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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.
Over the course of this project we are going to take this photograph from Dark Factor Angel of the Fotolia image library and we are going to convert it into this perspective cartoon. It employs not only rectangles as we've are already seen, but slightly more complicated shapes drawn with a Pen tool as well as texts and symbols. So we will see how all that works but in this exercise we are just going to set up the perspective grid and when I say just this is a very important process and it might take a little bit of work to get it exactly right. So you might want to set aside about 10 to 15 minutes if not more sometimes to set up that initial perspective grid.
If I switch back to my initial photograph here notice that it's truly rendered in Three Point Perspective. So we not only have one side of the house declining in one direction and the other side declining toward another vanishing point, but we also have what ought to be straight vertical sides declining toward a very distant zenith point. I say very distant, because notice how slightly this right side and the far left side are leaning, just a little bit. You're going to see that in a lot of photographs.
Most photographs are going to appear in some degree of Three Point Perspective. However, as I mentioned earlier you're going to do yourself a tremendous favor if you can stick with two-point or even One Point Perspective, and we are going to go with Two Point Perspective where this project is concerned. So I invite you to go ahead and zoom out, because you're going to need to be pretty far away from your photograph in order to get this right. Then go ahead and switch to the Perspective Grid tool which you can get by pressing Shift+P and right now we're seeing our default Two Point Perspective which is altogether wrong for the scene, although it's nice that it's two-point; that's a good thing.
Now if you do decide you need to switch to one-point or three-point, you go up to the View menu you go down here to Perspective Grid and then you either choose One Point Perspective and the default 1P -Normal View or you choose Three Point Perspective and then choose 3P-Normal view. However, if you're working in Two Point Perspective as you most likely will then things are already setup by default that way for you. I am going to go ahead and escape out here. Now the trick at this point is to align our panes the way we need them to be aligned. I typically start off by grabbing that horizon line right there and taking it down to where it belongs.
In our case it should be just under the roof of that gray building in the background there. Notice we are about midway between the awning and the top of the car. So, that's just a general guideline you may want to play around and see what you come up with. I am going to go ahead and scroll over to left a little bit here, because we need to yank this left vanishing point way, way out there and you can keep an eye on your grid in order to get a sense of whether you're matching the lines inside of your photographs. So the whole idea here is that you're trying to match these gridlines to the lines that are already apparent inside of the photo, if you're tracing a photo of course.
So I'm going to go ahead and scroll over a little bit more. Now at this point, I want to play with these two controls. This guy right here is going to swing the left-hand grid as if it's a door on a hinge and the hinge is that left-hand vanishing point in the case of the blue left hand grid. So I am going to go ahead and take it over. Now it's not necessary that you do this. You don't have to swing these grids back and forth. You can leave them where they are. The problem is then you don't know if you're matching the scene properly. So I'm just doing this to get a sense of whether I am matching the scene or not, and it looks to me notice how this gridline starts very close to the roofline over here on the right-hand side and then drifts away as we follow it over to the left-hand side; meaning that my vanishing point still isn't far enough out there.
So you're going to be doing a lot of trial and error with this tool. I'm going to go ahead and drag my vanishing point still farther over to left and this looks like a pretty good match. It's hard to tell when I am zoomed out this far. So I will go ahead and zoom back in and check out what I've done and it looks like my line is following the roofline pretty consistently again not quite far out enough, I fear. So I am going to go ahead and zoom out even farther, drag that guy over a little bit more and when I say that guy I mean the left-hand vanishing point.
I'm going to go ahead and zoom in once again to check out what in the world I've done. It looks good, actually. It looks like I've got a nice line going underneath that roofline and if you need more clarity where this grid is concerned, then you need to locate dead grid control. This is what I just hate about this tool. I will say that it is frustrating. I don't want you to think that this is some sort of wonderful work of perfection, because there are some things that are little sort of wonky about it. But notice that even though I've moved these panes around here that my grid control still exists at the focal point of my ground plane.
So I am going to go ahead and drag it down in order to increase the resolution of the grid or you can drag it up to decrease the resolution if you need fewer lines. As I mentioned earlier when you have fewer gridlines then your panes are going to drift farther out. You're going to see a larger pane. Anyway, the blue pane looks pretty darn good. Now I need to get the orange pane that is the right-hand grid looking the way it ought to and I want to line it up with the balcony. Again, now my vanishing point isn't in the right place. In this case, the vanishing point is too far out.
So I need to tuck it in and what we are seeing here is essentially a fairly radical amount of perspective. So the right-hand vanishing point is declining very quickly where the left-hand vanishing point was declining very slowly. Were we to add a zenith point for Three Point Perspective, it would be way up there. I'm not sure we have enough pasteboard to pull it off. Anyway, let's go ahead and zoom in here and check out whether this is working. This looks pretty good to me. It's not really necessary that these guys are in alignment with each other like this so that one grid is absolutely touching the other grid.
You can have them overlap each other if you want to. If you're drawing an interior scene instead of the exterior, you may find that you want them to all the way overlap so that what is ostensibly the right-hand grid is actually in left-hand side and left-hand grid is on right-hand side. That is totally acceptable. By the way, you can put these things anywhere you like. Do I have this where I want it to be? I feel that I've got this vanishing point too far in and I tucked it in just a little bit too far. So I will go ahead and cheat it out some and you may find that you never get it exactly right.
Don't worry about it too much. This is just a tracing template. The people who ultimately see your artwork are not going to see the template. So it doesn't matter if it's an exact match and after all we are taking a little bit of artistic license, but it looks to me like we have things set up pretty darn well. In the next exercise I will show you a couple of great tips for further refining this grid.
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