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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, I'm going to demonstrate how you can apply effects to imported images inside of Illustrator. It's very sexy. It's very cool. I do not recommend it. I recommend you to do all of your image work in Photoshop and then bring the image into Illustrator. This exercise is going to demonstrate why. So, here I'm working in that image, Pasted image.ai, into which I have pasted that image that I copied from Photoshop. I'm going to go ahead and zoom in a click right there and scroll things over. Now, I'll click on the image.
Actually the easiest thing to do here is let's go ahead and turn off the Guide, so they're no longer in our way. This is the Guides group that's found inside the image layer right there. I'll go ahead and meatball the image itself, so that it's selected. Notice I moved it under the clipping mask that's assigned to this entire layer. Many of the layers in this illustration include clipping mask so that we're clipping all of the objects to the bleed. Anyway, I've gone ahead and selected this image. Now, let's say what I want to do, because, let me give you a sense of where we're going here, I've gone ahead and turned off the Pasted image for just a moment. This is the final effect I want and you can see that it has a very sharp quality to it, so I sharpened the details. That permitted me to achieve something of kind of a line drawing effect, definitely a posterization effect. I also went ahead and added some sepia tone and I masked the image as well, so that we got rid of the background.
So, how would you go about doing that if you just brought a static flat image into Illustrator? Well, some of it would hum along okay, and then other stuff would go just terribly, badly, as I'm about to show you. But none of it's going to work out the way we want it to. So, I'm going to go ahead and turn on the Pasted image. Let's call it pasted image so that there is no ambiguity there. Click OK and then I'm going to meatball this image. If you go up to the Effect menu, you'll see that there is a ton of Photoshop filters listed down here at the bottom of the Effect menu, including all of what used to be called the Gallery Effects filters that Adobe bought from this group called Silicon Graphics back in the old days. There is Artistic and there is Brush Strokes, and let's see, there is Sketch and there is Texture.
Now, we have a few fan inside the Stylize, actually just one inside the Stylize submenu right there. What about Pixelate? Those are Photoshop filters right there. But anyway, some of them come from the old Gallery Effects collection. Some of them come from Photoshop proper. The good ones tend to be the Photoshop filters like Gaussian Blur and Radial Blur and Smart Blur. Well not really, Gaussian Blur is good and Smart Blur is not. Then we drop down here to Sharpen and we have just one Sharpen option available to us, and that's Unsharp Mask. So, we can apply filters to imported images, if we want to, and actually all these options are applicable to vector objects as well. So you can try them out if you want to. I'm not sure why you'd use Unsharp Mask on vector objects.
You'd get some haloing effects. I suppose that might be nice. I'll go ahead and choose it and here is Unsharp Mask, which is a quality sharpening effect inside of Photoshop. It doesn't happen to be the one I used. I used a combination of High Pass and Smart Sharpen as I'll be showing you, but neither of those are available to me inside of Illustrator. So, also what's not available to me inside of Illustrator is the halfway decent preview, I can't preview the effect back here, inside the illustration window. This dinky preview inside the dialog box requires quite a bit of scrolling, you can't do that thing where you just click in order to center the preview, which you can inside Photoshop.
But anyway, I've gone ahead and maxed out the Amount value, which determines the amount of sharpening I apply. I've gone ahead and set the Radius to 2.0, and that is the size of the little hallows that Unsharp Mask draws in order to create it's sharpening effect, and that's it. These two values are one I'm applying, I'll click OK and then I'll cross my fingers and I hope it looks good and looks pretty good now. You can't really believe what you're seeing in Illustrator where imported images are concerned. However, I should say because it doesn't do a terrific job of displaying all the pixels or interpolating the pixels to match the screen preview or anything along those lines.
All the stuff that Photoshop does so very, very well, Illustrator doesn't do. So if you really want to get a sense of what the image is going to print like, you have to print it. So anyway, this will probably work out pretty nicely, and here is where I have to give Illustrator huge props. If you go over to the Appearance palette, you'll see that this Unsharp Mask effect right there has been applied inside of Illustrator CS4. It's always this way, as a dynamic effect. So you can click on Unsharp Mask and change your mind, which is awesome because in Photoshop you actually have to jump through a few hoops to make that happen.
By default, if you just apply Unsharp Mask, you're going to get a static effect inside of Illustrator. It's always dynamic, but we can make it dynamic inside of Photoshop as well. Anyway, that's cool. But then you can't apply a Blend mode independently to just the effect. If I apply, for example, the Luminosity Blend mode, which works really well in combination with Unsharp Mask. If I were to apply that mode to the filter, it doesn't really apply it to the filter. It applies to the entire image. Now we get a sepia image, but that's because we already have a sepia image in the background.
So, we're kind of cheating, as what it comes down to. I've this Pasted image on top of the good version of the image. So, of course, we're going to get a decent effect. But if it was appearing inside of a different composition, it would look the color of that composition. All right, so, let's say we really want like a guaranteed sepia effect from this pasted image. Well we go back to Appearance palette and go ahead and get rid of Luminosity there, just throw it away, or you could change things back to the Normal mode. There is no really good way to work. We could put a colored rectangle over the image and then set it to the Color mode, but then it's going to affect everything at back of it and then we'd have to mask it, which we'd have to do with this image anyway. We'd have to draw a vector mask around it, because we need to mask it away from her background and away from her shoulder and stuff.
Or if we really wanted to change the colors inside the image, then we'd go up to the Edit menu, choose Edit Colors. We don't have a sepia function here. So we'd go to Adjust Color Balance, which has this really bad, sort of limitation here. If I turn on the Preview checkbox and change a setting, it doesn't preview. It's like a little neener-neener function there, just sort of mocking you. What you have to do is turn Preview off, in which case it recalculates Unsharp Mask. That's nice. Then you turn Preview back on and then it previews. Then you think better of things, I think, and you go huh! That's not a Sepia effect.
That's like that kid that ate a strawberry or something in 'Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory,' even though it was a blueberry. I know that. But anyway, I'll turn off Preview, and then I'll turn it back on after adjusting a few more settings. That ain't a sepia either. So let's take some Cyan out, see if that helps. Turn off Preview, turn it back on. Oh, Lord! This isn't working at all. So, okay, good, and we can't change our mind on that one. That is not a dynamic effect. That is instead a static effect that we just applied to the pixels. Bad news all the way around is what it comes down to.
So, I'm just really hammering home a point. I think you get it by now Illustrator is not a photo manipulation tool. It's great in handling images, especially if they're right ready to go, but it's not great at modifying them. Where do you want to modify the image? Where do you want to prepare this effect? You want to prepare it back inside Photoshop and I'm going to show you how that works, beginning in the next exercise.
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