By Lauren Harmon | Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Are you a fan of a particularly popular game featuring a group of agitated birds and noisy green pigs? Well, in this week’s installment of Deke’s Techniques, Deke McClelland shows you how to create your very own “grumpy bird” with Adobe Illustrator. Let’s get started.
Follow along with Deke in this week’s free video and use the companion text below to help with each step.
Change the fill color of all the objects in your group to an appropriately “angry” color and then turn on the layer named rear. Click the meatball for rear.
Tip: The “meatball” is what Illustrator fans have termed the little circle to the right of the layer name. Among other things, it allows you to select everything on a layer.
In this step, you’re basically combining Multiply and Screen to create a custom effect.
Now we’ll add the corresponding highlights. Return to the Layers panel, select the high layer, click the meatball, and press Ctrl+Shift+G (Windows) or Cmd+Shift+G (Mac) to ungroup them.
Open the Pathfinder panel. Hold down the Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac) key and click Minus Front to create another compound shape.
Change the fill of these objects (the two ellipses) to the same color as the body and feathers of the bird. Change the blend mode of the entire layer to Screen.
This pastes the ellipse—and all of its dynamic effects—into this compound shape.
Return to the Pathfinder panel. Once again, hold down the Alt (Windows) or Option (Mac) key and click Minus Front to create a compound shape.
Switch to the Pen tool and draw a path outline around the extra triangular highlight on the left side of the bird. The path doesn’t have to be exact; just make sure you cover the highlight.
Twirl the compound shape layer closed and then target the bottommost sublayer of the bird layer by clicking on its meatball. Choose Edit > Copy. Now target the topmost sublayer of the bird layer and choose Edit > Paste in Front.
With the current layer still targeted, choose Object > Expand Appearance to transform these dynamic effects into static path outlines.
Return to the Pathfinder panel and choose Unite to fuse the outlines together.
Now choose Edit > Cut and click the meatball for the bird layer itself.
Open the Transparency panel and click Make Mask. This creates a black opacity mask thumbnail that indicates everything on the layer is now transparent.
Change the bird’s fill in the opacity mask to white using the Fill option in the Control panel.
Target the top sublayer of the bird layer again and choose Edit > Paste in Front. Change its Fill to None, change the Stroke to black, and increase the Line Weight to 6 points.
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And that completes this week’s technique. The result is a volumetric cartoon body for your very own grumpy bird, complete with shadows and highlights, as built in Illustrator.
If you’re a member of the lynda.com library, check out the two follow-up videos where Deke shows you how to create the character’s tail and then draw your bird’s snarling face.
Next week, Deke shows how to create a sunny and rather pastoral setting for your character. Stay tuned!
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