Using Illustrator to wrap text or objects around a sphere

By Adriana Marin

The world is round, so we’re told. If you’re used to using Adobe Illustrator exclusively to work with flat, plain objects, perhaps it’s time to broaden your horizons.

One of the many under-utilized tools in Adobe Illustrator is the “Map Art” command. Here we’re going to show you how to use this tool to map a flat object onto a 3D sphere – just like the graphic you see in the example book cover pictured above. This tutorial requires an intermediate knowledge of Illustrator, and these steps should work with all recent versions of Adobe Creative Suite. Okay, let’s get started!

We’ll begin with an object we want to wrap around a sphere. Lets use an old-style map of the world — Shutterstock image 18605090, by javarman. Here’s what it looks like before and after we use the Map Art tool:


Step 1.

For this technique the text or object (in this case, our map) must be converted to a symbol. Open the symbols palette by clicking on the Window tab that is located on the menu bar and selecting symbols.


Step 2.

Once the symbols palette is open, select the object and drag and drop it into the symbols palette. When the Symbols Option window pops up, name the symbol and select “graphic” as the symbol type.


Step 3.

Next, create a shape for the symbol to wrap around. From the toolbar select the ellipse and draw a proportional circle around the image of the sphere. Then select the eraser tool and option click to erase half of the circle.


Step 4.

Select the 3D effect “Revolve”.


In the 3D Revolve Options window set the surface to “No Shading” and click on the “Map Art” button.


Step 5.

In the map art window, select the previously created Symbol.


Move and resize the text to wrap around the globe. When the desired position is attained click “OK” to finish.

Optional: To create shading for the globe, copy and paste the same half circle shape and change the color to the desired color suitable for shading. Apply the 3D effect “Revolve”. Once the filter has been applied to the shape, go to the “Appearance” palette and click “Opacity”. Then select “Multiply”



And there you have it! Now you can use the Map Art function to take any Illustrator object and wrap it around a 3D object.

Check out Skillfeed for more great Illustrator tips and tricks.