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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.
Hey gang! This is Deke McClelland. Welcome to a very special Halloween episode of Deke's Techniques. So there I was, working on some snowflakes, when my producer walks in and says, "What in the world are you doing creating snowflakes at this time of year?" And I was saying, "Well, you know, I'm from Boulder, Colorado, by the way, I grew up in Colorado, and it seems like almost every year the first snow of the year happens on Halloween, so we are wearing our little costumes--when I was a kid-- and then we have to have our parkas on, because it's so darn cold," and I was telling her about this.
"And so I think of snow when I think of Halloween." And she's like, "Well, you are the only one on the planet. By the way, you're insane." And I said, "You know, I want to show how to create snowflakes, because it's quite the trick, you know." And she's like, "No, don't do that." And I said, "Well, what if I made the snowflakes ghost skeletons?" And she said, "Okay, fine." And that's how I came up with the best, the best Halloween project of all time, scareflakes. Check them out. Aren't they cool? These things will be just storming the country.
They are going to be so popular. I didn't even copyright them or anything. It's just out there. Somebody else could slap a patent on this and make a jillion dollars, and I'm going to show you how to do them. Now, some of you might be thinking, "No, Deke, I am not into it. This is ridiculous." I am telling you, this is an awesome trick. We're going to do it inside of Adobe Illustrator. Here, let me show you exactly how it works. All right, here I am inside of Illustrator looking at the final version of the scareflakes.
Now, scareflakes, just like snowflakes, have six points, and each one of those points is absolutely symmetrical. So all you have to do is draw one half of one point and then tell Illustrator to fill in the rest, using a couple of dynamic effects, and I'll show you what that looks like. Let's start things off by turning off the scareflakes layer here inside the Layers panel, and then I'll turn on the guides layer. And the guides layer contains a couple of guides that bisect the artboard. I also have this big wagon wheel object that I created using the Polar Grid tool.
And notice that the wagon wheel is a kind of pie, actually, divided into twelve wedges, one for each half of a point of a snowflake. All right, so I am going to switch back to my Black Arrow tool, click on that wagon wheel to select it, and then I'll go up to the View menu, choose the Guides command, and choose Make Guides in order to convert it to a series of snapping guidelines. Next, go up to the flake maker layer, and I want you to turn that layer on and click on it as well to make it active, and let's go ahead and zoom in on this collection of paths.
And I want you to select these paths by pressing Ctrl+A or Command+A on the Mac, and that will select everything that's not locked down inside the illustration. Make sure, by the way, if you are having a problem with your guides, by the way, then go up to the View menu, choose Guides, and turn on the Lock Guides command. All right, after you've gotten done selecting those objects, go up to the Object menu and choose the Group command in order to assemble them into a single group-- you can also press Ctrl+G or Command+G on the Mac. And the advantage here is, after we get done applying a couple of dynamic effects, then we can place more objects inside this group, and they will be influenced by the effects as well.
Now, the effects in question are these. I'll go up to the Effect menu, choose Distort & Transform, and then choose the Transform command. Inside the Transform dialog box, turn on the Reflect X check box, because after all, we want to flip this guy horizontally. Also select the right point inside this little reference point matrix and turn on the Preview check box. All right, everything looks great, except I want to keep the original, so I'll increase the copies value to 1. And that's it. Go ahead and click OK in order to apply that effect. Now we need to use that exact same effect, Transform, in order to rotate five copies of this point.
So go up to the Effect menu and choose the second command down, which now reads Transform. That will allow us to revisit the Transform dialog box. However, Illustrator is going to produce this message, because it thinks what we're trying to do is edit the last Transform effect. That's not true, so go ahead and click on Apply New Effect in order to visit the command a second time. We are seeing the last settings applied, so turn off the Reflect X check box. Increase the Angle value to 60, the reason being we are taking a 360-degree circle and dividing it into 6, one for each of the points, and 360 divided by 6 is 60.
So that's where that value comes from. Then select the bottom point inside this reference point matrix and turn on the Preview check box. That creates one copy of the point. We need more copies than that; in fact, we need a total of five copies in all in order to fill out the entire snowflake. Then click OK in order to apply that effect. Now, from this point on, every modification we make will be repeated eleven times, because we are just working on one of the twelve point-halves in the scareflake. All right, I am going to go ahead and zoom in once again, and if you're working along with me, go ahead and double-click on one of the selected path outlines to enter the Group Isolation mode.
That way we can work on these objects without harming the rest of the illustration. I am also going to press Ctrl+Y, or Command+Y on a Mac, to switch to the Outline mode, and I'll switch to the White Arrow tool, either by clicking on it or pressing the A key. Now, we need to join a bunch of points to each other, and those points are these. First click on the very top point and then Shift+Click on the next point down and press Ctrl+J, or Command+J on the Mac, to join them together. Then click on the bottom point in this kind of eyebrow path and Shift+Click on the bottom of the top central tooth, like so, and press Ctrl+J, Command+J on the Mac.
And then click on the top of the bottom central tooth and Shift+Click on this anchor point here and press Ctrl+J, or Command+J on the Mac, to join them together. All right, that's enough joining. Press Ctrl+Y, or Command+Y on the Mac, in order to switch back to the Preview mode. Notice that we've made the path outline black. I am going to press the V key to switch back to the Black Arrow tool, and I'll click on that path outline in order to select the whole thing. And the reason to switch to black, by the way, was because we joined the larger white path with a bunch of smaller black paths that were in front. Anyway, with the fill active here inside the Color panel, go ahead and click on the white swatch in order to fill that path outline with white.
Then right-click inside the illustration window, choose Arrange, and choose Send to Back, and that will send the big ghostly white shape in the back of the eye shapes. All right, now click on one of the eye shapes and Shift+Click on the other in order to select both of them. We need to join them together, so go to the Window menu and choose the Pathfinder command. Then inside the Pathfinder panel, I want you to click on the very first icon, Unite, in order to fuse those two shapes together. Now we need to turn this eye path into a hole, so go ahead and Shift+Click on the larger white path to select it, and once again inside the Pathfinder panel, this time click on the second icon in, the one that says Minus Front, and that will turn the eye into a hole.
All right, now you can hide the Pathfinder panel. Press the Escape key in order to leave the Group Isolation mode, and check out what's happened in the background here. As we were working, Illustrator went ahead and updated all the other objects using those dynamic effects. All right, I've drawn a few other objects in advance for you. They all reside on this flake maker layer, so go ahead and click on the triangle in front of flake maker in order to twirl the layer open. And notice that we've got ribs up, ribs down, and hip. Go ahead and click on one and Shift+Click on the other two to select all of them, and also turn them on.
We might as well drag across this eyeball column so we can see them all. And notice that we can see the upper ribs, the lower ribs, and the hipbone right there in black, but they are not repeated, and that's because they are not part of the group. Just go ahead and grab them and drag them and drop them into the group, and they are immediately repeated, like so. All right, now we want to merge these guys together, and here is how. I want you, with the Black Arrow tool, to go ahead and marquee the paths like so. So you want to create a fairly small marquee that partially encloses the big white shape, as well as the three new black shapes.
Now go up to the Window menu and choose the Pathfinder command once again, and then click on that very first icon, Unite, in order to unite those shapes together. Now what went wrong? What in the world did I do? Well, I went and selected the entire group is what happened, and Illustrator has fused the entire group together and totally forgot about the dynamic effects. So if this happens to you, then immediately press Ctrl+Z, or Command+Z on the Mac; it's a major mistake. What I need to do instead is double- click on any one of these path outlines to enter the Group Isolation mode, and then I'll try that marquee again.
I'll go ahead and marquee around those paths like so, and now let's unite them together. Now, the ghost skeleton turns black, so I'll just go ahead and switch them back to the white up here in the Color panel. All right, now I'll press the Escape key in order to leave the Group Isolation mode. We have a couple of other path outlines ready and waiting: one is called arm, and the other is called collar. So go ahead and grab them and click on one, Shift+Click on the other here inside the Layers panel. Drag them and drop them into the group, so that they are repeated with the rest of the snowflake. Now double-click on the selected path outline to enter the Group Isolation mode.
Click on this collarbone path right there and Shift+Click on the larger white ghost path and then go over here to the Pathfinder panel and click on Minus Front in order to turn that collarbone path into a hole. Then we need to make a small edit here, where the hand is concerned. Go ahead and get the White Arrow tool by clicking on it or pressing the A key. All right, now I want to select this point right there. It's part of the white path in the background, but when I try to select it, I end up getting the arm instead. So with the arm selected, I'll just right-click inside the window, choose Arrange, and choose Send to Back.
And then I'll click off the arm to the deselect it, click on that point right there in order to select it, and press the Backspace key, or the Delete key on the Mac, to get rid of it. Now I want to merge these two paths together by switching back to my Black Arrow tool. And I'll partially marquee around those two paths, and then I'll go back to my Pathfinder, which is still on screen, and I'll click on the Unite button, and that goes ahead and finishes off the skeleton, and it finishes off the effect. I am going to press the Escape key in order to leave that Group Isolation mode, and I'll press Ctrl+1, or Command+1 on the Mac, to zoom out to 100%, and I'll go ahead and turn off the guides as well.
And you can see what we have is an absolutely completed scareflake. And I want you to check this out. I am going to go ahead and click on one of the path outlines to select the entire group, and I'll go up to the Window menu and I'll choose the Appearance command. And now inside the Appearance panel, you can see I have two dynamic effects, both Transform. You can turn them off if you want to, to get a sense of what's going on. So the first one goes ahead and flips the skeleton, the second one rotates him, and as a result, Illustrator is automatically filling out the entire effect.
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