I'm using Illustrator CS2 to create some graphics. In one of my graphics I'd like to use a "3D" arrow lying on the ground as shown in the following example:

enter image description here

I want to draw arrows just like in the image shown. Best thing would be an effect "3D arrow" so I can scale it afterwards without adapting it... How can I do this? Do I need to use another program or are there special arrows I can load into Illustrator?

  • 1
    You could draw them using basic principles of perspective. Though an easier solution is to probably use the SKEW transform tool.
    – DA01
    Commented Nov 8, 2011 at 17:22
  • 2
    The arrows in your example are isometric — not '3D'.
    – user19143
    Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 16:08

1 Answer 1


There is more than one single way to accomplish this. However, by far the simplest way is to utilize the Symbols Library.

Create a Single Arrow

  1. Open up the Symbols palette: Window > Symbol (Shift + Ctl/Cmd + F11)
  2. From the Symbols palette menu, choose Open Symbol Library > Arrows Open Symbol Library - Arrows
  3. Next, choose the appropriate arrow from the Arrows palette to add to your Symbols palette. Or skip to 4
    Arrows Palette
  4. Drag the arrow you want directly onto your canvas.
  5. Making sure you have your arrow-symbol selected, choose Object > Expand...
  6. Uncheck Fill and click OK
    Expand Object
  7. Again, making sure you have the arrow selected, choose Object > Ungroup (Shift + Ctrl/Cmd + G)
  8. Deselect the arrow (Shift + Left Click). It should still look like the arrow is selected; however, all you have selected now is the bounding box that was created with the symbol. Press delete to discard the bounding box.

Duplicate, Mirror, Unite

Next, we're going to make a duplicate of this arrow that mirrors it then unite the two together to form the double-headed arrow.

  1. By far the easiest way to do this is to press Alt + Shift + Left Arrow Key. Now you should have a perfectly aligned duplicate arrow to the left of the original.
  2. Right-click on the duplicate, and choose Transform > Reflect... or go to Object > Transform > Reflect...
    Transform - Reflect
  3. From the Rotation menu, choose Vertical then press OK Reflect - Vertical
  4. Now that we have mirror arrows, we want to unite them together to create one arrow: Move your arrows a fair distance apart while still overlapping.
  5. Open your Pathfinder palette: Window > Pathfinder (Shift + Ctrl/Cmd + F9)
  6. Click *Unite**
  7. You now have a completed double-headed arrow.
  8. Using the Direct Selection Tool, you can now select the 7 points of one arrow, then, while holding down Shift, you can click on one of the points and move that arrow-head as far from the other as you need.
    Move Arrow Head

Create Perspective & Optional 3D Effect

Before you move or rotate the arrow into the position desired. We're going to add the perspective to it to complete the effect.

  1. Right-click on the arrow and choose Transform > Shear... or Object > Transform > Shear...
  2. From the Shear menu, check the Preview box to help figure out what angle would best suite your needs. Based on the image provided, I chose roughly a 20 degree shear angle. Shear
  3. Now that this is complete, you can move, rotate, duplicate, reflect, etc, your arrow(s) into position.

Optional 3D

  1. Now that your arrows are in place... (I changed mine to red to show you mine are new as opposed to the yellow arrows) Arrows in place
    ... we can use the Effect > 3D > Extrude & Bevel... menu.
  2. From this menu, select the options that work best for you. For the Positioning I chose 10,0,0; and for the Extrude & Bevel I chose and Extrude Depth of 10pt. Extrude & Bevel

That's it! You now have 3D arrows!


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