So I made some antlers in Illustrator and now I want to add some shadows and highlights. Unfortunately, I've never been good at figuring out where to put them. My brain has a hard time comprehending it and I can't visualize it well. Could you help me out? It's hard when I don't have a light source showing me! Thanks.

(Also, if you have any tips to help me figure it out better that'd be great!)

enter image description here

  • 2
    This is a pretty broad question and will depend on too many factors for us to answer: light direction, intensity, distance from source, surface texture of the antlers, etc. All I can suggest is to look at how light interacts with a real set of antlers
    – Manly
    Dec 8, 2016 at 15:55
  • I would start by choosing a direction of light. Then just highlight the areas that would be exposed to the light and put shadows on the opposite sides of the antlers from them. I can't get more specific without more details Dec 8, 2016 at 16:00
  • As mentioned, this is difficult to answer correctly because there is no right or wrong answer, only trial and error. I would suggest to to view antlers in nature to see where and how light and shadows interact with them.
    – Bagseye
    Dec 8, 2016 at 16:37
  • 1
    Shadows fall in the opposite direction of a light source.
    – Scott
    Dec 8, 2016 at 20:17

2 Answers 2


In case you are not so experienced with 3D techniques, lights, or shadows you could also play with inbuilt 3D effects such as extrusion and bevel effects (Effect > 3D > Extrude & Bevel).

This may give you more or less satisfying results, depending on the settings:

enter image description here
Stock effect Bevels Smart Jelly created with Inkscape


Use photo references. There is no reason not to make something up and then amend it with direct observations from nature. You do not have to copy explicitly. If you have a set of novelty reindeer antlers, put them on and look int he mirror.

While struggling with a painting once, I went into a drawing class next door while they were on break and asked the model (and supervisor) if I could get them to pose a knee for 2 minutes so I could get it "just so" for my picture.

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