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Designs dekeConstructed is a new series that breaks down the creation of cool designs so you can build them on your own. This installment is for everyone who needs an online avatar—that tiny image that has to communicate a thousand words about who you are in less than a square inch. Start by taking a photo of yourself facing forward—the traditional passport style. From there Deke McClelland takes you through the steps to transforming your photo into a cartoon avatar with Illustrator: tracing your features, refining and exaggerating the strokes, adding color and shading, and using gradients and patterns to fill in details like hair. Plus, learn some tricks for infusing your drawing with an extra bit of personality and exporting your final image in the best format for social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Alright. Now at this point, you'll notice that we're starting to lose these neck lines, right here. That is this stroke and this stroke, as well. Which is why, in this movie, we're going to go ahead and recolor these strokes, using a solid color, over here on the right hand side. And a gradient, over here on the left. And you'll need Illustrator CS 6 or later to pull this one off. So I'll start by selecting this right hand stroke and I'll press the I key in order to switch to the eye dropper, and I'll click on this stroke right there in order to lift it's attributes.
So that one's pretty darn easy. Alright. Now press Ctrl+Shift+A, or Cmd+Shift+A on a Mac to deselect that line. And you can see that it shows up nicely now. Now I'll press the V key in order to switch to the black arrow tool. And I'll click on this path outline here to select it. And I'll click on a stroke. Which, of course, you can get by choosing Color from the Window menu. Make sure that your Gradient panel is up as well. And then, click on this gradient in order to apply it to the stroke. And this is a feature that is unavailable, by the way, in CS5 and earlier.
And now what you want to do is double click on this light color, the very first color in the gradient. And let's go ahead and change it. And this assumes, by the way, that you're seeing the last gradient you applied, of course. And I'll go ahead and change it to the darker flesh color, which includes an R value of 180. A G value of 100, and a B value of 90. And so now we have the dark color over here on the left, and the medium color over here on the right. Now, we can't use the Gradient tool on a stroke.
So I could grab the Gradient tool, but you can see, it has a little Ghostbusters little no can do. Cursor go in there. So, what we need to do instead is expand the gradient panel by clicking on this little double arrow icon a couple of times. And at first I changed it to 90 degrees, but obviously that's the wrong direction. I'm going from medium to dark. I want to go from dark on top to medium on bottom. So I'll change that angle value to negative 90 instead. Very important by the way that this first stroke option is selected.
Apply gradient within stroke. It's what we want to do. And then you can press Ctrl+Shift+A or Cmd+Shift+A on the Mac in order to deselect the stroke. And you can see that it fades from dark at the top to light at the bottom like so. And that's how you quickly and easily apply a gradient stroke here inside Illustrator CS6 or Later.
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