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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.
Ultimately, the topic of this chapter is this tool right here, it's new to Illustrator CS5, and it's called the Perspective Grid tool. And it does quite a good job of simplifying the process of creating a perspective drawing. It allows you to draw simple shapes in perspective; you can drag objects into a perspective grid as well. But before we go there, I want you to have a sense of what it means to create a perspective drawing. So we're going to start off with the kind of primmer, and specifically in this exercise I'm going to compare two different ways of rendering a 3D object.
One is an Isometric Projection and the other is a Perspective Projection. So I've got open this document called Technical illustration.ai and we're seeing here a handful of elevations. That's what these are called, which are various front on views of this object that we're trying to create. And perhaps the best elevation, the most representative is the Side view right here. So imagine you're looking directly sideways at this object, it's a kind of stair step gadget lets say, with a notch cut out of the back of it.
Now, if you're looking directly down on this object, it would look like the Top elevation, also known as the Plan View. And so the tops of the steps are rendered out in different shades of brown. If you were to look directly at the Front of these steps, you would see this colorful pattern here, and then if you were to turn the steps around, so you could see the back of the steps. You would see this pink and the notch is rendered in purple. Now, I just show you these, so that you can get a sense of how this object is put together, but also this is the way the pros work. If you're actually creating a technical documentation of a product, then you start off with these elevations and then you build either an isometric or a perspective version of that object.
So I'm going to go ahead and turn on, here inside the layers panel, I'm going to turn on the isometric layer. And this is the object rendered out, so, we're seeing the top of the stairs, we're seeing the front of the stairs; we're also seeing the side of this thing. However, we're not seeing the Rear, and you can actually see that rear. You don't necessarily need to create that elevation, although it can be helpful, and in our case, we're communicating here that we're using different colors. However, it's no more absolutely necessary then say the bottom of the object or the other side.
So those faces are not visible in these projections here. Now when you're creating an isometric projection, you're creating a kind of SimCity view of the object, that is, there is no perspective. The sites do not get smaller as they decline into the distance; instead, this edge of the stair and this edge of the stair are exactly the same size. So ultimately, each one of the path outlines is skewed into alignment. Now, an isometric projection is a very specific standard. Notice that every single one of these straight segments intersects each other at a 120? angle.
So we're starting off with a vertical segment, then we have one that's rotated 120?, another 120?, and then we're back. And that's a very specific discipline. Before we see a perspective version of this object, I'd like to show you how you assemble an isometric projection in the first place. So I'm going to go ahead and turn on my core objects layer right here, again, inside the layers panel. And this is all we need, the side view, and then one of the tops of the steps and one at the fronts as well. And I'm going to go ahead and select the side view, and I'm going to grab a tool that we haven't spent much time within the series, it's available from the Scale tool flyout menu and it's the Shear tool right here.
And what it allows you to do is slant objects. So I'm going to go ahead and grab that shear tool and I'm going to Alt+Click, or Option+Click at this corner. And I'm going to set the Axis to Vertical, so that we're skewing along a vertical axis up and down that is to say. And I'm going to set that Shear Angle to 30?, which allows us to get this exact object right there. So having done that I'll go ahead and click OK. And now I'll go ahead and press the V key to switch back to my Black Arrow tool and select this object here, the orange object the front of the step.
And I'll drag it down so that it snaps into alignment with the bottom of the side view there, and I'll switch back to my Shear tool and then I'll Alt+Click, or Option+Click at this bottom left corner once again. And it's going to go completely the wrong direction, because it's following my last maneuver. What I need to do though, is just change that Shear Angle from 30? to -30?, and I'll press the Tab key, and we end up getting that affect. Of course, I have the Preview check box turned on as by default. I'll go ahead and click OK, and now it's a matter of taking this object right there.
I'll switch back to my Black Arrow tool and I'll go ahead and drag it into alignment with the next step up, so that I get a snap. You can see that my cursor is changing to the white arrowhead, and then I'll press the Alt key, or the Option key on a Mac in order to duplicate the face of the step. Then I'll just press Ctrl+D, or Command+ D on the Mac a couple of times in a row, in order to complete the face of the steps. So that's all there is to that. Now this guy is a little more complicated, the top of the step, I'm going to go ahead and grab it and snap it into alignment with this intersection right there.
And then I'll go back to my Shear tool and I'll Alt+Click, or Option+Click on that snapped point, and I'll set the Shear Angle once again to 30?, like so. Make sure that the Axis is still set to Vertical. Press the Tab key, and you end up getting this affect right there, click OK. Now, I suppose at this point there is a way to shear this into alignment with the other objects, but the easiest thing to do is just grab your White Arrow tool and I'm going to click off of the path outline in order to deselect it, and then I'll select both of those top points.
So, click on one, Shift+Click on the other. If you're having a problem selecting the object, you can go ahead and lock down your elevations layer if you like, and then, I just went and deselected a point. So I'll Shift+Click on the other point to select it as well, and then just drag it down and snap it into alignment. That's all there is to that one. Now I'll go back to your Black Arrow tool, which you can get by pressing the V key of course, and I'm going to go ahead and click on this object to select it, drag it down like so, so it snaps into alignment. Press the Alt key, or the Option key on the Mac and drop it in order to clone it, and then press Ctrl+D, or Command+D on the Mac a couple of times in a row, in order to finish out the top of the steps.
And then finally I'm going to go ahead and grab this point here, snap it into alignment with the back of the steps, and press the Alt key, or the Option key on the Mac in order to clone it and I need to send that object to the back of the stack. So I'll just right-click inside my illustration window, choose Arrange, and then choose Send to Back, or I could press that keyboard shortcut, Ctrl+Shift+Left Bracket, Command+Shift+Left Bracket on the Mac. All right, now let's go ahead and finish things off. I believe my stroke is currently active, so I'm going to press the X key to make my fill active, and then I'll go ahead and select these two top steps right there and fill them with the next darker shade of Brown.
And I'll go ahead and grab this step face and fill it with Blue and the top step face and I'll fill it with Yellow. And all I'm doing is just matching my elevations, so that I get the right effect. And now I'm going to select everything by marqueeing them with the Black Arrow tool. And I'll go ahead and group them together by going out to the Object menu choosing the Group command, or you can press Ctrl+G, Command+G on the Mac. Then go over to your Appearance panel, because you'll notice that my isometric projection has a thicker outline around the entire thing, which is something of a standard by the way. You don't have to do that, but it's a very common practice.
So I'll go to the Appearance panel and we'll Add a Stroke by clicking this bottom left icon. I could also press Ctrl+Alt+Slash, or Command+Option+Slash on the Mac. I'll go ahead and increase that Stroke value to 6 points and that covers up everything, it looks terrible. So I'll go ahead and drag it below Contents like so, and then finally I'll click on Stroke, because if you take a close look here, we're getting all these miter joints which is completely ruining the effect. So I'll click on the word Stroke there in the Appearance panel and I'll set the Corner to Round Join and that completes the effect, and that's all there is to it.
So that's how you create an Isometric Projection in Illustrator. In the next exercise I'll introduce you to a Perspective Projection.
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