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Reshaping paths


Animated Character Design with Illustrator

with Angie Taylor

Video: Reshaping paths

Reshaping paths provides you with in-depth training on 3D + Animation. Taught by Angie Taylor as part of the Animated Character Design with Illustrator
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Reshaping paths
Video Duration: 9m 6s2h 33m Intermediate Jan 14, 2011

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Reshaping paths provides you with in-depth training on 3D + Animation. Taught by Angie Taylor as part of the Animated Character Design with Illustrator

View Course Description

This workshop from author and animator Angie Taylor teaches how to use Illustrator's tools and features to prepare 2D files for animation in Adobe After Effects. Discover how to make the most of Illustrator's drawing tools and Autotrace feature, and to how use Live Paint and Kuler to recolor artwork. Plus, get a ton of tips and tricks for giving artwork a hand-drawn look and find out how to set up layers, aspect ratios, and transparency options for importing into After Effects. The lessons are focused and solution-oriented, and all the project files are included.

Topics include:
  • Setting up the work area
  • Bringing artwork into Illustrator
  • Tracing artwork manually
  • Creating complex shapes
  • Working with paths
  • Using Live Trace
  • Coloring artwork
  • Applying 3D effects
  • Exporting artboards
  • Options for saving files
3D + Animation Design video2brain
Angie Taylor

Reshaping paths

Okay, so we're in reshape tools .ai which you can find in the working with selections folder. And what we're going to do here is reshape some of these paths to make the drawing look a bit more organic and a little bit more realistic. We've created the hands and the arms by combining basic primitive shapes. And if I select this arm, you can see it consists of a circle and an oval. Now that's great for building up basic shapes, but really it looks a little bit too rigid and symmetrical. So what I want to do is give a, a more organic hand-drawn look by using the reshape tools to adjust the paths. So let's start by having a look at one of the reshape tools. Let's click and hold on the Width tool here and when I click and hold on that, you'll see a list of tools and if I want to be able to see them at all times. I can just move over to the tear off strip and then release the mouse, and it allows me to float to that panel above the workspace. Okay, so we're going to start by having a look at the Bloat tool. And what I want to do is I want to use the Bloat tool to create some exaggerated muscles on his arms.

Now you'll notice that I have a circle representing the area that's going to bloat. And if I click on the arm, you'll notice what it does, it bloats it on both sides. Okay? That's a little bit too much. He's not that muscly. So what I want to do is adjust those options. Now I can double-click the Bloat tool and I can change the settings in here. So maybe we'll want to go for a setting of 30 pixels, horizontally and 30 pixels vertically. I'm also going to bring the intensity down to a value of 10, because is just a little bit over-the-top, and I'm going to click okay.

Now, you'll notice I've made the brush a little bit too small. I want it a little bit bigger than that. So another way of changing the brush more interactively is to hold down the Alt key and click and drag, and that allows me to change the brush till it's exactly the right size for his muscles. And then all I need to do is just position it and click to create a nice big muscly arm. Now I'm going to do the same with this arm, but I need to select the arm. If I just click on the arm it's not going to work. Now you'll notice I have all the layers separated here, so that each body part is on a separate layer, which makes it easy when I start to animate in After Effects.

It means that all of these body parts can be animated individually. So, I'm going to select the right upper arm and this time I'm going to click on this arm and just extended it a bit. Let's see extended it a bit on that side, and it now looks like he's got great big muscles. Now, we're also going to do the lower arm, and if I click on this arm here, using the selection tool, you'll notice it only selects this part of the arm. If I click on here, it selects the hand as well, because it's selecting the whole lower arm. Now, at the moment, I only really want to select the forearm. So I'm going to deselect select the forearm.

And then go to my bloat tool. We'll make it a little bit smaller. So, again, alt, click, and drag, just to bring it in a little bit, and then click on it, just to add a little bit more muscle tone to that arm. Okay, so that's the bloat tool. You also have the pucker tool, which will do the opposite, that will thin areas. And if I select his, thumb here, and click on that, you'll see it will make it smaller rather than bigger. So it shrinks areas down, so let's just undo those 2 steps. Now the next tool we're going to use is this one here, which is called the warp tool, and this is one that I probably use the most often.

So it just allows you to push pixels back and forth. Now I'm going to double-click the warp tool and open up the settings, and this time what I'm going to do is change the size. So let's bring the size down to maybe ten by ten. And I'm also going to change the intensity so that it's controlled by the pressure of my pen. Now I'm using WACOM pen and tablet here. So Illustrator will listen, if you like, to the sensitivity of the pressure that I am using on my pen, and it will allow me to control the amount of distortion by adjusting the pressure. Now I'm going to zoom in by using command plus or command minus on the keyboard and just use the spacebar to toggle to the hand tool to move so that I can see the hand layer.

Now, as I said, if I just click with the selection tool on the hand, it's only selecting parts of the hand. Now, the easiest thing to do to make sure that the hand is always selected as one item is to group it together. Now, what I'm going to do is select the whole layer. Now, I don't want to include the forearm in this group, so I'm going to hold down shift and deselect that, and these items I'm going to group together. Now, watch what happens when I group this. I go to object, group, and it now combines those into an individual group, which means that when I deselect and select again, it selects a little hand and I can move that hand around as a group.

Makes it much easier for editing, and also for using the warp tool, because now when I use the warp tool, it works on the whole group so not only on the thumb, as I make the thumb smaller, that was a little bit to much. But also on this finger here, and you'll see it works on every single finger with in the group. So I can start to really make this look a little bit more organic, more like a real hand pushing bits in pulling bits out, and creating the shapes that I want. So it's kind of like sculpting by hand.

I love using this tool. Okay. I did sculpture at art college, so that's maybe why I like to use the kid of reshape tools in Illustrator to kind of sculpt my drawings into shape, and make them look a little bit more realistic. So now you can see how starting with a primitive shape, and then just adjusting it, can start to give you quite a lot of realism in terms of the shape your using. It'd be quite difficult to draw that using vector shapes in Illustrator, to get that level of detail.

But now you can see if I just click away from that, you can see that's a much more realistic hand than we had when we started. Let's just do a little bit more work on that. So I'm going to select again, toggling to the Command key, or Control key if you're on the PC, and we'll just give this thumb a little bit more of a shape as well. Okay, and we're going to pull it out here. Okay, now there are lots of references that you can use online if you can't draw from your head. You can look at the reference online to get an idea of what shape the hand should be.

And it takes a little bit of tweaking backwards and forwards. I've just made that knuckle a little bit too fat there, and we'll also bring that around, curve it a little bit more. Okay. But you can see that very quickly I start to get a much more realistic hand shape. In fact I've made that worse, so I'm just going to undo those last few stages. Okay. So there we have our hand reshaped using the reshape tools, and there are lots of other tools that you can use in there. We got things like the crystallize tool, in fact, let's use that on his head and give him a punky haircut. Okay? Let's see how this works. So I select his head, I'm going to select the crystallize tool. And this time I'm going to make it, well, I don't need to worry too much about the size because what I can do is just do that interactively by holding down the Alt key.

And we'll start by giving him a little bit of spikiness round here. Okay, and as we move round, we start to make his hair more spiky at the top. So in fact, at the top, let's just do this side, and then when we get to the top what we'll do is make the brush a little bit stronger, so I'll double-click and in fact just pressing harder and making the brush a little bit bigger will give us slightly more distortion. And whoops, so there we've got him with a nice spikey hair cut as well by using the crystallized tool.

Now it might be better to just to use a basic brush there, so that you can see that more clearly. So we've given him a bit of a spikey hair cut. What we're also going to do is make the t-shirt look a little bit more organic, by using the Wrinkle tool. Now with the Wrinkle tool, you probably want to make quite a few adjustments to this. Becasue you can adjust the amount of wrinkles horizontally and vertically. So if I put that on 100 for both, and the complexity we're going to keep quite low, and the detail quite low, and we're going to click on Okay, and then start to create a more wrinkly edge for this t-shirt. Again select the t-shirt, and start to create a kind of ripped look for his sleeves.

Okay so we want to make it look like he's torn the sleeves off with his teeth. And he's torn the neck off with his teeth. Cause he's kind of a punk character. And we'll move down to the bottom and we'll give it a torn edge down here as well. Okay. Now if I want a little bit more strength on that, I can put the complexity up to about 3 and the detail up to 2, and you'll see that I'm starting to get a little bit more of a ripped detail there. Now the final stage is I'm going to get my warp tool and just pull that t-shirt down so it looks like it's hanging. Rather than stretched over his belly.

And again, we'll just give it a little bit more of a ripped look there on the edge. So you'll see by using these tools, you can start to give your drawing a much more organic look than you had done before. And I would continue here with this hand and tweak that as well.

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