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In Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Mastery, the third and final part of the comprehensive Illustrator One-on-One series, author and industry expert Deke McClelland shows how to take advantage of the wide array of dynamic effects in Illustrator CS5. Deke explores Illustrator’s powerful Gradient Mesh feature, great for creating photorealistic airbrushing effects. He also covers graphic styles, the liquify tools, envelope-style distortions, the new Bristle Brushes, 3D text, and perspective drawing. Exercise files accompany the course.
Now that you have a sense for how to create an isometric drawing inside of Illustrator, I want to introduce you to perspective drawing. In this exercise, we're going to take our first look at the Perspective Grid and I'll show you a few basic ways to modify that grid. And then in the next exercise, we'll create a very basic perspective drawing using that grid. And here in the layers panel I'm going to go ahead and turn off the core objects layer and I'm going to turn on the perspective layer. And this is that very same object drawn in perspective using Illustrator CS5's new perspective grid.
And notice how the rectangular edges here decline as they drift into the distance. So the forward edge of each of the rectangles is taller than the rear edge. Also notice that unlike the isometric projection where each one of the lines is absolutely parallel to each other, these lines are not absolutely parallel instead they decline toward a common horizon and perspective drawing is all about that horizon and the vanishing points that are associated with it. So let me show you what that looks like.
I'm going to go ahead and select this tool from the toolbox; it's a Perspective Grid tool. You can also get it by pressing Shift+P and as soon as you select that tool, if you're working along with me you will see this specific grid. If you're not working along with me if you're working in your own file for example, then you'll see the default grid, but you'll see some form of grid going on and it will be a two point grid. Now, what is that mean? I'll go ahead and zoom out here. It means that you have two vanishing points. So notice, if I click on the grid to make it active, you may need to do that.
You'll see two balls along the horizon line. This green line at top here is a horizon line and this first circle represents the left-hand vanishing point. So everything along the left side of our object is declining toward that point, and the other circle over here on the right-hand side is the right-hand vanishing point. And that's the way it works with two point perspective. You've got a left vanishing point and a right vanishing point. And then you've also got a left-hand plane that's associated with that left-hand point, and it's represented by default in blue and then you've got a right-hand plane that's represented by default in orange.
The ground plane shows up by default in green. Now, let me show you what its work here. We've got these two horizontal lines; the one at the bottom by default is the ground level. And that represents essentially where you're standing and looking at the scene, and if you drag this diamond on the far side of the ground level line, then you'll move the entire plan to a different location, like so. Fortunately, you have an Undo. So you can undo anything you do to the Perspective Grid, and you do so of course by pressing Ctrl+Z on the PC, or Command+Z on the Mac.
If you drag this other diamond, the one that's associated with the horizon line, you'll move the horizon with respect to the ground level. So if you want a lower view of the scene, then you would drag that horizon line down like so and then ostensibly when you start drawing objects on the plane it'll look as if you have a low angle view. If you want a high angle view, then you would just go ahead and raise that horizon line like that. All right! I don't really want to mess up my horizon. So I'm going to press Ctrl+Z, or Command+Z on a Mac twice in a row. You can also make your planes bigger if you want to.
Notice this gadget right there, if you drag it then you will lengthen that right-hand plane up to a point. Notice I am continuing the drag and it doesn't make any difference anymore. Same happens at a point with the left-hand plane. So I'm extending the left-hand plane and then I am not anymore. Now what in the world is going on there? Basically, the grid has a resolution associated with it. In other words you're seeing gridlines every X number of points, and once Illustrator can't render out those gridlines anymore, it just stops. Now, that's not actually a big deal even if you have a very short plane, you can draw on it all over the place.
You can draw all the way to the horizon line, but if you want to be able to see the extension of the plane, then you need to increase the grid size and that's the job of this little guy right there. So notice, there is a circle down here at the way bottom, that's the origin point, I don't suggest you move that very often, because it doesn't really serve that much of a purpose, but this next sort of whatever it is, a diamond or a circle up, that's your grid control. And if you drag it down you're going to increase the size of the grid which is going to make the plane smaller.
If you drag it up you're going to increase the size of the grid which is going to make the planes bigger and you can make them mondo big if you want to, but that means that you're not going to have many gridlines to work with. So I just want to tell you that so you have a fake sense of what's going on, because it's very easy to get frustrated with the Perspective Grid after a point. Anyway, I'm going to go ahead and drag this down, because once again it doesn't really matter how big our planes are. We can still draw them any old time we like. So that's the basics of what's going on with the Perspective Grid. Finally, let's say you've spent sometime working on the grid you've got it set up exactly the way you want.
You might want to save out a preset, and you do that by going up to the View menu, choosing Perspective Grid and choosing Save Grid as Preset. And then I'm going to go ahead and name this guy, notice you have this overwhelming number of numerical controls, and you can change the color associated with the Left plane, and the Right plane, and the Ground plan as well. And I'm using the terminology that Adobe normally uses even though it's called Left Grid, Right Grid, and Horizontal Grid here inside this dialog box, but ultimately, let's say you've got everything set up the way you want.
You don't care about all these parametric controls. I'll just go ahead and call this Staircase grid; and it looks like I've made a little bit of a mistake there; Staircase grid, and click OK in order to save that off. And now notice you can go to the View menu, choose Perspective Grid and you can switch this is a Two Point grid, and I'll show you the difference between One Point, Two Point, and Three Point in the future exercise, but notice you can choose Two Point grid and you can restore the default which is included here in brackets, or you can save anything that you've saved previously.
And you can see that I have saved a few other ones over the course of using the product. Anyway, you would just restore this by choosing Staircase grid and there it would be. That's the basics of what's going on with the Perspective Grid. In the next exercise, we'll create our first very basic perspective drawing.
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