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Weekly Download: Effects for Adobe Illustrator, Series 2

10 resolution-independent soft bevel filters By Dave Nagel
I get asked all the time how to create bevels in Adobe Illustrator. There are two answers for this: use the 3D filter, in which case you're limited to flat surfaces, or fudge it by combining multiple instances of your graphic, in which case you're stuck spending too much time on a simple effect that's not easily repeatable. So I've decided to dip into my shallow reservoir of programming knowledge to present you with a few preset bevel filters that will hopefully get you through some simple tasks that require resolution-independent, Photoshop-style bevels.

Now, this is only the first installment in what I hope will be a three-part download series for bevel effects. I've broken things up because, frankly, I don't have much programming skill, and it takes me a while to come up with these things, even though with Illustrator filters we're really only talking about rearranging some pre-existing XML code. The first installment in the series includes 10 bevel effects. All of the bevels are soft (meaning rounded) rather than chiseled. And they all use a spotlight style of lighting, which means that the lighting for the bevel emanates from a fixed area in your object, radiating outward. I've created 10 variations on the effect because SVG filters in Illustrator do not have interactive controls. So, essentially, the effects are fixed. For this reason, I've created two variations on the bevels from the top, left, bottom and right lighting positions, as well as a couple of diagonally lit bevels.

Here's a look at the 10 filters included in this collection. As you can see from the examples, the effects can be applied to objects or live type.

These filters will work with Illustrator 10 and Illustrator CS. Head on to the next page for download, installation and customization instructions. (And remember, you can find all of our previous free downloads in our Features Archive, which includes addons for Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and After Effects; Apple Final Cut Pro; Avid; CinePaint; Corel Painter; Creature House Expression/LivingCels; Macromedia Freehand and Fireworks; and Synthetik Studio Artist. You can also find an index page of our free downloads from 2003 here.

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