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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. Now, the other day, I was perusing back issues of the New Yorker, which I subscribed to on my iPad. Can't recommend enough, and I came across this stunning cover art by (FOREIGN), and it got me thinking. You know, there's a skill that every illustrator users ought to have. And that's the ability to draw an orthogonal cube using nothing but the Line tool. Here, let me show you exactly how it works. All right, here is the final cube of cubes that we're going for.
We're going to start off inside of this document. Now, if you're working along with me, but you don't have access to the sample file. Then when you create a new file by going up to the File menu and choosing the New command. You want to twirl open advanced and make sure align new objects to pixel grid is turned off. That's just going to mess things up. It's actually going to make it impossible for you to do the effect properly. So I'll just go ahead and Cancel out of here. The other thing you want to do is go up to the View menu and make sure that this command reads Show Bounding Box. If it says High Bounding Box, choose it to turn the Bounding Box off. Again, your not going to be able to follow along with me with the bounding box. And then there are Smart Guides down here, and you want to make sure that that command is turned on.
That'll help you a lot, notice that there's some squares, we're not using them. You might think we would to create a cube, but we're not going to use them. They're just there for coloring purposes. What you want to do is zoom in on the document here to about 400% is where I'm going. And then you want to select the Line Tool. And notice these guidelines right here. If you can't see them, press Ctrl+; or Cmd+; on the Mac to make them visible. And then you want to click at the intersection of the two guides in order to bring up this dialog box. The Length should be 50 points, and you want the Angle to be 90 degrees. Then click OK, to create this straight line.
Go ahead and give it a stroke, so that you can see it. And you just want to give it, you know, a one point line weight, whatever. Then go ahead and select the Rotate Tool. And Alt+Click or Option+Click at the top of that selected line, in order to bring up the rotate dialog box. Set the angle to 120 degrees, now here's the rationale. A full circle is described by 360 degrees. That would rotate the line all the way back to it's original position as you see here. And we need 3 lines, so we're dividing 360 by three, which gives us 120.
Then you'll probably want your Preview check box on just to make sure that you confirm it looks good. And then click on the Copy button. Now press Ctrl+D, or Cmd+D on the Mac to duplicate that transformation, and you'll end up with these three lines. Now let's duplicate those lines, we've got all the lines we need at this point, using the black arrow tool, and then you might want to zoom in. You've gotta make sure that everything snaps into place properly. And I'm going to turn off my guidelines just for a moment. And I can do that by pressing Ctrl+;, or Cmd+; on the Mac. And then I'll grab this selected line by its anchor point. And drag it until it snaps into alignment at the bottom of the vertical line. Then press the Alt key, or the Option key on the Mac, and release. And that will create a clone of that line, a copy. And now, we might as well create another copy up here, so I'll drag it to this location and watch it snap into place.
Press and hold the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac, you'll see that double arrow cursor, and release. Now let's make copies of this line. And I'll go ahead and drag it, by it's anchor point, very important, so your snapping the anchor points into alignment. And then go ahead and drag it again, so it snaps into alignment over here. And at this point, you might want to press Ctrl+Y or Cmd+Y on a Mac, and just make sure that everything appears to be exactly aligned. Cause it's very important, the points have to line up with each other. Alright, I'm going to press Ctrl+Y, or Cmd+Y again, to return to the Preview mode.
And I'll grab this vertical line there, drag it by it's bottom anchor point until it snaps into alignment there. Press and hold the Alt key, Option key on the Mac, to make a copy, and do the same over on this side. We appear to have everything we need. So now what we have to do is transform these open lines into closed diamonds, as it were. Which means that we need to create copies of these three segments. So select the three segments in the center and press Ctrl+C or Cmd+C on a Mac and then Ctrl+F or Cmd+F on a Mac in order to create copies of them.
Then click off the paths to make sure that they're deselected. Click on this guy, Shift+Click on this guy, and Shift+Drag to marquee those two. It's just the easiest way to work. And press Ctrl+J, or Cmd+J on the Mac, in order to join all of those line segments together. And when you click off the path outline, and I'll just drag it out a little bit. You should see these nice miter corners right here. And that will tell you that everything's joined properly. Because you really want to make sure, press the A key to switch to the white arrow tool. That every one of these anchor points is just a single point, and not two points very close to each other.
And I'll press Ctrl+Z a couple of times, Cmd+Z on the Mac, in order to undo those movements. Then, I'm going to press the V key to switch back to my black arrow tool, right-click on the path outline, choose Arrange, and then choose Send to Back. Just so I don't accidentally select it. Then I want to click on this path outline, Shift+Click on this one, Shift+Marquee these two. And press Ctrl+J, or Cmd+J on the Mac, in order to join them together. And then finally, go ahead and marquee these top paths like so.
And Shift+Marquee these bottom ones to deselect them. So that just the top diamond paths are selected. And then press Ctrl+J, or Cmd+J on the Mac, to join them together. Now let's Zoom Out, so that we can better see the rest of the artwork here. And at this point I just wanta copy the attributes from the red squares. With my top half selected there, I'll go ahead and switch to the eyedropper tool and I'll click in there, like so. And then I'll Ctrl+Click, or Cmd+Click on this path outline, that allows me to temporarily switch to the black arrow tool, there. And then I'll release that key and click on this shape to lift its attributes, and then I'll Ctrl+Click on this path outline, or Cmd+Click, on the Mac. Release that key and click in this path outline, this square right here, in order to lift its attributes.
And we now have an orthogonal square. So I'm going to press the V key, switch back to the black arrow tool. And click off the shape to deselect it, and then I reckon, I'll go ahead and zoom in by pressing Ctrl++, or Cmd++ a few times. And that, friends, is how you create orthogonal cube, using really nothing but the line tool, here inside Illustrator. If you're a member of the Lynda.com online training library then I have a follow-up movie in which we take that orthogonal cube. And in the spirit of the New Yorker cover, we're going to turn it into a cube of cubes.
We're just going to rip off that art like crazy. Did I say rip off? I mean't derive inspiration from. In next weeks free movie, I'll show you how to create this cool rainbow gradient and then we'll turn it into this psychadelic fabric texture. That's just going to drive the editors nuts, because it's hard to compress. Deke's Techniques, each and every week. Keep watching.
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