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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 Deke's Techniques! This week we're back in Adobe Illustrator, and there's a reason for it. But I have to share a personal anecdote for it to make sense. This very week, on March 1st of 2012, Adobe Illustrator turns twenty-five years old. Meanwhile, I started using the program when it first came out, and I was twenty-five years old. So do the math: we're both twenty-five, and in celebration of that fact, we're going to create this wicked-cool graphic explosion, with all these random lines popping out in different ways. And the great thing about these lines is that you create them, all of them, in a single drag.
Here, let me show you exactly how it works. All right, here is the final graphic explosion, open in Illustrator just so you can see it onscreen. I'm going to switch over to this file that contains some text. I'll go ahead and click on it to make it active. You can see up here in the control panel that the text is set to Myriad Pro, a very commonly available font. Let's build up a few attributes here in the Appearance panel by going up to the Window menu and choosing Appearance, and that way you can see that you've got some type selected. That's great. Now we're going to assign a few dynamic effects by going up to the Effect menu, choosing Path, and then choosing Offset Path.
And I'm going to enter an Offset value of 2 points, and then I'll press the Tab key and turn on the Preview check box so that I can see my text thicken up. Now I'll click OK. Now I want to add that spiky effect to then letters, and you can do that by once again going to the Effect menu, choosing Distort & Transform this time, and then choosing Pucker & Bloat. And as you can see here, I came up with a Pucker value of -6%. If you turn on your Preview check box, you'll be able to see the effect onscreen. Click OK. Now I wanted to rotate the letters, but I wanted to do so dynamically once again, so I'll go up to the Effect menu, choose Distort & Transform, and this time I'll choose the Transform command.
I'm going to enter an angle value of 10 degrees and then click OK. So that's all there is to that. All right. Now we want to build up a few fill and stroke attributes. We'll start off with the fill by clicking the Add New Fill icon down here in the lower-left corner of the Appearance panel. And as you can see here, I've saved out a few swatches along with this document. I'm going to change my fill to this light orange, which is actually 50% magenta and 100% yellow, so not too much going on there. Now let's add a stroke, and I'll do that by clicking on the Add New Stroke icon down here at the bottom panel.
I'm going to change my line weight value to six points. I'm also going to change the color of that stroke to this swatch right there, which is rich black. And if I were to double-click on this, just for those of you who don't have access to the file, you'll notice that my C, M, and Y values are all 50%, and my black value is 100. That just ensures that I'm not going to have any trapping problems. I'll go ahead and cancel out. I'm also going to take this stroke and drag it below the fill so that the letterforms are not interrupted, and I'll click on the word stroke there in the Appearance panel, and I'm going to set the corner to round join so that we have rounded corners around all of the letters.
Now let's go ahead and offset the stroke slightly by going up to the Effect menu, choosing Distort & Transform, and choosing the Transform command once again. That's my keyboard shortcut, by the way, Ctrl+E or Command+E on the Mac. I added that using the Keyboard Shortcuts command. I definitely recommend that one because you may find yourself using this command an awful lot, at least I do. All right, I'm going to change the Horizontal value to -2 and then the Vertical value to 1, and then I'll turn on the Preview check box so that you can see that stroke scoot slightly down and to the left. All right.
Now I'll click OK in order to accept that change. Let's make a couple of copies of the stroke by dropping down to the little page icon here at the bottom of the Appearance panel, and I'll click on it twice. I'll go ahead and twirl some of these guys closed, just to give myself more room to work. I'm going to change the line weight for the second stroke to 18 in order to make it much thicker, obviously. And this stroke is going to be white; we're not really going to be able to see it against the white background, but just trust me here. I'll go ahead and click on white up here in the Swatches panel. And then I want to click on Transform in order to bring up the Transform Effect dialog box.
I'll go ahead and change the Horizontal value to -4. I'll leave Vertical set to 1. You're not going to be able to see anything, even if you turn on the Preview check box, because we have white on white, so I'll just go ahead and click OK. Now I'll twirl this guy closed, twirl the final stroke back open, click on its line weight value, change it to 30 so we have a big thick stroke, as you can see, click on its transform option, and I'll change the Horizontal value to -8, and then I'll change the Vertical value to 2. This time I will turn on the Preview check box so you can see things scoot once again.
Now I'll click OK to complete that type effect. All right. Now to create the lines and the background, but first I want to go ahead and save off these appearance settings as a graphic style. So I'll go to the Window menu and choose the Graphic Styles command to bring up the same-named panel. And I'll go ahead and Alt+Click or Option+Click on the little page icon in order to force the display of the dialog box, and I'll go ahead and call this guy Boom effect and then click OK. Now I'll close the panel. We'll come back to it later. Let's go ahead and zoom out. You really want to zoom very far away from your artwork so that you have a lot of room to work.
Then go ahead and press Ctrl+Y or Command+Y on the Mac so you switch to the Outline mode. That way you can see that little center point, which is the center of this rectangle that I've drawn in advance, just for positioning. Now I'm going to switch over to the Layers panel and click on the lines layer. The idea is we're to draw the lines on the lines layer of course and we're going to align the lines to that center point. So I'll press Ctrl+Shift+A or Command+Shift+A on a Mac to deselect everything. Then I'll grab that Line Segment tool right there.
And what you want to do is go ahead and draw from that center point out. It doesn't really matter where you draw to at this point. Now here's the trick. You want to press and hold the Tilde key. That's the key that's just above the Tab key, below the Escape key, on an American keyboard. So keep it down. Then go ahead and drag around like so, to about there. Don't go all the way, because if you do, you start slowing down your drag. You may even find that you want to do it more than once. So if your lines end up spaced slightly too tight, as mine are, then just go ahead and press Ctrl+Z, or Command+Z on the Mac and try again.
I'll go ahead and drag out, press and hold the Tilde key while I drag more quickly. And notice as soon as you start slowing down your drag, you're going to have a lot more lines. Anyway, this should work out pretty good, so I'll go ahead and zoom in here a little bit so I can better see what I'm doing. Now if you feel like you've drawn too many lines, that's just fine. What you can do is grab your Black Arrow tool, click off the lines to deselect them, and just click a few lines and delete them, like so. Just get rid of a few lines in those really tightly spaced areas. And if you find that you're leaving gaps, that's great. You want that kind of stuff.
It's supposed to be a random blast effect, so a few gaps here and there are not going to cause any problems. So you can see that I just got done getting rid of a few lines here and there. I don't want to get rid of that one, actually. Maybe this one right there, that's good, and this guy. At some point you're going to have a little bit of a gap right there. I'm going to go ahead and click on one of the lines to select it, that's right next to the gap. Then I'll grab my Rotate tool, which you can get by pressing the R key. You want to Alt+Click or Option+Click on that center point right there, at the center of the artwork.
And an angle of a 3 degrees works pretty good for me. Then I'm going to click the Copy button in order to create a copy of that line. And that pretty much fills in the gap. All right, now I'm going to press Ctrl+O or Command+0 to center the artwork onscreen. And I want to select all of these lines by clicking this little triangle in the upper-right corner of the layer, and that'll select all the lines without selecting the type, which is exactly what I want. And then I'll press Ctrl+G or Command+G on the Mac in order to group them together. All right, I'm going to go ahead and twirl that lines layer open.
And I can see that I've got the group selected. That's exactly what I want. And then I'll bring up my Graphic Styles panel and I'll click on that Boom effect style I created just a moment ago. We can't see the effect because we're in the Outline mode, so I'll hide the panel, press Ctrl+Y or Command+Y again to revisit the Preview mode so I can better see what I'm doing. Let's change a few of these attributes here by switching back to the Appearance panel. Your panel may be in a different location onscreen; that's just fine. Click on the fill in order to select it, and let's change that fill to white this time around.
Also, we don't need the Pucker & Bloat, so you can just go ahead and drag that guy and drop him into the trashcan. We also don't need that final transform, which is that 10% rotation that I applied to the type, so go ahead and grab it, drag it to the trashcan as well. A couple of other modifications we'll want to make. I'm going to select that middle stroke right there and I'm going to change it to dark orange. That's available in my Swatches panel. I also don't want these lines turning this thick, so I'm going to click in that Offset Path effect and I'm going to take it down to 1 pt.
Press the Tab key, turn on the Preview check box to see if it made the difference I'm looking for. It did. Good. I'll click OK in order to accept that modification. And if you have some wedges of white showing up in the background then what you want to do there is click on that final stroke and change its line weight to something like 50 points. Finally I'm going to press Ctrl+Shift+A, Command+Shift+A on the Mac, to deselect all those lines. I'm going to click on the text in order to select it once again. I'll select its final stroke. It's already selected for me. I'll click on the word opacity, and I'll go ahead and change that Opacity value to 50%.
Then I'll press Ctrl+Shift+A again in order to deselect the text. Now the great thing about this effect is that the text remains editable. So if I just go ahead and double-click inside the text in order to switch to my Type tool, press Ctrl A or Command+A on the Mac in order to select all that text, and type in some other text instead, you can see that I've managed to update the text, as well as the effect, on the fly. And that, friends, is at least one way to create a graphical explosion here inside Illustrator.
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