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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, I'm going to show you how to create a custom avatar that is a vector based drawing of your face inside of Adobe Illustrator. So we're going to start off with those path outlines that we traced from a photograph. Here's the photograph. Here are the path outlines that we traced inside of Photoshop and we're going to Copy and Paste them into Illustrator and we're going to create this wonderful line drawing, uniform line drawing right here. Here, let me show exactly how it works.
All right here is the result of those path outlines that we traced inside of Photoshop. And here is the final version of the avatar that we'll be creating inside of illustrator. Just so you can see everything on screen. I am going to go ahead and turn off all but the background layer, which contains the original photograph. Then, I'll switch over to the Paths Panel and if you are working along with me, select the item that contains the path outlines that you drew in the previous movie. Then you want to drop down to the black arrow tool. And you want to make sure that it's the black arrow tool that's selected, not the white arrow tool, so the path selection tool is the one that we're looking for.
And then marquee the entire image window like so, so to select all the path outlines. Now, I want you to confirm the things we'e going to work here by pressing Ctrl+k or Cmd+key on a Mac to bring up the preferences dialog box. And make sure export clipboard is turned on. Normally I recommend you turn this check box off, but we need it to be on, in order to copy the path outlines and paste them into Illustrator. So, turn it on, then click OK, and then go up to the Edit menu and choose the Copy command, or you can press Ctrl+C here on the PC or Cmd+C on the Mac.
All right, now I'll switch over to Illustrator and you can see that I've already drawn the avatar in advance just so you have a sense of what it's going to look like. But I am going to turn this avatar's layer off. I have a couple other layers that I have drawn in advance. There is a new drawing layer which contains a few neck paths. They are very simple by the way. This one contains three anchor points. This one contains two and so forth. And then I also had this hair layer as well, so just a few pre-drawn elements. Make sure that the new drawing layer's active. That's very important.
And then go up to the Edit menu and choose the Paste command. That will bring up the Paste options dialogue box. By default, you'll see compound shape is selected. That's not going to do us any good and in fact it'll get in our way. What you want is compound path. So go ahead and select a second option, click OK. And you'll paste a bunch of invisible paths, because they don't have any fill or stroke attributes. Let's change that by going up to the second swatch up here in the Control Panel and changing the color of the strokes to black. Then click on the word Stroke, increase the line weight value to four points, and then turn on round cap, and round join.
So click those center two icons right there. And then press the Escape key, not the Enter key, 'because if you press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac, you'll bring up the move dialog box, you don't want that. Press the Escape key to hide the panel and then let's just go ahead and move this guy over to the right. And I'm pressing the Shift key as I move these paths, because I've already got things preregistered into place. Now notice that we have a group, you can see that on the far left side of the Control Panel, that's not going to do us any good. So, go up to the Object menu and choose Ungroup.
Now, we end up with a compound path, also, not helpful. So, go to the Object menu, drop down to Compound path, and choose the Release command. Now, we've got all of these path outlines. I want to keep 'em, because I might have to come back to 'em, you never know. So, let's go ahead and duplicate them over here on the left-hand side but we don't need all of them. Now let me point out here. If I go back to Photoshop and turn off the paths by clicking in an empty portion of the Paths Panel, you can see that Colleen on this particular day was wearing her hair up.
But normally she wears it down. And it's great, looks great, so we might as well create the avatar that way. So I'll switch back over to Illustrator, and you can see I've got some hair drawn in advance hanging down, which means that we don't need any of these hair paths, so Shift marquee around these paths right here, and then Shift+click on this one to turn that off, and then Shift+click on the back of the neck. We don't need that either. And now, let's go ahead and drag the remaining paths. You want to press the Alt key, or the Opt key on the Mac. Keep that key down so that we clone the path outlines, and then press the Shift key as well.
So we're constraining the angle of the drag to exactly horizontal. So I've got both the Shift and Alt keys down. Those would be the Shift and Opt keys on the Mac, and we end up with this result right here. We need to get the draw path out of the way, so we can join the chin to the neck, so go ahead and click off the path outlines to deselect them. And I want you to press Ctrl+k, or Cmd+k on the Mac, once again, this time to bring up the preferences dialog box inside of Illustrator, and check that the keyboard increment is set to one point, as by default.
If so, click OK. Then click on the jawline to select it, and press Shift+up arrow twice. That'll just get it out of the way, and we'll also know to press Shift+down arrow twice, in order to put it back in the proper location. All right, now I want you to zoom in on the chin right there. Click on that chin path, which goes all the way around the face actually, in order to select it. Go up to the View menu and make sure Smart Guides are turned off. Because if they're turned on they're just going to get in the way, they'll cause problems. And then I want you to select from the Eraser tool fly out menu, you want to grab the scissors tool and then click right about there in order to sever the path outline then press the v key to switch back to the black arrow tool.
Click on this little path fragment right there to select it and then press the Backspace key or the Delete key on the Mac to get rid of it. Now I want you to press the A key to switch to the white arrow tool and marquee these anchor points like so. So just these coincident anchor points or at least nearly coincident anchor points should be selected. And now just to make sure they are coincident meaning that one is directly on the top of the other. Go up to the Object menu and choose Path and choose this command right there Average. Notice it's got a keyboard shortcut so join that involves the J key.
And that is going to become important in just a moment. Anyway for now just choose the command. And, make sure both is selected and click OK, and that'll align those two points so that they are exactly coincident. Now I want to join these points into a smooth point. Now, if you just press Ctrl+j or Cmd+j on a Mac, to perform a standard join, then you're going to create a new corner point. I want a smooth point, so what you have to do is press Ctrl+Shift+Alt+j here on the PC or Cmd+Shift+Option+j in the Mac in order to bring up the drawing dialog box.
Select Smooth and click Ok. And that will join the path outlines and it'll also reduce the line weight to four points where we dialed in a moment ago and we don't want that. So press the V key to switch over to the black arrow tool. Click on a path outline to select it, go up here to the Control Panel, and change the line weight to 12 points. I'm using the Pop-up menu, but you can work any way you like. And that's going to seem awfully thick, but bear in mind, this is an avatar that might appear as small as an icon on screen, so these strokes are going to get much thinner.
All right, now we want to draw the head, and the best way to do this, by the way, to complete the head, and forehead and everything else, is to draw the person bald. And I'm just saying that because that way you can change out your hairstyle any time you want. Makes for a very versatile setup. So I'm going to switch to the Pen tool. And I'm going to drag from this top point right there to activate it and to maintain a smooth point. And then I'll go ahead and zoom out just a little bit here. Scroll over. And I'll drag right about there in order to create the top of the head.
And if you need to, then you can move the anchor point on the fly by pressing and holding the Spacebar. And then oops, I invoked an auto-scroll, I hate that. Anyway, I'll go ahead and release and then, drag back here, I made a big mess of things. So I'll press the A key to switch to the wide arrow tool. I'll click on the segment right here to select it and then I'll drag up on this control handle like so and I might drag it down just a little bit because notice we've got a little bit of an edge showing from the hairline and we don't want that. So I'll select this anchor point and I'll press the left arrow key, just to nudge it over to left.
Anyway, we don't want any seam, that's the point. All right, now we don't want to see the hair because we want to work bald. I'll turn off the hair layer in order to deselect it. And her skull looks terrible, but it's going to look better. So I'll go ahead and press the P key to switch back to the Pen tool. I've got to drag on this point to once again activate the path outline. And then I'll drag right about here, to create the back of the skull. And then, I'll drag from here. Notice that I can see a tiny little Connect icon next to my Pen tool cursor.
That tells me that I'm going to connect to the back of the neck. You want to make sure, by the way, that you don't move the back of the neck around. So you want to keep it as still as possible. That is you want to keep this arc the way it was. All right, now you might wanted to make some modifications with the white arrow tool, so I went ahead and switched to the white arrow. I'll select this anchor point. I'll go ahead and drag this up just a little bit. I'll turn the hair on just to see if I haven't totally messed things up yet and it looks like I'm doing okay, but I think I want the forehead to be a little steeper right there.
So that looks good. And I'm going to turn the hair layer back off, so I can better see what I'm up to here. And I'm also going to zoom in, like so. And I'm going to press the "V" key to grab my black arrow tool. Select the jaw line and press Shift+down arrow twice to put it back into place. And now we need to select all these lines right here. So click and Shift+click on the mouth, the nostril Shift drag around the eyes, Shift drag around the ears, we need this little tiny eyelash right there, on the right-hand side of the face, and let's change the line weight this time to nine points, in order to produce this effect.
And things are too thick, as you can see, but that's okay, we'll solve that problem in just a moment. But you know what, we're going to be able to see what we're doing better, at least I am. If I go ahead and marquee these path outlines here, and I change the stroke color to 50%, that way things are just going to show up better. Also going to register things a little bit by pressing Ctrl+0, in order to zoom out. That centers the zoom. Then I'll zoom in to 200% and scroll over so I can see what I'm doing. See, he's got a frown. We need to turn that upside down. And I'm going to do so, by switching to the white arrow tool, which I did by pressing the A key.
Click off the path outlines to deselect 'em. I'll grab this anchor point right there, move it to this location. Drag this control handle right about there, I think. Move this guy up just a little bit, his control handle could come down ever so slightly. The nostril's just kind of a mess, I'm going to move it out of the way for a second, and I'll check out the nose. I don't want this point, so if you find that there's a point in a path that you want to get rid of, you press the P key to switch to the Pen tool, you hover over the anchor point, you should see a minus sign next to the cursor, very important and click, and that will get rid of that point.
Now that may seem like a rotten idea, because it makes her nose look horrible. But I'll now press the A key to switch back to the white arrow tool and I'll drag this anchor point up like so. And I want to create sort of a sculptural nose here. Basically, the thing is, I know this person quite well. You may know your person quite well, as well, especially if you are you, then you know exactly what you're looking for. But if the person is foreign to you, you really aren't that familiar with their face.
Then you may want to pass the sketch by them just to see what they think of it before, of course, they're forced to go live with the darn thing. And I think I want to move this point down like so, and then move the control handle up a little bit. I think this is going to end up working out pretty well. All right, now let's get to work on that nostril, I'll go ahead and select this point get rid of it and select this point here and get rid of it, I'll press the P key to switch the Pen tool and click on this anchor point to get rid of it.
Basically, I just want two anchor points, is what it comes down to. Then I'll switch to the white arrow tool, Alt+click on the path to select the entire thing, so I can move it over to right about there. And then I'll click off the path outline to deselect it. I'll drag this guy up, this anchor point, that is. Then I'll drag its control handle up, like so and I'll drag this guy over. And I think I've got a pretty good looking nose. At least it's indicative of the nose that I'm actually trying to draw. All right, now we need to work on the eye.
So I'm going to start with the eyebrow, actually. I'll go ahead and click on it with the white arrow tool. Drag that point to that location. I'm just dragging things around until I think they look good. I want to give her eyebrow a little bit of an arch. Then I'll press the V key to switch to the black arrow tool. I'll marquee the eye paths and drag this guy down just a little bit to this anchor point. And by the way, I have the bounding box turned off. If you're seeing the bounding box on the screen, it's just going to get in your way. So go up to the View menu. And, choose a command that would say Hide Bounding Box, if you're seeing it, to get rid of it.
Then, you want to switch to your Scale tool, click right there at the tip of the eyelash in order to set an origin point. And then move your cursor about 45 degrees away from that origin. I'm going to move it downward to the right. I'm not dragging it and then drag while pressing the Shift key let's say in order to scale the eye just a little bit. Now, that ended up scaling the strokes as well, as you can see up here in the line weight option. So I'm going to switch the line weight back to nine point. Then I'll press the V key to switch to the black arrow tool, click off the path outlines.
I don't need this eyelid, so I'll go ahead and click on it to select it and press the Backspace key, or the Delete key on the Mac, to get rid of it. Press the A key to switch back to my white arrow tool. And I'm moving pretty quickly here but that's because, you know, we're doing some standard drawing work. I'll drag this anchor point here until snaps into alignment with this one, and you'll see the snap when you see the white cursor. And then you can marquee these two points and press Ctrl+j, or Cmd+j on the Mac, to join them together. And now let's get rid of this anchor point right there I'll select it and get rid of it.
Click off the paths, drag this anchor point to this location, drag this control handle down. I want this control handle down to about there as well. I don't think I need this anchor point, so I'll select it. I'll press the P key to get the Pen tool, hover over it so you would see a minus sign, click to get rid of it. Press the A key to switch back to the white arrow tool, and we've got these control handles readily accessible to us, I'll drag this one down, and I'll drag this one up, because this bit of wave here makes for a nice eyelash.
All right, now I'm going to grab this little line here and I'll select the entire thing by Alt+clicking on it, or Option+clicking on the Mac, and I'm going to move it over to right about here, then I'll get my Scale tool by pressing the S key, and then I'll Alt+click or Option+click on that bottom anchor point. And let's try a scale value of 80%. That's not enough. We do not want to scale strokes and effects. So go ahead and turn that check box off. State the Uniform value down to 60% might work.
Actually maybe even lower, something like 55. Click OK. And now, I'm going to take the line weight value up to 12 points for this particular guy. Select my white arrow tool again. Go ahead and click on this anchor point and click on this anchor point, select it, move it over a little bit. I'm just nudging. And I'm going to go ahead and zoom in, so that I can see what's going on with my control handles, and you can see I've got a little bit too much curvature. I want some curvature, so it kind of indicate the curve of an iris coming outward.
But I also have this little hump, which means this anchor point is too high, so I'll press the down arrow key to move it down ever so slightly. And now, let's zoom out because, not that far, just to about there, because that's really the only way to judge whether the eye is looking at us. So you could select the entire path there, and then press the left arrow key to move it to the left, or the right arrow key to move it to the right, until it appears to be looking into your soul which might be, I don't know, there or there. This location looks pretty good.
This eyelash I think wants to come out a little bit. If it's going to be there, might as well bring it out. So now, we want to change these path outlines back to black. So, I'll press the V key to switch to my black arrow took. Go ahead and marquee these path outlines like so and select black. From the second color swatch up here in the Control Panel. This ear is a mess, and actually, you know what, there's just too much detail here. This just isn't going to do us any good, but in fact, even starting from these path outlines is no good. So, I'll press the Backspace key, after selecting them, and I'll just draw in there.
And, I'm going to do that by dragging with my Pen tool, so I'll press the P key to switch to the pen. Switch to the white arrow tool, and grab that guy, and drag him. And then I'll press the P key to switch back to the Pen tool. I will drag from here, and I'll kind of drag up and around just to create your standard everyday, average cartoon inside of an ear. If indeed, you've ever drawn one of those. They're pretty easy. They're just kind of like a little S curve. Like so, you may want to go completely not to draw all kinds of you know, extra detail for your ear, it is entirely up to you.
In fact, for all I know you want a Vulcan ear. I don't know what you want. Anyway, I'm going to zoom out, like so, and let's take a look at what we've got, not quite that far perhaps, and let's turn on the hair layer, that's the only way we can judge this, and notice I've got this kind of gap where the ear is. So I'm going to go and zoom in, I don't like that. So I'm going to grab that inside ear point right there and I'm going to drag it down. And I'm going to fill in this tiny little gap, which I do not want using the Pen tool. So I'll press the P key and then just click click click click like so, you can see that it's got a black stroke and no fill.
So I'll press Shift+X in order to swap the fill and stroke and I can tell that's what I've done. I'll go ahead and select the black arrow tool, click in the path outline and then I can see, I've got a black fill and no stroke up here in the Control Panel. So, this is what we have friends. A delightful looking black and white avatar. Created from path outlines that we traced inside Photoshop and then enhanced here inside Illustrator. All right, so we've made a good start, but I'd give us like a B minus. After all, we can't go to market here with a black and white avatar, which is why if you're a member of the lynda.com Online Training Library, I have a follow-up movie in which I'll show you how to color your avatar, including all this shading.
We're going to be diving in and out of a clipping mask like you would not believe inside of Illustrator. Now, some of you may be thinking, hey, I'm not a member of lynda.com. I don't want to miss out on this. Well, lynda.com/deke gets you seven free days. And you can look at any movie you like during that period of time. There is tens of thousands of them. It's a gift, from, from me to you. If you're waiting for next week's free movie, I'll show you how to take that avatar and turn in into a ping graphic, this checkerboard pattern represents the transparency, that you can use anywhere on the Interwebs.
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