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In Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Mastery, the third and final part of the comprehensive Illustrator One-on-One series, author and industry expert Deke McClelland shows how to take advantage of the wide array of dynamic effects in Illustrator CS5. Deke explores Illustrator’s powerful Gradient Mesh feature, great for creating photorealistic airbrushing effects. He also covers graphic styles, the liquify tools, envelope-style distortions, the new Bristle Brushes, 3D text, and perspective drawing. Exercise files accompany the course.
Over the course of this chapter, we are going to take this file here called Winged horse at night.ai, and we are going to transform it into this final version of the composition, with this big, dramatic, thick version of the winged horse. And we've got these rolling grassy hills here in this distorted text, and this big starburst in the background. And we'll achieve these effects using a combination of the Liquify tools, which are painting tools inside of Illustrator, as well as a couple of enveloped distortion commands, which allow you to distort path outlines and other objects inside of a mesh wireframe.
And we are going to see how all of those features work, but before we go there, I want to show you how I put together the original winged horse in the first place. So if you take a look at the Layers panel, and you twirl open the horse layer, you'll see this Tracing item right there. That's a live trace object like the ones that we saw back in chapter 13 of the Advanced portion of the series. Go ahead and meatball that tracing item, if you want to see how it's put together, and then go up here to the control panel and click on the Tracing Options dialog icon. That will bring up the Tracing Options dialog box, and for the most part, all of these options are set to their defaults.
For example, I change mode to Black and White, so that I am tracing a black-and- white version of the image. The Threshold value is set to 128, so I am tracing the darkest stuff black and the lightest stuff white. Blur is 0, of course. I just left the Resolution set to 267 pixels per inch, which is the resolution of the actual image file, and so forth, throughout the dialog box. The only setting I changed was Ignore White. So if I left Ignore White turned on, as by default--I'll go ahead and show you the preview here--we would see a black horse against the white background.
I didn't want that; I wanted to drop the background away, so I went ahead and turned on the Ignore White check box, and Illustrator just traced the black horse and nothing else. All right! So slightly interesting as that is, the bigger question is, how did I create this image in the first place? Well, it involved almost no painting whatsoever. It's largely a combination of silhouettes that I created from actual photographic images. So if you'll permit me here, I am going to show you how I made this image file inside of Photoshop for a moment. So I am going to switch over to Photoshop, and I've got opened this file called Horse with wings.psd.
I am going to bring up the Layer Comps panel by clicking on this little Layer Comps icon, and layer comps allow you to save various states of your layered compositions inside of Photoshop. So for example, I went ahead and saved this one right here, and you switch between comps just by clicking in this little column in front of the comp names. And then I added a single wing, like so, which I thought looked really good. The problem is that's not the way the silhouette would really look, because we can see both legs for example, upfront and in the rear. So we've got to be able to see both the wings in the background.
So I added a second wing, like so. Now to give you a sense of how I put this file together, I am going to switch to this comp, the one that's called starting point, which just shows the background layer and nothing more. And then I'll build up the file for you here inside the Layers panel. Now this is a grayscale image, so there is no color associated with it whatsoever. I brought in this horse image. And both of the images I used, by the way, both the photographic images come from the fotolia image library. And in this case I took this full-color horse. I went to the blue channel. So an RGB image inside of Photoshop has three channels: a red channel, a green channel, and a blue channel.
I went to the blue channel, copied that channel because it was the darkest, and then pasted it into this file. Then I added a Levels Adjustment layer in order to increase the contrast of the image, so virtually everything turned either black or white. Now there are some exceptions. We have a few white flecks up here in the head and over on the rump, and we've got some big white areas over here in the hooves, and then we have this little bit of gray shadow that I wanted to turn white instead. And I did that on an independent layer. I have got this brush work layer right there. I'll turn it on, and all I did was, working on this independent layer, I went ahead and grabbed my Brush tool over here inside the toolbox, and then I just painted inside the image.
The only caveat is that I used a hard brush. So if I right-click inside the Image window, you will see that the Hardness value is cranked up to 100%, and that's the way you want to work, so that you don't introduce any arbitrary soft edges. All right! So that was probably the most time-consuming part of it. It took me couple of minutes in order to fill in those details. Then what I did was I went out and grabbed the goose, of all animals, just because I like the way the wings looked. And then I had to go ahead and increase the contrast of the goose as well. So I got rid of that background, kept the foreground, didn't have to do any painting where the goose was concerned, but I did have to go ahead and do some masking.
And so I have got this layer mask right here that's currently turned off. I'll Shift+Click on it to turn it on, so you can see that I went ahead and masked away the right-hand wing and left just the head in place down there. I also masked away the tail feathers in back. This little gray area is a little bit of the horse's mane that's revealed in the background. And now to merge the goose with the rest the artwork, I went up to the Blend Mode pop-up menu and I changed the blend mode from Normal to Multiply, which, as you well know by now, goes ahead and drops out the whites and keeps the blacks, and we get this great silhouette interaction right here.
For the other wing, I took that exact same goose and rotated it to a different angle, and then I went ahead and copied that contrast later, that Levels Adjustment layer, and popped it on top. And notice that all of these adjustment layers, for those of you who are familiar with Photoshop, all these adjustment layers are clipped by the layers below, so they're only affecting the immediate layer below them. And then I went ahead and masked that layer as well, so that I am just keeping this little bit of wing over here in the upper left-hand corner of the image. So if I Shift+Click on that layer mask, you can see this is the portion of the bird I kept.
It is getting hard to read this image at this point; that's why I need to go ahead and click on that goose layer to make it active and then change its blend mode from Normal to Multiply as well. And I end up getting a little bit of this wing fringe in the background. Now I figure the wings should really have an elbow in this area someplace, and so I just went ahead and drew that in manually, and I actually did so using a path. So if you go over to the Paths panel and you click on elbow, you'll see that I've drawn this path outlined here using the Pen tool, a Pen tool that works almost identically to the one inside of Illustrator, and then I went ahead and converted that to a selection outline--and you do that by pressing the Ctrl key or the Command key on the Mac, and just clicking on that path thumbnail; that makes a selection outline.
Then I want to the Layers panel and I created a new layer right here, and I filled that selection with black and I will just go ahead and show you what that final layer looks like. And so that goes ahead and completes the winged horse. So a lot of image editing going on, very little in the way of painting, so pretty different from that tracing project that we saw back in chapter 13 of the Advanced portion of the series, but it works just as well, and we end up coming up with this resolution-independent vector-based tracing object, here inside of Illustrator. In the next exercise, we will take a look at the Liquify tools inside Illustrator.
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