Join Von Glitschka for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating an Art Print Part 2, part of Drawing Vector Graphics Laboratory.
- [Instructor] Welcome to Drawing Vector Graphics Laboratory. In this movie, I want to keep moving forward on this illustrative art print. This is at the point which we stopped last time and I'm gonna continue the process forward now. We have all of our base colors established, all the detailing with the highlights and shadows worked out really nice and covered all of that in the previous movie and in this movie, I want to now think about all the other elements that are gonna finish off this art print and make it a final piece of art we can hang on a wall and right now I want to focus on the background.
All of the saturated colors here work really well on a white background and because the context is gonna hang in our living room, I had my wife look at it and she suggested that the background color, I'm gonna turn that on now, would be a kind of a muted tan color. It goes well with our living room and the color scheme we have going there and I think the tan is a good contrast with the saturated color palette that I've created this artwork in, but I do like the aspect of these characters popping off of white, so I wanted to still somehow work in white into the background along with this tan and the way I'm gonna do that is I'm gonna create a halo effect around all of the various elements in this composition and think of it as a glow.
I want it to be kind of a glow effect, but I don't want it to be vector based. I don't want to create a vector shape in Illustrator and just Gaussian Blur it. I want to be more organic, more kind of natural looking, if you will, and kind of texturized in a way and so what I want to create now and show you how to create it so you can use this process on any type of project, I want to show you how to create a Diffusion Dither. It all starts in Illustrator, creating the necessary shapes, then we're gonna bring those into Photoshop and actually create the Diffusion Dither that then we'll bring back into Illustrator and place into this art print and I think you're gonna be really surprised with how cool the process looks when it's all said and done.
So, the first thing we're gonna do now is just turn off the layers we don't need at this point and then we're gonna focus on the subject at hand, which is creating a halo shape, and we're gonna focus on this character here. We'll go ahead and zoom in on this guy and when you have your artwork, we want to create almost a silhouette of this artwork, just the perimeter shape of this character so I'll go ahead and select this whole character shape. Now, you'll notice when I select it, the anchor points don't show up.
Illustrator is constantly evolving and changing and some things they add in functionality wise are really great and some things they add in are, in my opinion, not so great and this is one of those not so great ones. Before in Illustrator, if you selected shapes like this, this is what you would see. You would see all the anchor points, but now by default this is what you see. It selects the shapes but you no longer see the anchor points by default and I really don't like this.
To see them in Illustrator, you have to hold the Command key down with the shape selected, so if I hit the Command key and hold it down, you can see the shapes and as long as that is held down you continue to see those anchor points. As soon as I let go of it, it only shows the general selection box of the shape selected, so unfortunately that's the way it is in Illustrator. It's not a preference. You can't decide to show the anchor points all the time. I really wish it would be because I think it's important to be aware of where your anchor points are, especially as you're building new content.
It just makes the process easier, but for whatever reason they decided to get rid of those by default so if you want to see them moving forward, you're gonna have to hit the Command key with the shape selected to see and access, to visually see the anchor points, so I thought that was important to point out. So, we're gonna create the halo shape and the first thing to do is select all, the shape here. I'm gonna go to the Pathfinder Palette and I'm gonna click on the Unite button and you can see it makes one cohesive shape, but it also leaves some of these artifact, little bits and pieces of vectors within the interior of the shape and we don't want those.
Now, what you can do sometimes is continue to click the Unite button on Pathfinder and it will remove some of those, but at a certain point it'll just stop and there'll still be some there, so to get rid of these, I go to Key Line View, Command Y, and then I select the Direct Select tool. You can hit A to select that. And then I'll just drag select all these little bits and pieces I don't want just to highlight them and then I'll hit the Delete key just to get rid of those.
Now, you might need to zoom in to see everything you're selecting. In this case, I think I think we'll be okay by just drag selecting them like this and we've gotten rid of all of them so I'll go back to Preview Mode and now we have our same shape, but it's not minus all the artifacts and we've created just a silhouette of our shape. Now, right now the color, if I go to Fill, the color is 20% so we don't want it at tint. We'll go back to 100% and I don't want this color to be this blue.
I've created what is an RGB black here and so I'm gonna color this black. Now, the reason why I did that is because if I use the default black, which is right here, the first swatch in the Swatches Palette, and I copied and paste that into Photoshop, it would appear almost like 90% black, not solid black, whereas if I make it an RGB black and copy and paste that, it'll come in as a nice, rich, solid black so that's why I do that. I'm not completely sure why that is, but I work in CMYK all the time and this is the way to prevent that problem from happening so I always create an RGB based black if I'm copying, pasting to do this type of halo effect that I'm creating here.
Now, if I go to the Appearance Panel, you'll also see that right now it says this is a group. We want to make sure this is a compound path so I go up to Object, I pull down to Compound Path, and Make. Notice how I have the F7 key there as keyboard shortcut because I never go to the menu. I just hit F7 and it does it automatically, but in this case we'll click Make and now if I look at the Appearance Panel, it's a compound path. That's important to get in the habit of doing that because it makes vector building easier and if you have more questions about that, just shoot me a question at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll consider doing a movie just all about compound paths and why you should use them and the benefit of using them, but needless to say, I made all of mine compound paths.
Now, I'm gonna do this on all the shapes in this layout and so if I turn that on, you can see I've created silhouette shapes of all the characters, all the elements in this composition and that's what's showing here. You can also see this bounding box. It has a stroke on it. I only put a stroke on it just so you could see that it's here. I'm gonna get rid of that stroke. We're just using it for a sizing ratio so we don't need any visual element so it's gonna be no fill, no stroke, just to help sizing.
I'll go ahead, deselect the bounding box here. I'm gonna select all these shapes that are now silhouettes and I wanna add a stroke to it so right now we have it on the regular black so we need to change that to the RGB black and now I'll just drag this over into the strokes. We'll go to the Strokes Palette and I'm gonna kick this up. I want it to be really fat so I'm gonna do 14 and you can see with the interior blue line there it shows the actual shape and then how fat that line is going out of it.
Now, the one thing I wanna do before I then copy and paste this into Photoshop is I wanna make sure that I'm setting this to a round corner here. Right now it's sharp, so when you look at certain edges like on the end of this top left corner here with this kind of lightning shape, you see how it blocks off at the end. We don't want to do that, so we're gonna hit round and it will round off those areas. This is what we want because we need to create a fat enough outline around this so when we bring into Photoshop and we Gaussian Blur it, it eats inwards a little bit and we want it enough beefiness to it that it creates a nice illusion or glow that we can then dither so it's important to kind of strike a balance and you might have to go back and forth a few times to get the exact weight to work the way you want it to, but I'm pretty confident this is what's gonna work for us.
So, now that this is filled, both Stroke and Fill with the RGB black, I'll go Command A and select everything and now I'm going to copy and paste this into Photoshop. So I'm just gonna go Command C to copy it. It's now in the clipboard and we're gonna move to Photoshop and build out the Diffusion Dither. Now we're inside Photoshop and this document I have set up is the exact same dimensions as my Illustrator file with all the artwork I created and we're gonna simply paste what we've already copied into the clipboard and we can do that by going Command V and you can see in this document, if you look at the layers here, it's just a background.
I have no content in here so we're gonna paste it. Command V. And when you do that, you're gonna get an option of how you want to paste this information. Now, in the preferences for Photoshop, you can select it so it always pastes smart objects, but I don't like having that turned on cause I go back and forth depending on the project I'm working on and what i'm trying to create. In this case, it's gonna be a pixel based graphic when it's all said and done, so I want it to come in as pixels because smart objects don't allow you to run certain filters on them, but if it's a pixel based image, it can be ran on that so we're gonna go ahead and place pixels, so I'm gonna click Okay and you can see that the bounding box that I copied out with the artwork and it pastes inside.
It's 100% height and 100% width and it's exactly what I want and I'll go ahead and commit to this and select Place and it pastes that graphic into Photoshop now and you can see the layer over here and I try to get in the habit of naming layers as I work, it just makes the process easier so when I go back to it later, I know exactly what's going on and that'll make a little more sense also coming up so I'm gonna go ahead and name this Original Halo Shapes.
There you go. And now I'm gonna immediately right click on this layer and go Duplicate Layer and then we're gonna name this layer Blur, actually we're gonna be doing a Gaussian Blur, so we'll call it Gaussian Blur. Pretty sure I spelled that right. If I didn't, you know what I'm talking about and I'm gonna click Okay and so now we have two layers. Now, the reason why I did this is because I'm ultimately gonna save this PSD file so I can always go back to it and port out another version if I wanna play around with the settings.
Getting in the habit of doing that is really gonna make your creative process more flexible and forgiving for that matter so we're gonna go ahead and turn off the layer we don't need, focus on this Gaussian Blur, and now I'm gonna go ahead and Gaussian Blur this so with that layer selected I'm gonna go up to Filter, I'm gonna pull down to Blur, I'm gonna go to Gaussian Blur here and select that. It'll bring it up and 48 might be it. I think that's gonna work, so we'll go with 48 and I'll go Okay.
Now that I know this is 48, I'll double click this layer again and I like to do this just so later I know what I did because it doesn't embed this information so if I don't remember it, I don't remember it, but if I do this I'll always remember it and that is 48 pixel, so that tells me that I Gaussian blurred this layer 48 pixels and it's now at this point that I'm gonna save my PSD file. So, I'll just go Command S and save it so now I can always go back to this and re-export what I'm about to show you.
Now, we're gonna go ahead and create a Diffusion Dither based off of the image you see here and all you have to do is go up to Image, go to Mode, and we're gonna go to Bitmap, click on that. It's gonna say, "Hey, you're flattening the file." That's okay cause we've already saved the PSD so we'll go Okay and then it's gonna ask you for an output resolution. Now, I'm gonna put in 85 here just to show you an example of what's happening and under Method you have a bunch of choices.
Normally it defaults to 50% threshold. You just want to make sure it's on Diffusion Dither and then once you have the settings, 85 is gonna tell the diffusion how many of these little pixel dots are gonna be within an inch. In this case, we're saying we want 85 and that might work so we're gonna check it out by clicking Okay and you can see that it changes the file. Now, if I go to my Zoom tool, I'm gonna zoom in here.
You can see what this looks like. It creates a simulated gradient based off of a dither effect. That's essentially what it is. These are simple black and white pixels and these files are tiny. If you look down here, this is only 82.6 K. How many of you out there remember Commodore 64s, 64 K? Well, that's how small this file is, but they work awesome and they work so well. I think this one is a little too course so I wanna to back to my original PSD file and all we need to do now is go Command Z to undo what we did and we're back at where we were.
This is why I saved the PSD file. It's just smart to get in the habit of doing that cause I don't have to go all the way back to Illustrator and start all over again. I just reboot. Now I'm gonna try a different setting. I thought that one was a little too course so we'll go to Image, Mode, Pixel, er, Bitmap, that is, and I'll click Okay. This case I want more finer dots so I'm gonna go 120, keep it on Diffusion Dither, go Okay, and then I'll zoom in and that looks exactly what I was kinda going for so I think that's gonna work fine so what I want to do now is I want to save this Bitmap TIF and I want to save it to the desktop and then we can utilize it in Illustrator so we're gonna go ahead and save this, so I'll go ahead to Save As and Format, I want it to be a TIF and I'm gonna name this one GlowFX1 and I'm gonna save it to the desktop and we'll go Save and None is fine and we want Macintosh, if you're using a PC then you would pick the appropriate settings here and then I'll go Okay and so it's now saved our GlowFX.tif to the desktop.
Now we're gonna move back to Illustrator and I'm gonna show you how to utilize this nice Diffusion Dither glow effect. Okay, now we're back inside Illustrator and we're gonna go ahead and place our glow effect that we created, the Diffusion Dither in Photoshop, we're gonna place that now inside Illustrator and I think you're gonna really get a kick out of what it looks like when you use this type of methodology so we'll turn the layer back on. Once again, this kind of muted brown and we want to sandwich in between this layer and the bottom layer of the artwork which is this guy here if I toggle him on and off.
We've created another layer just called GlowFX and I'm gonna place the Bitmap TIF on this layer and so you can place by simply going to File and Place, but notice, once again, I have a keyboard shortcut set up so I never have to do this. I just hit F10 and then this dialogue comes up so if I hit F10, we're on our desktop. You can see the GlowFX.tif that we created. We'll select it. We'll click Place. Notice, it's only 197 kilobytes. That's like nothing in terms of memory, but the aesthetic works great once again so we're gonna go Place and so now it's telling us where do you want to position it? You can position it anywhere because we created this, let's close Libraries.
That popped up for some reason. Once we've placed the TIF image it's easy to register it because we created it two size so it doesn't matter where you place it on this layer, we'll go to Alignment and I'm gonna go Align Left, Align Left and actually we'll do Align to Artboard, make sure we have that. Now we'll go Align Left and Align Top and you can see that it's aligned it with our underlying artwork. Right now it's still the default black that is Bitmap.tif.
Now, the nice thing about Bitmaps is that anywhere in the image is white is transparent. That's why they're so beautiful to use. With this selected, I'm just gonna now fill it with white and look at the great effect we get. We get that same feel of the white background without committing to a totally white background and we also get the benefit, if I zoom in, of this really nice kinda organic, kinda glow effect that makes a nice elegant transition, an organic one, from the background color into the foreground color and all the elements so I thought that came out really cool.
Now, moving forward I want to add some more detail to this and I'm gonna do that via the use of place textures so the first texture I placed is in the background and, once again, using layers to organize your file hierarchy is gonna make using textures, composing your elements, a lot easier because you can access stuff very quickly. If you need to, you can lock a layer and then access it but if I zoom in on this you can see how it's added this nice little texture to the background.
We're gonna make another clone of that TIF moving forward, the Bitmap.tif that is this texture and you're gonna see it, use the exact same TIF used in another way over the top of specifically this mountain kind of motif and how it adds just a lot of character to it so that's where we started was just the background subtle texturing, so it's not just stark flat color and we're gonna go ahead and scroll up here to some of the other ones and the first one is this surface texture. We'll go ahead and turn it on.
This one right here is just simply a speckle texture that I created with an old toothbrush and some black ink and then scanned it in and just kind of randomized it by cloning elements in Photoshop to create this nice texture. I have used this so many times over the years and the beautiful thing about textures is they never go out of style. Textures will always be there and they're always made the same way which is by having a degraded surface that weatherizes over time and if you get in the habit of taking photographs and creating your own textures, it's a resource you can go back to over and over again so that's what we're gonna do here is we're gonna select this one.
I'm gonna colorize this this kind of muddy orange up here and then I'm gonna go to the transparency palette and I don't want this to stay at 100%. Let's go and zoom in so you can kind of appreciate what this is doing. So you can see these little flecks everywhere and now that we have it selected, we'll go to Multiply. Once again, it's gonna multiply that color with any color underneath it and right now the value is 100%. I want it far more subtle than that so we're gonna just to 15 and that looks pretty good, almost like little stains on the surface and that's kind of the aesthetic I was going for.
I'm gonna turn on a couple other ones here and I'll initially stay zoomed in so you can see how they're effecting it. We'll turn on this one. It's like the same type of texture, I just actually rotated it 180 degrees, applied white to it and then set the opacity and you can check all these out in the source files if you want to deconstruct it to see exactly what settings I did there. We'll turn on the next one and it's the same type of pattern. In this case, it's just a softer value of this dark blue hue and that runs through the whole artwork and the last one, which I really like, is that same texture I used in the background but now it's running over the mountains here and you can see it creates a really nice artifacting and detailing on those mountains so I really like this now.
I really like how the textures are playing a part, oh, and one thing I should point out that I forgot to do. Let's go ahead and turn these textures off here so the initial texture I created, I do have this shape here and because it runs outside of the artwork, I do want to mask it so I'm gonna mask that and to mask something you just go to Object, you go down to Clipping Mask and Make, but, once again, I have F1 so I'm just gonna show you how I can select both of these things now, so I'll select the mask shape which is just the same dimensions as the artwork and that's on top and then I select the texture that's underneath it and I hit F1 and it masks it into place so I did that for all of these textures I have here and you can see that it really creates a nice, immersive kind of texturing to this overall artwork and, of course, no artwork print would be complete without a signature, so I add my name in the bottom left.
Now, it's at this point I want to just really quickly change to, it's the exact same file, but I want to just show you how I take this file from this point, here's all the layers that make up this artwork, I don't deliver it to, in this case, a service bureau to run out the artwork. It's at this point that I'm gonna send this artwork to a sign shop and have them digitally run it out on canvas substrate so it has a nice surface texture already because of the canvas, but I don't want to give them a vector file.
I actually like giving them a high resolution TIF image so in order to rasterize this properly, I like to set up a file like this to create that image and the first thing that I do here is I go to Layers and I just go down to Flatten Artwork and it moves everything to it's own layer. I usually call these files Port. I'm porting out an image, be it a vector, be it TIF, be it a source file, that I can then drag and drop into Photoshop if I want to rasterize the final artwork and that's exactly what I did with this.
I saved this format all flattened, drug it into Photoshop, rasterized it as a high res TIF, provided that to the service bureau and if I go back to the original file we were in, what I get back from the service bureau is a really cool, full size, and this is a pretty big print. It's 60 by 46 inches and this shows it's at this point that it's been framed, it's been stretched, and now what I'm doing is I'm using a sealer to seal it.
I use a matte sealer. I don't like adding gloss to it. And I seal everything and this protects it from UV light so it doesn't fade the colors, it'll protect it in that respect, so that's good and then it's after this point I'll then take a nice clear acrylic paint, basically, it's basically acrylic paint without any pigment in it. It's clear and I like to get a medium one in terms of that and it leaves a nice tooth and I just paint the whole surface so if you look at it from certain angles, you'll see a painted texture on top and that just adds a nice tactile feel to the overall piece.
When it's all said and done, it creates a pretty cool art print that's now hanging in our living room. This is my daughter, Alyssa, standing in front of it, so I used this same process to do other art prints I have hanging in my home and my studio and digital methods are ideal for this type of work so I encourage you to give it a try yourself. I've included a PDF tutorial in the exercise files that documents another piece of artwork I created using the same methodology and it gives you more information regarding the specific sealer and the acrylic paint that I use on the surface.
So, I hope you check that out and you give this a try for yourself. If you have any question about anything you've seen or would like to suggest a future topic to be covered in the DVG Lab, then send me an email at email@example.com. Thank you for watching DVG Lab and until next time, never stop drawing.
Skill Level Intermediate
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