid14
    ormid14 April 23rd

    wow!! great tutorial
    Thanks 🙂

  55. Gravtar for Jorge
    Jorge July 16th

    Fantastic. Thank you

  56. Gravtar for louise nash
    louise nash July 22nd

    This is a wicked tutorial, I was a beginner with 3D shapes, now I can create spheres n balls!

    My only criticism is that you could have sped up the grid/swatch making part by creating a rectangle with a 5 colour gradient, then turn it into a mosiac!

    Excellent job though, I know much better for trying this!

  57. Gravtar for Monzur
    Monzur July 28th

    Hi! Thanks for the excellent tutorial. Is it possible to design text, so that it looks like made of water? I mean, written with water? If possible, please would you share the tips – how to make them?


  58. Gravtar for Dai Hoang
    Dai Hoang August 2nd

    the smart work,awesome!
    Would you like a drink.
    All of us bottom up!
    Thank you for sharing.

  59. Gravtar for hahaha
    hahaha August 19th

    Thank you!! YOu really helped me! 😀

  60. Gravtar for Erin
    Erin September 22nd

    When ever I make the circle for the glow effect, the outside is very crisp, and when I try to blend it with the blend tool, it doesn’t work. Advice?

  61. Gravtar for jibin
    jibin October 18th

    tanx mann..good work..

  62. Gravtar for plan communication montréal
    plan communication montréal November 3rd

    THANKS! that discoball logo was just what I was looking for for a whole new design

  63. Gravtar for zajefajnyx
    zajefajnyx November 23rd

    Chcemy wiecej 😀

  64. Gravtar for Noble Studios Rabbit
    Noble Studios Rabbit December 30th

    Hey All this seems like a great tutorial but following all of the steps I don’t get the same results, the only way I can even have the symbol show up at all on the 3d sphere is to turn on plastic shading and have the map be effected by shading. When I turn it to no shading I get a filled circle. I’ve noticed a few others had the same problem…. was there a solution someone found that works for them? I agree this is a great introduction into the 3d shapes.

  65. Gravtar for Noble Studios Rabbit
    Noble Studios Rabbit December 30th

    Hey all, if anyone else is having the issue I did earlier try removing any gradients from the squares on your symbol, I was getting only part of the symbol displaying for some reason, like it was being clipped. If you notice something weird maybe try that, great tutorial though, very helpful once it worked.

  66. Gravtar for artistmax
    artistmax February 22nd

    nice lessons! It’s method very good.

  67. Gravtar for Dharma
    Dharma July 28th

    geee…. thank you so much!!

  68. Gravtar for MichaelV
    MichaelV November 29th

    Absolutely love this one – but quite an involved process – will have to brush up on my illustrator techniques AND I’ll have to bookmark this page because I seriously doubt I will remember the steps. Thanks for your expertise…..

  69. Gravtar for ahmed hossam
    ahmed hossam March 7th

    so simple but so jenius

  70. Gravtar for Katie
    Katie March 11th

    u spelled genius really wrong

  71. Gravtar for Zeng
    Zeng October 25th

    Thanks a lot!
    The tutorial is fantastic!
    Thank you!
    This is my first work using illustrator 🙂

  72. Gravtar for melanie
    melanie October 30th

    i love how it glows. 🙂

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    timex heart rate monitor November 4th

    Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an extremely long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again.
    Anyways, just wanted to say excellent blog!

  75. Gravtar for tyler
    tyler January 30th

    wow so far this one and the lion are my favorite