Start learning with our library of video tutorials taught by experts. Get started
Viewers: in countries Watching now:
This course is a collection of short Photoshop and Illustrator projects and creative effects that can be completed in ten minutes or less. The series is taught by computer graphics guru Deke McClelland, and presented in his signature step-by-step style. The intent is to reveal how various Photoshop and Illustrator features can be combined and leveraged in real-world examples so that they can be applied to creative projects right away.
- Hey gang, this is Deke McClelland. Welcome to Deke's Techniques. This week, I'm gonna show you how to create some hand-drawn custom-made letters inside of Adobe Illustrator. So the idea is that I want to create the words, "Fire Up", for this piece of artwork right here. I've already gone ahead and sketched the letters in advance, using a pen, as you can see here, and then I scanned it in. And now what we're gonna do is we're gonna trace those letters inside of Illustrator, and we're gonna do so in a way that ensures that all of the letters are nice and uniform so that they look like they go together, the F, and the I, and the R and the E, they're all compatible.
They all look very consistent in other words, in order to create this final effect right here. Here, let me show you exactly how it works. All right, here's the cleaned up sketch, just so you have a chance to see it on screen. We're currently looking at the sketch inside Photoshop, but we want to place it into Illustrator, and here's how. I'll go ahead and switch over to Illustrator, and we're looking at a blank document that measures nine inches wide by four inches tall. What you want to do is click on the bottom layer if you're working along with me, here inside the Layers Panel, which is called Sketch.
And then go up to the File menu and choose the Place command. Select the file called Hand Drawn Letters dot PSD, and click on the Place button, and then click inside the document in order to place that artwork. Now we want to center it inside of the document by going up to the Control Panel and clicking on this Align icon and choosing Align To Artboard. And then click on Horizontal Align Center, and next click on Vertical Align Center, and you will have centered that art. Now, we want to convert this layer to a tracing template by doubling clicking on an empty portion of the layer here inside the Layers Panel, and then inside the Layer Options dialog box, turn on the Template check box.
That's all there is to it, and then click okay. And that goes ahead and dims the artwork, and it locks it down as well, and it ensures that we can see the art in both the Preview and the Outline mode, as we work along. All right now turn on this Baselines layer and this Fire Up layer, so the idea is we're going to build the baselines, many of which I've created in advance, on this second layer right here. And then we'll create the final letters, including the exclamation point, which I've drawn in advance, on the Fire Up layer at the top.
So, I'll go ahead and select the Baselines layer and I'll zoom in by pressing Control Plus, or Command Plus a couple of times, and you can see that I've surrounded the I with some big outlines, and I created these very simply using the Pen tool. So for example, this top line right here I created by dragging, in order to create one smooth point and then dragging again to create a second smooth point, and that is it, that's all that's going on. And then I just move this line into position, and tweaked it to my heart's content and so forth.
All right, so I'm gonna get rid of that line by pressing the backspace key, or the delete key on a Mac. What's a little more interesting I think is how I combine these very basic lines together. So I'm gonna Marquee these top three lines and then Shift click on the bottom line with the Black Arrow tool here, in order to select all four of them. And then I'll go up to the Edit menu and choose the Copy command, or you can press Control C, or Command C on a Mac, as I will be doing in the future. Now go ahead and turn off this layer for a moment, and click on the top Fire Up layer. And if you're working along with me, do me a favour, go ahead and bring up the Layer Panel fly-out menu and make sure that Paste Remembers Layers is turned off.
That way we can Copy and Paste between the two layers. Mine is already off so I'll go ahead and press Escape, and now I'll go up to the Edit menu and choose Paste in front, or you can press Control F, or Command F on the Mac, as I will be doing in the future. All right, now what we want to do is somehow combine these paths together. So we're gonna use these horizontal paths to essentially clip away the ends of the vertical paths, and that means we need to first create some closed path outlines. So go ahead and grab the Pen tool, and all we're gonna do is click, just go ahead and click here, here, here and here, like so, to create our first closed path.
And then click here all the way down so you're down beyond the bottom of the vertical paths. Click here and here to create that path outline. Let's go ahead and combine these two together, and close it as well by clicking on each of the top points. All right, now, I'll go ahead and switch back to the black arrow tool, up here at the top of the tool box, and now I'll go ahead and Marquee, at least partially, these three paths so all are selected. And now you want to go up to the Control Panel, click on this first swatch and select any color you like. I'll just go ahead and select cyan.
And now we can see that the horizontal paths are on top of that vertical path, which is exactly what we want. So now go up to the Window menu and choose the Pathfinder command to bring up the Pathfinder panel. We want to subtract the two top paths from the bottom one, and you can do that all in one fell swoop by clicking on the Minus Front icon. The second icon in the Pathfinder panel, and we now have the letter I, which we will be using over and over again. Notice that the stem of the I factors into the F, the R, the E, and the P, so everything but the U.
We'll come back to that in a moment. All right now what I want to do is copy the I by pressing Control C, or Command C on a Mac, and then I'll turn off this Fire Up layer and turn on the Baselines layer, and I'll click on it like so, and I'll press Control F, or Command F on a Mac, to paste it into place. And then, I'll drag this path outline by its top left point and to pull that off, you really want to go up to the View menu and make sure that this command right here reads Show Bounding Box. That way, you know the Bounding Box is turned off, which is the better way to work many times.
All right, so I'll go ahead and drag this top left point, and I'm pressing the Shift key as I drag. And now, as soon as I Snap into place here, as soon as I can see that white Snap cursor, I'll press and hold the Alt key or the Option key as well. So I have both the Shift and Alt keys down, and drop that path outline into place. Now I want to get rid of its fill by clicking on the cyan swatch and setting it to none, like so. And we might as well do that with the very first dye, I'll go ahead and change it to none as well, because we're going to be coming back to that I shape a few times.
All right, now notice that we've got these two path outlines here, there's a horizontal path at top and another horizontal path down here at the bottom. And they represent the top and the bottom of the opposite arms of the E. And, so what we're gonna do is blend between those two shapes, so go ahead and click on one, Shift click on the other, and then go up to the Object menu choose Blend, and choose Make. And it's anyone's guess how many steps you're gonna get in between, but I obviously have too many. So I'll return to the Object menu, choose Blend, and choose Blend Options, and then I'll change the Spacing option, the specified steps.
I'll turn on the Preview check box, and I'll click in this value right there, and press the Down arrow key until I get a total of eight steps which is going to work out beautifully. We still have too many, but the lines that remain are in the right locations. So with eight steps, go ahead and click okay, and now we want to break up this blend by going to the Object menu, choosing Blend again, and choosing Expand. And that will expand the blend to Static Path Outlines, albeit ones that are grouped together, as we can see over here by the far left side of the Control Panel.
So now you want to go up to the Object menu, and choose the Ungroup command or you can press Control Shift G, or Command Shift G on the Mac. All right now click off the paths to deselect them. Get this guy right here, the one that's in the center of the top arm, and then Shift Click the one that's in the center of the middle arm, and then Shift Click the one that's in the center of the bottom arm, and we want to get rid of this guy right here as well, so I'll Shift click on it, and then press the Backspace key, or the Delete key on the Mac. And you'll be left with just one, two, three, four, five, six, of those lines.
All right, now we want to combine these lines on the Fire Up layer in order to create the letter E and the letter F. So, go ahead and Marquee all these paths like so, taking care to not Marquee, to not select, any portion of the R, so you should manage to select all the E shapes. And then press Control C, or Command C on the Mac, to copy them, turn off the Baselines layer, turn on the Fire Up layer, click on it to make it active, and press Control F, or Command F on a Mac, in order to paste those lines into place.
All right now, we want to build all these arms, and because the top two arms are shared with the F, I'm gonna build them first. So I'll go ahead and start with this guy right here. But I'm sort of struggling to be able to see the entire path outline, so I'll zoom out a little bit. And then I'll go ahead and select the Pen tool, once again, and we're interested in this path right there, so you can see one, two, three vertical paths right in a row. We want the middle one, click, click, click and click, like so, in order to create a closed path outline. And we want to combine these guys together too, click here, and click here, that completes the top arm as you can see.
And you can go ahead and click here and here as well if you like. And now, go ahead and get your Black Arrow tool, and I'll go ahead and Marquee these two paths, and then let's go ahead and fill it with some color, maybe yellow this time around. And now notice, that the path that's going to do the cutting isn't back, which is just fine. I'm gonna bring back my Pathfinder panel, so in other words, I don't want Minus Front, because I'd get this effect right here, which is wrong. Instead, if Minus Front isn't the one you're looking for, then you want to go all the way to the last Pathfinder operation, which is Minus Back, and click on it and you'll achieve this effect right here.
All right, now click on this path outline, this big tall guy right there, and press the P key to get the Pen tool. Click, click, click, and click, like so, so we just want to make sure we're covering up that area that we want to clip away. Click here on these two parts of the arm, and on these two parts as well in order to close those shapes. Press the V key to switch back to the Black Arrow tool, Marquee these two path outlines, go up to the Control Panel, click on a fill, let's make it yellow again, and once again, the guy that wants to do the clipping isn't back, so go ahead and click on Minus Back in order to create this effect here.
All right now, this guy is ready to go, you can see, because it's a remnant of that I, a copy of the I that is to say. So I'm gonna hide the Pathfinder panel for a moment, and what you want to do is make sure that you don't have too much overage. To demonstrate what I'm talking about, I'll go up to the View menu and choose Outline. Or you can press Control Y, or Command Y on the Mac, in order to switch to that Outline mode. And, if I zoom on in, you can see that we have a little bit of a gap here. What we want to do is make sure that one of the paths isn't kind of, go across the other.
So I'm gonna press the A key, to switch to my White Arrow tool, so I can modify the anchor points independently. And I'm gonna drag this guy down a little bit like so. And I'll drag this control handle down as well. And now what I want to do is get this little point, that I really don't want, and I'm gonna drag it where I'm currently working on the top arm, by the way. I'll go and drag it over a little bit, then I'll press the P key to switch to the Pen tool, and I'll click on that point to delete it. And now press the A key to switch back to my White Arrow tool, and I'll grab this anchor point right there and drag it down, so it snaps into alignment with the top of what was formerly the I.
And if you want to snap with impunity, then you probably want your Smart Guides turned off here inside the View menu because otherwise it can kind of get in the way. All right, now I'm going to zoom out a little bit so that I can take in all these path outlines. I'll switch to my Black Arrow tool once again, and I'll go ahead and Marquee these three paths, and then I'll go up to the View menu, and choose the Preview command, which in the newest version of Illustrator may appear as GPU Preview, or you can press Control Y, or Command Y on a Mac.
Now bring up the Pathfinder panel, and go ahead and click on Unite, in order to unite these path outlines together. And you may lose the fill, don't worry about that. And I'll drag this path over to the F position here while pressing the Shift key, and then when you get it in the right location, press and hold the ALT key as well. That would be the Option key on a Mac. So I have both Shift and ALT down, or Shift and Option on a Mac, and then I'll drop this guy into place in order to create a copy of that F.
Now we need to build the other F into an E, so go ahead and select these two path outlines right there, the ones that represent the bottom arm. And i actually am missing a line here, the line that's necessary to clip away the bottom arm. So I'll go ahead and turn on my Baselines layer. It's this guy right there, so go ahead and select it, then press Control C, or Command C on a Mac. Turn that layer back off, turn on the Fire Up layer, very important, go ahead and click on it that is to say. And then press Control F, or Command F on a Mac, in order to paste it into place.
Right now, zoom out, and we're gonna do the same thing as before. I'll switch to the Pen tool, click, click, click, click, like so. And then we'll go ahead and join the arm lines together by clicking on their end points, and clicking on these end points right down there. All right now, go ahead and press the V key to switch to the Black Arrow tool. Go ahead and select these two path outlines, go up to the Control Panel, change the fill color to yellow, just so we can see what's going on. This time, this guy that's gonna do the clipping is in front, so go to the Pathfinder panel and click on Minus Front, in order to create this effect here.
All right, now you can see we've got some garbage at work over here, so I'm gonna press the A key in order to switch to the White Arrow Tool. And I'm gonna zoom pretty far in here, and I'll press Control Y, or Command Y on a Mac, in order to switch to the Outline mode. And now I'll go ahead and click on this anchor point right here to select it. And I'll press Shift Up arrow, and then Shift Left arrow to move it way out of the way. And this, by the way, is part of that bottom arm. So this is fine, it's the other points that are a problem.
We have some kind of little anchor point right there, it looks like, so let's go ahead and get rid of it by pressing the Backspace key, or the Delete key on the Mac. And now, let's see what's left, there's another anchor point right there. This kind of stuff sometimes happens, and you just have to patiently work your way through it. There's a lone anchor point all by itself, so I'll go ahead and press the Backspace key, or the Delete key to get rid of it. So that was just an aberrant path outline, that's weird. So this guy's okay, which means that I want to select this anchor point, and because I pressed Shift Up Arrow and Shift Left arrow in order to move it out of the way, I can put it right back where it was by pressing Shift Down arrow and then Shift Right arrow.
And that, regardless of your keyboard increments, is going to work for you. And now, let's see what this is. Is this part of this path outline? It is, so let's go ahead and grab this anchor point right there, and just move it up ever so slightly, and go ahead and move this control handle up as well, so that the two path outlines come together only at the corner point. And that way we won't have any weird lumps or extra anchor points when we fuse these shapes together. And now press the V key, in order to switch to your Black Arrow tool, and Marquee these two paths. That's all we have is these two paths right there.
It's just that we're zoomed in so far, so I'll go ahead and zoom out a bit. And now, I'll press Control Y, or Command Y on a Mac, in order to switch back to the Preview mode. And I'll go up to the Pathfinder panel, and click on the very first icon Unite, in order to unite all those paths together and produce this final version of the E. And if everything's gone all right, we should have just one anchor point down here. And so I'll press the A key, in order to switch to the White Arrow tool, and I'll grab the anchor point. And, it looks like things have not gone right.
Now that may not bother you, that may not be a problem for you that we've got too many anchor points. But if it is, what you can do is just kind of, again, meticulously drag around to make sure everything is where it should be. And, what you can do is, just kind of zoom on in to these points to see if something bad is happening here. And it looks like this the control handle for this other segment, so what I'm gonna do is Marquee this segment with the White Arrow tool, in order to select just a segment, and press the Backspace key, or the Delete Key on the Mac to get rid of it.
And then, I'll click off the path and click this anchor point right there, the one I moved, and drag it back into place. And it should snap into alignment like so, and just to confirm that everything is exactly right, go ahead and Marquee these two points. There's one directly on top of the other. And press the keyboard shortcut. You need a shortcut in this case of Control Shift ALT J. That's Command Shift Option J on a Mac, and if those points are right on top of each other you'll get the Join Dialog box, select Corner, click okay, and you should be good to go.
Now I'll go ahead and zoom out, and we've got an E, which is the good news and we've also got an F, that's also very nice. And, I want to basically fill them with that same color that's at work with the exclamation point. So, I'm gonna go ahead and Marquee these path outlines like so, with the Black Arrow tool. And then, I'll select my eye dropper, which is down here, and then click on this path, the exclamation point that is. So that these paths are all filled with that shade of red.
And, you may want to do one more thing. I'm gonna press the V key to get my Black Arrow tool, and I'm gonna Shift Marquee around the exclamation point, and let's press Control zero. Or Command zero on a Mac, so that we can see all of our letters so far. And now, I'm gonna go up to the Window menu and choose the Appearance command, to bring up the Appearance panel. I'm going to click on the red fill, click the triangle in front of it to twirl it open, click on the word Opacity, and change the Opacity value to 50 percent. And the reason I'm doing this, changing just the fill of the path outlines to 50 percent is so I can see through them to the template below.
And now I'll click off the paths to deselect them. And that, friends, is how you trace a handful of letter forms, specifically the F, the I, and the E, so that they all look nice and consistent here inside Illustrator. All right, so obviously we've got a few letters left, specifically, the curving letters, the R, the U and the P. And we're gonna handle that in a follow up movie, but here's my question to you. How much would you pay for this awesome piece of poster art that you can hang in your cubicle, or in your office, or in your home? And the answer is, it's not for sale.
You have to create it yourself, and if you want to learn how then become a member of lynda dot com, of course. And if you're not a member, why, go to lynda dot com slash deke for a free week. And then, check out the course called Designs dekeConstructed Retro-Style Superhero. And you'll learn how to turn this mild-mannered weightlifting dude into this awesome piece of full-blown art work using a combination of Illustrator and Photoshop working together like the superheroes they are.
And it requires a lot less in the way of artistic talent and a lot more in the way of artistic know-how, if you know what I mean. If you're waiting for next week's free movie, I'm gonna show you how to take this unremarkable photograph right here, and we're gonna turn it into this remarkable low-color photograph using Camera Raw. Deke's Techniques, each and every week, keep watching.
Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Deke's Techniques.
Here are the FAQs that matched your search "":
Sorry, there are no matches for your search ""—to search again, type in another word or phrase and click search.
Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.
Search within course videos and transcripts, and jump right to the results.
Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.
Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.
Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.
Your file was successfully uploaded.