Designer Von Glitschka takes a hand painted brush stroke and turns it into a digital vector-based brush. We'll use this later in the course in Adobe Illustrator.
- [Voiceover] So you saw me painting out by hand using a traditional paintbrush and paint on paper to paint out and create paint swatches or paint strokes like the one you see here, and once I have those painted out and they're dry obviously I'll scan them in and I use an Epson Flatbed scanner. Any scanner like that is going to work well for this and I scanned in my paint strokes in at 800 dpi, so a very high resolution.
I do that because when we bring these assets into Illustrator and image trace them I want them to be tight, I want them to hold up some nice, little artifacts and detailing so it gives the authentic look that I'm after. But this is where it starts, this is the genesis of creating your digital asset that you're going to use to paint with vectors in Illustrator, and it all starts in Photoshop. I scanned it in as a grayscale image and this is what you see here, and don't worry if it doesn't scan in completely black, that's okay, that's what Photoshop's for, we're going to mess around with the contrast and the levels in order to achieve kind of the look and feel we want to.
Now I should point out that even though we're in CC Photoshop version, you can do this all the way back to let's say you're using Photoshop five, everything I'm going to show you here you can do in older versions, you don't need Creative Cloud to do this, it's that simple. Actually, almost all of my courses are that way with exception of a few proprietary functions that are only available in newer versions of software, but for the most part I try to make it backwards compatible.
So, I start with my original scan, you can see the layers here in the Photoshop file and when I create a brush, I'm creating it individually with all my brushes. I don't adjust them all at the same time because each one has their own characteristics so I like to save the source art and I usually keep my original scan on its own layer, then I'll make a duplicate of that layer and in this case I'm just calling it Adjust Levels because now that I have a duplicate on another layer, this is where I'll begin making my adjustments to it so I'm going to go to Image, I'm going to pull down to Adjustments and to Levels, and that'll bring up this window, and I'm just pulling it off to the side so you can see how we're going to affect the base art that we're adjusting here, the scan of this brush, and I usually just start pulling in from the left side, this is what's going to blow out all the kind of midtones to make it lighter, and I just want to pull that in just so it gets rid of a lot of the background levels of gray you can see in this scan, and then if you pull in from the left, this is where you're going to darken it up.
Now, from this point you can just visually adjust it based off of your own preference. How much artifacting you want to leave in it, if you pull this in a lot you can see how it fills in certain areas, and in this case I want to keep some of that white, I want to keep some of the artifacting so I don't want to like pull this in so far that it loses all the little details, so that's just your preference, your prerogative in terms of kind of the look and feel you want. And then the middle one is the midtone range.
You can push it to the right to make it push dark so it takes lighter pixels and pushes them darker or you go the other way and it makes it lighter, so this is how I adjust the paintbrush after I scan it in. Once you get it to a point you like, just click OK and now, if I go to the layer above this you can see it's virtually the same thing, it just has a minor difference because I made little, minor changes when I made my adjustments. If I zoom in on this, you can see for the the most part it's black and white pixels, but if I really zoom in on this you can see we have some transparent pixels and that's represented by the gray ones here.
So, what we want to do on our final brush here is we don't want to save it as a grayscale tif, we want to save it as a bitmap tif, and the whole reason we want to do that is because when we bring it into Illustrator, I want the pixels to be a distinct black and white with no levels of gray. You could do a levels of gray tif image and bring that into Illustrator and image trace it, but in my opinion, it works better keeping it distinct black and white pixels.
So, if I zoom in again on a section here, you can see the gray pixels showing up on the edge. What we're going to do is we're going to convert this to a bitmap tif now and all you do to do that is you go up to Image, you go to Mode, and you can see Bitmap, as soon as we click on that it's going to bring up a window saying are you sure you want to flatten these visible layers? So, we're going to hit Cancel right now because one thing you'll want to do like I stated originally is, I want to save my layered file with the original scan in it so I don't lose it later and I can always go back to it and try different settings to get a different iteration of the brush.
So you can make multiple brushes from one source scan. So I've saved by psd file and now I'm going to go to Image, Mode, Bitmap, it'll bring up the window, it's okay, we want to flatten it, so we'll click OK. This is where you'll make some settings. Right now it's still 800 pixels per inch, that's what I want, I want to retain that, and I want to make sure that the method is on 50% threshold and we're going to click OK. So it doesn't look like anything's changed other than the fact that we don't have a layered psd file now.
If I zoom in on this though, you can see that we have distinct black and white pixels, there's no midrange pixels, no transparent pixels, it's just distinctly black or white and that's what we want. Once we have this bitmap tif, all we have to do now is go to File and Save out as a bitmap tif image, save it to whatever name you want to call it and save it to whatever location or hard drive you want to recall it, and that's what I've done with this image, and now I'm going to move over to Illustrator and I'm going to show you how I take this final bitmap tif and turn it into a working vector brush in Illustrator.
So now we're in Adobe Illustrator, and you can see my placed bitmap tif right here, once again, it's 800 dpi, and all I'm going to do now is I'm going to turn it into a working brush. Right now it's a rasterized image based off of pixels, and we want it to be a vector image. So the way we're going to do this is we're just going to go to Window, and we're going to go to Image Trace, and that'll open up this image trace settings right here. You want to make sure to click on Advanced because we're going to have to use some of these settings to make the best possible brush we can.
The first one you want to click on is Ignore White. I wish by default that was on because we want everything white in our trace to be transparent, and if you don't have that clicked it'll make everything white in your tif image an object, a vector object, and you don't want that so you want to make sure the first thing you do is click Ignore White. The next thing we want to do is on Noise the higher the number is, the less amount of artifacting there's going to be, and we want that artifacting, that's what gives that authentic look.
So we're going to push this all the way to the left and then the top one here on Paths, the higher the number the tighter the fit, meaning the better the trace, and that's what we want, you want it as high quality as possible. Now, will this produce more anchor points? Will it be a little more memory intensive? Yes, but, if you do this, the quality of the final brush is going to look so authentic. I don't care about memory, memory's no big deal for me when it comes to digital art because you can always add more RAM or buy bigger hard drives to accommodate the type of art you're creating.
So, don't worry about this. If you want to mess around with it and make it less memory, you can, but in my opinion you kind of compromise the authenticity of the art when you do this. These are the only settings I make on a brush like this. I don't really touch any of the other settings I just kind of leave them at default, and now we're going to hit Trace and this is going to ask you if you want to do it in, we're going to click OK and I'm going to turn this off so it doesn't happen again, we'll go OK. Now that it's traced, you still have to, like commit to it.
And what I mean by that is you have to go to the top menu here, and we're going to close the Image Trace panel because we're done with that now, and we're going to click Expand. Expand will actually make it a vector object we can start using, so I'm going to expand it and you can see now we have our vector based brush art all done, it still looks nice and authentic, vector based. Now, right when you do this, if you look at the appearance panel it says it's a group.
So one thing I like to do as soon as I have this converted to a vector format is I want to create a compound path from it so I'll go to Object, I'll pull down to Compound Path and I'll pull the make, you can see I have F7 setup so I could just hit the F7 key and it'll do this, but this is where you can find it in the menu and we'll click that, and if you look at Appearance it's now a compound. With it being a compound, and I don't do that because you need to do that for a brush.
I do that in case I ever just want to use this as an asset as it is right now, not in brush format. But once I've done that, I'll open up the brushes palette, so we'll click on that, and just drag this into the palette. As soon as we do this, a window shows up and this is where you have to pick the type of brush you want and for this type of paint stroke brush I use the Art Brush. So we're going to click that, click OK, it'll bring up another window and on this we'll just say, we'll just say Paint Brush you can name it whatever you want, we want it on default here for Stretch to Fit Stroke Length, that's fine.
We're going to leave this at 100% by default, that's fne. We're going to change colorization to Tints, this allows us to change the color when we apply it and everything else will remain default and we'll click OK, and you can see how this brush now shows up in our brushes palette. So now we have a vector brush we can start to use. Now, in another movie I'm going to show you how to apply the brushes and adjust the brushes, and there's a little overlap with some of these movies, meaning I'll show one thing in one movie and I'll repeat it in another movie because they all kind of work together and go together.
So that's okay, don't worry about that. But one way you can apply it is obviously you have a path, this is blue, and with the path selected you just click the brush and it will apply that brush to the path. Now, you can also change this color by changing the stroke color, in this case it's blue and we could change this to a red color if we wanted to. We're going to go over that in more detail later because it affects how you create your artwork using brushes like these by making those kind of edits, those kind of changes.
Now, the way I like to use the brushes is I like to pick the paint brush tool here, make sure you're on stroke, and in this stroke we're going to color blue, so we'll click blue and you want to make sure you have your paint brush selected. Once you have this, it's easy just to paint out a stroke, like that. Now I can change the color, so let's say you're loading, you're painting traditionally and you want to paint gold now. You take your brush and load that color before you paint it on the canvas, and it's kind of the same way in vector.
Instead of being blue we want to load it with gold and in this case, we're also going to click on Transparency, click on Blend mode, and we're going to go Multiply, so now we have the same brush tool but we're now using a different color and we're using Multiply, and when I paint another stroke on top of this you can see it starts to change color, in this case to green, since it's red and yellow, and this is kind of the principle behind vector painting, this is how you can move from analog, create your brush, adjust it in Photoshop, save it out as a tif, bring it to Illustrator, turn it into a working vector brush and start using it.
So having access to a creative art resource like vector based paintbrushes is something you can use for a lifetime of creativity because their aesthetic is timeless, so the investment in time is well spent since the creative payoff is only limited by your imagination. So these strokes together, blue and yellow obviously make green.
Graphic designer Von Glitschka appreciates the endless brush stroke freedom that real-world brushes offer, and he knows how to replicate this offering in the digital world. In this course, he shows how to create your own custom, handmade brush strokes and import them into Adobe Illustrator. Von demonstrates how to compile and use custom brush strokes to achieve both a hand-painted aesthetic and a personal touch. Whether you're a painter, a designer, or just a fan of Illustrator, this course offers instructions on how to expand your use of Illustrator.
- Painting real brush strokes
- Transforming real brush strokes into digital brush strokes
- Importing brush strokes
- Creating bitmap surface textures
- Modifying vectors
- Compiling patterns, shapes, and strokes
- Working with layers and blend modes
- Using vector brushes