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Deke's Techniques is a collection of short Photoshop and Illustrator projects and creative effects that can be completed in ten minutes or less. The series is taught by computer graphics guru Deke McClelland, and presented in his signature step-by-step style. The intent is to reveal how various Photoshop and Illustrator features can be combined and leveraged in real-world examples so that they can be applied to creative projects right away.
In the previous movie, I showed you one way to create trendy swirls inside of Illustrator. In this movie, I'm going to show you an alternate, and I believe better, way. Thing is, that only works inside of Illustrator CS5 and later. I'm going to once again grab my Spiral tool from the Line Tool flyout menu, and I'm going to begin dragging. And I'm creating the spiral in the wrong direction, on purpose actually, because I neglected to mention this really great keyboard shortcut in the previous movie. If you want to reverse the direction of a spiral, press the R key for reverse, or if you prefer, reflect, and that goes ahead and changes the direction.
I'm also going to press the Control key, and or the Command key on the Mac, in order to adjust the decay like so. And I'll go ahead and use my spacebar told to better align the spiral, get it into place, and so forth. And this looks pretty good to me. Now I'm going to zoom in a click here, and I'm going to extend the length of the spiral ever so slightly using the Pen tool. So I'll go ahead and grab that pen, which I can get by pressing the P key. I'll drag from that last point down here. I'll drag it about back here as well to add a smooth point.
And that looks like a good start to me. Now I could go ahead and adjust the placement of the spiral if I wanted to, to get it to better match the template. I'm not too concerned about the template this time around though. Now then, rather than rotating a copy of the spiral as I did in the previous movie, I'm going to adjust the thickness of the stroke at very specific locations using the Width tool, which as I say once again is only available in Illustrator CS5 and later. So I'll go and grab this tool, which has a keyboard shortcut Shift+W incidentally, and now I'm going to go ahead and increase the width at specific points along this path, just by dragging from those points like so.
And right away, you start to get this calligraphic stroke, which is absolutely amazing. Now let's say that I want no increase the width at this point as well. And you don't have to start at an anchor point, by the way; you can drag at any point along the path. But you want it to be thicker on top than it is on the bottom. Then press and hold the Alt key, or the Option key on a Mac, and drag one of those sides, and that way you have independent control over the thickness of the stroke on one side of the path versus the thickness of the stroke on the other side of the path. All right, I'm going to go ahead and increase the thickness around here as well.
If you want to decrease the thickness, just go ahead and drag from a point and then scoot it in like so. All right, at the very end I'm going to add kind of a dollop. Instead of drawing an extra circle and uniting it with the path, I'm going to increase the width dramatically at the very end of the path, and I'm also give the go ahead and give that path a round cap. To do that I need to switch to my Black Arrow tool, which I can get by pressing the V key, click on the path outline just to make it active. Then I have access to the Stroke option up here in the control panel.
I'll click on the word stroke, and then I'll click on round cap in order to add a round cap at the end. All right, then I'll press the Escape key to hide that panel. Now, that still doesn't look like a little ball at the end of the path. We can work on that, again using the Width tool, so go ahead and switch back to it. And I might go ahead and increase the width a little farther at this location like so, and then I'm going to decrease the width significantly right next to that edge in order to create that kind of ball effect right there. And that looks pretty good, with the exception of the balance of the ball inside of the path outline, so I'll press the Alt key or the Option key on a Mac and see if I can drag this guy out a little bit like so.
And I might even try to reshape the path, probably not with the Direct Selection tool. Let's go ahead and try that Reshape tool that's available from the Scale Tool flyout menu, there it is, and I'll go ahead and drag this guy upward like so. And that produces a pretty nice effect. All right, now let's say what you want to do is you want to end the path with a tapering point, so I'll go and draw another spiral, this time on the left side of the existing one, and I'll press the R key there in order to flip it the opposite direction, and I'll use the Control key in order to adjust that decay.
And I'll make the path a little bigger as well. I'm using the spacebar of course in order to move the path on the fly. And about right there looks pretty darn good to me. And then I'll grab my Width tool once again, and I'll drag from about here in order to dramatically increase the width of that stroke. I'm going to go ahead and zoom in so I can better see what I'm doing. I'll press the Alt key, or the Option key on a Mac, and drag that little guy right there in order to increase the size of the stroke just on the inside of the path outline. And I'll go ahead and increase the stroke pretty dramatically at this location, maybe take it down a notch right there, not that far down, but about there.
I just want a lot of variation. Then at the very end, I want it to end in a point so I'm going to double-click on that point in order to bring up the Width Point Edit dialog box, and I'm going to change that Total Width value. Notice you have control over both sides of the stroke, that is, the thickness of the stroke in either side of the path outline. Total Width will affect both of those values. I'll press the Tab key and you can see there is no Preview check box; you're always previewing the effect here inside the illustration window. And you can see, by reducing the total width value to zero, I end up creating a sharp little point.
I'll go ahead and click the OK button in order to accept that modification. Now let's see how you can combine the Width tool along with art brushes inside of the illustrator. This gets a little bit messy, but it can be quite a bit of fun, and you can get some great results. I'm going to go and draw yet another spiral by grabbing the Spiral tool and then dragging and of course pressing the R key to reverse the direction of that spiral, and maybe pressing the down arrow key a few times so that we have less going on in the way of segments here. And I'll increase the decay, or I don't know if I'm increasing or decreasing it, but I'm changing it by pressing the Control, or Command key on a Mac.
And then I'll move this guy into position like so. This is good enough, I think. All right, now let's try applying an art brush. Now if I go want to my brushes option right here and click on it here in the control panel, go ahead and expand things a bit, I don't have much in the way of brushes to work with inside of your standard default document in Illustrator, so I'm going to drop down to the bottom-left corner of this panel, click in order bring up a list of brush libraries, and I'll choose Artistic, and then I'll choose Artistic_ChalkCharcoalPencil right there in order bring up this additional panel of options.
And the one that I'm going to work with is actually something that looks pretty boring originally, but you don't want it to be too reticulated and exciting because it'll get pretty mess very fast. But anyway it's the very last item, Pencil - Thin. And I'll go ahead and apply it to everything apparently. I didn't mean to do that, so I'll press Control+Z, Command+Z on a Mac. Not sure how everything in my illustration got selected, but I'll just go ahead and marquee this guy so he's selected independently of the others, using my Black Arrow tool. And now I'll apply Pencil - Thin, and that looks pretty good.
As I say it, it looks a little bit austere, a little bit boring, but we'll work on that. I'm going to hide that panel now because Illustrator has automatically added that brush, as soon as you apply it, to the Brushes panel inside of this document. All right, now I'll go ahead and switch over to Width tool once again. I'm going to drag from the beginning point in order to increase the thickness of this line quite a bit. Now you may notice that the brush doesn't really seem to respond in quite the same way as a normal stroke. In other words, I went ahead and made this guy way thicker, and yet the brush is still pretty thin at the beginning location, so I'll increase its thickness a little more.
Maybe take it down slightly. You may notice little bits hanging off in weird directions. That's okay, we can solve those problems later. I'll go ahead and increase the thickness of this location as well, maybe pretty remarkably, that is, a lot of additional thickness at the various points. And what's interesting, I think, is that you can combine strokes on these paths, so you can have multiple strokes along these spirals if you want. Go ahead and bring up the Appearance panel by going to the Window menu and choosing Appearance, and then I'll go ahead and add a stroke to my list by clicking on the Add New Stroke icon in the bottom-left corner of the panel, and that's going to add a standard stroke, as you see there.
Let's go ahead and take the Line Weight value down to something like two points. And still armed with the Width tool, I can go ahead and add a little bit of thickness down here in order to fill in those gaps. I can take the thickness down dramatically at the very end here, even take it down to an absolute razor-sharp point if I want to, by double clicking on that point and entering a Total Width value of zero. And then I'll go ahead and increase the thickness right about there, so we have this kind of combination of smooth stroke along with this arched-stroke edge right there. Now here comes the tricky part.
I'm going to go ahead and zoom out. And I'm going to select all of these black strokes here using my Black Arrow tool, so I just went ahead and marqueed them. And then I'll go up to the Object menu, and I'm going to choose Expand Appearance, which will go ahead and outline all that stuff, as you see here. I'm going to zoom in just a little bit, because this little collection of strokes right there I believe is grouped together quite a bit, so we need to ungroup it by going to the Object menu, choosing Ungroup. And then might as well choose the Ungroup command again.
And I'll go to the Object menu. Now it's dimmed, so there's no more groups to ungroup, so that's good. All right, now I'll go ahead and grab this guy, and the reason I'm grabbing him is because he doesn't quite match up with the edges properly. And so want to make a few modifications here. And I could do any number of things. Let's go ahead and grab these points with the White Arrow tool. And I could go ahead and drag them if I wanted to, which I think is what I do want to do, actually. I'll go ahead and drag them down like that. That creates a nice tapering edge. All right, I like that.
Now, let's go ahead and zoom out, let's select all these guys once again by marqueeing them with the Black Arrow tool. Made sure I have them all selected by going up to Select Similar Objects, clicking the down-pointing arrowhead up here in the control panel, and choosing All. And then I get every single little tiny micropath that's associated with these spirals. Let's go ahead and unite them all together by going up to the Window menu and choosing Pathfinder. And then inside the Pathfinder panel I'll just click on Unite in order to unite those guys into a single compound path, even if they're separated from each other.
Go ahead and close the Pathfinder panel, and then I'll go ahead and grab the Eyedropper tool, and I'll click inside a one of these orange paths to lift that shade of orange. That didn't work, however, probably because I've got a group selected and I applied the fill attribute incorrectly. So I'll go up to the Object menu, choose Ungroup in order to break up that group. Now I just have a bunch of path outlines selected. I'll click inside that orange once again, and I go and lift that color and apply it to my new swirls. And that is an alternate, and as I say I think better, way to create trendy swirls here inside Illustrator CS5 and later.
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