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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.
In this exercise, I am going to introduce you to the first, and I think the best, of the Liquify tools inside of Illustrator, and that's the Warp tool. Now for those of you who may be familiar with the Liquify feature inside of Photoshop, we have got a similar thing going here. For one thing, you have a very similar collection of tools. So you've got the Warp tool, you've got Twirl and Pinch and Bloat and a bunch of others. I'll show you how they work. Illustrator also offers a few additional tools of its own. But, best of all, whereas in Photoshop you have to work inside of a dialog box in order to apply your adjustments, in Illustrator you can warp your path outlines directly inside the Illustration window, which is a heck of a bonus.
The downside is that these are static path outline adjustments, so unlike dynamic effects and all that stuff, you are making permanent modifications to your artwork. However, you also have a lot of expressive control. All right! Let me show you how they work. First of all, they're located in a strange place. You have to go over here to the new Width tool inside Illustrator CS5. Click and hold and then you will reveal a list of the Liquify tools, which start with the Warp tool and end with the Wrinkle tool. All of these tools, Wrap through Wrinkle, are related to each other.
They have nothing to do with the Width tool. I suppose you could argue that the Width tool is a kind of distortion tool, but it applies a nondestructive distortion to a stroke and you can go back and change your mind anytime you like. Wrap through Wrinkle are really changing the fundamental path outline, and they have nothing to do with strokes. Anyway, because there are so many of these tools and we will be switching back and forth, I suggest you go ahead and release on that Tearoff strip in order to create an independent toolbox here, and then drag it to the top of the screen, or someplace out of the way. Now I am going to switch over to the Warp tool, which you can get by pressing Shift+R, for what that's worth, and you can set about dragging directly in the illustration if you want to.
So for example, if I drag over that star, I am going to warp that star. However, notice I'm not warping the horse. I am not catching the horse at all, and that's because the horse is a tracing object, and a tracing object is not something that the Liquify tools recognize. You have to be working with static path outlines. The same thing is going on down here at the bottom of the illustration. I can drag in order to wrap this rectangle, as you see me doing here-- of course, I am not hitting the horse at all--but I can't drag and warp the text, because that's editable text, and again, that's off limits where the Liquify tools are concerned.
So whatever you are going to liquify, you need to convert to your static path outlines, and I recommend that you select that object first, so that you limit your modifications to that one object. So let me show you how that works. I am going to go up to the File menu, because I made such a mess of this illustration, and choose the Revert command in order to load up that saved version of the illustration. And then once it appears on screen, I'll twirl open the horse layer right there, and I'll meatball the tracing object. Now notice, if I decide to click and drag, this time I get an error message.
So before, Illustrator was just ignoring my attempts to liquify the horse in the text; this time because I've got the horse selected, it says, hey, wait a second buddy, this contains art that I cannot liquefy. What you need to do is go ahead and embed that image before you apply the Liquify tool. Now, if you take that advice-- terrible advice by the way, click OK-- if you wanted to take that advice, you would go to the Links panel, bring that up so that you could see the linked image, Horse with wings.psd, and then you would go to the flyout menu and you would choose the Embed Image command.
Then you would turn around and warp the underlying image, and then the Illustrator would have to wrap those pixels and then turnaround and reapply the Live Trace feature on the fly, which is, for one thing, extremely time consuming, and for another it's awfully inefficient. If you want to warp an image, you should use the Liquify filter inside of Photoshop, because that's what it's designed for. These tools are not very adept at warping images, and they tend to make a big mess of them. So that's not what I recommend you do. Here is what I recommend you do instead-- we'll go ahead and hide that Links panel: Go ahead and take that tracing object which is selected and press Ctrl+C, Ctrl+F, or Command+C, Command+F on the Mac.
We're essentially just making a copy of the object. Then turn the original one off, so we're just keeping it safe, because we might want to come back to it later. And then with a new Tracing object selected, go up to the Expand button here in the control panel and click on it, and that goes ahead and converts that live trace object to a group of static path outlines. Now you can go in there and warp them to any extent you want. Now I am going to zoom in--and also by the way, I should say I've created a guide in advance for you, so you have an idea of where we are going with this project.
Go ahead and turn on the guides & eye layer right there, and you'll see this guideline out here that's tracing around the horse outline. Now, we are not going to use it as a snapping guide, but we will use it as a general visual guide as we work. And you can see that what I've done is I've lifted the horses head up, and I've also made various aspects of the horse thicker, like he's got a thicker neck and thicker wings and thicker haunches and thicker legs and a longer tail and so forth. So let's set about now-- with that guideline on-screen-- let's set about dragging this horse face into a different place. And you'll see, immediately we are getting just the most terrible results possible.
This thing up here is this eye that I've created on the guides & eye layer, so don't worry about it; but otherwise we've got this big droopy snout now that doesn't look horse-like at all. And the more I drag, the more we start getting details that look like bad auto tracing, like we haven't taken anytime putting this illustration together at all. So the reason this is happening, by the way, is because Illustrator is dead set on smoothing out the contours as we work. And Illustrator's idea of smoothing is to completely manhandle the anchor points and the control handles and everything else, and you just end up with a handful of smooth points and some very doughy rotten results.
So obviously this is no good, and what we are going to do-- first of all, what we are going to do is we are going to go up to the File menu and choose the Revert command to restore the original version of the illustration, and then I am going to turn on that guides & eye layer once again, I am going to twirl open horse, meatball the horse, copy it, paste it in front--so Ctrl+C, Ctrl+F, Command+C, Command+F on the Mac. Turn off the original tracing object. Go up to the Expand button in the Control panel, click on it, so that we have a good starting point. I'll go ahead and save that off for you even, and then in the next exercise, I'll show you how to modify the Warp tool to get much better results.
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