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Learn what it takes to design and create your own custom silver-age superhero. Join Deke as he starts by tracing a photo to create the hero's body and then jumps into Illustrator for the creation of the final effects. Finally, Deke takes us through the steps to lay out our own custom type to complete the comic.
Want more of Designs dekeConstructed, the series that breaks down popular graphic designs so you can re-create them on your own? Check out Deke's page.
In this movie, we'll be blending all of the grill lines here inside Illustrator, with the exception of those that appear in the character's face. Now, the first thing that you want to do is press Ctrl+A or Cmd+A on a Mac to select all of the paths. And notice that they've all come in as compound paths. Which we can tell because we're seeing the words Compound Path on the far left side of the control panel. We don't want those, so go up to the Object menu, choose Compound Path, and choose Release, in order to break up those compound paths, so that everybody's a plain old path outline.
Again, as indicated by the word, Path, on the far left side of the control panel. Now, I'll go ahead and click off the paths, to de-select them. And, I'm going to create a copy of the this edges layer, just so I don't mess it up. By going to the Layers panel flyout menu and choosing Duplicate Edges. And we'll create a copy of that layer. I'll turn off the original and then I'll double-click on an empty portion of the layer, to bring up the Layer Options dialog box. And, I'll call this layer Blends, and I'll change its color to Violet, but of course, you can go your own way there.
Now I'll click OK. Creating blends is not very difficult inside of Illustrator, all you do is marquee a couple of paths with the black arrow tool, in order to select 'em. Such as those paths around either side of the left bicep. And then go up to the Object menu, choose Blend, and then choose Make. Now notice we have a keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Alt+B, Cmd+Option+B on a Mac. We are going to be taking advantage of that shortcut, because otherwise, we're going to have to choose this command over and over and over again.
So anyway, again Ctrl+Alt+B, Cmd+Option+B on the Mac and then you create a blend. Now, Illustrator goes ahead and automatically decides how many steps occur between the blended paths' outlines, in this case three. At least for me. But you're going to to want to change that, of course. Which is why I've created this guide, for those of you who have access to the exercise files, that shows you the number of steps that are at work in every single one of the blends, including those inside of the face.
But of course, I'm going to be telling you those numbers throughout this movie. Just wanted you to know that this diagram is here, in case you, you know, just want to work through things a little more quickly. Without having to watch every single second of the video. Now I'll go ahead and switch back here. So, this bicep needs to have twelve steps. And, one way to work is to go up to the Object menu, choose Blend, and then choose Blend Options. Notice it does not have a keyboard shortcut. But I'll show you a little trick in a second. And then very likely, your spacing option will be set to Smooth Color, in which case, when I turn on the Preview check box, I have just one step between my blended path outlines. What you want to do is switch this option to Specified Steps, turn on the Preview check box. And then just press the up arrow key with this value highlighted, in order to add more and more steps between those two path outlines. And I came up with the value of 12 for the bicep, and now I'll click OK. All right, let's repeat the process for the other bicep. I'll go ahead and marquee these two path outlines like so, and then I'll press Ctrl+Alt+B and Cmd+Option+B on the Mac to blend 'em. I'm ending up with three steps, you may see something different. Here's the trick, that'll allow you to get to the blending options dialog box that much quicker. Drop down to the blend tool, which has a keyboard shortcut of W. I know that it doesn't make a heck of a lot of sense, but that is the shortcut. And I may be taking advantage of it, over the course of this movie. And then, with the blend tool selected there, go ahead and just press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac and that will bring up the Blend Options dialog box. Turn on the Preview check box, change the value to 12 and you will see the change back here in the document window. All right, now go ahead and click OK. Now we've got an awful lot of blends ahead of us here, so I'm just going to scroll up. Thing is, we need to create one blend at a time. So I'm going to press and hold the Ctrl key, or the Cmd key on the Mac, so that I can get my black arrow tool on the fly. I'll marquee these two paths there. Release the key, press Ctrl+Alt+B or Cmd+Option+B on the Mac, in order to blend them. Then I'll go ahead and Ctrl or Cmd+marquee these guys, then press Ctrl+Alt+B or Cmd+Option+B on the Mac to blend them. And then I'll press both the Ctrl and Shift keys, or Cmd and Shift on a Mac, and I'll click on this other forearm blend so that they're both selected. I'll release the keys, which takes me back to my blend tool. And then, I'll press the Enter key, or the Return key on the Mac to bring up the Blending Options dialog box. I just happen to know that I'm looking for ten steps. Turn on the Preview check box and we get this effect here. Now I'll click OK. All right, now let's do that for the shoulders. So I'll go ahead and marquee this path. Actually I'm Ctrl+marqueeing, that's a Cmd+marquee on a Mac and now it's a Ctrl+Shift or a Cmd+Shift+marquee to select this path as well. Ctrl+Alt+B to blend them. Now, that's a problem. What's happening is Illustrator's getting mixed up. It's blending from this anchor point here to this one up there, and from this one down to this guy, and that, of course, is not what we want. So, you have to press Ctrl+Z or Cmd+Z on the Mac to undo the blend. And then, instead of pressing Ctrl+Alt+B, or Cmd+Option+B on the Mac, you click with the blend tool. And, notice, this is the funkiest tool in the world. Been around forever. And, the way you use it, is you click one anchor point in the first path. And, you'll see a little asterisk next to your cursor. That's telling you that this is your first click point. So, click, and then, as soon as you move over the similar point in the other path. You will see a little plus sign that's telling you that you're adding this path to the blend, then click and things should reconcile quite nicely. Now, Ctrl+drag here or Cmd+drag on the Mac; Ctrl+Shift+drag or Ctrl+Shift+drag on a Mac. I assume we're going to have the same problem. Press Ctrl+Alt+B, Cmd+Option+B, sure enough. So, instead, I'll go ahead and undo that change and I'll click here and then I will click here in order to create a nice blend. Now, you may ask me, well why don't you just, you know, as long as you got the blend tool selected, why don't you just click with the blend tool, instead of pressing Ctrl+Alt+B? And the reason is, not a super convenient tool in my opinion, so I like to try out the keyboard shortcut first. So now I'm going to Ctrl+Shift, or Cmd+Shift+drag around this other blend, so both the shoulders are selected. And, with my blend tool still selected, as you can see down here toward the bottom of the toolbox. I'll press the Enter key or the Return key on a Mac to bring up the Blend Options dialogue box. I'll change the Steps value to 15. So you want Specified Steps throughout this project, and then click OK and now we'll have a bunch of steps inside those shoulders. All right now let's start blending inside the chest here. I'll press the Ctrl key or the Cmd key on a Mac and marquee those two path outlines. Press Ctrl+Alt+B, Cmd+Option+B, it didn't work. All right, so undo, click here, in order to specify the first point, and then click here to specify the second point. I'll Ctrl or Cmd+drag around these two path outlines here, and I assume I'm going to have the same problem. So I'm just going to click and click with the blend tool. And now let's see whats going to happen with these three paths. Notice that I'm Ctrl or Cmd+dragging around these three paths right here, that have not been blended as of yet.
And I'm going to press Ctrl+Alt+B or Cmd+Option+B on a Mac, just see what happens, and obviously that's a big kerfuffle. So I'll press Ctrl+Z or Cmd+Z on the Mac to undo that change. And I will go back to manual approach, click here then click here, notice we get a plus sign, then click here we get another plus sign. So you can blend multiple paths inside of Illustrator. And now I"m going to Ctrl+drag around these guys. Might as well just use blend tool. Click here, click here, and click here, and then Ctrl or Cmd+drag around these guys.
Click here and click here. The thing is, you just gotta nail those points. That's why I'm not such a big fan of the tool. Ctrl+drag or Cmd+drag around these path outlines. Click and click to blend them, I apparently missed, so we'll try again. Click here, and click here, and this time I got a blend. All right, now I'm going to press the Ctrl key and click on this central blend. And Shift+Ctrl+click on this central blend. Those would be Cmd+Shift clicks, of course, on the Mac. And now, I'll press the Enter key to bring up the Blend Options dialogue box. And I'll change the steps value to 7. Turn on the Preview check box and you can see things look better. And now I'll go ahead and Ctrl+drag around this guy, Shift+Ctrl+drag to select it as well. Press the Enter key to bring up the Blend Options dialogue box, take the spacing value down to 12 and click OK. And then control drag around this guy. Shift+Ctrl+drag around the one around the left side. Press the Enter key to bring up the Blend Options dialogue box and I think this time I want ten steps.
I do. And now, I'll just click OK, in order to see that occur. All right, and finally, let's go ahead and Ctrl+drag, or Cmd+drag around these three central abdomen paths. And I'll just press Ctrl+Alt+B or Cmd+Option+B on the Mac, and it worked this time. No blend tool necessary. Although of course the blend tool is still selected, here in the tool box, which means I can press the Enter key or the Return key on a Mac to bring up the Blend Options dialogue box. I'll turn on the Preview check box, and I'll press the up arrow key, so I'll click inside the value and press the up arrow key until I get a total of 18 steps.
Which looks like this, at which point I will click OK. All right, so if we zoom out a little bit, it can see that that takes care of the upper body and the arms. We have left, however, the legs and the neck, and they're going to pose a little bit of a special problem, which is why we'll address them in the next movie.
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