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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.
This is Deke McClelland. Welcome to Deke's Techniques. I could not be more excited about this one. In this movie, I am going to show you how to create this distinctive 2D Video Game Character in Adobe Illustrator. Now I've modeled it after the style of Dan Paladin, the artist for such games as Alien Hominid and Castle Crashers because I am such a huge fan. We're going to start things off with a few pre-drawn elements, as well as this Tracing template and we're going to end up finishing out the helmet as you see here.
Here, let me show you exactly how it works. All right! Here's the final version of the 2D Character just so you can see him onscreen. We're going to be starting off inside this document, which includes a pixel-based tracing template in the background. I have drawn many of the paths in advance including the entire body, here on the body layer, which includes the walrus's tusks and one of his horns. And then I have this layer called predrawn that contains a few primitive path elements that will be integrating into the artwork.
I'll go ahead and turn those two layers back off and then I'll click on the head layer to make it active. And I'll switch to the Pen tool, which I can get by pressing the P key. You're going to be follow along a lot better with this, if you have some experience with pen, because I am not going to be teaching you how to use the Pen tool from Scratch. I'm just going to be showing you how to trace this template using it. And I'll start things off here by clicking and dragging from this location and then clicking and dragging from this location up here. If you need to adjust your control handles or anchor points after drawing them, then you can press the Ctrl key or the Command key on the Mac to temporarily access the Arrow tool and then you can drag these control handles or anchor points wherever you them to be.
Now it's very tough to see what's going on when I am working in the Preview mode. So, I am going to switch to the Outline mode by going up to the View menu and choosing Outline or you can just press Ctrl+Y or Command+Y on the Mac. Now I'll click and drag from this location, right about here in order to finish off the top of the helmet. I need to convert this smooth point to cusp point. So, I'll press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac and drag from that anchor point like so and then I'll scroll down a little bit and click and drag from this corner.
Now I'll press the Ctrl key or the Command key on the Mac and drag the control handle into a more desirable location to get that kind of art right there, and I might Ctrl+drag or Command+drag this control handle a little bit over as well. Now I'll scroll up a little more and I'll Alt+drag or Option+drag like so, and then I'll drag from this location right there, and I need a big long control handle in order to pull off this one. Now it's not necessary that you slavishly follow the template by the way it's just there by way of guidance.
So you can always go your own way. Now I'll Alt+drag or Option+drag from this anchor point, and I'll drag right there and by the way if you ever need to change the location of an anchor point on-the-fly as you are dragging, just press and hold the Spacebar, and then release the Spacebar as soon as you get the anchor point into the desired position. I am also going to take advantage of another trick here. While I am drawing this anchor point, I can press and hold the Alt key or the Option key on a Mac in order to move the control handle under my cursor to an independent position.
Now I'll click and drag right about there and I'll press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac to change the direction of the control handle. I'll click and drag there, press and hold the Alt or Option key in order to move the control handle like so. Then I'll drag from this location and I'll press the Alt or Option key in order to move the control handle to that location, click and drag here, press and hold the Alt or Option key, go ahead and scroll up a little and click and drag and then press and hold the Alt or Option key, go ahead and click and drag here, press and hold the Alt or Option key, click and drag here.
You're doing the same kinds of things over and over, while you're working with this tool. Now it looks like we don't have enough bend at this location, but as soon as i Ctrl+click or Command+click on that segment, I end up selecting the entire darn path outline. So I need to press the A key in order to switch to the White Arrow tool, I'll click off the path to deselect it then I'll click on this segment and I'll drag this control handle up slightly, and then I'll drag this one down. All right! Now I am going to switch back to the Pen tool by pressing the P key.
Notice because I am seeing a little asterisk next to my cursor that's telling me that the path outline is no longer active. So, I need to Alt+drag or Option+ drag from that anchor point once again. And now I'm going to draw a smooth point right about there. I am going to press the Ctrl Key or the Command Key on the Mac and drag that top control handle down just a little bit. And then I'll Alt+drag or Option+drag on the very first point in the path outline in order to close the path and convert the anchor point to a cusp point and we end up with this result here.
Now we need to apply some attributes. So I'll press Ctrl+Y or Command+Y on the Mac to switch back to the Preview mode and I'll press the V key to get my Black Arrow tool and I'll click on the path outline to select it, and I'll click on this first color swatch up here in the Control panel and I'll change its color to this light shade of gray in which the red green and blue values are all set to 179. Now, I'll change the Line Weight right here to 2.5 points and I'll click on the word Stroke and I'll switch to corners to round joint by clicking on this icon.
The Walrus's Helmet includes some teeth. So, I am going to go ahead and turn on this predrawn layer and select this path outline right there. And the reason I have drawn some of these paths in advance is just because it's a lot of the same thing over and over again. So, I figured it made sense to somewhat expedite the process. Anyway I'll select this path outline and then I'll move it to the head layer by dragging this little base square down to the head layer like so. Now I'll turn off the predrawn layer so I can see what I am doing and I'll click on the helmet to select it.
What I want to do is subtract this path outline from the helmet in the background, and that's something I can do by applying a pathfinder. So, I'll go up to the Window menu and choose Pathfinder to bring up the Pathfinder panel. And the operation, I am looking for is this guy right here Minus Front. But if I click on it, notice that it makes a big mess of things, and that's because, my path outline, the one with the teeth, didn't come down far enough. So, I'll press Ctrl+Z or Command+ Z on a Mac to undo that change. Now I'll go ahead and switch to my Pen tool once again. I'll just go ahead and click right here in order to activate this path outline and I'll click down like so in order to add some more points to the path.
So, it goes all the way under, not only the helmet, but the teeth as well. Now we are ready to apply the Pathfinder Operation, but before you do, go ahead and press the A key in order to switch to the White Arrow tool and marquee the lowest points on these teeth right there in order to select them, and then press Ctrl+C or Command+C on the mac to copy them to the clipboard. Now I'll press the V key to switch back to the Black Arrow tool, click on this guy, Shift+click on the helmet in order to select them both and once again click on Minus Front in order to subtract those teeth shapes.
Now the next step is to make the big walrus teeth right there, that are associated with the helmet and of course they are designed to protect the walrus's actual tusks. And I created them just by pressing the A key to switch to the White Arrow tool, then I marqueed these two anchor points and I dragged them down and I adjusted the control handles a little bit and so forth. But we just got done copying these shapes, so we might as well employ them. So, select these two anchor points as you see here on screen and then Shift+drag around these two to select them as well, using the White Arrow tool and press the Backspace key or the Delete key on the mac in order to get rid of them.
Then press Ctrl+F or Command+F on a mac in order to paste those shapes that we just copied in front. Now I'll press the V key to switch back to the Black Arrow tool, go ahead and Shift+click on the outer helmet shape like so, and Shift+ click on this inner tooth in order to select them all. And then go up to the Object menu, choose Path and choose Join in word to fuse those path outlines together. Now in my case I ended up losing the fill. So I'll go ahead and click on this first color swatch in Control panel and again change it to this light shade of gray and we end up with this effect here.
Press Ctrl+0, Command+0 on a mac to zoom out. Now if you take a look at the final version of the character, you can see that there is some dark gray shading inside the helmet. That's something that I have drawn in advance as well. We're going to need to take that shape and paste it inside of the larger helmet shape to create a clipping mask. So, we'll go ahead and switch to the illustration in progress, turn on my predrawn layer once again and grab this big gray shape right there, and press Ctrl+X or Command+X on the Mac in order to cut it to the clipboard. Now turn the layer off and select the helmet by clicking on it.
Now my screen is too short to show the bottom of the tool box so I am going to need to switch over to the Two Column display, and notice this icon right there Draw Inside. You want to click on it, at which point you will see these dotted corners surrounding the shape and then go up to the Edit menu and choose Paste in Place, or you can press Ctrl+Shift+V or Command+Shift+V on a Mac and that goes ahead and pastes the dark gray shape into the light gray helmet in order to create this affect here. Now I'll go ahead and switch back to the Draw Normal mode at the bottom of the toolbox and I am going to switch my toolbox back to the Single Column Display.
Now we need to draw a seam down the center of the helmet and you can see that seam if you press Ctrl+Y or Command+Y on the Mac to switch back to the Outline mode, it's this guy right there, very easy to draw. We want to press Ctrl+Shift+A or Command+Shift +A on the Mac to deselect the artwork, press the P key in order to get the Pen tool, and then click and drag from the top of the line down like so, and then go ahead and click and drag from the bottom of the line as well. I'll press the Ctrl key or the Command key on a Mac to temporarily access my Arrow tool so that I can adjust the position of the control handles.
Now I'll press the V key to switch back to the Black Arrow tool, click on this line to select it, change the Fill up here in the Control panel to None and then change the Line Weight for the Stroke to 2.5, click on the word Stroke and change the Cap to Round Cap by clicking on this icon here. Now if you press Ctrl+Y or Command+Y in the Mac, you'll see that you've got this line drawn right through the center of the helmet. The problem is it exceeds the boundaries of the helmet, which is no good. So, I'm going to twirl open the head layer right there and also twirl open this clipping group item right there, which is the clipping mask itself and I am going to grab this path, which is the one we just created through the center of the helmet.
I am going drag it down, so it's sandwiched between the helmet shape and the dark gray shape below it and we end up placing the line inside the clipping mask and it no longer exceeds the boundaries of the helmet. Now we need to create a dark half of this shadow line right there, and we're going to do that based on lines we already have. So, I am going click on this circle right next to the line, the so-called meatball and I am going to Shift+click on the meatball next to the dark gray shape in order to select both of these items.
And then I'll press Ctrl+C or Command+C on a Mac in order to copy them to the clipboard. Now you want to press Ctrl+Shift+A or Command+ Shift+A on the Mac to deselect the artwork, and then press Ctrl+F or Command+F on the Mac in order to paste those shapes to the front of the layer. Now I'll press Ctrl+Y or Command+Y on a Mac in order to switch to the Outline mode and I'll press the P key to select the Pen tool. Then, I'll go and click right there to activate that last anchor point. And I'll click here beyond this tooth and then I'll click at a couple of other locations outside of the path outlines, and finally I'll close that path and then press Ctrl+Y or Command+Y in a Mac to switch back to the Preview mode, press the V key to get the Black Arrow tool, click on this path outline to select it, and Shift+click in a darker gray path to select it as well.
Then bring back the Pathfinder panel and click on this third icon, Intersect, in order to save just the intersecting areas like so. Now, I'll hide the Pathfinder panel. We want the Stroke to be None and you also want the Fill to be this dark shade of gray in which the red green and blue values are all 77 and you end up with this effect here. Now we need to go ahead and grab this group and drag it into the clipping group and you do that by dragging it here inside the Layers panel, down to below that vertical line and you end up with this effect here.
Now I have got a few other path outlines that I've drawn in advance. I'll go ahead and turn on the predrawn layer and I'll press the V key to switch to the Black Arrow tool and then I'll press Ctrl+Y or Command+Y in a Mac to switch to the Outline mode and I'll partially marquee these path outlines as you see me doing here, and that's going to select too much. So, I'll Shift+click on this path to deselect it and Shift+click on the outline of the helmet as well to deselect it, press Ctrl+Y or Command+ Y in a Mac to switch back to the Preview mode. So, you can see exactly what's selected onscreen and then I'll press Ctrl+X or Command+X on a Mac in order to cut those path outlines to the clipboard, and now I'll turn off the predrawn layer.
I'll scroll down to the insides of this clipping group and I'll go ahead and meatball this dark gray group right there and I'll press Ctrl+F or Command+F on a Mac in order to paste these items in front of that path outline and into the clipping mask. So, if I click off the shapes to deselect them, you can see that they are indeed clipped inside the helmet. Just a few more paths to draw on the background here. I'll press Ctrl+Y or Command+Y in a Mac to switch back to the Outline mode and I'll press the P key to get my Pen tool.
Now these paths are pretty easy to draw, because they just require a bunch of clicking around. However in order to precisely align the points, I want you to go up to the View menu and turn on Smart Guides. If the command already has a checkmark in front of it, then just go and press the Escape key. And now notice that we get a bunch of flashing on screen here. Click at this location, then click right there in order to set an anchor point directly on top of an anchor point associated with the teeth and then click at this location to set another one, click right on that anchor point in order to align it, click right there.
What we're doing is we are drawing the rear edge of the teeth by the way and I'll go ahead and click at this location, then click here and then click up right about there. Now click down at this point and then click over here and that's not quite where I want it to be, so I'll press the Up Arrow a couple of times in order to nudge it upward, click right there and this time my path outline became deselected. So, I'll press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on a Mac to undo that creation of that free-floating point. And I'll click on this anchor point to reactivate the path outline and then I'll click there, and at this location, and right about there, and finally here, and here as well, and I'll nudge that dial up as well.
And probably you have to reactivate this path, sure enough I do. So I'll click here, then I'll click and click and click down like that. That doesn't give me a lot of clearance right there. So, I'll press the A key to switch to the White Arrow tool and I'll grab this anchor point and I'll move it up like so. Now I'd also need to add a little bit of a path outline in back of this area, so I'll press the P key to switch back to my Pen tool. I'll click here, click right about there as well, then click down at this location, and then I'll set an anchor point right about there and go ahead and close the path outline like so.
Press Ctrl+Y or Command+Y in a Mac in order to switch back to Preview mode, go ahead and grab your Black Arrow tool, click on this path outline to select it and Shift+click on this one to select it as well. I'm going to press Ctrl+U or Command+U on the Mac to turn off the Smart Guides, so, I'm not seeing as much flashing onscreen. Then I'll press the I key to switch to the Eyedropper tool and I'll click right about there in order to lift that black stroke then I'll press the V key to switch back to the Black Arrow tool, right-click on the shapes, choose Arrange, and then choose Send to Back.
I am going to change the Fill that's associated with these path outlines to the R=77, G=77, B=77 swatch right there. That's dark enough for this rear shape right there however it's not dark enough for the shaded edge of the teeth. So I'll Shift+click on this top half outlined to deselect it, and then I'll click on this Color Swatch once again, and change it to the darkest gray I have in this necro-gray's group. And in this case the Red, Green and Blue values are all 51 and we get this effect here.
Press Ctrl+0, Command+0 on a Mac in order to zoom out for my artwork. I'll deselect it as well, go ahead and twirl this head layer closed and turn on the predrawn Layer. And I want to grab this horn here and Shift+ click on this little highlight, both of which of course have drawn in advance. I'll drag this little base square down to the head layer so that they're part of the head layers as well. Then I'll turn off the predrawn Layer and I'll turn on my body layer so that you can see the extent of our work so far.
And that friends, is how you draw the base path outlines required to create a distinctive 2D video game character here inside Illustrator. If your are a member of the lynda.com Online Training Library, then I have a follow-up movie, in which I show you how to take the guys we've drawn in so far, and add in his facial features including not only the eyes, but also the whiskers coming out of his mask, a whole lot of fun, I tell you. If you're waiting for next week's free movie, I'll show you how to trace this character in his entirely without drawing any new path outlines to create this kind of undulating red radioactive aura.
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