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By Colleen Wheeler | Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Deke's Techniques: Creating the parts of a looping braid for an Illustrator Pattern brush

In this week’s Deke’s Techniques series, Deke McClelland shows you how to create an intertwined-rope pattern, then he shows you how you can use the perfectly aligned rope pattern with the Adobe Illustrator Pattern brush feature. Unlike a similar circular-stroke pattern Deke created a few episodes back in “Creating a currency-style emblem in Illustrator,” this approach creates a pattern that can successfully navigate 90-degree corners.

The entire pattern begins with a simple, unassuming line segment:A simple line segment

The wave pattern is created by applying the Zig Zag effect, setting the absolute size to 4 points and the number of ridges per segment to 1.

A curved line with the Zig Zag dialog box in Adobe Illustrator

Next, Deke creates the second strand of the twist by using a Transform effect that reflects the now wavy segment over the y-axis:

Intertwined lines and the Transform Effect dialog box in Adobe Illustrator

Deke completes the straight portion of the pattern by copying one link of the twist and attaching it to the end. He then duplicates those same two segments and rotates them to begin building the corner component of the pattern.

Two intertwined lines with the Rotate dialog box in Adobe Illustrator

To make the looping design in the corner, Deke starts with a carefully measured Arc segment:

Arc Segment Tool Options dialog box

After rotating the arc into place, Deke lines the segment up and attaches it to the existing pattern using the Join tool. In the Join dialog box, you can tell Illustrator to create a smooth point at the join site.

The Join dialog box in Illustrator

The link shape is then duplicated, truncated, and rotated to become the basis for the next part of the corner loop. Again these end points are joined to the existing path:

The join dialog box with the link shape rotated

To create the very outer turn of the corner, Deke uses a modified ellipse. By measuring the distance he wants to cover ahead of time, Deke can tell Illustrator precisely the dimensions he needs for the ellipse:

An ellipse added in Illustrator

Once the ellipse is clipped in half, maneuvered into place, and joined up, the corner loop design is complete:

The finished loop in Adobe Illustrator

Deke also uses a similar measure, draw, cut, and rotate procedure to make the end segment. The result: three perfectly aligned components ready to serve inside the Illustrator Pattern brush feature. (I temporarily changed their stroke colors so you can see where each begins and ends.)

The final result with the three components ready for the Illustrator pattern brush

To see how these pieces are put to work, Deke has a member-exclusive movie this week called Assembling a seamless pattern brush, in which he shows you how to set your pattern pieces up for use in a Pattern brush.

Deke will be back next week with another free technique.

Interested in more?• The entire Deke’s Techniques weekly series on lynda.com • All Illustrator courses on lynda.com • All courses by Deke McClelland on lynda.com

Suggested courses to watch next:• Illustrator CS6 One-on-One: Fundamentals• Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Fundamentals• Illustrator Insider Training: Drawing without the Pen Tool

By Colleen Wheeler | Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Deke's Techniques: Creating 3D punched letters in Illustrator

In this week’s Deke’s Techniques, Deke McClelland shows you how to transform plain text into punched-out 3D letters in Adobe Illustrator.

Graphic with the word

In order to keep the original type intact, Deke begins by making a copy of the type layer to work on. After converting that copy to outlines, he also makes a copy of the outlines layer to work on. This way, the original type isn’t destroyed in the design process. Safety observed, Deke then removes the black fill and adds a 4-point white stroke, setting the stroke to align to the outside of the letters.

The plain text with white fill in Adobe Illustrator

After converting the stroke to outlined fills, the type is ready for 3D extrusion. From the Effects menu, choose 3D>Extrude & Bevel, and set the  Z value to 0 degrees, and the X and Y values to 4 degrees.

The Adobe Illustrator 3D Extrude and Bevel Options panel

The next step involves some careful expansion, selection, grouping, and the creation of a compound path to prepare the edges of the letters for a white fill and the extruded edges for a red fill. And by careful, I mean follow Deke’s instructions carefully here and you won’t go wrong. Cavalierly ignore certain aspects of the instruction in this section, as I may have done, and you may go astray—as I may have done.

The layers panel in Adobe Illustrator

After some housekeeping in the Layers panel (using the Reverse Order command to put the letters g-o-o-d in the right order), it’s time to do a little straightening of the letters themselves. The application of the 3D effect tends to misalign the letters and their edges a bit, so switching to the Outline mode (Command/Ctrl+Y) allows you to drag the paths back into alignment.

The outline mode in Adobe Illustrator

The next step is to take a hypotrochoid pattern and duplicate it over each letter. (Check out this episode of Deke’s Techniques for more on how to create the hypotrochoid pattern.)

The 3D text effect with a spirograph pattern

After pasting the pattern in back of the letters, Deke creates a clipping mask for each letter/pattern combination, eventually filling the inside of each letter with the pattern.

A clipping mask applied to a text effect in Adobe Illustrator

After refilling the letters with red and adding a narrow stroke, it’s time for another round of alignment, which again is best done in Outline mode.

Aligning the letters in the Adobe Illustrator Outline Mode

Lastly, a drop shadow, another stroke around the letter edges, and the application of the Multiply blend mode provide the final touches to this sculptural letter effect:

The final 3D punched-out letter text effect

Of course, this rich graphical 3D effect would not be the same without its fancy intertwined border, so next week, Deke will show you how to create that design using a pattern brush in Illustrator.

Interested in more?• The entire Deke’s Techniques weekly series on lynda.com • All Illustrator courses on lynda.com • All courses by Deke McClelland on lynda.com

Suggested courses to watch next:• Illustrator CS6 One-on-One: Fundamentals• Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Fundamentals• Illustrator Insider Training: Drawing without the Pen Tool

By Colleen Wheeler | Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Deke's Techniques: How to create a Halloween-worthy headless stranger

If last week’s Deke’s Techniques episodes on various ways to carve a pumpkin in Adobe Photoshop weren’t enough spooky spirit for you, then you’ll be pleased to discover that this week’s episode shows you how to create a headless stranger who haunts this eerie forest:

background photo of a misty forest

Deke begins with this unsuspecting gentleman whose head is still decidedly intact:

Photo of a person

Using the Calculations command (twice), he isolates his hapless subject in an alpha channel. Then, some devious hand painting and a cruel inversion of the channel result in this mask:

A layer mask of the figure outline

Deke then lops of his model’s head with a clever selection applied to the mask, and methodically reconstructs the stump by cloning the victim’s collar and scarf on a new layer:

The composite photo of the figure without a head

Next, he places his now headless stranger into the misty woods, tormenting his subject further by stretching him vertically with the Transform command:

A headless man in a misty forest scene

Deke then drains his victim of all color with an adjustment layer and dissolves away the legs with a gradient mask:

The stranger in the misty scene and the Layers panel

In his final act of imaginary Photoshop treachery, Deke uses the Save for Web command with the quality set to Low to degrade the picture (since you wouldn’t have a tack-sharp shot if your hand was trembling as you were ran running from a headless man stalking you in the woods!).

The final photo composite of a headless man in the woods

Don’t worry. The good-natured, benevolent Photoshop master Deke will be back with a less spooky technique next week. Happy Halloween!

Interested in more?

• The entire Deke’s Techniques weekly series on lynda.com • Courses by Deke McClelland on lynda.com • All Photoshop courses on lynda.com

Suggested courses to watch next:• Photoshop CS6 One-on-One: Fundamentals• Photoshop CS6 One-on-One: IntermediatePhotoshop CS6 One-on-One: Advanced

By Colleen Wheeler | Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Deke's Techniques: Carving a pumpkin in Photoshop

In this week’s free Deke’s Techniques video, Deke celebrates his favorite holiday by showing you how to carve a ghoulish but gorgeous graphic into the face of a pumpkin using Adobe Photoshop.

First, start with an image of an otherwise unsuspecting pumpkin:

Original photo of a girl holding a pumpkin

Next, draw the face you want carved into your pumpkin on a transparent background. For this evil grin, Deke used a Wacom tablet and his own vivid imagination:

A scary face in Photoshop, drawn with a Wacom tablet

With the face drawn, Deke adds the face to the original photo using the Transform command to get it to the size and angle he’s looking for:

The scary face positioned onto the pumpkin in the original photo

A mask, created with the Color Range command and some hand-crafted detail, removes parts of the face that have spilled off the pumpkin onto the girl’s arm:

The composited photo modified with a mask

A variety of layer effects—a drop shadow, color overlay, and outer glow—along with an application of the Median filter, digitally carve the face into the pumpkin flesh.

The composited photo with a variety of layer effects in the Layer Panel

The final touches are added by duplicating the mouth of the face, coloring the teeth white, and giving the teeth some transparency by changing the blend mode in the Layer Style dialog box.

The final composite of a girl holding the now-carved pumpkin

For lynda.com members, Deke also has another exclusive Halloween video this week called Simulating a glowing jack-o’-lantern, in which he shows you how to create a classic glowing-eyed jack-o’-lantern effect, starting with the a fresh, faceless pumpkin image.

Interested in more?• The entire Deke’s Techniques weekly series on lynda.com • Courses by Deke McClelland on lynda.com • All Photoshop courses on lynda.com

Suggested courses to watch next:• Photoshop CS6 One-on-One: Fundamentals• Photoshop CS6 One-on-One: IntermediatePhotoshop CS6 One-on-One: Advanced

By Colleen Wheeler | Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Deke's Techniques: Creating a currency-style emblem in Illustrator

In this week’s free Deke’s Techniques episode, Deke McClelland shows you how to use Adobe Illustrator to create a filigree emblem worthy of being used in your money-like design.

Deke begins with a dark background covered with intricate, scaled, hypotrochoid patterns based on last week’s Spirograph technique:

Spirograph-style filigree emblem background in Adobe Illustrator

Next, he adds some scalloping to the edges of the black background circle using the Distort & Transform effect called Zig Zag. By setting the points to Smooth, the default sharp corners of the Zig Zag effect become gentle waves:

Spirograph-style background with scalloped edges and Zig Zag effect

By duplicating the effect and turning it 9 degrees, Deke creates a second set of scalloped edges that will come in handy for the next step.

Spirograph-style emblem with a second set of scalloped edges

After moving the two scallop shapes to the top layer, deleting their fills, and applying a 4-point white stroke and a 6-point black stroke to each, the result is this intertwined braid around the edges of the Great Seal of Deke:

Emblem with an intertwined braid effect on the outer rim

In order to make the braid a continuous shape (as opposed to looking like two intertwined lines), Deke moves the Transform effect up above the Stroke effects in the Appearance panel. Then to give his emblem a more American-currency hue, he changes the white stroke color to a pale green.

Emblem with a green braided outer rim

He also applies that pale money-green fill to the 5 character and gives it a shadow by creating a copy of the fill and using Transform to move the shadow down and to the right:

Emblem with a green fill and dropped shadow

Deke then adds another Stroke effect to beef up the shadow, applies a thin stroke above the green fill, and uses the Offset Path effect set to a negative value (-3) to really sell the currency effect:

Emblem with an Offset Path effect on the 5 character

Finally, the filigree lines created with the Spirograph pattern are given the same pale green color. In the video, you’ll see the quick tips Deke uses to select all those paths and make sure no pale green lines extend beyond the emblem. The result is this currency-like seal:

Next week, Deke begins his Halloween techniques weeks!

Interested in more? • The entire Deke’s Techniques weekly series on lynda.com• All Illustrator courses on lynda.com • All courses by Deke McClelland on lynda.com

Suggested courses to watch next:• Illustrator CS6 One-on-One: Fundamentals• Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Fundamentals• Illustrator Insider Training: Drawing without the Pen Tool

By Colleen Wheeler | Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Deke's Techniques: Creating a Spirograph-style pattern from a single path in Illustrator

In this week’s free Deke’s Techniques video, Deke McClelland shows you how to create a Spirograph-style pattern from a single, continuous path in Adobe Illustrator. Yes, it’s true, two weeks ago, Deke showed you a similar technique, but the fact is, although that project was legitimately a Spirograph-esque design, it was not a legitimate unbrokenhypotrochoid. Those of you who may remember using a Spirograph know that the magic of it involved creating the design without ever lifting your pen from the paper. And Deke has discovered two ways to achieve that continuous line effect with Illustrator, which he demonstrates in this week’s episode:

The first step involves squishing a standard circle shape into this unassuming ellipse:

An ellipse

That ellipse is then duplicated 11 times using the Rotate tool to make copies, and each copy is turned 30 degrees from the previous copy’s opposite anchor point. Once the entire rotation is complete (and this is admittedly tedious), you can delete all the center anchor points and join the remaining half-ellipses to make a single path. After converting all the outer points to smooth points, you’re left with this regulation hypotrochoid:

A hypotrochoid in Adobe Illustrator

The second approach Deke demonstrates in the video also starts with an ellipse. But in this case, rather than duplicating whole ellipses and then efficiently cutting half of them away, Deke creates an open shape (like a lowercase cursive letter l) by cutting the shape open with the Scissors tool, then slightly rotating half of it:

Cursive l in Adobe Illustrator

Once you have this open shape, it can be duplicated and rotated using Transform Effect:

The transform effect applied to the cursive l

With either approach, there are a few fine tuning tweaks needed to perfect the shape, which Deke demonstrates in the video. In the end, you can combine the two shapes and apply the Multiply blend mode to mix the ink colors for a nostalgic, single-path Spirograph-like piece of artwork.

The final Spirograph-style art

For members of lynda.com, Deke also has a third approach for this kind of effect called Scaling circles into complex patterns, where he shows you how to use the Scale tool to make very intricate, lace-like designs.

Deke will be back next week with another free technique!

Interested in more? • The entire Deke’s Techniques weekly series on lynda.com• All Illustrator courses on lynda.com • All courses by Deke McClelland on lynda.com

Suggested courses to watch next:• Illustrator CS6 One-on-One: Fundamentals• Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: FundamentalsIllustrator Insider Training: Drawing without the Pen Tool

By Colleen Wheeler | Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Deke's Techniques: Turning a pencil drawing into ink-style art in Photoshop

In this week’s free Deke’s Techniques episode, Deke McClelland shows you step-by-step how to use Adobe Photoshop to turn a scanned pencil sketch into a digital ink-style drawing.

For his sample file, Deke uses a scanned pencil-sketched comic strip reminiscent of art he drew in his youth:

Scan of a pencil sketch

The first step is to get rid of some color effects that were created during the scanning process. Because this unwanted color is living in the Blue channel, Deke uses the Photoshop Channel Mixer to reduce the effects by mixing in greater values of the Red and Green channels. This process also creates an opportunity for Deke to darken the outlines of his characters.

Pencil sketch darkened in Photoshop

Next, he strengthens the black outlines with a Levels adjustment:

Pencil sketch after a Levels adjustment in Photoshop

Then Deke applies the Despeckle filter to help reduce the noisy edges around the drawing caused by the JPEG compression, and creates a white rectangle to cover the edge of the drawing paper that reveals where the scanned paper ends and the scanner itself starts.

Pencil sketch with noise reduced using the Despeckle filter in Photoshop

One advantage of drawing digitally is the ability to reconsider details. Before taking the time to redraw the cartoon with pencil, Deke brushes white around the eyes of his square character, who he’s affectionately named Jello, so he can redraw the eyes digitally.

Pencil drawing with hand-drawn digital adjustments

After switching his brush color to black, Deke redraws a more refined expression of gelatinous rage and reconstructs the side of Jello’s face that got cut off by the scan:

The final ink-style drawing of the pencil sketch

In the end, you get all the benefits of drawing in the real world, and refining in the digital one. To see every nuance and detail of the process, check out the movie Turning a pencil sketch into digital ink at the top of this post, or on lynda.com.

For members of lynda.com, Deke also has a member-exclusive movie this week called Adding a graph-paper background, where he shows you how to give your digitally inked characters a unique background.

Interested in more?• The entire Deke’s Techniques weekly series on lynda.com • Courses by Deke McClelland on lynda.com • All Photoshop courses on lynda.com

Suggested courses to watch next:• Photoshop CS6 One-on-One: FundamentalsPhotoshop CS6 One-on-One: IntermediatePhotoshop CS6 One-on-One: Advanced

By Colleen Wheeler | Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Deke's Techniques: Creating a classic carved font by hand in Illustrator

In this week’s free episode of Deke’s Techniques, Deke shows you how to take any font you like and give it a carved, sculpted, or engraved effect.

As Deke points out in the video, some fonts already have an engraved, or sculpted effect built in, like Imprint Shadow for instance:

The Imprint Shadow font

You don’t have to rely on a font to come with this effect though. You can create your own built-up, carved effect using any font you have available, Adobe Illustrator, and a host of Transform and Offset effects applied systematically to a collection of strokes and fills. Take this type from last week’s project, which is set in the classic 1910 typeface Hobo, for instance:

1910 typeface Hobo

In the video, you’ll see how Deke transforms flat letters into sculpted, almost molded, letters by duplicating the stroke and resizing, moving, and changing its colors to create shadows and the illusion of highlights. In the finished font below, you can also see he’s applied a similar treatment to the stars, which he demonstrates with another set of effects in this week’s video. Note the number of effects applied to the multiple strokes in the Appearance panel. These are all just mutated duplicates of the original stroke (in other words, no drawing involved):

Deke's embellished typeface with the Adobe Illustrator Appearance panel

The result, when combined with last week’s Spirograph-style embellishment, is this striking logo that—dare I say—really pops.

The finished type effect placed in the Spirograph-style logo

Deke will be back with another new technique next week!

Interested in more? • The entire Deke’s Techniques weekly series on lynda.com• All Illustrator courses on lynda.com • All courses by Deke McClelland on lynda.com

Suggested courses to watch next:• Illustrator CS6 One-on-One: Fundamentals• Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Fundamentals• Illustrator Insider Training: Rethinking the Essentials

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