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Setting up a template layer for your sketch

From: Illustrator Insider Training: Drawing without the Pen Tool

Video: Setting up a template layer for your sketch

So at this point I'm going to assume that you already have a sketch. You have done something on paper, you have put your idea down, you really have an idea about where you want to go, and you now either take a picture of that or you scan that and you now have an image that you can now place into Illustrator to use as what we call a template to create now our final artwork. So I am going to start off by creating a new document here inside of Illustrator. Just Command+N or Control+N. I can choose over here a new document profile. I can choose a Print Profile and just because of the orientation of the zebra here I am going to choose the wide or the landscape format.

Setting up a template layer for your sketch

So at this point I'm going to assume that you already have a sketch. You have done something on paper, you have put your idea down, you really have an idea about where you want to go, and you now either take a picture of that or you scan that and you now have an image that you can now place into Illustrator to use as what we call a template to create now our final artwork. So I am going to start off by creating a new document here inside of Illustrator. Just Command+N or Control+N. I can choose over here a new document profile. I can choose a Print Profile and just because of the orientation of the zebra here I am going to choose the wide or the landscape format.

So now I am going to click OK and I get this document here and I want to place now that image into this document so I could start to use it as a template. So I am going to go over here to the File menu. I am going to choose Place. Inside of my Chapter 02 Exercise Files folder I am now going to choose this image here called misterzee.psd. Now I'll let you know that I saved that as a Photoshop file, a PSD file, but there is no reason why you couldn't use a JPEG or a TIFF or really any other image file format. As long as it works for you, that is totally fine. Remember, we are not using this for production.

In fact, once we're done with our file we are just going to throw it away, because we are going to have our final vector version that we are going to create. But we need something to get started with. So we are going to be using now this image here. Now I'll also tell you that when I am working here with templates, I'm usually going to not use a linked image. I am going to embed that image. Sure, I can embed this later on. I can uncheck this button right here. That image now is going to be embedded into this document. Meaning, I will no longer need to have a link to that external file. So this way if I move the file around that I don't have to worry about missing links so on and so forth.

So I am going to choose Place and now Mister Zee appears right here on my artboard. The first thing we want to do though is we want to set this now to be some kind of a template. We are going to be drawing on top of this. So we are going to create something inside of Illustrator called the Template layer. If I look at my Layers panel, I have a Layer 1. I am going to double-click on Layer 1, and I am going to give it a different name. I am going to call this one Sketch, because that's where my sketch is going to go. There is a checkbox over here called Template. And if I turn that option on, you'll see a few things happen. First of all, these other options get grayed out.

So Illustrator is automatically going to keep that layer Shown. It's going to have it in Preview mode. It's also going to lock that layer so it doesn't get in the way as I draw. It's also going to uncheck the Print option. Meaning that when I print out my document, I don't ever want this sketch to show up in my printout. So Illustrator automatically changes it to a nonprinting layer. Finally, Illustrator is going to dim that image back to about 50% so that it doesn't get in the way of my drawing. I will not even tell you that 50% is not enough for me. I actually prefer using a setting of either 20% or 30%.

I prefer a 20%, so I am going to choose 20 right here. But again, whatever works best for you is what you should be using. Then I am going to click OK. So what I've just done now is I've created a template layer. Notice that the image is now locked. In fact, if I try to take let's say my Rectangle tool, you can see that I have a pencil icon with a line going through it, meaning I cannot create any artwork here. This layer is locked. You can see the word Sketch. The name of the layer is italicized. Whenever you see a layer that has words that are italicized that indicates that that layer is a nonprinting layer. So what I can do now is if I want to start drawing, I would now create a new layer.

Let me name this layer Artwork, click OK, and now I could start creating artwork on this layer. But I'm using that sketch, which I have now brought into Illustrator as a template, for the design that I am going to create. Again, the beauty of this also is that because it's is a separate layer, I can easily toggle that on and off. So I can choose to view the template or turn it off just so I can see the progress of my design.

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This video is part of

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  1. 7m 4s
    1. Welcome
      1m 21s
    2. The evolution of vector drawing
      3m 46s
    3. Getting the most out of this training
      1m 30s
    4. Using the exercise files
      27s
  2. 39m 2s
    1. Plotting points vs. drawing paths
      5m 36s
    2. Drawing artwork vs. building artwork
      7m 59s
    3. The keyboard shortcuts you HAVE to know
      8m 52s
    4. Groups and layers really do matter
      3m 11s
    5. Taming Smart Guides and the Bounding Box
      10m 53s
    6. Do you need a drawing tablet?
      2m 31s
  3. 47m 51s
    1. To sketch or not to sketch?
      2m 32s
    2. Setting up a template layer for your sketch
      3m 37s
    3. Optimizing default settings for drawing
      5m 27s
    4. Using the primitive shapes tools
      5m 7s
    5. Mastering the modifier keys
      2m 8s
    6. Mastering the transform tools
      6m 37s
    7. Creating curves with the Reshape tool
      6m 44s
    8. Using the Smooth tool
      3m 35s
    9. Using Simplify to create smooth paths
      3m 2s
    10. Recording an action for the Simplify command
      5m 2s
    11. Mirroring art for speed and accuracy
      4m 0s
  4. 50m 18s
    1. Deconstructing the Pathfinder panel
      1m 56s
    2. Using the Shape Modes functions
      12m 4s
    3. Using the Pathfinder functions
      13m 4s
    4. Understanding how compound shapes work
      11m 45s
    5. Understanding why compound shapes exist
      7m 32s
    6. Exploring additional Pathfinder options
      3m 57s
  5. 52m 51s
    1. Why Live Paint was created
      10m 45s
    2. Creating a Live Paint group
      4m 21s
    3. Using the Live Paint Bucket tool
      7m 8s
    4. Using Live Paint with open paths
      5m 6s
    5. Detecting gaps in Live Paint groups
      3m 42s
    6. Adding paths to a Live Paint group
      5m 34s
    7. Using the Live Paint Selection tool
      6m 28s
    8. Releasing and expanding Live Paint groups
      2m 59s
    9. Understanding how Live Paint works
      6m 48s
  6. 27m 37s
    1. Why the Shape Builder tool was created
      4m 18s
    2. Focusing on the big three: Add, Subtract, and Divide
      2m 27s
    3. Using the Shape Builder tool to add and subtract artwork
      9m 50s
    4. Using the Shape Builder to divide artwork
      3m 48s
    5. Building and coloring artwork at the same time
      3m 50s
    6. Using Gap Detection with the Shape Builder tool
      3m 24s
  7. 23m 2s
    1. Understanding how variable widths work
      8m 25s
    2. Modifying width points along a path
      7m 9s
    3. Saving time with width profiles
      5m 14s
    4. Turning variable width strokes into filled paths
      2m 14s
  8. 28m 21s
    1. Understanding how the Pen and Pencil tools differ
      4m 41s
    2. Adjusting the behavior of the Pencil tool
      7m 5s
    3. Using the Path Eraser tool
      1m 17s
    4. Drawing with the Calligraphic Brush tool
      5m 43s
    5. Drawing with the Blob Brush tool
      5m 53s
    6. Using the Eraser tool
      3m 42s
  9. 3m 44s
    1. Looking at the VectorScribe plug-in
      2m 16s
    2. Next steps
      1m 28s

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