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In Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Advanced, author and industry expert Deke McClelland teaches how to take advantage of the wide array of dynamic features in Illustrator CS5. This course demonstrates how to apply these features to paths, groups, and editable text to create professional-quality artwork. The course covers Live Trace, Live Paint, and Live Color, as well as symbols, gradients, exporting, and integration with Photoshop. Exercise files accompany the course.
In this final exercise I am going to show you how to create your own poor man's perspective grid. Now this is going to be of use to those of you who know a thing or two about perspective drawing. You're going to find this terribly helpful, I should think, I do, on a regular basis. Those of you who don't like perspective drawing or don't understand it, feel free to skip this exercise, although it's very easy to perform, the steps I'm about to show you. So you might want to hang in there, I'm going to go ahead and zoom out of my illustration. And by the way, I have saved my modifications as 3D rotations.ai.
Now Illustrator CS5 includes a perspective grid tool that automates the process, and I've actually drawn a grid in advance, and you can check it out if you like by dropping down to this new tool here in side of Illustrator CS5. The perspective grid tool, which has a keyboard shortcut of Shift+P, and if you just click on that tool you'll see the perspective grid that I've set up for you. I'm going to zoom out a little bit here. This is what's known as a two-point perspective grid, that is, we have an X-face over here on the right-hand side, and we have a Z-face, this depth face, over here on the left-hand side, where this illustration is concerned.
That means that the right-hand side of the sarcophagus can decline toward a horizon just as in real 3D. And the left-hand side declines toward the horizon as well, but I want my sarcophagus to decline upward, as if I had this sort of low angle shot and this ginormous like 50 foot sarcophagus was in front of me with this cartoon bat on top of it. That means I need what's known as three-point distortion. Well, three-point distortion is awfully hard to create inside of Illustrator.
I will show you how to do it. I devote an entire chapter, once again, to the perspective grid feature here inside of Illustrator in the Mastery portion of this series. But it's too early for that now, and it does require a fair amount of work. So instead I decided to create my own perspective grid, and I'll show you how that works. First of all, assuming that you still have your perspective grid tool selected, then you can hide your perspective grid, get it offscreen, because we don't want it up here any more, it will just clutter up everything, by clicking on this tiny little close box right there, that's associated with this perspective grid annotator.
So that's one way to get rid of it. Another way, if some other tool is selected, because if I have the Black Arrow tool selected, and I try to click on this close box, it doesn't work. Anyway, I'll go up to the view menu, and I'll choose perspective grid. Here's how to get rid of it regardless of what tool is selected. And then you choose the Hide Grid command and it goes away. Now when I've got setup instead, my own little custom grid, is down here at the very bottom of the Layers panel. There is a layer called Guides. And if you turn it on and you're seeing the guides, which you can see of course by going to the View menu, choosing Guides, and then choosing Show Guides, if they're hidden.
Anyway, I'll go ahead and the Escape out of there, because mine are visible. Then you'll see the custom guides that I set up. Now, this may be terrifying to you. If you don't know what's going on with perspective drawing then you may look at this and say, no, thank you at all, I don't want to have anything to do with this. However, again, if you like perspective, if you rock it, if you generally understand what's going on, then this kind of thing may help you out. And notice that I have these lines that are defining the X-face over here; I have these lines that are defining the Z-face. And then I have these vertical lines that are tapering upward, and they are defining the Y axis.
And all of my lines are ultimately either parallel to those lines, or directly on top of them. And because these are snapping guides then I'm ensured a high degree of control, so it's really great. Anyway, what if you want to create such a thing? Here I am assuming that you like this so far, if you do, how do you create such guides. Well, let's go ahead and turn off the guides as they exist right now, so I'll turn off that guides layer. I'm going to scroll to the very top of the layers panel. And I've got this yellow layer called Perspective, go ahead and turn it on, and those are my original perspective lines.
All right, I'll zoom out another click, so we can see them here. What we've got is these green lines defining the Y axis, these orange lines defining the X axis, and these blue lines defining the Z axis. I just created them using the line tool by the way, and I'm the one who color-coded them. So these are completely manual modifications to my illustration. Now what I'm going to do, is I'm going to click one of the blue lines, I can start anywhere. And then Shift+Click on the other blue line, so here's my two blue lines, the Z axis. And I'll go ahead and blend those by pressing Ctrl+Alt+B or Cmd+Option+B on the Mac, and Illustrator creates X number of steps.
I don't really care how many so far. Then I'll click one of the orange lines, Shift+Click on the other orange line to select it. So I need to make sure I select lines of the same color. Press Ctrl+Alt+B or Cmd+Option+B on the Mac in order to blend between those two lines. And then, because I want both the X axis and the Z axis to have the same number of intermediate guidelines between them, then I'll go ahead and click on one, Shift+Click on the other, so I've got both my orange lines and my blue lines selected. And I'll double-click on my Blend tool, here inside the toolbox to bring up the blending options dialog box.
And I'll switch my spacing option from Smooth Color to Specified Steps, and I'll change the number of steps to 24. Completely an arbitrary decision on my part, I just decided 24 is probably going to work good. And then I clicked OK to accept that modification. Looks great! Now I'll click with my Black Arrow tool, so I'll press the V key, and then click on one of the green lines, Shift+ Click on the other green line, and then I'll press Ctrl+Alt+B or Cmd+ Option+B to blend between them. And now I'll double-click on the Blend tool once again to bring up the blending options dialog box, switch to Specified Steps, and change the value this time to 14.
And I'm just looking for guidelines that are more or less equally spaced with respect to each other, and I don't things to get too confusing, even though this is already fairly Byzantine, but I didn't want it to get so bad I couldn't tell what I was doing. And then I click OK in order to accept that modification. All right, now these are just static path outlines. That is, I'll snap to their anchor points, but I won't snap to the intermediate segments. If I want to snap to the segments, these angled segments, then I need to convert them to the Guides. And here is how I did that. I went ahead and took my perspective layer and I duplicated it, because that way I can go back and modify my settings later on if I want to.
So I went ahead and grabbed the perspective layer, dragged it down to the bottom of the layers panel onto the little page icon, dropped, and then I created this layer called Perspective Copy. I'll turnoff the original perspective layer. I'll double-click on this one and rename it something like 3D Guides, and I can change the color as well to - I don't know, light gray let's say, just something unobtrusive, click OK. And now that I have that layer active, I'll click on that little wedge in the upper right-hand corner to select the contents of the layer, so everything is now selected.
And I'll go up to the view menu, because we're going to convert these to guides, and I'll choose guides, and I'll choose make guides or press Ctrl+5, Cmd+5 on the Mac, and Illustrator gets mad at me. And it says, hey, you can't do this, because you've got some weird thing selected that can't be converted to guides. Well, the weird thing is Blends. You can't convert blends directly to guides, you have to expand them first. Here's how you do it. Click OK, because you can't do anything else inside that alert. You go up to the object menu. Anytime you want to convert automated things inside of Illustrator to static path outlines, you go to the object menu and you choose whichever expand command is available.
You never know which one it is going to be, it might be Expand Appearance if it is, choose it. If it's Expand instead, go ahead and choose it. I've given you keyboard shortcut for Expand if you loaded dekeKeys, of Ctrl+M and Cmd+M on the Mac, it is just there in case you want it. Go ahead and choose the command, you get this dialog box; you pretty much ignore it, because there is not anything to do here. You just say sure, whatever you're talking about, dialog box, that's fine. Click OK, in order to do it, and that goes and converts all these lines to static path outlines. We don't care about the Strokes or the Fills or any of that stuff. Then go up to the view menu, choose guides and choose make guides and once again you can press Ctrl+5, Cmd+5 on the Mac and you've made your snapping guidelines here inside of Illustrator. Perhaps that's a little overwhelming.
In which case go ahead and turn them off, and we are done, folks, we have done everything we possibly could to this illustration. I'm going to go ahead and zoom it by pressing Ctrl+1, Cmd+1 on the Ma,c to 100%. And then I'm going to change my zoom ratio to 82%, because that way the illustration fits on my screen. And that is the final version of our illustration, created thanks to the ancient, but altogether prodigious power of Blends and Masks inside Illustrator.
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