Play with sketches and build grids in Adobe Illustrator that makes it easy and fun to build out 3D shapes and isometric artwork. You’re going to love this technique for isometric artwork and for all kinds of grid-based artwork and logo design.
Create a new document in Illustrator.
Create a perfectly square shape by using the Rectangle tool and holding down the Shift key while dragging out a shape.
Align this shape to the center of the document because neatness is nice.
Select the shape and ensure that it has a 1pt stroke and no fill. I am setting my stroke color to black, but it can be any color you want. (It’s going to disappear in just a moment.)
Select the square we just made and go Object>Path>Split Into Grid
We’re going to give this grid 50x columns and 50x rows with 0px gutter.
Turn on Preview to see what is happening here.
With this grid of squares now selected, go View>Guides>Make Guides
Also, go View>Smart Guides and make sure they are turned on (there should be a checkmark indicating that they’re on.)
Lock this layer in the layers panel containing all of our grid.
Create a new layer and grab the Pen tool.
Our fill/stroke settings should still be black stroke and no fill. That’s perfect.
Now we begin by drawing a hexagon with the triangular points on the top and bottom. The sides of the hexagon should be four cells tall. There should be eight cells between the vertical lines, left-to-right, and the points at the top and bottom of the shape should be four cells inward from the center and then two cells down from that for the bottom and two cells upward from there for the top point.
This is our base center cube. Draw three lines from the inner corners to the center point of this hexagon shape to give the cube depth.
NOTE: It’s going to be much, much easier to watch the video and see exactly where I am drawing and how I am counting my cells.
We’re going to now use this process to create an outer wall shape around our cube and then an architectural, underground subway, brutalist,roof-of-a-zombie-shelter type of framework which will appear to be “holding” this cube.
Again, watching the video will be the best way to quickly pick up exactly how I am creating this and where I am placing anchor points to make all of this work.
Once we have created our base shapes, we can use the Shape Builder Tool to quickly squiggle together the faces of the plus shapes and then use the Live Paint Bucket Tool to add our first base fill to this entire thing.
Adjusting the colors is as easy as using the Edit>Edit Colors>Recolor Artwork feature and playing with the color wheel, or digging through color libraries to find the scheme that we like the best.