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I have only this image here of what I'm trying to achieve. Illustrator seems like the reasonable choice.

Not really sure where to start and how to go about making something like this. The bars are 3D and follow the path of an 'invisible circle'.

graph

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    Nop Ilustrator is not the best choice. That is a 3D model with Photorealistic Rendering. Try Blender for that. Another easy option is Sketchup+Kerkythea. – Rafael Feb 5 '16 at 3:28
  • Well, probably is if you are just refering to the graph, and not the "look". :o) – Rafael Feb 5 '16 at 3:34
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Ok, while its true that things like this would be easier to do with a 3d app. The demo certainly is. Do this:

  1. Draw 2 concentric circles and cut them up into concentric sectors. Maybe offset a bit.

    enter image description here

  2. Enable the perspective grid (maybe choose the 3 point defaults from view menu), select bottom plane and enable the perspective selection tool. Drag around.

    enter image description here

  3. Shift atly drag the plane upwards in the steppings you need.

    enter image description here

  4. Delete and join lines.

    enter image description here

  5. Hide lines

    enter image description here

  6. Shade. But that was my 4 minutes of tutorial time for today, use different perspective settings for different effects.

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3D shapes can be created in Illustrator. The glossy finish would be possible but much harder.

To create the 3D shapes:

  1. Draw each part of the graph in 2D from a 'top down' perspective.
  2. Select each object individually and use Effect > 3D > Extrude and Bevel. From here, tweak the depth of the extrusion to set each bar to correct height.

It's might also worth experimenting with Illustrators Graph tool if you need precise graphs. Once a graph has been created, it can also be Extruded.

As Rafael suggested though, this would probably be easier in a 3D Modelling application such as a Blender or SketchUp

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