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Illustrator Insider Training: Rethinking the Essentials is the first installment in a series of courses designed to show experienced Illustrator users to how master core features and build art more efficiently. Adobe Illustrator has evolved dramatically over the years, and many creative professionals may be missing out on features that have been added to the latest versions. This course takes a fresh approach to core concepts, such as paths, attributes, object hierarchy, groups, and layers. Advanced techniques such as combining multiple effects and customizing textures are also included. Exercise files and a free worksheet are included with the course.
There are all kinds of textures that you can add to enhance the appearance of any illustration. Now we've already explored using the Mezzotint filter, but I want to show you yet another filter inside of Illustrator that let's you not only simulate certain types of materials--such as burlap, or even sandstone or canvas for example--but even any kind of texture that you can dream up. To begin with though, we will actually apply something like canvas for example. Maybe we want to make it look like this was some kind of a painting that was actually painted on a canvas, so we want to have a little bit of a texture here applied to this artwork.
Well, I could select my artwork and apply that texture to the artwork itself, but if we think about it, I really want my entire document to look like it's actually painted on a real canvas. So that would mean that everything in my file should have that type of appearance. Now if I were to apply that effect only to this object, or even to the group itself, that would mean If I wanted to add new artwork I would have to now apply the effect to that artwork, or I'd have to somehow incorporate them all into the group. No, no, no. Instead, what I'll do here is I am actually going to apply the effect to the entire layer. That way I am assured that anything at all that I put onto this layer will have that appearance of being painted on canvas.
So I have this file open here. It's called flowerpot.ai. And I'll go here to my Layers panel. Let me double-click on layers to open it up. And I am going to click on the target circle for layer 1. That's going to target the layer, meaning that any appearance that I now add-- if I add an effect for example, that effect gets added to the big container which is my layer. As you can see in my Appearance panel, right now my layer is my target. So now I am going to apply an effect. Now if we scroll down here to these effects right here, the Photoshop effects, there's something called the Effect Gallery, and then there are things like Artistic and Blur and Brush Strokes, and they each have a whole bunch of settings inside of them.
The secret that I will share with you is that you don't have to go through all of these because the Effect Gallery is actually encompassing all of these filters in one. So I am just going to choose Effect Gallery. You will see what I mean in just a moment. I am actually going to go ahead here and kind of pan over here. I am holding down the Spacebar to get my Hand Grabber tool, just so I can see the artwork, and I can see the texture that's being applied. If I look over here, I have Artistic, I have Brushstrokes, I have Distort--all the ones that we so before in the menu, but they all here appear inside of this one dialog box.
Now there is one effect, which you'll find inside of the Texture folder, which is called Texturizer. We have things like Stained Glass for example, which add some pretty cool effects, some patchwork, and these all have settings on the right side here that can help control how that appearance looks. Now, I am going to use Texturizer here, because I want to add some kind of texture. And by default Illustrator has several textures--for example Brick, Burlap, Sandstone. But I want to use Canvas here. Now I can choose Scaling, which basically controls how big or small the texture itself actually is.
I am going to choose about maybe 120. And then there is the relief, which kind of determines how strong that texture is applied. I can also choose which direction the light hits that object. I am going to choose the basic Top setting, which is the default setting, and I'll actually set the Relief to be about maybe 4. As you can see, my artwork now gets a beautiful texture, which makes it look like it was actually painted on canvas. When I click OK, I'll see that that effect now has been applied to the entire layer. Let me zoom in to around 400% and you can see how nice that texture is being applied to the artwork itself.
I'll return back to 100% here. And while it's nice to be able to apply these kinds of textures to artwork, I may want to have something that's a little bit more customized. For example, maybe I'm working on some kind of clothing design and I want to make it look like I actually have leather. How can I add some kind of customized texture to create just the look that I need? The answer is that you can use Texturizer as well. Let's go back to Texturizer here. I am actually going to click on it in the Appearance panel. I still have my layer targeted, so it's going to bring up the last setting that I have used.
And I'll show you that even though we only saw four settings right here, this little pop-up menu for the different types of textures, on the right there is a little flyout menu, or a Panel menu. And if I click on that button, there is an option that's called Load Texture. That means you can really create your own texture--anything you can dream up--and bring that into Texturizer and have Texturizer use that to generate your texture. Now how do you create your own textures? The answer is, all you need to do is create a repeatable tile element and make sure that it's a grayscale PSD file.
So I will click Cancel here to go back to the original piece of artwork, and I'd like to take you through the steps of actually creating your own texture inside of Illustrator. In fact, we won't even need Photoshop, because the files that we need we can generate directly using Illustrator. So are you ready? You want to create a leather texture inside of Illustrator? Let's do this. I am going to create a brand-new document inside of Illustrator, just a regular file. It doesn't make a difference what settings I am using. And from the Swatches menu, I am going to come down to lower left- hand corner and click on the Library button. I am now going to choose to open up a Pattern.
Illustrator comes with a tremendous amount of preset patterns. There are things like Basic Graphics, Decorative, and Nature. I am actually going to go to Nature and choose Nature Animal Skins. You see, what we are going to end up doing is we are actually going to steal a pattern--well, not steal, but just reuse it for our own purposes-- one of the patterns that already come inside of Illustrator, and use it to generate a texture using Texturizer. The first pattern that you'll find here in this library is called Alligator. We want to create or simulate a leather texture, so we are going to use this Alligator print to make that happen.
Now you probably know that if you take a regular shape and you click on the Alligator pattern, your object will get filled with that pattern. However, we don't really care about the fill itself; we just want that repeat element. We want to be able to have a texture that will be a repeatable element over and over again. So I am going to delete this object, and the way that you can identify the repeat of any pattern is simply to take the swatch itself, take that pattern swatch, and drag it out onto your artboard. Illustrator will automatically display the artwork that was used to define that pattern.
We don't even need a library here anymore. I am going to close it. Let's kind of zoom in over here on just the artwork itself. Get nice and close so we can see all the elements here. I am going to deselect it, so we get a better look at it. It's basically how much of shapes that make up this texture. The way that patterns are created inside of Illustrator is we have a rectangle that sits all the way in the back of that object, and that rectangle which is a perfect square, or really just a rectangle itself, defines the repeat area. Now we want to make sure that we don't lose that repeat area, because that's going to be key to make sure that the pattern itself repeats seamlessly in a tiled fashion.
We are going to export this file as a PSD file directly from Illustrator. So in order for me to make sure that the file that I export is going to be the perfect size of that repeat, I am actually going to create an artboard to match that exact repeat size. That way when I export my file, I will just tell Illustrator to crop my file to the size of the artboard itself. So I am going to take my Direct Selection tool and I am going to click basically right over here just to select the rectangle. Notice over here I have a rectangle selected. It doesn't make a difference if there is a color applied to that right now; don't worry about that.
I am simply going to come to the object menu here. I am going to choose Artboards. I am going to choose Convert to Artboards. That's I am going to take that rectangle and convert it into an artboard. We are going to use that artboard when we actually export our file from Illustrator. In fact, if we look at our artboards panel right now, we have two artboards. We have artboard 1, and we have artboard 2, which we just created. Let's focus on the artwork itself. I am going to use my regular Selection tool now to click on one of the elements here, and I will see that all these elements have been grouped together. So I am going to go to the Object menu here, and I am going to choose Ungroup.
Now if I deselect my artwork and I click on just one of the shadow elements, you kind of see here I am going to zoom in a little bit of closer, so we could see that each of the elements also have a kind of like a shadow. If I click on that, I'll see that all those shadow elements are actually selected, and I'll press Delete to remove those. I don't need the shadow elements. I just want the elements that make up the texture itself. Now I am going to zoom out just a bit here, because I don't know who created this pattern but they actually kind of left a few of those shadows here that were not included in that group. So I am just going to zoom in close to the lower left-hand corner of this artwork and then manually just select these little shadow elements and remove those as well. Great! So now all of the shadows are gone.
I am going to press Command+0 or Ctrl+0. Let me zoom in a little bit closer here to kind of see this artwork. It's great! I now have the basic elements of my texture that I need, but I have all these different coders are going on. What's really going to happen is that this is going to get exported as a grayscale image and that grayscale image is going to be used to generate my texture. So I don't need all these colors; in fact, all I really want are just black elements. So I'll just click and drag to select all of the elements right here, and from the Swatches menu, I am just going to fill them all with black.
Now I see, by the way, there was another rectangle that's here. I am actually going to use my Direct Selection tool here, and I'm simply going to go ahead now and just select just the rectangle itself, and I am actually going to press Delete. If you don't delete the whole rectangle, just keep hitting Delete until the rectangle is gone, and you should see now an object that looks just like this. It's a repeatable tile pattern that we are going to be using to generate our leather texture. Great! So now at this point, we are ready to export our file. I am going to go to the File menu, and I'll choose Export. Now I want to choose to export this in a PSD format, Photoshop PSD format.
So in the Format pop-up menu here, I am going to choose Photoshop (psd). I am going to throw this on my Desktop here, so I can find it easily. I am going to call this one "leather" and most importantly here, I want to choose Use artboards. I don't really care about the first overall artboard that was inside of my document; in theory I could have just deleted that artboard. But in this case here, I am going to choose Range, and I am only going to export artboard number 2. Let's choose Export right now, and where it says Color Model--this is very important-- I'm going to choose Grayscale. If I leave it in CMYK, or if I am using RGB for example, the texture will not work.
It needs to be a PSD that's in a grayscale color model. Now I also have absolutely no interest in layers here, so I am making sure that where it says Options, I have it set to Flat Image. And because I want to get a high-quality texture out of this, I am going to set my Resolution to 300 pixels per inch. Now I'll click OK and let me actually go to my Desktop here for a minute to see that file. I go to the Desktop, and I will see I have leather-02. That 02 came from the actual name of the artboard. I don't need it, so I am just going to go ahead now and just edit the name of my file. So that's just called leather.psd. Perfect! Let's go back to Illustrator now and return to our original flowerpot.ai file.
Now remember, we've already applied a texture here that makes it look like this was painted on canvas, but maybe you want to make it look like this was actually printed on some kind of leather. Let's go back to Texturizer now. I am going to click on Texturizer. Remember, I still have my layer targeted right now. I have not applied the effect to the artwork itself; I applied it to the entire layer. So I am going to click on Texturizer to bring up that Texturizer dialog box. Let's go ahead here and actually use the Spacebar to kind of preview the artwork more in the middle, so I can see what I'm looking at. And I am now going to come to the flyout menu over here where it says Texturizer, and I am going to choose Load Texture.
Now if I navigate to my Desktop, I'll see that leather.psd file that I just generated out of Illustrator is now available. I am going to choose leather.psd. This is the preview of what I get. It actually got exported and was clipped directly to that repeat size that I used as my artboard, and I'll choose Load. Take a look at this. I am starting to see now some kind of leather here. It doesn't really look like the true leather one, because the embossed effect is kind of reversed. So I am actually going to click on the button here that says Invert to change it around, and now look at that. I get a texture that does look like this was actually printed on leather.
Now maybe the Relief is little bit too much, so I can actually kind of bring that down--maybe to 2--and then click OK. Now if I zoom in to this artwork, I can see that this was actually now applied to a texture that makes it look like this was actually printed on leather. So while the Texturizer effect may seem very basic, it really has a tremendous amount of hidden power inside of it, and from a completely different angle, I am sure that you never thought about using the Alligator pattern in this way. Hopefully, I've provided you with just a little bit of inspiration to actually explore everything that Illustrator has to offer as far, as extra content like patterns, and how to use a Texturizer effect to generate your own textures for your artwork.
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