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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.
I've saved my progress as Two brush definitions.ai. It's found inside the 26_brushes folder. I'm still working away inside of the Outline mode, in case you're wondering what's going on here. I could just as easily press Ctrl+Y, or Command+Y on a Mac, to switch back to the Preview mode. Now we are going to define some new art brushes. Instead of replacing an existing art brush, we are going to create some new ones, and then we're going to test them out, see if they work, find out what's right about them, find out what's wrong about them, and compensate for the problems. So I am going to bring up my Brushes panel, and I am going to take this first sort of cleaved, you know, the intersected brush definition here, and I am going to go ahead and drag it and drop it into the Brushes panel.
Notice that I dropped that new brush directly below the old chalk round definition, and so you might be hopeful and think, "Hey! I'm going to keep them all right next to each other. Won't that be great?" That's not the way it's going to work. No matter where you drop that path outline, it's going to appear at the end of the art brushes. If you go ahead and select the Art Brush radio button, now notice that you can create from an existing path outline, you can create three of the five kinds of brushes: scatter, art, or pattern. Calligraphic and bristle brushes are based entirely off of numerical parameters.
Anyway, I am going to select Art Brush, click OK. Then I'm going to name this guy Chalk alt #1, and I want to leave all the other options set to their defaults, except for Method, which I am going to switch from None to Tints. Very important, everything else leave as is, because the as is settings are, when in doubt, the best settings. Click OK and you will then see, at the end of your art brushes, way down here at the bottom of the list, you will see Chalk alt #1. All right! Now, I want you to marquee these paths, which include the larger roly poly guy, this caterpillar with the edges with the sort of the butt and the head here.
But it also includes this rectangle in the background which helps Illustrator decide how this brush should fit onto a path outline. So in other words, we will have some overlap at the beginning and the end of the brush, which is actually--not to spoil the surprise--but is going to help us out. So now I am going to bring up the Brushes panel, and I'll go ahead and drag and drop, and might as well drop it where it's really going to go down here at the bottom of the art brushes. And I want to create a new art brush. Click OK. I'll go ahead and call this guy Chalk alt #2, and then I'll change its method from None to Tints as well. That's it! Click OK in order to create that new art brush. All right! I am going to press Ctrl+0, followed by Ctrl+1-- that would be Command+0, Command+1 on the Mac--to go ahead and center my view at 100% here inside of my illustration window.
And I'm going to click on my text in order to select it, and I am going to switch to the Appearance panel. I am going to hide the Brushes panel because we don't need it up on screen for this. Then I am going to drop down to that last attribute, the green stroke, and I'll go ahead and click on this little lumpy thumbnail-- that represents my brush. I'll click on it, and I'll scroll down to near the bottom of the list right there, and I'll start by trying out Chalk #1. By virtue of the fact that I set that Method option to Tints, the brushstroke should remain green, as we see it here. However, that does not mean all is well.
I am going to Ctrl+Spacebar+Drag around this area--that would be a Command+Spacebar+Drag on the Mac--in order to zoom in. And notice this is a top serif of the H, and we have a break at this location. What that means, the actual font definition, the character definition that is, the path outline of the H must begin and end right there at this point. I don't have any control over that. I can't change that unless I were to convert these paths to outlines and then grab something like the Scissors tool and click in another anchor point to make that the beginning and ending point.
That's an extremely clumsy solution to this problem. You might also think, "Hey! You know the smart money is on clicking on the word Stroke here in order to bring up the Stroke panel, and I bet changing the Cap setting would help because that's the beginning and ending of the path. So I'll change it to a Round Cap, which does nothing except slow you down quite considerably, and then I could try Projecting Cap. And then, if that doesn't work--which it won't--you can try Round Join or Bevel Join." Well, it's all folly. None of those things are going to help you at all.
What you need to do is come up with a different solution. So I am going to press Ctrl+1, Command+1, to zoom back out. Notice we have that same problem here at the top of the S and then down here in the bottom-right corner of the R. There are other problems with the other letters; it's just that the problems with the U and the B are covered up by other strokes. So let's try out the other art brush I just created, which is Chalk alt #2. I'll go ahead and click on it in order to select it. Let 'er rip. Of course it takes a few moments to apply. And now the corners are nice and filled in, but they are overly filled in.
We have this big thing that's leaping down from the bottom-right corner of the R, and we've got this weird smudge at the top of the S, and same problem over here on the edge of the H. So apparently those, sort of that head and the butt of caterpillar are good things because they cover up our problems, but apparently they go too far. So we need to somehow adjust them. I am going to do that by scrolling back up and Ctrl+Spacebar+Dragging, or Command+Spacebar+Dragging, around these items. Let's go ahead and grab this guy right here, by marquee-ing it, and I'll drag it down while pressing the Shift and Alt keys, Shift and Option on the Mac, to make a clone of those objects. And then I will go ahead and zoom in a little bit, so that we can work with a little higher degree of detail here.
I am going to click off the shapes, click on that compound path. And just to confirm that I have a compound path, well I can see that here inside the Appearance panel, so it must be the right thing. I'll press Ctrl+Y, or Command+Y on a Mac, because I want to keep track of that rectangle in the background. I'll switch back over to my Warp tool right here. I'll have to double-click on the Tool icon in order to raise the Intensity back up to 50%, so it's not 5%, because we'll never get anything down that way. Simplify should be off. Click OK. You can work with any size brush you want. And I'm just going to go ahead and drag these edges in and this one out, so that we have a more uniform edge right there.
We want kind of a more uniform corner, too. We want this to be as acute as possible, I guess is a better word. I'll go ahead and drag this edge in like so and drag this edge in and out. I want it pretty straight--again, not too straight, because that would look weird. But you don't want too much in the way of ragged edges either, because then we'll get those weird juts. Because bear in mind, even through it doesn't look like much here, these differences are getting exaggerated like crazy because we're stretching this path outline along these really huge letterforms.
It's not because the text is so big; it's just because the letterforms are so long. If you were to actually unravel those letterforms and stretch them out, they would go for several inches or feet or miles or whatever. Anyway, you get the idea. Everything is getting exaggerated. Now, I'll switch to my Black Arrow tool, and I will marquee both of those paths. I need the rectangle. Bring up the Brushes panel. Let's go ahead and scroll over a little bit, so I can see what I am doing. Drag, drop, up comes this dialog box, say Art Brush, click OK. Up comes this other one, Chalk alt #3 this time, and set Method to Tints--very important. Click OK and then once you've done that, Ctrl+0, Ctrl+1-- that's Command+0, Command+1 on a Mac--Ctrl+Y, Command+Y on a Mac, so I can see what in the world I am doing. Click on my point text to make it active. Click on the stroke over here in the Appearance panel.
Go ahead and hide the Brushes panel, so you can see your entire illustration. Let's switch, cross fingers once again, and switch from our existing Chalk alt #2 to Chalk alt #3 and see what kind of change we get this time around, and look, oh, that's gorgeous. So we have a nice edge there on the H, a little bit of a cut into the S, but I can live with that, a tiny bit of cut into the R. Again, if those things bother you, you can finesse that path outline some more, create yet another art brush or replace the old one; it's completely up to you how you want to work.
But I like to keep each and every one of those art brush variations so that I understand my progress, and because they might be useful for other projects. That's how you go about creating and editing art brushes inside Illustrator.
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