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I've tried all afternoon to create these thick black (which will be 3D) interlocking chain links and have had no success. I've tried recreating the chains in pieces, I tried using the scissor tool, but every time when I make it 3D, the main problem is that each link in the chain is both in front of, then underneath the other links next to it.

How do I create this realistic interweaving effect?

Do I have to pick a different software? I have all the suite, so I can do that, but all the tutorials I watched today were a total waste of time, they didn't give me answers for this 3D spatial problem.

Interlocking chain links

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  • Too short on time here to post a proper answer but if Scott's answer doesn't work, opacity masks might
    – curious
    Dec 4 '21 at 2:35
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The easiest way for me to create interlocking shapes is to use the Shape Builder Tool --- enter image description here

Select the artwork and with the Shape Builder Tool click-drag to combine sections.
Hold down the Option/Alt key and click-drag to remove sections.

enter image description here enter image description here

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  • Wow, Scott, that's perfect. That is exactly what I needed. I can't thank you enough. Dec 4 '21 at 10:32

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