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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.
All right, in this movie we are going to create the bird's cartoon face, complete with the attitude and these eyes that are tracking you constantly, just like the Mona Lisa's. So I am going to switch over to my document in progress here and turn on this face layer which contains an assemblage of path outlines that I've drawn in advance. For the most part, they are pretty simple, as you can see. We've got some circles and ellipses that obviously I drew with the Ellipse tool. We have these menacing eyebrows that I drew by clicking at four points with the Pen tool.
The hardest thing to draw is the beak, and I am going to show you how I went about making that, because it really is that thing that conveys the attitude of the bird and you can see it's just three anchor points, so there is not much to it. We'll start by pressing Ctrl+Shift+A or Command+Shift+A on the Mac just to make sure that guy is deselected. Anytime you're thinking of drawing with the Pen tool, especially if you are going to draw Bezier curves, then the first thing you want to do is switch to the White Arrow tool just by pressing the A key if you like. And that way when you press the Ctrl or Command key in order to gain temporary access to the Arrow tool, you'll get the White Arrow tool which will do you some good instead of the Black Arrow tool which will do you no good whatsoever.
Now I am going to switch to the Pen tool and I am going to zoom in even farther and here's what I did. I started by dragging to create a smooth point and then I dragged up here to create another one and I can see that my curvature is too shallow, so now I can press the Ctrl key or the Command key on a Mac to temporarily access my White Arrow tool, because that's the last Arrow tool that was selected and I'll go ahead and drag this guy up here, or I'll drag this control handle over, like so. When I can drag these points in the place a little better and Alt+Drag or Option+Drag at that last anchor point to convert it to a cusp point so that I have control handles going off in different directions and I'll drag at this location.
And that looks pretty good, so in mid-drag I'll just press the Alt key or the Option key on a Mac in order to change the angle of that control handle to about there and then I'll finish things up by pressing the Alt key, I still have it down or the Option key on the Mac and dragging from that first anchor point in order to create this effect. In terms of tracing the previous beak, I can't really see what I am doing when I've got this fill. I'll go ahead and press the V key to switch back to the Black Arrow tool--it's just going to make things more convenient--and I'll click on the path outline so the entire thing is selected.
And now I'll change the Fill, the first swatch up here in the Control panel to None, and I will change the Line Weight to something like let's say 1 point and might as well make it white just so I can see what it looks like inside of the existing black path outline. Now press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac to hide that panel. Press the A key in order to switch back to my White Arrow tool and I will marquee this top point right there in order to select it and I'll just drag it so it snaps into alignment with the previous anchor point--the one that I drew in advance--and I'll go ahead and do that with the other anchor points.
Obviously, I didn't have this template to work from when I drew the original bird beak, but I have it now and I just want to match it as closely as possible and give you a sense for how you go about manipulating these anchor points and control handles in case you don't have a lot of experience with it. B here is the big trick, for those of you who are interested in conveying attitude in your cartoons whether they are birds or otherwise. I went ahead and lifted this edge of the mouth like so as you can see here so that we've got a ton of curvature right there at this location and then I take it down on this other side.
So that's just one way to convey menacing attitudes, there is all sorts of different ways to convey emotions with beaks or mouths or what have you, but I just wanted you to see how I created that shape, so you didn't feel ripped off that I created it in advance. All right, now I am going to press the V key to switch to the Black Arrow tool, click on that shape that I just drew in order to select it and press the Backspace key or the Delete key on a Mac in order to get rid of it because I already created it in advance. Now let's use this top beak in order to create the bottom one, by clicking on it to select it and then I'll will switch here in the Toolbox from the Rotate tool to the Reflect tool and you want to Alt-click or Option-click on that bottom anchor point right there in order to bring up the Reflect dialog box.
Turn on the Preview check box so you can see what you are doing and most likely by default you'll notice that the beak goes in the wrong direction. We need to flip it across a horizontal axis. So go ahead and select Horizontal, even though it's a vertical flip, that's just one of those things in the Illustrator. Now that you see that the beak flips in the right direction, go ahead and click on the Copy button in order to create a copy of it. Now this lower beak should be in back of the upper one, so just press Ctrl+Left Bracket or Command+Left Bracket on a Mac to move it back one step. Now we need to scale it and rotate it into place and normally you would do that just by dragging with the Scale and Rotate tools, but I just happen to know the specific values we are looking for.
So go ahead and switch to the Scale tool and Alt-click or Option-click on that exact same target point right there in order to bring up the Scale dialog box. For our purposes we want the horizontal value to be 85% and the vertical value to be 100%, turn on the preview check box and you should see this effect right there. Now I'll go ahead and click on the OK button and then go ahead and switch from the Reflect tool back to the Rotate tool and then Alt-click or Option-click on that same point once again to bring up the Rotate dialog box, change the angle to 6 degrees and when you press the Tab key assuming that the Preview check box is turned on, you'll see that beak rotate in the place.
Now click on the OK button in order to apply that effect, and finally I want to change the Fill of this beak to the next darkest orange which is R=247, G=147, B=30 again, that's a default swatch that's included with all web documents like this one here. It just so happens that this bird has teeth, it's just one of those things in cartoon world and those teeth by the way are conveyed by a white ellipse in back of the beak's shape. Press the V key to switch back to the Black Arrow tool. We are going to work on the eyes here and I might as well zoom back in.
I want to rotate these eye bags into the proper place and this one eye bag will serve for both eyes and you'll see that in just a moment. We are going to do this by applying a dynamic effect, but first I want to go ahead and blend the eye bag into the shapes and back of it. Notice we have a couple of light grays, one for the fill, and the slightly darker gray for the stroke. We are merge them into the background, burn them in by clicking on the word Opacity up here in the Control panel and switch the Blend Mode from Normal to Multiple and you end up with this stunning effect right here.
Now let's apply a dynamic effect by going to the Effect menu, choosing Distort and Transform, and choosing the Transform command. Once again, I figure this out through trial and error, but I just happen to know that I want the angle value for Rotate to be set to -20 degree and I want the Horizontal Scale value to be 80% and the Vertical Scale value to be 90%. Now I'll turn on the Preview check box and we get this effect here. Nowadays that it's no longer aligned to the eye properly, you could experiment with a different reference point setting here, I could switch to the left-hand point for example, but that doesn't really do the trick.
So I'm going to switch back to the central point, and if you are working along with me it's essential you do that, and we'll just use these Move values instead. And I came up with a Horizontal Move value of -7 which goes ahead and scoots the shape to he the left and a Vertical Move value of 3 points, which scoots the shape down like so. Now I'll click OK in order to accept that change. Now at this point you can see the path outline, so you can easily select it by dragging from this right anchor point right there, until it snaps into alignment with the right-hand anchor point associated with the left-hand eye, and you'll see that it snaps into alignment when you get that little white arrowhead.
Once you can feel the snap, go ahead and press the Alt key or the Option key on a Mac and release in order to create a copy of that ellipse. Now it's at the wrong angle for this eye, so you need to switch to the Appearance panel and my Appearance panel is just next door to the Layers panel. if you can't find yours, you can choose the Appearance command from the Window menu. Then click on the word Transform right there, in order to bring up the Transform Effect dialog box. I am going to dial in a few new values here, change the Horizontal Scale value to 100%, the Vertical Scale value should be under 120%, then change the Rotate value to 50 degrees.
And then finally, turn our Preview check box so you can see the effect we are getting. Again, it's not aligned properly so we need to adjust the Move values, and I came up with a Horizontal Move value of 3 points and a Vertical Move value of 8 points to achieve this effect right here. Now click OK in order to apply that change. Now it seems to me that a cartoon bird as aggressive as this one should have an arched eyebrow. So go ahead and click on the right-hand eyebrow shape right there. Go to the Effect menu, choose Warp, and then choose Arch and make sure that the Horizontal radio button is selected as by default.
And then change the Bend value to 20%, both of the distortion values should be set to 0%, turn on the Preview check box, and you end up with this wondrous effect here. Now click OK. The one remaining problem is that the eyes aren't looking at us, which sometimes is okay. Oftentimes I'll go ahead and select this right-hand pupil for example here and press Shift+Up Arrow in order to move that shape 10 points upward. Oftentimes that's a great cartoon effect and it makes the bird look absolutely insane. But if you're trying to get the animal to look directly at you, then you just need to scoot these pupils around.
In my case I press Shift+Up Arrow, and now I'll press Shift+Left Arrow. It doesn't look like it's looking at us and that's because the other pupil is looking in a different direction, and so you need to get both the pupils lined up in order for things to look right. So I'll go ahead and click on this left hand pupil in order to select it, and then I'll press Shift+Right Arrow in order to move it into the proper location. The bird is a little cross-eyed but there is no doubt that he is looking directly at us. Press Ctrl+0, Command+0 on a Mac in order to zoom out.
Notice how the beaks are puckering outward. Let's say that you want one beak to converge into the other smoothly and here's what you do. Press the A key to switch to the White Arrow tool and click on this segment in order to select it and then grab this control handle right there and drag it slightly to the right, like so and then press the Shift key in order to snap it into alignment. Keep that Shift key down so that you now have a perfectly vertical control handle and then release the mouse button and then release the Shift key and now let's do the same thing for this bottom beak.
Go ahead and click on this left-hand segment to select it and then grab this control handle, drag it to the right ever so slightly and press and hold the Shift key in order to snap it into alignment and then go ahead and release it as well. Now we really are done with the bird's face, so I will press Ctrl+0 or Command+0 yet again to zoom out. And that, friends, is how you create a cartoon bird complete with an aggressively grumpy face here inside Illustrator.
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