Creating a 3D Soccer Ball

Using the Mirror and Fisheye lens Xtras

I normally don't write tutorials on how to create very specific objects. This one is an exception to the rule. Why I chose this particular object is what's important here. You'll be using two Xtras in this tutorial, the Mirror and Fisheye Lens Xtras.

Soccer balls are not easy to draw, as the shapes that make them up (Black Pentagons and White Hexagons) have to wrap around the ball in a certain pattern. This kind of pattern would normally be impossible to draw flat. While I won't disagree, I will say that you can get it to work if you only create a little bit of the pattern. You'll see...

1) First, place two intersecting guides at the center of the page then turn on Snap to Guides and Snap to Point.

Double-click on the Polygon tool to bring up the dialog seen above. Enter 5 for the amount then press OK.

2) Holding Option (Alt)+Shift, click and drag out a constrained Pentagon shape from the intersecting Guides like shown above. Make sure the top point is sitting on the vertical guide.

3) Next, create a vertical line starting from the intersecting Guides that expends out of the top of the Pentagon.

The length that comes out of the top of the Pentagon isn't extremely important, but it should look about as long as the very bottom segment of the Pentagon.

4) Clone this Pentagon and Rotate it 180. Drag it up so that it's bottom point is just touching the vertical line. Fill in both Pentagons with Black.

Select both the top pentagon and the vertical line, then Group them together.

5) Now we need to setup the Mirror tool. When you double-click on the tool in the Xtras toolbar, you get the above dialog box.

Set the type of reflection to Multiple. Enter 5 for the number of objects and for the final option choose Rotate. Then click OK.

6) Now with the Mirror tool, move the cursor near the center of the first pentagon. With Snap to Point turned on, you'll see your cursor change when over that vertical line within the Pentagon.

When you see that, click once and you'll get 4 clones at the other 4 points of the Pentagon all in one easy step.

7) Next fill in the extra lines like shown above highlighted in red. These are just bridges to the other Pentagons.

Select all the objects and Group them together.

8) On a new Layer, draw a constrained circle by holding the Option (Alt)+Shift keys down while drawing from the intersecting Guides. This circle should NOT be any larger than the pattern you just drew.

Now Lock this new layer just for a moment to protect the circle from the next transformation.

9) Now we want to setup the Fisheye Lens tool. Double-click on the tool to see the above dialog box. You'll want to set the Convex setting all the way to 100. Hit OK.

10) Before you warp the pattern, move it slightly off center from the circle. Depending on your needs, you can skip this step if you prefer the pattern to be dead on in the center.

11) With the Fisheye Lens tool, hold Option (Alt)+Shift and click-drag from the center of the circle to the outer edge.

When you get to the outer edge, let go and you'll have a nicely rounded pattern for your soccer ball.

12) Select the pattern and Cut it to the clipboard. Select the Circle and Paste Inside the pattern. There, almost finished.

12) Select the circle and apply None to the stroke, then give it a nice Radial fill to add depth to the ball.

For this last sample, I took the liberty of adding other special touches such as a slight embossed look to the lines for added depth.

Also you may notice a slight radial fill for the pentagon shapes. See if you can try to figure it out on your own. If you're really having problems, you know where to find me... heh heh.

This is not the most precise way to create a soccer ball, as you may notice that the hexagon's sides are not all equal lengths in the final piece like they would be on a real soccer ball..... but we won't tell the mathematicians.

The reason is only because the pattern on a real soccer ball is created to fit on a 3D shape. If the real soccer ball pattern was laid out flat, it would look very similar to above.

Those gaps between the shapes are to help compensate for the roundness of the object being covered, in this case a ball. A pattern like that would not work well for the above tutorial, as you can't make those gaps go away, so we faked it.

I hope that this tutorial helped you get some better understanding of other uses for the Mirror and Fisheye Lens Xtras. They aren't just for creating soccer balls, you can warp text to look like it's laying on a ball surface too. Just have fun with it.