How to Make a Cylinder in Illustrator

Adobe Illustrator CC offers two tools for creating three-dimensional objects like cylinders. The Extrude & Bevel function takes an existing circle and extends it into a shaded cylinder. The Revolve function takes a rectangular shape and revolves it 360 degrees to complete the cylinder shape.

food can
The Revolve function can create complicated cylinders like beveled cans.
credit: icafreitas/iStock/Getty Images

Extrude & Bevel

Step

Draw a circle by holding the "Shift" key while using the "Ellipse" tool. This circle provides the building block for your cylinder by specifying the size of the cylinder ends. The circle's stroke color defines the cylinder's color.

Step

Click "Effect," select "3D" and then choose "Extrude & Bevel" to open the 3D Extrude & Bevel Options dialog.

Step

Check "Preview" to display a live, in-place preview of the cylinder.

Step

Enter or select a pixel value in the Extrude Depth field. This value relates to the length of the cylinder, so higher values elongate the cylinder more than smaller values. For a solid appearance, keep the default Cap option selected; alternatively, turn this option off to create a thin-walled cylinder. You can also specify the Bevel shape and height to add shapes to the sides, but for a smooth cylinder, keep the default "None" option selected.

Step

Change the X-, Y- and Z-axis values in the Position section to rotate the cylinder according to your needs. You can also select an option from the Position drop-down menu to use existing settings.

Step

Click the "Surface" drop-down menu and select the type of shading you prefer. The default Plastic Shading option creates a shiny surface, whereas Diffuse Shading using a softer light reflection. Selecting "Wireframe" creates a transparent surface with lined contours.

Step

Click "More Options" to adjust shading options, such as Light Intensity, Ambient Light, Highlight Intensity, Shading Color and Highlight Size. The available options depend on the shading type selected.

Step

Click "OK" when you're satisfied with the preview image.

Revolve

Step

Draw a rectangle using the Rectangle tool. Because the rectangle will revolve laterally, the height also represents the height of the cylinder, but the width represents the cylinder's radius, or half the cylinder's width. If you want the cylinder wall to have a shaped design, such as beveled edges or ripples, modify the shape of the right edge of the rectangle -- or the left edge if you plan to change the Revolve settings. The stroke color defines the cylinder color.

Step

Click "Effect," choose "3D" and then select "Revolve" to open the 3D Revolve Options dialog.

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Check "Preview" to display a live preview of any settings you change.

Step

Adjust the X-, Y- and Z-axis options to change the angle of the cylinder. You can also select an existing option from the Position drop-down menu.

Step

Choose an Offset in the Revolve section to create a hollow cylinder with the side width equal to the original rectangle width. You can also select "Right Edge" to create the cylinder by rotating the rectangle around the right edge, which makes the left edge define the side shape.

Step

Click the "Surface" drop-down menu and then select either "Plastic Shading" for a shiny effect or "Diffuse Shading" for a subtle shading effect. You can also choose the contoured "Wireframe" option. Selecting "No Shading" creates the cylinder, but it doesn't add shading, so the cylinder shape isn't obvious. Click "More Options" to view shading-dependent options, such as Shading Color, Blend Steps and Light Intensity.

Step

Click "OK" to complete the cylinder.