Mapping flat artwork to perspective grids
Video: Mapping flat artwork to perspective gridsThe Perspective Grid feature inside of Illustrator CS5 is fantastic for defining grids and for drawing artwork directly in Perspective. But perhaps one of the most powerful aspects of this Perspective Grid is your ability to take two-dimensional artwork, or artwork that is not attached to any specific plane, and manually attach that artwork to a plane. In other words, create art as you normally would, and then snap it into the right Perspective when required. In addition, you'll find this tremendous amount of functionality built into Illustrator's Perspective Grid for editing artwork that already exists inside of a Perspective.
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In Illustrator CS5 New Features, author Mordy Golding discusses noteworthy features and improvements in the latest upgrade of Adobe's vector graphics editor and drawing program. This course includes overviews of perspective drawing, expressive bristle brushes, and variable-width strokes, as well as anti-aliasing features for web design, a new Artboards panel, improvements to symbols and drawing modes, and integration with Adobe Flash Catalyst. Exercise files are included with the course.
- Creating complex art from basic shapes with the Shape Builder tool
- Transforming flat artwork using perspective grids and vanishing points
- Creating variable-width strokes
- Controlling dashed line length, corners, and gaps
- Creating original brushes using the Brushes panel
- Adding arrowheads to strokes
- Creating web-ready graphics, text, and slices
- Integrating with Flash Catalyst
Mapping flat artwork to perspective grids
The Perspective Grid feature inside of Illustrator CS5 is fantastic for defining grids and for drawing artwork directly in Perspective. But perhaps one of the most powerful aspects of this Perspective Grid is your ability to take two-dimensional artwork, or artwork that is not attached to any specific plane, and manually attach that artwork to a plane. In other words, create art as you normally would, and then snap it into the right Perspective when required. In addition, you'll find this tremendous amount of functionality built into Illustrator's Perspective Grid for editing artwork that already exists inside of a Perspective.
Let's take a look. In this case, I already have a file that has a Perspective Grid defined and some artwork already drawn. But let's say I want to put some text along the side of this building, maybe like a sign, for example. Well, let's start on a very basic level by just creating some text inside of Illustrator. I'll use my Type tool to simply click on the artboard here, and notice, by the way, that when you're using the Type tool inside of Illustrator, it does not put that type in Perspective. The actual live type-editing mode inside of Illustrator does not work inside of a Perspective mode. And this is true, even though you can see over here, that I currently have the right plane active.
But I'll type in the word, for example, like Flowers. Let me choose a typeface that maybe is little bit more floral than Myriad. I'll choose Papyrus for this example, and I'll change the point size to something more significant like maybe 60 point. Now say I want the word Flowers to appear across the top part of the building over here, in Perspective. Rather than using drawing tools to actually create artwork in Perspective already, I can take regular plane 2D art, like I have right here, and place it on to a grid. We call that attaching this artwork to a Perspective Grid.
To do so, I'll need to perform two steps. First, I'll come over to the Tools panel and underneath the Perspective Grid tool, if I click and hold my mouse button down, you'll see another tool called the Perspective Selection tool. We're going to spend a lot of time in this movie using this tool, because it allows us to work in Perspective with any kind of object. Next, I want to make sure that I'm telling Illustrator which plane I want to attach this artwork to. Currently, if you take a look at my Active Plane Widget, I have the Right Grid selected, which is really where I want this to go. But keep in mind the keyboard shortcuts.
Tapping the 1, 2, or 3 key on my keyboard will allow me to toggle between those different planes. Now that I have the right plane chosen, all I need to do is simply click and drag on the artwork, and Illustrator automatically snaps it to the active plane. While it appears that Illustrator converted this text to outlines, it does so purely to put this on to the grid. But the text is still editable. In order for me to change the type, all I need to do is simply double-click on it, and I go into Isolation mode. This allows me to change the text as I need to, and then when I'm ready to exit Isolation mode, simply tap twice on the Escape key to get me back to my regular Editing mode.
It's important to realize that there is a difference between the Regular Selection tool inside of Illustrator, and the Perspective Selection tool. If you want to work in Perspective, you'll always have to use the Perspective Selection tool. Otherwise, you may be moving your artwork without being tied to the grid. Let me give you an example of what I mean. If I take the Regular Selection tool and I click on this rectangle right here, which is currently attached to this Right Grid, I'll see that moving this artwork does not do so in any Perspective. Let me undo that, and I'll now switch to the Perspective Selection tool.
Now when I move this shape, I can see that it does move in Perspective. So, you just want to make sure that when you're working inside of Illustrator, and you're dealing with Perspective, that you're using the Perspective Selection tool. When you're using the Perspective Selection tool, you can also click on the handles of any shape that's attached to a grid and resize them according to the Perspective. Let's say, you want to take a piece of artwork that's currently attached to one Perspective plane and move it onto another Perspective plane. You can do that using the Perspective Selection tool in tandem with the Active Plane Widget.
Let's see how that works. When I use my Perspective Selection tool to click and drag on this rectangle, because it's attached to this grid right now, it is actually moving in Perspective as I move it around. If I'd like to attach this object to a different plane, what I can do is I can use the keyboard shortcuts to toggle between the different planes of my document. For example, if I tap the 1 key, while still clicking and dragging with the mouse, you can see that right now that shape has been changed to be attached to the Left Grid of my document. In this way, I was able to move a piece of artwork from one plane directly on to a different plane, and automatically adjust its Perspective.
For example, let me show you that again with the word Flowers. I'm using the Perspective Selection tool. I'll click on the word Flowers to select it. I'll start dragging. I'll type in the 1 key on my keyboard to toggle to the Left Plane, and put the word Flowers right in this part of the building. Now that we understand these techniques, let's actually complete this building. Let's add some more artwork and make it more detailed. I'm going to start by going to the File menu here and just choosing Revert to go back to the original version of this document. You'll notice that there is a window here, and this window has a kind of rounded top, and it's got some lines that run through it.
While I could possibly sit down and start drawing this in Perspective, it's a lot easy for me to actually draw this head-on, and then map it, or attach it, to the Perspective Grid. I'll go to my Symbols panel, and I've already created a symbol with the art that I need. I'm going to drag that out on to my artboard. And I now want to attach this symbol to my Perspective Grid. I'll make sure I have my Perspective Selection tool selected. I'll make the Right Grid active, and then I'll simply move this piece of artwork into position. While I'm still using the Perspective Selection tool, I can hold down the Shift key and scale this, just as if would scale any other piece of artwork.
Working with symbols is actually a great way to work with Perspective as well, because I can always double-click on the symbol to edit its appearance. Tapping Escape to exit returns me back to document and automatically updates that art in Perspective. I have two other elements I want to work on over here. One is this sign in this part of the building, and the other one is this sign that appears on this part of the building. Let's start with this sign. I'm actually going to zoom in just a little bit closer here, so we could focus on this one area of the building. Next, I'll drag out a symbol here called the Seeds Sign. Rather than having the word Flowers here, my client decided that they wanted to actually advertise that this place sells a certain type of seed.
So, I need to attach this artwork to the Perspective Grid, but here is the thing. The sign kind of sticks out from this side of the building. So, it really needs to be mapped to this grid over here. So, let's see how I'll do that. I'm going to start by selecting the Perspective Selection tool. I'll choose the right grid that I want this artwork to be attached to, which in this case is the Left Grid. And then I'll click and drag to add that symbol or to attach that symbol to that Grid. Again, because I'm using the Perspective Selection tool, as I move this, this piece of artwork adjusts its Perspective.
Now I can move the artwork completely way off the grid over here. Remember that the grid itself is just a way for me to visualize where that is, but the grid, in theory, exists throughout my entire document. It does extend even beyond the visible areas. But there is something a little bit different about this one element that I want to talk about. If I move this shape to about right over here, this would mean that the actual sign itself would be sticking out on the corner of the building. But the sign really sticks out a little bit further into the building. So, what I need to do is I need to take this piece of art, and move it in a perpendicular direction, meaning that it stays right now where it is, but kind of moves further back, so that it now looks like it's actually sticking out of this side of the building.
To do so, I'm going to click and start dragging this element right now, and I'm going to hold down the tilde key on my keyboard. It's the little squiggly button that appears on the upper left-hand corner of your keyboard, right between the Tab and the Escape keys. When you hold down the tilde key, you'll notice that right now, this piece of artwork is being sent back perpendicular, but it's still being attached to the Left Grid plane. You can see that a line right now appears indicating that. I'll move it to right about over here, and in this case, here, I can see that the sign does appear where it needs to go.
One thing I want to point out. Many times when working with the Perspective Grid, it may be easier to turn off the Snap to Grid option. To do so, go to the View menu, choose Perspective Grid, and make sure that Snap to Grid is turned off. This way, your artwork won't automatically try to snap to these elements here, and you get the position just as you need it. Now, to complete the true appearance of this sign, I have to give it some kind of thickness. It's important to realize that Perspective inside of Illustrator is not real 3D. It's a way of drawing in Perspective. But what I can do is simulate the look of 3D by using these Perspective drawing tools.
Let's see how to do that. I actually want to create some depth here. So, I'll need to create some new shapes. I'll choose the Rectangle tool, and I'll also go ahead and use the keyboard shortcuts so that I can draw these elements on the planes where they need to go. For example, if I start drawing right now, because the Left Grid is currently my active grid, my artwork is not going to appear correct. I want this particular shape to be drawn on this grid here, on the Right Grid. So, I'm going to tap the 3 on my keyboard. Now, when I click and drag, you can see that Smart Guides automatically indicate to me, where these anchors are, so I can get it to snap just the place that I needed.
Let me give some thickness to it. I'll go ahead, and I'll bring it just about over there. Next, I'll hit the 2 key on my keyboard. That will now highlight the ground grid, or the horizontal grid, and now I can simply move over here, click and drag, and then again, connect the anchor point that way. Now with my Regular Selection tool, I can select these two elements here, and apply a color to them. As you can see, if I zoom out a little bit, I was now able to create a sign that looks like it's actually protruding out from the building with the right Perspective.
We can use the same technique to create the sign that appears over here. Once again, I'll drag out a symbol. I'll choose the Perspective Selection tool, activate the Left Grid, and then simply drag that shape to put it on to that Grid. I'll now hold down the tilde key, as I drag this shape back over here, all the way to where it needs to go. I can also hold down the Shift key here to scale this to be just a little bit smaller, and I'll move it up just where it needs to go. By the way, when you're working inside of Perspective, you can also use the arrow keys in your keyboard to nudge things in Perspective as well.
Just make sure that when you do so, that you have the Perspective Selection tool selected. Otherwise, you'll be nudging out of the Perspective Grid. As you can see, when I deselect this and zoom out, that sign is now currently in the right Perspective for this building. So, there you have it, a nice way to actually work in Perspective inside of Illustrator, but more importantly, the ability to combine both the two-dimensional worlds and also the Perspective worlds, and getting your artwork to look exactly the way you wanted to, without having to work too hard to get it.
Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Illustrator CS5 New Features .
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- Q: In the “Mapping flat artwork to perspective grids” video, directions for moving a box in a perpendicular direction say to use the Tilde key. However, upon attempting to move the box using this method, the box continues to move in the same plane, not in a perpendicular fashion. Is the technique in the video incorrect?
- A: Adobe changed this keyboard shortcut just before the final release. The shortcut is the "5" key. The video tutorial has been updated to reflect this.
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