Join Von Glitschka for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating with found textures, part of Drawing Vector Graphics Laboratory.
(machinery grinding) - [Instructor] Welcome to Drawing Vector Graphics Laboratory. In this movie I want to go over creating with found textures. Now, most of what I show you in my DVG Lab is vector-based, but in this movie I want to go over the use of using found textures in your creative projects. So before we jump into Illustrator, we're going to take a quick overview of creating a usable texture.
Now, I prefer using raster-based images, specifically bitmap TIFF images to add texture to my vector art within Illustrator rather than image-tracing it. I find the authenticity of the final product is just a lot higher quality, it looks more real, and it's easier to manage than the thousands of stray anchor points that really can bloat down a file. So that's why I prefer using this methodology. Now, after you create a bitmap TIFF, you can image trace it if you want, I just don't find that process very useful, and the way it traces an image doesn't retain all the nice little artifacts that I really like in a raster-based image.
So we're looking at an image here, and I have a friend who was cleaning up an old photography studio and he found all of these sheets of film that had all this nice artifacting from emulsion going over them for years, and instead of throwing them away, he knows that I really appreciate textures, so he actually scanned in all of these really nicely. There's a whole set of 'em he sent to me, and so I'm going to use one of these textures to derive the asset that you're going to see me later use inside Illustrator, and this is where it starts, this is the source photo image, and so I always like to set up a PSD file when I'm going to create a texture, that way I can always go back and forth.
In this case I made an extra layer here and I'm going to do all my adjustments on it. It's the exact same image as the source layer you saw, and so on this one, I'm going to go ahead and go up to Image, pull down to Adjustments, to Levels, and this will bring up Levels controls, and this is usually where I go to first, and this is where I want to blow things out, so what's white will really become white, but I want to retain enough of the artifacting without losing some of that finer detail.
So this is all about just kind of trial and error until you get something you like. If I pull this over you can see we lose a lot of the finer detail, and I kind of want to keep a lot of that fine detail, so I'll just keep adjusting until I get something that works good, we'll go ahead and just click OK here, and if we zoom in, you can see some of that artifacting is being retained where I have all these little flecks going through, and this is really what I'm after, is retaining all of this.
Now this image specifically doesn't have this everywhere, like up here I'm not really so concerned about keeping all that, even though it's really nice, I want to keep it more fine, that's the kind of texture I'm going for here, especially in this area, this isn't going to work with what I want to do. I want it to be more fine like this up here. So what I do at this point is this is actually the adjusted one that I finalized when I was creating my original texture, and then I just zoomed in on areas, like this area, and going to the Clone tool, let's see, right here, and then you can go up and set the brush size, so we'll go, let's see, it's at 21, we'll go up to a little larger, that's good, and then you can sample any area, and then I'll just start painting out that area and just putting nice artifacting sampling in another area.
And this process takes a while to do this, but what it enables me to do is to create a texturing that's very subtle over the whole area of the design. So I will do that, I'll also use this method, which is a little faster, and then I'll just go in and clean up areas. So I'll just making erratic selection of an area, of just all smaller detail like this, and then I will, we don't need that. I'll go ahead and just kind of holding Command + Option down and just move it around and just fill in areas I don't need, and I can do that a couple times and that'll cover some of that area, and then I'll just go in and do some more cloning in the other areas so it doesn't look replicated.
And when it's all said and done, I end up with an image like this, and this has all the nice artifacting in it, if we zoom in, you can see all that artifacting, but it still has some gray in it, so I want to adjust the levels at this point. So I'll go up to Image and have to make sure we're on the right layer, go up to Image, Adjustment, Levels, and then I'm just going to blow out the white, and what I'm trying to do is create just simple black and white as much as possible, and that looks good, and I'll go OK, and now on this one I'm going to go to Adjust and I'm going to go to Invert 'cause I want to create a texture that's black because when I place into Illustrator I'll then colorize it.
So this will give me the basis at which I can then just isolate an area such as shown here in the guides like this, and then I can go ahead and crop this and now I can save this out as a bitmap TIFF and it'll become the asset I can use in Illustrator later, and I'm going to show you that in a little bit. Not every texture is a found texture. Here's one that I needed in the context of creating my illustration, so I created it with a simple pencil. But it's the same process, I scan it in at a very high PPI, in this case 800, and then using this as the basis I'll once again go to Image and I will go down to Adjustments, Levels, and then once again, I'll blow it out, I don't want to lose all the nice artifacting, so I'm just trying to create a nice level of black and white that I can then make a bitmap TIFF image of.
So if I move that over you can see what that is, original, converted, I'll go OK. So when it's all said and done I end up with a nice black and white image, and once again, I'll save this as a bitmap TIFF. So that's how I'll roughly really quickly kind of overview the process of creating a found texture or even creating a texture and making it an asset I can use in Illustrator. Now we're going to switch to Illustrator, I'm going to show you how I use this in context specifically of an illustration.
So now I'm in Illustrator, and this shows the basis of the artwork that I'm going to be creating and using my found textures in. If I turn off my base vector layer here, you can see this is just simply a very rough sketch. But I didn't have to be super precise with it 'cause I want that kind of looseness to the shapes. I don't want them geometrically perfect, for example, and this is all the base art. Once I have it at this point, I can start just doing some basic coloring, so you can see that here, and all this is is just a fill and a stroke with the same color.
So on this skin tone it's just a fill with the stroke that's the same color, the same way is set up for all the shapes, this is once again a fill of kind of this darkish gray with an outline of the darkish gray. Now the first thing I'm going to do once I have my base colors established is I'm going to start brushing them. You can see what these brushes do, if I go to Key Line view, all this is is vector artwork, and it has a vector brush applied to this path and applied to the path on this shape, and you can see how it makes it organic-looking.
It doesn't look computer-driven, that's kind of the look and feel we're going for, and if I toggle between the base art, clean vector, applied with brush, you can see how it looks when you do that. Now, I have a whole course on using vector brushes, but just really quickly I want to show you exactly how this is done. So I select these paths right here for his mouth, and we would go to Brushes, and on this one, actually, in the Brushes palette, you can go to Option menu, and if you would rather have a list view, you can do this, and it shows the list view, and you can work with it this way.
I kind of prefer seeing what I'm going to use, so I like going to Thumbnail view so I can actually see on the bigger brushes what that brush actually looks like. It's a little harder on the smaller ones, but that's okay, we're going to go ahead and apply the small one here, so we'll apply this, and that looks okay, but I don't like what it's doing on the smaller one, let's try another one. Yeah, I think that looks good. And that's as easy as it is. Whatever color your path is is the color the brush will be.
I'm not going to go into this in too much detail because you can check out my Drawing Vector Graphics, Painting With Vectors course, and I cover this to the nth degree, so you can get all the specific information. So I'll apply it to a path like this, you can see how I did it on the chin here, and then on his head, with the outline of his head in this tonal value here, we're going to also apply a nice brush to this one as well, so we'll go down to here and see what that one looks like, and I think that works pretty well, and you can see how it just makes it a nice organic feel to it, so I just wanted to touch on that really quickly because it does play a part in pulling off this whole aesthetic and this whole look, and it's going to work really great.
Now I use this methodology moving forward, so even on this background shape I applied a brush that's a little thicker to this outline here just so it's not staunch, geometric and perfect. I want it to be more humanity to it. I feel textures bring humanity to vector art, that's why I love using 'em. I'm going to turn on what I ended up with with all the brushes applied. Once again, this simple brushing, this isn't super complex. It's just putting brushes where it makes sense for highlights and shadows, and now it's at this point I'm going to start working in all these wonderful textures that I've found, and the first one I want to do is I want to show you the inspiration for these textures first, so I'm going to turn this layer on, and when we were eating at a Chinese restaurant, I went up to pay after we were done, and I'm standing there at the counter and I look down at the counter and this is what I see, I see this awesome texture on the counter.
So sure enough, first thing I do is I pull out my phone and I take a picture of it, and I'm going, wow, I love that texture, and I'm going to show you how I took this texture and turned it into an asset like I showed you previously in Photoshop, and how I'm going to use it in the context of this illustration. So let's go back to our illustration, we're going to go to a layer called drop shadow and we're going to place that texture that I created based off of that really cruddy counter at a Chinese restaurant. So we're going to go up to File and we're going to go to Place, and then we're going to select it from the desktop here, Counter_Crud, and we'll go place like this, and you can see what it looks like when it places in, because it's a bitmap it's automatically transparent, that's why I love using it.
The beautiful thing about textures is they're already degraded, so unlike a photograph, if you skew it or enlarge it or shrink it, you're probably going to notice because of the pixelization, but with a texture it just kind of adds more texture so it's not a big deal. And so I don't want this to be exactly proportionate to how I scanned it and built it, I'm just going to distort it based off of my need for this context, for this illustration, and in this case I just want it to work as a drop shadow here.
So that's all I'm going to do here, and then I'm going to go up here, and instead of the default black that a bitmap TIFF is, I'm going to color it this light gray color here. But I don't want to keep it that way, I want to switch the blend mode to Multiply so it interacts with the background green and it kind of becomes a darker green. The hue is a little too dark so we're going to adjust the value to 50%, and that's as easy it is to get a really cool drop shadow. Now I take this exact same texture, and I'm going to turn on this layer underneath it, and this is spot texturing, and I've used that same texture just to kind of do some spot texturing around the figure to kind of pop him off the background.
If I turn off the figure really quickly, all this is is just this same texture distorted, placed, rotated, and such. If you go to Key Line view it kind of looks like a mess, but that's okay, we're using Illustrator as a staging ground at that point, so that's how I'd use that texture so far. Now the next texture I want to place, I want to show you once again the inspiration for it, and once again, it came from the same restaurant. So after I saw that one texture I looked down the counter and bam, I saw this texture, I was like, whoa, that one's just as cool, and so I go down, I take a picture, and by this point the lady behind the counter is looking at me like I'm crazy, and I tried to explain to her, yeah, I'm a graphic designer and I do illustration, this is a really cool texture, and she's just deer in the headlights, she doesn't understand it, I'm weird, I'm taking pictures of a counter top.
That's okay, I'm okay with being weird in the context of pursuing creativity, and sometimes people understand it, sometimes they don't. That's part of the fear process, you just have to go with it. So we're going to turn on this hair layer, and you're going to see how I took this counter texture and it became an awesome asset for creating hair on this character. So here's the placed TIFF image. Now I'm just going to bring this over and we're going to go ahead and scale it and rotate it a little and kind of make it a really cool asset that's going to work great for this character.
Now I want to rotate this, so I'm going to go ahead and and we'll rotate it from this axis, and let's see, yeah, that looks great. Okay, so you can see how it makes this really cool plume of hair shooting off the side of his head. Now we're going to use this same element that I placed here, actually, with the bitmap color to black, we want to change that to a rich black, some people call it a process black. If I click on this and go to Color, actually, that's black, I think this is the process, yeah, so it's 40, 20, 20, 100, that ensures it's going to print well in the final context.
So with it selected, I'm going to clone my shape, Command + C, Command + F, if you have a keyboard shortcut set up you can just go F3 which I do, and that clones that shape, we'll go to Reflect here, and I'm just going to reflect this to the other side. Now it's not at the exact angle I want so I'm going to go ahead and adjust the angle a little bit and position it just a little bit differently and I think that looks pretty good. So you can see how it works great to make up his hair.
So you never know where these textures are going to come from, so pay attention and you might spot one you can use in your project. So let's take a look at one more, a few more actually. And this one, I was walking through downtown Salem where I live here in Oregon, and I saw this on the back of this steel door, and I'm like, whoa, that is a cool texture once again. Don't pass those up, even if you don't use 'em right away. I did this about a month ago, but take a photograph of it, create a usable asset, and on this one, we're going to go down to the background lyaer, and right above it I'll turn on this layer and you can see how I have this really great texture now I can bring over and I can position into this context, and in this case I'm just going to go up to Swatches and colorize this one white, and you can see just how cool it makes the background.
It's that easy, and this is why I love using bitmap TIFFs, it's fast, if this was an image trace one, it would really bog down the file and it just wouldn't look as good in my opinion. Now, I use a copy of this same texture and I just rotated it and changed it to an opacity, in this case, let's make sure we're on the layer, click on it, it's 30%, you can see it just adds a little more depth and interest to that background texturing. So that's how I did that one.
We're going to look at a few more textures, and the next one I want to look at is, let's see, I'm going to show you the inspiration behind it, and that is, it's the one that we hand drew. So not everything is going to be found, this one I created, and now I'm going to place this one, and we'll go ahead and turn it on, it's called Pencil_Crud and we're going to use this to add some nice detailing to the character itself, so I'm going to take him, bring this over and just position it, scale it down until I get it at about probably the size I want here, and maybe just a little bigger.
But it's obviously not the color I want. So the color I want, we'll go up here, we'll color it this, and I don't want the value that strong so I'll go 70, I think that looks good. And I'm going to go ahead and clone this, Command + C, Command + F, and we'll use the same one, I'll bring it over here, but just so it doesn't look replicated I'm going to rotate this 180 degrees and I'm going to scale this one, or position this one, that is, right about there, and then I'm going to make a clone of this one, so Command + C, Command + F, and in this case I want it to be white because we're going to scale this down like this, and it's going to be a little highlight on the bump of his nose right there, and I want this pretty faint, so I'm going to do 40.
Right now these are above elements in our illustration, so I'm going to copy this, Command + X, then I'm going to select the elements on our face which I have grouped, and I'm just going to go Command + B, which pastes behind, and it pastes those elements into place like that. And so you can see how I use that texture to pull off the nice little detailing in his face and if we zoom in on this, you can see how great that looks. So that's going to work really well and it was easy to create with just a simple little pencil.
And then the last texture that I want to go over in terms of usage is the one you saw me originally create in Photoshop based off of this film sheet with all these artifacting on it, and it's how I use that to create a nice surface texture. We'll turn this layer on, and in this case we can bring this one over, just slide it over, you can see how it interacts with the artwork. Right now it's black, we don't want it black. We want this to be a white color, and we want it to be transparent, so we'll make it 50%, and what we get from this is a really nice artifacting, and it just makes it look less replicated, less computer-driven, and more hand-done, that's kind of the quality we're going for here, and I used that same texture, just rotated it, and added a little green just to bring in some of that dirtiness that makes texturing work really well to carry through the artwork here.
So this was a lot of fun, and the best part about using textures is that you can turn Illustrator from a distinctly illustrative vector-based program into more of a creative staging ground for your projects. You don't have to keep everything vector-based, you don't need to, it can become your area for composing great illustration, and for this one, these are all the textures that I used in this vector illustration to pull this off.
They're included in the Exercise Files, so if you want to try this yourself, you can. But when it's all said and done, you end up with some really compelling artwork. I love using textures, and I'm sure this won't be the last time you see me put them to use, because I'm always looking for ways I can use textures and always looking for an excuse to go texture exploring and trying to find ways to then utilize them in my projects. I encourage you to find some textures, create your own assets, and take them for a creative test drive in your own work.
For more information on creating and using textures, check out my Creating and Using Textures course on Lynda.com. Thank you for watching DVG Lab, and until next time, never stop drawing.
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