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In this installment of the Illustrator Insider Training series, Mordy Golding shows how to draw vector artwork quickly, precisely, and efficiently—without having to think about technical concepts like anchor points or control handles. The course highlights intuitive drawing techniques using the Pathfinder functions, Live Paint groups, Shape Builder tool, and variable-width strokes. It also describes the sketching workflow and features in Illustrator that use pressure-sensitive drawing tablets, allowing designers to focus more on their creativity.
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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