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Knowing the fundamentals of drawing and reshaping paths is only part of the story. In Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Advanced, the second of the popular One-on-One series, computer graphics expert Deke McClelland covers some of Illustrator's most powerful and least understood features. He shows how to merge simple shapes to create complex ones with the Pathfinder palette, as well as align paths to create schematic illustrations. Deke explains how to paint fluid, multicolor fills with blends, and the new and improved gradient tool. He explores seamlessly repeating tile patterns, blobs and brushes, and imported images. He also dives into one of the deepest features in all of Illustrator, transparency. Exercise files accompany the tutorial.
Recommended prerequisite: Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals.
Download Deke's customized keyboard layouts and color settings for Illustrator from the Exercise Files tab.
In this exercise, we are going to create our own custom art brush, and we are going to apply it to these paths down here at the bottom of the artwork. I have gone ahead and saved my progress as World of Horus.ai, and if you scroll down upward, you'll find this gray guy here out in the pasteboard. I want you to zoom in on it, and this is going to serve as the basis for our custom art brush. Now notice, if you click on it, it's got a lot of zigs and zags in it. There is a lot of random elements as well, the control handles sort of bend willy-nilly, and that tends to be a good thing. You want a lot of randomness inside of a custom art brush, because it's going to look more natural, when it's stretched across a path.
And also you want some length associated with the art brush, something along the lines of what we have here, and finally I go ahead and fill my art brushes with gray, just to make them as easy to colorize as possible. All right, so I'm going to grab this guy, and I'm going to drag it into the Brushes palette, and drop it. And then you'll get this dialog box, and it's asking you what kind of brush you want to make? Well, it's not going to be a calligraphic brush, because you can't base the calligraphic brush on an existing shape. Calligraphic brushes are just those circles that we saw earlier that can be squished and angled and so on. It could be a scatter brush.
A scatter brush is going to be a repeated pattern. So in other words, you're going to take whatever objects you have here, and you are going to repeat it over and over again at different angles, so you might take a leaf, for example, and you might paint the leaf repeatedly over the course of the path, so you create this little fall pattern, or you might take some blogs and build, and actual walking path out of it, by repeating those blocks over and over again. That's not what we want to do with this guy right here. We want it to be an art brush, as we'll see. It's going to work out delightfully well. We'll come to that in just a moment. But first, Pattern Brush. Pattern brushes are repeating tile patterns analogous to what we saw in the previous chapter, but instead of filling or stroking the way we did, you'd rather bend the pattern across the stroke, and then you also have the option of adding special corner patterns, and all kinds of other stuff. You can have five different patterns in all for a single pattern brush, and it is quite the thing. It's really for creating apache or quilt of a stroke. And it goes above and beyond any patterning we're trying so far, I think it's very special interest thing, you can look into it if you'd want to in the help documentation, but I'm going to go ahead and say New Art Brush, and click OK. And up comes the Art Brush options dialog box.
Now I've got the front of the stroke over here on the left-hand side of this preview, and therefore, I want the direction to go away from it. So in other words, the arrow indicates the end of the path, and the non-arrow side indicates the beginning of the path. I want the thick part on the beginning and the thin part or the scraggly part I guess of the brush at the end, so this is perfect. If you've flipped your brush design in the other direction, then you would click on this guy right there, but anyway, you want a kind of common effect, so that the tail is trailing away, although, I don't think real comets work that way. I think the tail is in front of the comet, but anyway, this is what we want. Think of a pretend classic where you think of comets is being, and that's what you're going for.
All right, next thing you want to do, you might as well name the brush. I'm going to call my dekeBrush or something along those lines. You can substitute your name instead of Deke if you want, and then for a Method, I recommend that you go ahead and say Tints and Shades. That's your when in doubt setting, but you can always change it later, as you know. You can always change it when you are applying the brush to the shapes, but I want to show you Hue Shift right here. What Hue Shift allows you to do, when you are creating a brush in the first place, is you can now select the key color, by grabbing the Eyedropper and clicking inside of your artwork, inside of the Preview, not inside of your larger artwork. It doesn't work there. You have to do it inside of the preview, and that's great if you have multi- colored brush of some sort, and you want to specify exactly who is going to be the hue shifter. So in other words, let's say you've got red inside of your art brush. If you click on that red, that becomes the color that is going to be mapped to whatever the stroke color is that's assigned to the path outline.
And if you want to investigate that and make sense of it, good luck, but it's not your everyday average type of art brush effect. Anyway, in our case we don't need it. I'm just going to go ahead and set this guy to Tints and Shades, and then I'm going to click OK. And we have now created this brush called dekeBrush down here at the bottom of the Brushes palette. All right, let's zoom out a little bit, and actually zoom out another click, and I'm going to select all of these objects, all four of these objects, down here at the bottom of my artwork. So this path right here, this vertical line, this arc and then going into the spiral, and they are both separated right now.
Go ahead and click now on the brush in order to apply it to the paths and I think it actually looks pretty darn good, but I'm going to drop down, just because you always want the finesse things. Go ahead and drop down to Options of Selected Object, click on it, and make sure Preview is turned on, and I'm going to take my Width value down to 80% just to make my brush strokes a little thinner. And I don't need to change anything about Flip, because everything is at the right angle, but you could try Flip Along, and see that that messes things up, and then you could try Flip Across and see that also messes things up, especially we get this portable bevel over there. So let's turn that off, so that we get a nice bevel on this side.
All right, so I was telling you Tints and Shades, that's a when in doubt setting, but in our case, Hue Shift actually produces a pretty great result. Now it has a habit of taking the average color in the document, and infusing it into the color of the strokes, and also does this thing where it is supposed to take whatever the key color is and map it to the underlining stroke color, but in this case we are taking gray and we are mapping it, so it doesn't really make that much sense. But why may make a sense, why not just try it and say uh, that looks good, and that's what I'm going to do, and then I'm going to click OK in order to accept that modification.
Now finally we have this break at this location right there, because this is one path, and this is another path. That's no good. So go ahead and get your White Arrow tool. I'm going to marquee this end points right there, and they are coincident end points, don't you know? So one is directly on top of the other, and then I'll go up to my Control palette and I'll click on Connect Selected End Points, in order to bring up the Join dialog box. I'll turn on the Smooth option, click OK, and we create this nice continuous stroke effect right there. Now I'm going to go ahead and zoom out to 125%, and scroll down a little bit, and you are now looking at the final version of the album cover, complete with our brushes, thanks to the power of the Brushes palette inside Illustrator.
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