Creating a 3d box rendering using Adobe Illustrator

San Ni Ichi 3d Image

One of the most important images that any game needs is a flashy box photo. But if your game doesn’t exist yet, how do you make this absolutely necessary image? Answer: Adobe Illustrator!

You will need some art assets for this tutorial. You should have an image for the face of your box as well as the side and top. Make sure that your images are to size of your final box (or at least your final rendering).

Making the 3D Frame

Open Illustrator and create a new document. Size doesn’t really matter.

Using the rectangle tool. Left click anywhere on the artboard to open the rectangle dimension dialog box. Enter the height and width of your box top. (In this case 5.875 in x 4.625 in.)


You can add a fill to this object but it isn’t really necessary, as you will be pasting your box assets over the image. Having a fill can help you see your progress. (I usually use a light grey to start.)

Make sure your object is selected and Select “Effect>3D>Extrude and Bevel…”


This opens the 3D dialog box:


If you select the Preview radio button you can see how your 3D image will look (as long as you added a non-black fill color to your rectangle).

Add the Extrude Depth of your box. Use the same measurement as your box (in this case, 1 inch). In illustrator, the default setting for this is in points but you should enter what ever measurement  you are using (i.e. millimeters, inches, etc), Illustrator will know what you mean.


You can adjust the perspective and angle of the 3D image. Try changing the settings until you end up with a result that you like.

Angles perspective

Once you are happy with the 3D settings Select “OK” from the 3D dialog box. You should be left with something like this:


It’s important to note that you can adjust the 3D settings at anytime. Simply select:  “Window>Appearance”. There will be a box labeled “3D Extrude and Bevel” in that panel. You can click into that box to freely adjust your 3D settings. (Pro tip: you can also use the Direct selection tool to slightly move any of your anchor points on your rectangle to fine tune how your rendering will look. Its not the best idea because it can mess with how some of the proportions look. But sometimes the 3D may look a little off)



Now it’s time to add your artwork

First you need to upload your assets to your Illustrator document.

Select “File>Place…” and navigate to your image files. Your images will be placed onto your Illustrator document.


Open your Symbols panel by Selecting “Window>Symbols”. Add your images to your symbol library by either 1) Dragging your images into the symbol library or 2) Selecting the image you want to add and clicking the information button on the top right of the Symbols panel and selecting “New Symbol”. Either way, you will open a dialog box for Symbol Options.


You can name your symbols for ease of identification, but for this tutorial, it isn’t critical. Once your images are added to your Symbol Library, you can map the images on your 3D rendering.

Select the 3D object on your artboard and open the Appearance Panel (see above). Then select “3D Extrude and Bevel” to open the 3D dialog box again. Select the “Map Art” button.


This will open a new dialog box that will show you each side of your 3D rendering. For a 3D box, you can add art on up to 6 sides, however no more than three will be visible. You can toggle between a wire frame of your box and a preview of the box with the mapped artwork by can selecting/deselecting the “Preview” radio button.

Wire frame of 3D Box

Wire frame of 3D Box

Preview of 3D rendering

Preview of 3D rendering

This next part may take some tinkering. In the Map Art dialog box, find the face surface of your image (usually 1 of 6).


Then select the symbol that you would like to map onto that surface.


As long as your original artwork is proportional to the rectangle, this should fit perfectly. But you may need to manipulate the image slightly.

Follow the previous steps for the side and top of your box.

When you are done, you will end up with an awesome image of your game box. Since this is a vector image you can expand the box as large as your like. However the images mapped on the the surface are raster-based and may look blurry at a larger scale. You can offset this slightly by using very large image files.

San Ni Ichi 3d Image

Happy Game-Making,