How to create a Rubik’s Cube in Illustrator

How to create a Rubik’s Cube in Illustrator

To continue the series of tutorials aimed to provide useful tips, tricks and advices in creating nice illustrations (using Illustrator), I’ll show you how to create a simple Rubik’s cube illustration.

Preview:

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Step 1

Create a 700x700px document. First, turn on the Grid (View > Grid) and the Snap to Grid (View > Snap to Grid). Next you’ll need a grid every 10px. Go to Edit > Preferences > Guides & Grid, enter “10″ in the “Gridline every” box and “1″ in the “Subdivisions” box. You should also open the Info palette for a live preview with the size of your shape. All these options will significantly increase your work speed.

Step 2

Grab the Rectangle Tool(M), create a 100x100px shape and add a 5px Rounded Corners effect (Effect > Stylize > Rounded Corners). Select this rectangle and go to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter “2″ in the Copies box and “110″ in the Horizontal Move section. Now, you should have three similar shapes. Reselect the rectangle and go again to Effect > Distort & Transform > Transform. Enter “2″ in the Copies box and “-110″ in the Vertical Move section then go to Object > Expand Appearance.

Step 3

Now, you should have 9 identical shapes. Fill them with white then open the Symbols panel. Select all nine shapes, go to the flyout menu of the Symbol panel and click on New Symbol, name it “squares”, check the Movie Clip button then click OK.

Step 4

Pick the Rectangle Tool (M), create a 340 x 340px rectangle. Fill it with R=153 G=153 B=153 and go to Effect > 3D > Extrude & Bevel. Follow the data shown in the following image. You will need to add the “squares” symbol. Click on the Map Art button and add the “squares” (from the Symbol drop down menu) for Surface1, 3 and 6. Reselect this 3D shape and go to Obejct > Expand Appearance.

Step 5

Disable the Grid and the Snap to Grid. Ungroup and organize the resulting shapes in your Layers panel. Select the big, grey shapes and fill them with R=65 G=64 B=66 then select the small rectangles and fill them with the colors shown below.

Step 6

Now you need to add a bit of roundness for the grey shapes. Grab the Pen Tool(P) and create the red shapes shown in the following images. You should enable the Smart Guides (Ctrl + U) to increase your work speed. Select the red and the grey shapes and click on the Divide button from the Pathfinder panel. Save the large, grey shapes and delete the tiny ones.

Step 7

Once again, pick the Pen Tool(P) and create the red shapes shown in the image below. Select them along with the grey shapes and click on the Divide button from the Pathfinder panel. Again, save the large, grey shapes and delete the tiny ones.

Step 8

Here’s how your illustration should look like so far.

Step 9

Keep the Smart Guides enabled. Select the Pen Tool(P) and create the paths shown below. Fill them with none and add a 2pt, aligned to center stroke (any color). Expand these strokes then select the resulting shapes and click on the Unite button from the Pathfinder panel.

Step 10

Focus on the shape made in the previous step. Pick the Direct Selection Tool (A), select the anchor points highlighted with red and go to Object > Path > Average. Check Both and click OK. Repeat the same techniquer for the anchor points highlighted with green and yellow. Now your shape should be sharp (image #2). Fill it with R=102 G=102 B=102 then add a 1px Gaussian Blur effect.

Step 11

Pick the Pen Tool (P) and create two new paths (image #1). Fill them with none, add a 2px stroke then expand them. Unite the resulting shapes then use the Average option to make it look sharp (like you’ve done in the previous step). Fill this shape with white, lower its opacity to 40%, change its blending mode to Overlay then add a 2px Gaussian Blur effect.

Step 12

Add a second fill for each blue shape and use the gradients shown below.

Step 13

Add a second fill for each white shape and use the gradients shown below.

Step 14

Add a second fill for each red shape and use the gradients shown below.

Step 15

Add a second fill for each orange shape and use the gradients shown below.

Step 16

Add a second fill for each green shape and use the gradients shown below.

Step 17

Add a second fill for each yellow shape and use the gradients shown below.

Step 18

Pick the Ellipse Tool(L) and create a 250 by 250px shape. Place it like in image #1 and fill it with the radial gradient. Create six shape 100px tall and 100px wide then fill them with the same radial gradient. Select all these circles and group them. Brign this group to Front (Shift + Ctrl + ]) and lower its opacity to 10%.

Step 19

Select the Pen Tool(P) and create a shape like the one shown in image #1. Send it to Back (Shift + Ctrl + [), fill it with black, lower its opacity to 40% then add a 4px Gaussian Blur effect. Duplicate this shape and resize it as shown in the second image. Select this copy, raise the opacity to 50% and the Gaussian Blur to 15px. For the background, select the Rectangle Tool and create a 700x700px shape. Send it to Back (Shift + Ctrl + [) then fill it with the radial gradient shown in the final image.

Final result

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Andrei Marius

Andrei Marius is a a relatively newcomer illustrator who loves to share his knowledge with the design community through detailed Illustrator tutorials. You can see more of his work on vforvectors.

26 Comments

(+add yours)
  1. Amina

    this is so cool
    Many thanks

  2. Great tutorial Marius,

    So easy to follow and with a cool result!

    • Thanks a lot.

    • Thanks a lot!

  3. Oooh, cool. Great results. I should try this just to help with my AI skills alone. I just got the software and I’m rather…lost in it.

  4. Kevin W.

    Great tutorial!

  5. Thank you, now we have our logo.

  6. Great outcome. I love to try this.
    Thanks for sharing.

  7. roclafamilia

    Helpful blog, bookmarked the website with hopes to read more!

  8. jan

    Nice, fast to make..but actually there is one thing missing – gaps between small cubes. and i am afraid that makes the result far from reality.

  9. Wes

    noob with the pen tool, can not get the shapes to make the corners of the cube curved, anyone help please?

    • Try using the Convert Point Tool and drag the bezier handles of the points to make corners rounded or lines bend.

      • one_06

        Nice tutorial…but on step 6 after i make the pen shapes…and press divide…the whole cube just turns grey , i try to bring it back so the little squares be visible but no use…why this happens?

  10. shanu

    Great Tutorial !

  11. cliff

    Mine turns grey on step 6 also. I’m using CS5. I tried using white (as AI doesn’t have a “paper” color) but that eventually interfered with the highlighting and shadowing steps.

  12. I love this tutorial and I’m trying to make it into a 4×4 instead of a 3×3. I’m getting stuck at step 4. Can anyone help!!!!

    Thank you so much.

  13. aisha

    Hey nice tutorial but…..I’m using cs5 and I’m stuck in step 5!!!!!!! =( can anybody help me

  14. ZDesigner

    Its superb…

  15. Here is my result. Long process but easy to follow. Looking forward for more. Thanks.

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v645/duceduc/themes/rubik-cubic-vector.png

  16. ducsu
  17. Mike

    Awesome, was trying to make a cube in illustrator using perspective grids and it all got a bit messy, this on the other hand was easy to follow and ver helpful. Thanks so much.

  18. Ronald Lett

    Beautiful tutorial, and result!

  19. droid

    Thanks!

  20. TMontana

    Fuck YOU! shit is imposible to make

  21. Thanks for sharing, But I’m kinda get lost because I’m using the latest version of PS CS5.

  22. Did this tutorial and worked like a charm!! T hank you!!!

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