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Adobe Illustrator has long been a popular vector–based drawing program, but for many the learning curve is steep. In Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals, author and leading industry expert Deke McClelland shows users how to get in to the Illustrator mindset and overcome this learning curve. He covers the application's key features in a new way, making it simple and easy to master Illustrator. Deke teaches viewers how to use the core drawing and shape tools, the transformation and reshaping features, text, and the Pen tool. He also explains how to export and print. Even if learning Illustrator has been a struggle in the past, this training can help make sense of it. Exercise files accompany the course.
In this exercise, I'm going to show you how to create a conventional Tracing Template inside of Illustrator that's based on a pixel-based image. So in previous chapters, I showed you how we could express an entire illustration as a tracing template and then trace over it. The whole idea was that way you and I could be on the same page and trace the illustration together. In this chapter though, I want to give you more of a sense of our real world scenario, where you would go ahead and paint or sketch an idea and then scan it or photograph it and then bring it into Illustrator. So notice I have got this document opened that's called Base template.ai, found inside the 09_pen_tool folder.
Right now for me, we're just looking at a blank canvas, a blank artboard, which is a little darting. Certainly we could start in drawing if we wanted to but it's so much easier if we have something to work from. Right there I have got this template layer here inside the Layers palette that I have turned off, I'll turn it on and this is a Tracing Template. Notice, we can tell it's a tracing template because instead of seeing an eyeball in front of the layer, we see this collection of shapes right there. Now, we can just set in tracing this artwork. So how in the world do we get to this artwork in the first place? I'm going to go ahead and switch over to Photoshop for a moment, so that I can show you. I took this photograph a few years back at Batchawana Bay, Ontario and this is an Ojibwe Pictograph and it shows this mythical creature which is known as Mishipizheu right here which is an underwater panther.
It was either a combination of a panther and a snake and a fish and a deer or something along those lines, all of these different creates sort of morphed together, or it was a panther that just happened to be underwater, sort of a God like creature that also was a snake charmer. So we have a couple of snakes down here and then we've got this canoe full of guys that's chasing the underwater panther or worshiping him. I was so fond of it that I decided to turn it into a painting. So I sort of traced it inside a Photoshop and then I ultimately created this acrylic painting right here. Now both of these images, by the way, are available to you inside the 09_pen_tool folder. One is called Ojibwe Pictograph and the other one is called Mishipizheu, the one that we're seeing right now. And so this is the acrylic under painting that I made and then I ended up doing some more painting on top of it and I ended up pretty much ruining it. I wasn't too fond of what I came up with, but I did like this stage in the development of the painting. So I decided what the heck, take it into Illustrator, trace it, see what you come up with.
So let me show you how to make your own Tracing Template from this painting. Let's go back to Illustrator. Start things off by getting rid of that Template layer. So just go ahead and grab it and throw it in the Trash. So we're left with just a Drawing layer. This is the kind of thing you would get if you were to just create a new illustration inside of Illustrator. Now let's add a Tracing Template to it. Under the File menu, by the way, there is this command called New from Template. You might think that will create a new illustration based on a photographic image. No, it doesn't. It's actually not the right way to work at all. It basically takes an illustration that already exists and opens it up untitled. So that's what's going on there.
What you want, however, after creating a new illustration, you want to choose the Place command and then you want to make sure that you navigate to the 09_pen_tool folder, find that image right there, the painting which is called Mishipizheu.jpg, and then you want to turn on the Link checkbox so that you are linking to this image, as opposed to embedding it inside of the illustration. If you embed the image, you are just going to blow this file. You are going to make it very big and Illustrator is really challenged in the pixel department. If I asked it to keep track of all of those pixels, it sometimes kind of misbehaves.
So better to do a Link and then turn on the Template checkbox right there. So both checkboxes on and then click on the Place button and notice that Illustrator does a ton of work for you, it creates a new layer under the existing layer, names it for you and automatically locks it down and makes it a Tracing Template, all in one easy operation. Now, the question is, did it do it right? Let's go ahead and Shift+Tab away those palettes. And the answer is not for me, it didn't. We have the image off to the side there. So we need to go ahead and align it properly. I'll bring back my Layers palette and I'm going to turn off the Lock icon here for a moment. So that I can access the image and I'm going to click on its perimeter there to select it.
If you are having problems selecting it, you can't just click in the middle, if you have been following along with me because we have to click on our path outlines now. You can go ahead and just sort of marquee the image, the side of the image in order to select it. Ultimately, you should see the red handles around the outside. Then what I want you to do is go up to the Control palette right there, click on the word Align, in order to bring up the Align palette, change the Align setting from Align to Selection, which is the way it is probably for you, change it to Align to Artboard, like so. Then once you have done that, go ahead and click on the Horizontal Align Center which will take care of most of the work, so that horizontally aligns the image to the artboard. Then we want to go ahead and do a Vertical Align Center as well, which is going to just slightly change the placement for me anyway.
Again, yours might just be fine, but you should go ahead and check it. Then we're ready to lock this image down once again. But before we do, why don't we see a few things about this special Tracing Template layer here. I'm going to double-click on it to bring up the Layer Options dialog box and I'm going to rename this layer Template like so. We don't need this big long name here and for the moment, I'm going to turn off the Template checkbox and that way we can see what this looks like as a standard layer. So this is just your standard everyday average layer. We now have an eyeball in place of those shapes there. I could click off the layer in order to deselect it for a moment. The thing I want you to see is when you are working a standard imported image like this, when you go up to the View menu, switch to the Outline mode, which you often have to do. You often have to trace in the outline mode, so you can see what in the world you are doing.
If you switch to the outline mode, the image switches to the Outline mode too. So you can't see what in the world it is that you are tracing. So that's a problem with not working with the Tracing Template. All right, so press Ctrl+Y, Command+Y to switch back to the Preview mode and here is what we're going to do instead. Go ahead and double-click on the Template layer, turn on template and let's change this Dim Images to 35% and note that this option here only affects pixel-based images. So if you have decided to put other vector-based objects on this layer, they would not be dimmed.
So I'm going to go ahead and click OK. Illustrator automatically locks that layer down. You don't have to keep it locked, but it is locked down. That's good actually, so you don't end up mucking it up and it switches it back to a Template layer as indicated by these shapes here. Now, if I press Ctrl+Y to switch to the Outline mode, you wouldn't even know I did it. Although, you can see I have got a little Orphan Annie Eye now in front of the Drawing layer thereby showing me that I'm working inside the Outline mode. That way, I can trace this template very easily, I'll see through my objects but I'll see my image. Great thing. Then we want to press Ctrl+Y to switch back or Command+Y in a Mac. I can see the image as well.
All right. So that's how you create a Tracing Template. That's why you create a Tracing Template inside of Illustrator. In the next exercise, I'll show you how to draw a straight-sided path, a free-form polygon, using the Pen tool.
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