This seemed like a futile thing to look up but every single guide I check seems to work for a different use case. My question is this: given a "prism" (or just an extruded rectangle), how can I outline it with a thin black line? Below, I attempt to apply a stroke but it just changes the entire outer 3D edges. enter image description here enter image description here

What I actually want is this (made in PowerPoint):

enter image description here

How can I do this in illustrator?


1 Answer 1


2 options...

Option 1

You need to use the classic 3D effect, the new 3D architecture in recent versions of AI all result in pixel-based artwork.

  • Choose Object > Group from the menu (even if it's only 1 object)
  • Add a New Stroke in the Appearance Panel at the Group level. Just be certain the stroke is above the <Contents> listed in the panel.

enter image description here

Option 2

Use Object > Expand Appearance from the menu — but the 3D effect will no longer be "live" and editable after doing so. You can then select individual pieces and alter their appearance as desired.

  • Thanks for your quick reply. Unfortunately, the first option doesn't seem to do anything at all. If I make the group stroke 1 pt or 100 pt the object appears the same. For option 2, how exactly do I select individual pieces? No matter how much I click around with either selection tool nothing happens. Thanks again.
    – jhschwartz
    Jul 4 at 1:58
  • The first option should work without issue. Check the stack order of things in the Appearance Panel. You have to create the group, add a new stroke, make certain the stroke is above "contents" and it should work fine. And if you are "clicking around and nothing happens" there's something else taking place. Just a guess.. but try tapping the ESC key.. then try clicking.
    – Scott
    Jul 4 at 3:05
  • I'm not sure what I'm missing but it's just not working either way. Here are gifs of my two attempts, hopefully you see something I don't: Option one: ibb.co/6Rfxt2h Option two: ibb.co/sCQthbX
    – jhschwartz
    Jul 4 at 3:36
  • Okay.. first option may be a bug, but it may also be due to the CMYK color mode. Try it in an RGB document. I do notice some oddities here in CMYK (which I've never noticed before). Second option.. looks like it's expanding to a raster <image>. Not sure why, that may be due to the new 3D architecture.
    – Scott
    Jul 4 at 4:41
  • To be honest, based upon your gifs.. it looks like they've really messed up the 3D in the latest AI version. I'm purposefully a couple version back to avoid stuff like this. If you can't rely on the Appearance panel.. and can't expand without things resulting in a raster image, I'm afraid I'm a bit stumped regarding this then.
    – Scott
    Jul 4 at 4:56

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