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Covering a wide range of topics, from advanced masking to chart creation, Illustrator CS4 Beyond the Basics reveals a whole new level of power, creativity, and efficiency with Illustrator. Instructor Mordy Golding explores how to work with Live Paint groups, get the most out of the Live Trace feature, and take advantage of Illustrator’s wide range of effects. He also discusses advanced transformation techniques, powerful 3D functionality, and important color concepts. Exercise files accompany the course.
One of the benefits about working with Gradient Mesh is that you can create so many mesh points in an object that you have so many minute different changes in colors that you can get something that looks very photorealistic. Now in this example over here, what I would like to show you is a way to kind of create some kind of a stylized version of photograph that has some photorealism inside of it but that also allows us to be somewhat creative with our result and I want to use gradient mesh to do that and more importantly, I want you to pay attention to the techniques that we are going to be using in this particular example because we are going to be using things like the Lasso and the Eyedropper tools, even mixing some of the Warp effects inside of Illustrator and we'll really get a feel for how all these tools kind of mesh together with Gradient Mesh to get a really cool result.
So I'm going to start of with this file here. It's called photorealism and on the bottom, I have a photograph that I have actually embedded in this document. It's a regular plain photo, which I have of a guy basically surfing, and I want to create some kind of a stylized version of this but I want to use the photograph as a base for it. So I'm going to start off just by drawing a regular path. Remember when we are working with Gradient Mesh inside of Illustrator, we have to first create a path and then convert it into a mesh object. So I'm going to use a rectangle about the same size and again, be creative with this as we kind of go through if you are following along. You do not have to do the exact same things that I'm doing here but it is just a general way of understanding how we work in this particular way. So I'm going to start off by first choosing a fill color for this particular object and when I start off with just like maybe a darker color over here and something maybe this area over here that we can work with. Again we'll start to see as we start to introduce other shading for the colors that we are going to be using. So with the top objects still selected, I'm going to tap the I key on my keyboard. The I key is the keyboard shortcut to the Eyedropper tool and wherever I move my cursor, I'll see the eyedroppers here which will allow me to sample the color of the screen from that particular areas.
I am going to hold down the Shift key when I click because I want to be able to sample the actual pixels from this area of the image. I'm going to click just about right over here and I'm going to fill my entire rectangle with that one color. That is going to be my base color. We are going to work off of that color. So I'm ready for the next step, which I'm going to actually define a mesh. So we are going to take this path, convert it into a mesh object. I'm going to go to the Object menu here, I'm going to choose Create Gradient Mesh and here is the interesting thing here. What I want is I want to somehow create these kind of waves and the appearance of these waves through the water. So what I would like to do is I'd like to have a lot of rows but not as many columns. I do not want to add that much complexity. So what I'll do is I'll specify, let's say, I do not know. Maybe around 10, almost to may 12.
12 columns and then for the number of rows though, we'll try to go somewhere like 20. Maybe we can go a little bit more and it's about 25 rows but we have basically, there is a lot of mesh points to deal with on that particular level. I'm going to leave the appearance set to Flat. We are going to change the colors on our own. I'm going to leave the highlight, which is irrelevant. In reality, the highlight here should be grayed out if we are using a flat appearance. This does not apply. I am going to click on the OK button over here to basically now have converted my regular object right now, you can see is now a mesh object here inside of Illustrator. So now I'm going to start by actually applying some of the colors to the mesh points in this file. So the first thing that I want to do is I want to create this kind of rift over this top of the wave that exist right here at this part of the image. So what I'm going to do is I'm going to start off over here by using my Lasso tool and again when I'm working with mesh, I find a lot of times it's easier to work with a Lasso tool but again in this example also, as we'll see we can also use the regular Direct Selection tool because all these are pretty much in straight line. In fact, let us go ahead and do that here because it's easy to marquee select them.
Just take the top portion of this image right over here, something around, say, these points right here. Notice now these are selected and these are not. I'm going to tap the I key on my keyboard again to go back to the Eyedropper tool and we are doing this a lot and I'm simply going to go ahead and Shift-click on, let's say, a part of a lighter color for this top portion. So the first thing I have done, I'm going to deselect this right now so we can see what we have done here, is we have actually created now two different shaded areas for my Gradient Mesh but over here it's simply solid and here it's simply solid. The only area that actually transitions or changes in color are the anchor points or the mesh points that exist from this area to this area over here.
So this is what we are starting to do. We are starting to create some kind of area that I can start working with to define what my shape is going to look like. So now, I can use again my Direct Selection tool here to actually go ahead and highlight just an anchor point, let's say in the middle, just these points and I want to create a look of some of these waves. So I'm just going to again tap the I key on my keyboard. I'm actually going to go over here and just Shift-click again in a little bit of a darker area. It does not make a difference what color you are going to be choosing here because we just want to create some kind of difference of shades of colors between these points. I'll use my Direct Selection tool to go ahead and just again highlight some other colors that are here as well.
Tap the I key on my keyboard and I'll choose, let's say, another color. Let's say Shift-click on some other color that is here as well. Just until I get something that looks little bit different in that particular area. Now here is the keyboard shortcut by the way. Hold down the Command key. You can see the Command key returns you to your Direct Selection tool. That actually returns you to the last Selection tool that you have used but the last one we did use was the Direct Selection tool. So now I could just quickly go ahead here and hold down the Command key. If you are on Windows, press the Ctrl key to make this work and I'll go ahead and I'll select, maybe let's say just skip a row, and then choose these over here and then use my Eyedropper tool to then choose let's say another color, maybe something little bit lighter just to get some other kind of shading in there and again I'll hold down the Command key. Let's go ahead and highlight another row over here. I just simply want to create these different areas or different shades of colors as well as I do this. So now, if I go ahead and kind of deselect it, see what I have created. I have started to create these different levels of colors of shading in that Gradient Mesh and again because of the Gradient Mesh, they will blend into each other.
So now let us work close to the bottom where we have some of these darker colors going on. Again, I'll select this over here. I'll use my Direct Selection tool to again highlight maybe some areas of let's say the colors over here, highlight those mesh points, tap the I key to get my Eyedropper tool and go ahead and maybe get some darker areas there. Again Command key to switch tools. Let's go ahead and highlight a few of these. Pick something little bit not too dark and say somewhere over there and again I'll continue to do this just for the rest of the mesh points that I have. I'm actually skipping lines as I do this because I want it to transition back to the original background color that I had chosen but you don't have to do that. I can actually choose let's say a few colors here and then let's say choose.. And I'll skip right down to the bottom, let's say to over here. I'm going to go to a darker color like there.
So now I have basically all these areas of color that I have created. What I want to start doing now is start to kind of add other areas of color that may be a little bit lighter or darker. For example, I notice let's say in this area here it is all kind of lightened up, than it is, let's say, on this side of the image. So here is where I start to use my Lasso tool because I can use my Lasso tool to just simply select a range of these mesh points. I do not really care if it's specific or not. I'm just trying to work something here in a generic form. Tap the I key to go to my Eyedropper tool. I'm going to go ahead and choose a color here. So, I'm starting to introduce other areas basically of color and blends as well and I'm using my Lasso tool to just select random areas.
Maybe I want to bring some like tiny highlights around over here. Maybe I just want to go ahead and choose these areas let's say over here and do that the same for here as well. Let's say add a few more in this here again and if I'll hold down the Shift key, I can actually do this in multiple areas. Tap the I key, choose let's say a darker color that is right there. See I'm just basically introducing other areas here in the artwork and I can kind of do the same thing for down here on the bottom as well. Let's just choose some random areas here with the Shift key as I do this to simply add to my selection here. And I'll go ahead and choose let's say darker color, let's say for there. So now you can start to see I'm starting to add a little bit more texture into this object that I'm working with here which eventually will have some kind of a stylized look for the water itself. So now what I'm going to do is I'm actually going to go ahead and start to use some other tools that will allow me to adjust this mesh in ways that I cannot do with the mesh itself.
In reality, I could start selecting this mesh. Use my regular Direct Selection tool here. Click on each mesh point and they all have little anchor points and they all have control handles, so I could start modifying to the control handles. It's a lot of work to do. So if I want, for example, the waves to kind of bend upwards a little bit, right now it goes straight across. What I can do is use some of the other tools inside of Illustrator. For example, I'm going to use my regular Selection tool to click and select the entire object. Now all my mesh points are selected and I'm actually going to go ahead and use the Warp tool inside of Illustrator. Now this Warp tool allows you to basically reposition or adjust paths inside of Illustrator. These mesh points and the paths they connect them are all vectors.
So the Warp tool itself can work on these objects. So I'm actually going to click on it right now. Let's say the brush size, which is -- I'm pretty happy with where it is right now and I can start to actually push this up and adjust these particular areas to kind of introduce different parts or different ways that these mesh points actually interact with each other. So I'll start to introduce a few other areas. The only thing I want to avoid here in this case is since these outer edges are also selected, if I go over here I kind of stretch that out. In reality, you can do this and still add realism and then maybe overall just create a regular rectangular as a mask to kind of trim out those areas. I'm going to stay away from the edges here. Just to kind of do this.
I'm starting to introduce some of these areas here to just add a little bit more texture and more of randomness to this but at the same time, I want to be able to maybe pull up in certain areas the wave here to make it look a little bit more realistic. Now on top of that, there are other tools that I could use within the Liquefy toolset to really help adjust this. For example, right now I'm going to deselect this. All the areas kind of blend into each other smoothly but maybe I want to create some areas where it does not really appear so smooth. So, again with my mesh object actually selected, I'm going to use one of the other Liquefy tools. For example, this one called the Wrinkle tool and I'll start to actually kind of introduce these wrinkles into the paths here which will give me that appearance as the color transitions between each other to have more of a kind of wrinkle transition which matches more closely to the way that I see the waves and the water that is right over here and again the more that I go ahead and I drag in this, the more of that distortion I'm basically adding to it.
I'm staying away from the middle here because I do want to have more of that kind of straight line that is there. But as I click on the Selection tool to deselect this object, you can see what I have created. Something really nice and natural, almost painterly, which I cannot do otherwise inside of Illustrator. Even if I was to start manually editing these mesh points inside of Illustrator, it would be very difficult to get this type of appearance and look. So now all I really need to do is add a surfer in this particular area. Well, if I go to my Symbols panel here, you can actually see I have created this guy. I have actually just done a basic simple trace of this guy right over here and I'll drag it that on to my artboard, put him just where I want him to be, let's say right about over here. Maybe I'll bring him down just about over here as well and maybe just for effect I want to add just a little bit of a splash behind him.
So what I'll do is I'll lock this particular object right now. I can't select it. I'll use my Lasso tool to just select a range of mesh points right behind him over there and fill those with white. And now I have created this really really cool effect here inside of Illustrator, almost photorealistic in nature, very painterly. And again what I just basically did here was I started working with a regular Gradient Mesh, but I have been sampling parts of the image itself. Once I'm done with that, I can just simply click on that image, delete it and I'm left with a really cool image that I can work with here inside of Illustrator.
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