In this Illustrator tutorial I’ll show you how to set up a three-point perspective grid in Adobe Illustrator to create a gorgeous 3D gift box. You can either place existing artwork in a perspective plane or draw directly on to the grid. We’ll use both methods in this tutorial, and as a bonus I'll show you an easy way to create a reflection.

We'll start right from the beginning of the process, so even if you are a beginner Illustrator user, our step by step guide will have you creating impressive perspective in no time. 

You can get to grips with other areas of Illustrator with our roundup of the best Illustrator tutorials.

Click on the icon at the top-right of the image to enlarge it.

01. Create a new file

First create a new document by going to 'File > New'. It can be of any size; we are using 800px width and 600px height here. 

02. Open the Perspective Grid tool

Hit the Perspective Grid tool from the tools panel or press shift+P. A default two-point perspective grid and a plane switching widget will pop up in your document. 

You can use the widget to select the active grid plane. If you click the left surface of cube or press 1, its colour will change to blue indicating that left plane is active. And if you click the right surface of cube or press 3, this plane will turn orange to indicate this is now the active plane. Similarly, if you click the bottom surface or press 2, it turns green indicating horizontal plane is your active plane. 

In Perspective Grid, an active plane is the plane on which you draw an object to project the observer’s view of that portion of the scene.

03. Select the grid type

There are three types of grids available to choose from: one-point, two-point and three-point. You can select the desired grid by going to 'View > Perspective Grid > One/two/three Point Perspective'. We’ll use three-point grid for this tutorial. Below you can see its basic structure. 

The first thing you should know is you have full control of the grid. With the Perspective Grid tool selected, you can click and adjust any handle in the grid as you like.  

You can drag the right or left vanishing point horizontally, and the central vanishing point vertically to adjust the size of the respective planes.

If you lock the station point using the 'View > Perspective Grid > Lock Station Point' option, both the vanishing points will move together.

04. Adjust grid planes and grid cell size

You can also adjust the left, right and horizontal grid planes using the respective grid plane control widgets. Adjust grid cell size using grid cell size widget – if you drag it upwards it increases the cell size, and vice versa. 

05. Customise your grid

There is another way to customise your grid. Go to 'View > Perspective grid > Define perspective grid'. I mostly use this option to decrease the opacity of the grid so I can concentrate more on my artwork. 

06. Create the sides

With all the basics in mind let’s start drawing. If you have made any changes to your grid controls while experimenting, just go to 'View > Perspective grid > Three point perspective' to return to the default three-point grid. 

The only change we’ll make to this grid is to decrease horizon height by moving the horizon line down, closer to the ground level. 

Press shift+cmd+I (shift+ctrl+I) to temporarily hide the perspective grid. Now pick the Rectangle tool (M), click the canvas to view its dialog box and enter 200px for width and 170px for height. You can make this rectangle any colour. 

Next, we’ll make two copies of our rectangle. Select it by clicking it using the Selection tool (V), then press cmd+C to copy and cmd+V to paste. Now you have three rectangles, which will form the two side walls and lid of the box.

07. Drag the rectangles to create perspective

Press shift+cmd+I to view the grid again, pick the Perspective Selection tool (shift+V), select the right grid by pressing 3 and simply drag one of the rectangles over the grid as shown below. The rectangle will automatically come into perspective. 

Next press 1 to select the left grid and drag another rectangle adjoining the previous one.

Press 2 to select horizontal plane and position the third rectangle to form the lid. If it's not in proportion with the walls, you can resize it using the Perspective Selection tool (shift+V). 

08. Apply following gradient

Now select the right wall of box and apply following gradient on it using the Gradient tool (G). You can save this gradient by hitting the 'New Swatch' icon at the bottom of the Swatches panel. 

Now make a copy of the right wall. While the wall is selected press cmd+C to copy, and cmd+F to paste in front. Apply the given gradient to this copy and save the gradient as a new swatch. 

Now apply both the gradients over the left wall from the saved swatches. After that, apply following gradient over the lid. 

09. Add the lid detail

Increase the size of lid a bit using the Perspective Selection tool (shift+V). Press 3 to select the right grid and draw a rectangle using the Rectangle tool (M) as below. Then apply the given gradient. 

Hit 1 to select the left grid and create a rectangle on the other side. You can apply the same gradient, but you'll need to change its angle a bit. 

Next page: the final steps to creating a gorgeous 3D gift box…

10. Round the corners

Next, we’ll give the box rounded corners. Select all the shapes from the Layers panel and go to 'Effect > Stylize > Round Corners'. Enter a 2px value for the radius. 

11. Create the lid shadow

Art in perspective:

Next we’ll create the lid shadow. Press 3 to select the right grid and shift+V to use the Perspective Selection tool, then draw a black rectangle as shown below. 

Make a similar rectangle for the left side, and drag both black rectangles below the lid layers. To create the shadow of the box, select the lid's top layer, press cmd+C (ctrl+C) to copy and cmd+B to paste in back.

Art in perspective: lid shadow

Select the three shadow layers, change their blending mode to Multiply with 50 per cent opacity in the Transparency panel (shift+ctrl+F10) and go to 'Effect > Blur > Gaussian Blur'. Use 2-4px value here to blur the shadow. 

Art in perspective: lid shadow

Click image to enlarge

12. Define the front corner of the lid

Next, draw a small line in front of the lid using the Pen tool (P). Make its fill colour 'none', change the colour to #F76C41, and the give it a stroke of 3pt. Then round its cap and corners using the Stroke panel at the top.  

13. Create the ribbon

To create the ribbon press shift+ V the bring up the Perspective Selection tool, then hit 3 to select the right plane and draw a thin vertical rectangle (#FFD274). Hit 1 to draw a similar rectangle (#E8BE6A) over the left plane. 

Hit 2 to select the Horizontal plane and draw two rectangles crossing each other, then apply given gradient to both. You'll need to change the angle of the gradient for the final rectangle.

14. Add shadow to the ribbon

We are done with the grid so far, so press shift+cmd+I (shift+ctrl+I) to hide it. Now draw a shape below the recently created ribbon shapes using Pen tool (P) with #B55B36 fill. 

To make its shadow, select the new shape, press cmd+C (ctrl+C) to copy, and cmd+B (ctrl+B) to paste in back. Change its fill colour to #42210B with 50 per cent opacity in the Transparency panel (shift+cmd+F10 or shift+ctrl+F10). Adjust its shape slightly, according to the cuts of the box. 

15. Shade over the ribbon edge

Next, draw the two shapes shown in the image below for shading over the right ribbon. Repeat these steps for the left-side ribbon to get the results similar to mine. 

16. Draw the bow

Now we’ll draw the bow using Pen tool (P). Draw the basic parts as shown above, then create the second loop as shown below. Collect these four shapes in a new layer. To do so, select them and click the fly-out menu in the top right corner of Layers panel (F7), then choose 'Collect in New Layer'. Label it as 'Second Loop'.  

Create the third loop below the rest using gradients shown. Collect these two shapes in a new layer and label it 'Third Loop'. 

17. Finish the bow

Select the 'Second Loop' layer and pick the Duplicate option from the fly-out menu in the top-right corner of Layers panel (F7). Select this duplicated layer and click the canvas to view the Options window, then choose 'Transform >  Reflect'. Reflect the loop vertically and hit 'OK'.  

Place this duplicated layer above the first large loop as shown above. Then duplicate and reflect the 'Third Loop' layer and reposition it, keeping it below the rest of the loops.  

The final result

Using the Perspective Grid tool in Adobe Illustrator opens the door for creating more exciting artwork inside the program. To learn more about this tool, and to learn about more advanced techniques in Illustrator, check out these Pluralsight courses: Illustrator CC Perspective Grid Tool, Illustrator CC Blend and Gradient Mesh, Illustrator CC Recolor Artwork, Illustrator CC learning path.

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