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Designs dekeConstructed is a new series that breaks down the creation of cool designs so you can build them on your own. This installment is for everyone who needs an online avatar—that tiny image that has to communicate a thousand words about who you are in less than a square inch. Start by taking a photo of yourself facing forward—the traditional passport style. From there Deke McClelland takes you through the steps to transforming your photo into a cartoon avatar with Illustrator: tracing your features, refining and exaggerating the strokes, adding color and shading, and using gradients and patterns to fill in details like hair. Plus, learn some tricks for infusing your drawing with an extra bit of personality and exporting your final image in the best format for social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
In this movie, I'll show you some best practices for editing a path outline that's trapped inside of a Clipping Mask. Because it can be a tricky process, as you're about to see. Specifically, what we need to do is add back in some highlights here inside the shading on the right half of the face. Because if I press Ctrl+Y, or Cmd+Y on a MAC, you can see that there's a highlight here in the photograph down right from the right nostril, as well as over here on the right hand side of the mouth. And as you can see in the final version of the avatar, those highlights help to impart a lot of expressiveness in the face.
So, I'll go ahead and switch back to my illustration in progress here. Now, the first thing I'm going to do is press Ctrl+Y, or Cmd+Y on a Mac, to switch back to the Preview mode. And I'm going to zoom in on the lip. And the reason is, I want this highlight right here to align with the appearance of the stroke. So, as you can see, I've got my White Arrow tool selected. I'll go ahead and click on this Path Outline in order to select this segment independently, like so. And then I'll click in this anchor point right there to select it. And I'll press the Up Arrow key a few times in order to nudge that anchor point to a better location.
And, I'll do the same with this upper anchor point as well. I'll go ahead and nudge it down so it's aligned to the bottom of the top lip stroke. And, also go ahead and take in those control handles, like so. So, I'm just dragging them in a little bit in order to shorten that highlight there. Alright, now what I want to do is modify this path outline, using the Pen tool. And the easiest way to pull that off is to enter the Group Isolation mode which you do by pressing the V key to get the Black Arrow tool.
And then you need to click here inside of the shading to select that entire clipping group. And then Double-Click on it to enter the Group Isolation mode. So that I can see just the clipping path, that is to say the face outline, along with it's contents, which is to say this Shading path. Problem is, if I press Ctrl+Y or Cmd+Y on a MAC. I see all of my path outlines now, even though I can't click on em to select em, as you can see here, because I am isolated. But I can't see the photographic template, which is a huge pain in the neck.
So I'll just press the Escape key in order to escape out of the Group Isolation mode. And that sends me back to the Preview mode as well. And I'll press Ctrl+Y or Cmd+Y on the MAC in order to switch back to the Outline mode, and here's how I decided to approach this. I want these two highlights here to align with each other. And they don't really align that well inside of the Tracing template. In other words, this guy, his edge is going to be farther out. He's going to be sort of describing a different contour than this edge right there.
And if I want them to describe the same contour, then I need to draw them with the help of the Ellipse Tool. And you'll see what I mean in just a moment. I'll go ahead and select by the way, the Ellipse Tool from the Shape Tool fly-out menu. And then I'll drag, like so, in order to create a big lips. And I'm sort of, kind of, trying to split the difference between the highlight on the top and the highlight that's over there on the right hand side of my mouth. And I'm using the Space-bar of course to move this shape on the fly. And right about there, it looks pretty good to me.
So now, I'm going to press the C key to switch to my Scissors tool, over here in the toolbox. And I'm going to click right about there at the base of this highlight. And I'll click there, as well, in order to cut that segment away. And now I'll click, I think right about here would probably work out well. And I'll click up here as well in order to cut the path at those two locations. And now I can press the V key to switch to my Black Arrow tool and click on this path outline. Let's see this one, where is it I think it's right about there is one of the ones I want to get rid of.
So I'll click on it to select it and then press the Backspace key or the Delete key on the MAC in order to get rid of it. And now click over here on the left hand side of this big shape. In order to select the remaining portion of the circle that I no longer want. And I'll press the Backspace key or the Delete key on a MAC, in order to get rid of it. And now, we'll have two highlights that are aligned with each other. That is, they describe a common ellipse, of course, a common arc. And now I'll press the P key to switch to the Pen tool. I'll go and zoom in here, so I can even better see what I'm doing.
And I'll Alt-Drag or Opt-Drag from this top end point, in order to create an independent control handle. And I'll Alt-Drag or Opt-Drag from this end point in order to create this Control handle. So I'm creating a little bit of a wedge right there. And now I'll go up to this guy and I'll Alt-Drag or Opt-Drag from right about there. And then I will Alt-Drag taking care not to hit the nostril because then I'll join things. But I'll just go ahead, well let's say I decide to create a little bit of a wiggle right there at that location.
So I'll drag to create a smooth point, I'll Ctrl or Cmd-Drag this Control handle back a little bit. And then I'll drag from right about here in order to create a smooth point at that location. Alright, we don't need to close them yet, we'll do that in a moment. And so now what you want to do is get your Black Arrow tool, which you can get by pressing the V key of course. And click on this top path outline, and Shift-Click on the bottom one in order to select them both and press Ctrl+X or Cmd+X on a MAC in order to cut them to the Clipboard.
All right now I'll switch back to the Preview mode by pressing Ctrl+Y or Cmd+Y on a MAC, so that I can see all my strokes and fills. And I will Double-Click on this pink region right here, on the shade in order to enter that Group Isolation mode, so I can just see the face in the background along with the shading outline here. And I'll press Ctrl+F or Cmd+F on a MAC in order to paste those new path outlines into place. And now let's integrate em by pressing the A key to switch to the White Arrow tool. I'll click on this path outline right there in order to select it.
And you know what else, think I'll zoom in a little bit, press Ctrl+Y or Cmd+Y on a MAC in order to switch to the Outline mode. Press the C key to get my Scissors tool, right there you can see it in the toolbox. And I'll click right there in order to get this wonderful error message. So, apparently I'm not going to be able to approach things the way I want to. The problem here is that even though I'm working in the Isolation mode. Because I'm in the Outline mode, Illustrator can see that forward nostril stroke, and so it's giving me problems about it. So, what I need to do is press Ctrl+Y or Cmd+Y on a MAC in order to switch back to the Preview mode.
And it was right about there that I need to click, so I'll click in order to cut the path. This time it works because Illustrator can't see all the other paths, and now I'll click right about there in order to cut the nostril at that location as well. And then I'll press the V key to switch to the Black Arrow tool I'll click right about there. Where is the darn thing? It's here some place Now, we're having a problem with this guy being up-front. So, what I'm going to do. Let's see, how best to approach this. I'll press Shift+Right Arrow just once in order to move that guy over a little bit. And I'll click right about there in order to select that little path, and I'll press the Backspace key or the Delete key on the MAC in order to get rid of it.
Now I've got to find that other path outline so I'll press Ctrl+Y or Cmd+Y on the MAC to switch back to the Preview mode. Sometimes, the old ways of working are really the only ones that work. And I'll go ahead and click on this path outline to select it and press Shift+Left Arrow to put it back into place. And now I'll switch back to the Preview mode by pressing Ctrl+Y, or Cmd+Y on a MAC. I'll press the A Key to switch the White Arrow tool. I'll click on this point to select it independently. In previous versions of the software, you may have to click off the path outline and then click on the anchor point to select it. And now I'll drag it down until it snaps into alignment with that other point right there.
An I'll go ahead and marquee these two points right there and just to make sure that they are aligned with each other, I'll press Ctrl+Alt+J or Cmd+Opt+J on a MAC to bring up the Average Dialogue box. Make sure both is selected. Click okay. And then I'll press Ctrl+J or Cmd+J on a MAC in order to join those two points to each other. And then I'll marquee these two points which I know, I just snap them into alignment. So they are coincident, absolutely coincident. One of top of the other. And I'll press Ctrl+J or Cmd+J on a MAC in order to join them. Alright. Now, what I need to do is press Ctrl+Y once again, in order to switch to the Outline mode.
So that I can select this little path right down there. I'll press the V key to switch to my Black Arrow tool, and I'll click on it to select it. And then I'll Shift-Click on this path, to select the big shading path outline. and I'll press Ctrl+Y or Cmd+Y on the MAC to switch back to the Preview Mode so I can see the effect of the next thing I'm going to do. Which is go up to the Window menu and choose Path Finder to bring up the Path Finder panel right there. And then click on the second icon, Minus Front, in order to use this little path outline to cut a hole, in the bigger shading outline.
Alright now I'll go ahead and hide the Pathfinder panel. And I'll zoom out by pressing Ctrl+0 or Cmd+0 on a MAC. And finally, I'll press the Esc key in order to exit the Isolation mode. And I'll press Ctrl+Shift+A or Cmd+Shift+A on the MAC in order to deselect the path outlines. And there you have it. A few best practices if you will for modifying a Complex Path outline that's trapped inside of a Clipping Group here inside Illustrator.
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