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Animated Character Design with Illustrator
Illustration by John Hersey

Expanding artwork for fine-tuning


From:

Animated Character Design with Illustrator

with Angie Taylor

Video: Expanding artwork for fine-tuning

Once I've live traced my drawing. I may want to start making adjustments too the paths for example, and just fine tuning it. Now if I expand it so that I can get access to the Bézier controls that determine the paths. You'll notice that I get sometimes quite complicated Bézier paths and this further complicated by the fact that each of these paths, or each of these lines, rather has a path on either side of it. So, if I wanted to use my traditional techniques for adjusting the paths.

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Animated Character Design with Illustrator
2h 33m Intermediate Jan 14, 2011

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

This workshop from author and animator Angie Taylor teaches how to use Illustrator's tools and features to prepare 2D files for animation in Adobe After Effects. Discover how to make the most of Illustrator's drawing tools and Autotrace feature, and to how use Live Paint and Kuler to recolor artwork. Plus, get a ton of tips and tricks for giving artwork a hand-drawn look and find out how to set up layers, aspect ratios, and transparency options for importing into After Effects. The lessons are focused and solution-oriented, and all the project files are included.

Topics include:
  • Setting up the work area
  • Bringing artwork into Illustrator
  • Tracing artwork manually
  • Creating complex shapes
  • Working with paths
  • Using Live Trace
  • Coloring artwork
  • Applying 3D effects
  • Exporting artboards
  • Options for saving files
Subjects:
3D + Animation Design Illustration Character Animation video2brain
Software:
Illustrator
Author:
Angie Taylor

Expanding artwork for fine-tuning

Once I've live traced my drawing. I may want to start making adjustments too the paths for example, and just fine tuning it. Now if I expand it so that I can get access to the Bézier controls that determine the paths. You'll notice that I get sometimes quite complicated Bézier paths and this further complicated by the fact that each of these paths, or each of these lines, rather has a path on either side of it. So, if I wanted to use my traditional techniques for adjusting the paths.

I would adjust one side, and then I'd have to adjust the other side. And you can see I get into all sorts of problems where paths cross over, so I don't recommend doing that. What I recommend doing is if you want to adjust any of these paths, use the reshape tool. So I can use things like the warp tool, just to adjust that path. If I make sure the whole thing is selected, okay, and then use the warp tool. It will walk the whole path and I can start to reshape my path, fatten it up or thin it down by using pucker and bloat. So there's all sorts of ways of controlling the path using the reshape tools.

It's a really nice way to go. Now, I could also start coloring this, and I'm just going to zoom out a little bit so you can see the whole thing. But the only problem with that is it's one complete layer and it would actually be quite tedious to split this into layers in Illustrator, you'd probably have to duplicate the layer and then remove parts. So if I wanted to create a head layer I would hide the layer in the background, select it and maybe use the eraser tool and just make it huge. Okay, using left and right bracket tools, and just erasing parts.

So I could make my layers that way, okay, and actually, that would work reasonably well. But it becomes really tedious when you then want to split the head into separate parts. How do you separate the glasses and the eyes and all that? It just becomes a little bit more problematic, so instead of doing that what I recommend is that you use Photoshop to create your layers. So open the filed in Photoshop and split it into layers and if I open up another file, which is this one. I've already done that and when I bring it into Illustrator, I can choose to convert the layers to objects, and when I click okay the whole thing comes in with the layers already separated.

So in Photo Shop I've just separated the head, the right arm, the legs, the left arm, and the body and then I can put them together to make a full body. I really, in this, I only want the head and the arms separate because those are the only things that I'm going to, planning to animate. If I wanted to separate it even more, I could separate all the other body parts as well, and maybe do an upper arm and lower arm. But anyway, once I've done that what I'm going to do is just individually trace these. Okay, so I select the layer that I want to trace.

Instead of just clicking the live trace button I've already set up preset for this called the inventors. So I'm going to click on that and that's going to trace it. And now you'll notice that it's placed a white background in, and if I just go to see my transparency grid. Now I could've done that by just going to my alternate view, jumping between transparent and non-transparent. You'll notice that this white background is obscuring everything behind it. Now, if I click on expand it will expand it and I could delete that, but another way of doing it is to click on the live paint button and this now becomes a live paint group.

And with a live paint group I can use the live paint paint bucket on it to remove the background So I'm going to go down here, choose the live paint bucket. And choose no fill and no stroke, and then I can just click on there to remove those white areas. Now as we move through, you'll see this happening again and again. So I'm going to select this layer. I'm going to deselect that live paint layer, and just select this one. I'm going to say live trace using the inventor's BBC. Again, you can see my white background, so I'm going to just go to live paint, select the live paint bucket, which is k, and this time I'm going to get rid of the background.

Now, you'll see what's happened, I've actually got rid of the center as well and I didn't want to do that. And the reason for that is, if you ever look carefully, there is a gap here. If we undo that and re-do it again, see that gap is letting the paint through. Now, you can change the gap options by clicking on this button here. And I can say, detect gaps, and please close them for me. And I'm going to choose large gaps so that it closes this gap for me. What will happen now is when I go back to the live paint bucket tool by hitting k it will divide this into sections and it's ignoring the gaps, so I can remove bits individually without getting rid of the center bit. Okay, so we're going to move down to the legs, and we're going to do that by holding on to spacebar which toggles onto the hand tool temporarily. Selecting the legs go into live trace, inventors BBC preset and we'll go straight to live paint and also go into our gap options. Now in our gap options, if we put gap section on and choose large gaps. You'll see it's finding two large gaps.

Now, I can put this up to the maximum setting of 72 pixels, but even at that there's still one large gap found here. So what I'm going to do is I'm going to click on Okay and what I'm going to do is use the blob brush tool to close that gap. Okay, block brush tool is fantastic. Before I do use block brush tool, I'm just going to have a look at the different sections. So here we go, we can remove that section, that's fine and this is the section that's creating the problem here. So you can see the gaps, there is a gap there and there are gaps here and here. So what I'm going to do is just select the block brush tool, I'm also, I've got my layers selected.

So I'm going to choose a stroke of a one point to make sure that we have the same settings, and I'm going to zoom in and just click to extend this path. Now I don't have to be very careful up here because this bit going to be hidden by the jacket down here, I have to be a little bit more careful just to close that gap there. And here it doesn't really matter because it's all one section anyway. So what I'm going to do now is select that and go back to my gap options and see if we've got rid of that.

And we'll click okay, go back to our paint bucket tool, and you'll see now I can delete that section, and I can delete that section without any problems. That's managed to get rid of thos gaps for me. Now as I said, the legs are going to go under the jacket. Now at the moment, the jacket is called background, so I'm going to rename it jacket, and I'm going to click Okay. Now, I'm going to trace the jacket as well. So let's just move up here so we can see the jacket and I'll zoom out a little bit. Command minus on the keyboard, or control minus if you're on the PC.

And with the jacket again, I'm going to live trace it using the preset. And I'm going to expand it to live paint and go to the gap options. And you'll see, if we put gap detection on, there are 50 gaps. And even if I put this on the maximum setting, there are still several gaps, four gaps found. Now, if red is difficult to see here, I can see the red gaps indicated. But there are some gaps in here as well, and if that's difficult to see, you could change the color to green and you can see a little green gap highlighted there. Another thing that will help you discover where the gaps are is to work in isolation mode.

At the moment, you can see, it's very easy for me to accidentally select one of the other layers with the paint bucket tool. And even with the selection tool is very hard for me to know which layer and selecting. So at any layer you can double-click it and enter it into what's called isolation note and it will isolate that layer and allow you to work on it without worrying about the other layers. So if I select it here, and go to my gap options it's much easier for me to see where the gaps are and start closing them. Some I'm going to click on okay, and what we're going to do we're not going to worry about the gaps here and here because they don't matter.

But the gaps at the neck I want to close, so I'm going to zoom into the neck and this time what I'm going to do is instead of using the warp brush, I'm going to use the warp tool to push the lines together. So I'm going to make this say, maybe about 10 pixels by 10 pixels. And we'll put the pressure up, in fact we'll use the pen pressure, so I'm going to use my Wacom pen just to stretch these lines until they close. Now in Isolation mode, it sometimes takes a little bit of time for the display to update, don't worry too much about that.

But you can just play around with that until you get it right. That would have been better with slightly higher settings there and slight smaller brush. So lets just bring that brush size down a little bit, so we get a bit more precision and move that up. And I think that's probably going to be enough to close that gap and we will also do this one moment in there. Okay, so again pulling it around to where we want it to be. Now you can use, if you prefer use the blob brush tool just to draw it in there to close the gaps. So, either technique is fine.

Again, you sometimes get these glitches. You saw that, the display just suddenly flaking out there. Sometimes that happens but don't worry too much about it. Once it updates, it'll be fine. Okay, so once we've done that we come back out of isolation mode. Okay, by clicking on the back button. And then we'll zoom out and now if I select it using select it, and then use the paint bucket tool on it. We should be able to get rid of the background. Without getting rid of any of the foreground because we've closed those gaps.

So, the only one left to do is the left arm image, and again we will go through the same process there closing up any gaps, and then separating the layer and we now have them all on individual layers ready to start coloring in order for us to take it then into After Effects and start animating.

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