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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 this movie I'll show you how to create a hand-drawn letter effect here inside Illustrator. Now, if you watched the previous movie, you know that I created the big S using a combination of the Pen tool along with the Reshape tool and the Simplify command. That's the same method I used to create this underlying flourish. I also hand-drew the T and its cross. But the W and the two Es are based on existing letterforms, associated with the font Garamond. And let me show you how I did that. I'll go ahead and zoom in on my text. Now, notice if I click on one of these path outlines, you can see that every one of them is an open path, and as you may know, every single font out there uses a closed path outline.
So somehow we're going to have to take a closed path and turn it into an open path. Here's how it works. I'm going to switch to my Type tool, which I can get by pressing the T key. Notice that my weet layer is selected there. That's the layer that contains the letters W-E-E-T. I'm going to click in order to create a blinking insertion marker there inside of my illustration. And before I type the W, I'm going to change a few formatting attributes. I'll click up here in the Font field in the control panel and I'll type in "Adobe Gar," which will go ahead and automatically select Adobe Garamond Pro on this system.
That is the font that's installed along with the Creative Suite. I'm also going to change the Style from Regular to Italic, and I'm going to increase the Font size to 200 points. And then, once I've done that, I'll press W in order to create a W, like so. I'll switch back to the Black Arrow tool in order to create that character. Now, I'll just kind of drag it into place there. Now, we need access to the path outline, so I'll go up to the Type menu and I'll choose the Create Outlines command in order to retrieve the path outline that's associated with this character.
Now as I said, it's a closed path. We want an open path. Here's how we're going to go about getting it. The first thing I'm going to do is switch over to the Layers panel, twirl open this weet layer right there, and then I want to lock down the letters group, and I'll do that by clicking in the lock column, and that will just make it so that we are not inadvertently selecting a bunch of anchor points we don't want. I want to switch to the Outline mode so I can better see what I'm doing. I'll go up to the View menu and choose Outline, or you can press Ctrl+Y or Command+Y on the Mac. And I'll zoom in a couple of clicks here. All right! Let's go ahead and grab that top anchor point.
And, by the way--this is very important-- you should have your bounding box turned off. So go up to the View menu and check that this command says Show Bounding Box; if it says Hide Bounding Box, choose it to get rid of the bounding box, because it will just get in our way. Now, I'll drag this top anchor point until it more or less aligns to the W in the background, which I'm trying to match, as you can see here. Now, this can be a little confusing when you're looking at it, but the closed path outline, the one with the blue anchor points, that's the one I'm working on.
The open path outline is deselected in the background. Now we need to open up this path, and we're going to do that using the Direct Selection tool, which you can get by pressing the A key. This is the most laborious part of the process here. What we want to do is select all of the anchor points that are around the outside of the letterform and keep the ones that are associated with the inside of the path outline. So I'm going to go ahead and marquee these two anchor points, for example. This one remains deselected. Then I'll go ahead and Shift+ Click on this anchor point, maybe Shift+Marquee around these two.
Make sure you don't select any of the inner anchor points. Go ahead and Shift+Marquee around those two, Shift+Marquee around these guys as well. You don't want your marquee to drift into the segments, by the way; you just want to go ahead and grab those anchor points. Shift+Marquee that guy, these two, and finally this one. Do not select this anchor point right there in the more or less upper-left corner. So with all these anchor points around the outside selected, I'll go ahead and press the Backspace key or the Delete key on the Mac to get rid of them. All right! Now we need to do a little bit of scaling.
Notice that because we just deleted a bunch of anchor points, the remaining anchor points are all selected, so the entire path outline is selected. I'm going to switch to the Scale tool, which you can get by pressing the S key. I'll click right there at that top point to set the transformation origin. I'll move my cursor away in some 45-degree angle. So I'm just moving my cursor. I'm not dragging. And now I'll press the Shift key and drag in order to apply a proportional scale. So I'm increasing the size of my path outline a little bit there.
Now let's scale this right-hand side of the path outline, by first getting the Direct Selection tool, then I'll go ahead and marquee these three points like so, and we don't want to select this one down here at the bottom. It's okay right now. And I'll go ahead and grab my Scale tool once again, click on that point in order to establish the transformation origin, and then drag on this end point. And you don't have to press the Shift key this time around; we're not interested in scaling these segments proportionally. That looks pretty good! Now we need to reshape the path, and I'll do that by first switching back to the Direct Selection tool, click somewhere inside of the illustration to deselect the path, then click on one of the segments to reselect it.
You don't want any of the anchor point to be selected, however. Then we're going to go ahead and switch from the Scale tool to the Reshape tool, that very same tool that we used in the previous movie. And I'm going to drag these anchor points around in order to modify them relative to the rest of path outline. Now, if you end up with this, where you're dragging multiple points around like so, that's because multiple points have become selected. What you need to do is press Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on the Mac to undo the change. Then Ctrl+Click or Command+Click off the path outline. Pressing Ctrl or Command will get you the White Arrow tool.
Then Ctrl+Click or Command+Click on the path outline again to select the path without selecting the anchor points, and now let's try dragging one of the individual anchor points again. I'm going to continue to drag these guys around in order to reshape this path outline, like so. Go ahead and drag this guy down here. Let's add a point to this location, that is a reshape point, and then drag it down. I've ended up moving quite a bit of the path outline at this point. I don't want that, so I'll switch back to my Direct Selection tool for a moment, click off the path outline to deselect it, then I'll click on the path, and I'll just grab this one anchor point right there and move it back into place.
Let's move this guy independently, like so. And you can just move these anchor points into different positions if you want to; you will get different behavior than you would have gotten if you're using the Reshape tool. But it can be a little bit more predictable as well if you're just dragging with the White Arrow tool, so it's totally up to you. You pick your poison. I'll go ahead and drag this anchor point up a little. It appears, by the way, this anchor point is actually a corner point. I don't want that, so I'll go ahead and click on this anchor point to select it. Then I'll go up to the control panel and select this second convert option, which converts the point into a smooth point, like so.
And I'll go ahead and drag this guy into this position, move this control handle up as well. If your path is something of a mess and it has some bumps in it for example, then you can switch to the Black Arrow tool and go ahead and click on the path outline to select the entire thing--very important. Then go up to the Object menu, choose Path, and choose the Simplify command. And the reason it's so important to make sure that the entire path outline is selected is because the Simplify command only operates on the specifically selected anchor points and segments.
So if you don't have any anchor point selected, it won't do anything, and if you've got just a few selected, it will just affect them. Make sure the Angle Threshold is set to 0 degrees. The two check boxes down at the bottom are turned off. Notice if you take the Curve Precision value all the way up to 100%, Illustrator actually adds anchor points to the shape. That's not what we want, so I'm just going to take this value down by pressing the down arrow key until I end up creating a smoother path outline, something that looks good. For example, 92% in my case works out well, so I'll go ahead and click OK in order to accept that modification.
Let's switch back to the Preview mode by going up to the View menu and choosing the Preview command. Or once again you can press Ctrl+Y, Command+Y on the Mac. You can see that this path outline is filled with black. Not only that, if you take a look at the Layers panel, you can see that it's part of a group, and that's because Illustrator automatically groups letters when it converts them to path outlines. We don't want that, so I'll go ahead and twirl the group open and then just drag that compound path out of the group. Then the group goes away. I don't really need it to be a compound path either.
So with this entire path outline selected, as it is, I'll go up to the Object menu, choose Compound Path, and then choose Release so that we have a standard path. That's what I'm looking for. Let's go ahead and hide that W in the background by twirling open this letters group. And notice that I've taken the time to label each one of these paths. The first one, at the top of the group, is W. Go ahead and turn it off if you're working along with me, so we're no longer seeing that W, and we're just seeing the one that we're working on. I'm going to zoom out a click here so I can see more of the illustration at a time.
I'm going to switch to the Eyedropper tool, which you could get by pressing the I key, and then I'm going to click on the E in order to lift its attributes, which include, by the way, a custom brush. It's the same brush that we applied in the previous movie, which you can check out here in the Brushes panel. It's this guy right there, Tapered Stroke. All right! I'll go ahead and hide the Brushes panel now. And I also want to pick up the drop shadow that's assigned to the neighboring letters, but the drop shadow is assigned to the group. That's no problem. I can move this new W. I'll go ahead and rename it even by double-clicking on it and calling it new w. Then I'll click OK.
I can move this new w into the group just by dragging it and dropping it into the group. The one problem is that the group is locked, so I need to unlock it. Click on the lock icon to unlock that group. Then drag and drop new w into the group, and it gets the drop shadow as well. All right! I'm going to press Ctrl+Shift+A, Command+Shift+A on the Mac in order to deselect the artwork. Then I'll press Ctrl+0 or Command+0 on the Mac to zoom out, and that, friends, is how you create a hand-drawn open-path letter, based on an existing typeface design here inside Illustrator.
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