Illustrator Tutorial: Disco Ball

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).

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