Learn how to reduce a complex visual into simple geometric forms and create a comprehensive graphic motif using the shape building tool.
(swooshing) - [Instructor] Welcome to Drawing Vector Graphics Laboratory. Whenever you have a chance to create personal artwork that isn't client driven, I always suggest you pick a genre, style, or theme that you find fun. It makes the process easier and because of that, you tend to do a higher level of work because you naturally enjoy it. So, for this movie, I'm going to create a samurai motif in response to a question I received about the Shape Building Tool in Illustrator and what type of designs I think it's ideal for, so let's jump into it and I'll show you how I use it.
Because I'm working on a samurai, I want to look at some real-world reference. Once again, it doesn't matter if you're rendering something realistically or realistically proportioned even, it's always good to look at real-world reference so you can glean attributes in and cues on what you could capitalize on to pull off a certain design, in this case a samurai. So, here's one shot from a museum of a samurai helmet and the motifs that are involved in the crest on the top with the dragon and the side.
Here's another image of another samurai and these are the type I really like with the big kind of wing shape at the top front and it has a brim on the front part and it has kind of a mask over the front facial area. So, these are attributes that I'm going to glean on even though the style I'm going to work in is going to be very geometric and very simple. I try to draw out in general, I don't have to be too specific because or precise that is in terms of my drawing because we are dealing with geometric shapes so it's going to be very forgiving.
So, this is the drawing. I only did one side, scanned it in, flipped it in Photoshop and with this sketch, I'm going to go ahead and just reduce the opacity to about 20, lock the layer, and we're going to start building on it. I like to use dynamic aspects in Illustrator to create certain shapes, so if I turn this off, look at the shape of the head, it's kind of circular on top but then it comes down to a point and it has edges where the jawline would be. Well, that's pretty easy to create. We created this big elliptical shape to carry that angle of the jawline but we're going to use this shape, which is a circle, keep the top circular, and then we're going to pull out the corners using, I like to use, a rounding tool that comes with VectorScribe plug-in from Astute Graphics.
If you choose to use the corner widget tool in Illustrator out of the box, you'll be able to do the same thing, I just prefer the plug-in because it works so flawlessly. I can just grab a circle like this and just pull out a corner and on this one, I can do the same thing, pull out a corner. Once I have that, I'll just highlight these corner shapes, and I'm just going to drag it below the edge of this big elliptical shape, we can go ahead and close that pallette, I'll select this elliptical shape and clone it, command C, command F, I have F key as setup so I use F3 to clone it, which does those two commands, so I've made a copy, I'll go to the Reflect tool here, find a central anchor point, and this is where you'll want smart guides turned on.
You toggle those on and off with command U, then I'm going to hover over the anchor, click, and then pull down to get it to flip like this, we'll select both elliptical shapes, I'll go to Intersect on Pathfinder, do that, and now we have the bottom edge of the face shape here. I'll select both shapes now and intersect again and this gives me most of the shape I need for his face. The only thing left is I want to round off these corners here. So, I'm going to go back to the rounding tool here and we're going to use True Radius which is true rounding and we'll pull it out and I'll just match my sketch, that looks good, and then because I've done it on the left, I can just simply click on the right and repeat the exact same radius like that and that's how I would create a base shape like this on a motif like this.
It just makes the whole process going faster when you can cut corners. That said, you don't even need plug-ins to do some types of building like elliptical shapes. On these, I'm going to use all of this to create the motif that's in the bottom of this image. So, what we're going to do here is we'll select these two shapes and we'll intersect them to create the bottom, we'll select these, the small one is on top of the other shape as shown here, so when we select both of them, we can minus front to get that kind of crescent moon shape of sorts and on this one, the same thing, it's on front, we'll select both of them, and we'll minus front, we'll go ahead and select all of these, unite them, so now we have pretty much everything we need.
We'll turn on this layer right above it, we'll toggle this one off just temporarily, we'll turn this one on, and what we're going to do is take these two shapes and we're going to unite those together in to one shape and then with that shape selected, we'll select this rectangle and we're just going to punch through it like a cookie cutter using minus front to create that. We'll turn back on the previous layer and then we'll use this shape above, we'll go ahead and move that up so it covers everything, select both these shapes, and then we're going to use this to minus front to trim and get the final shape we need.
So, just using simple basic shapes without touching the pen tool, you can do complex shapes, so it's all about thinking in shape, thinking in form, and deducing how you can use the simplified tools in Illustrator, pull off something that looks complex but really isn't if you deduce it down into simple shapes. So, that's how I'd start building some of the base artwork. Let's turn on all the base factors. This is everything built out, ready to go, and this is where you'll want to turn to the Shape Building Tool but I wouldn't keep it like this to build shapes, it'd just be too hard to figure this out.
It's easier using all these shapes here if we fill them all with black. So, if I turn this layer on, you can see it just looks like nothing except a silhouette but if I select everything, you can see all those shapes are there. So, why would I do this? It looks harder, I can't see what's going on. Well, actually, it is better to see what's going on. This isn't even all the shapes. I have another layer above this and this has more of the shapes that we had in the original base factors but those, I'm going to do in a second stage but the reason why I color it black is because when I select everything and then go to the Shape Building Tool, it's easier to discern.
I can go over and you see these shapes, I can just drag select just the shapes I want to cretae all these diffuse together like this and I'll do that on these two, diffuse those, drag over these, diffuse those, drag over these shapes, diffuse all of that, then if I hover over a shape, I can hold down the Option key and you can see a minus appears and I'll minus out that. I want the background to show through here, so I'll minus out this, when it overlaps this part, I want that to minus, and this part I want to minus, I'm holding the Option key down still and I'll do this shape, oops, let's undo that like this, you might have to zoom in on some of these because selection sometimes in Illustrator can get a little wonky when you're zoomed out but actually, that's what we can do.
Let's go ahead and zoom in just a little further, that will just make the process a little easier, select the Shape Building Tool again and now we'll just select some of the other shapes like this and we'll minus that, this will be negative, this will be negative, this band will be negative, so we're doing a positive negative design of sorts and we're just selecting all the elements that are going to punch through the background black color as shown here, so we'll do the teeth and let's see, these will be white as they go into the black area and then the negative area, the teeth, will be white here.
This will turn to white also. This will turn to white and where it overlaps each side, will turn to white. And we'll do this one up here, we missed that guy. So, that's how easy and fast it goes to create really complex art. Now, trying to do this any other way like with the Pathfinder Palette for example would take forever. It'd just take a long time. You could do it but it's a lot of extra steps and this goes a lot faster. Once we have this built, I'm going to turn on the next layer here and this is where we'll go ahead and drag select and we'll start doing some of the other building with some of the other artwork shown here, so we'll go back to the Shape Building Tool and where this overlaps right here, we can go ahead, actually, we don't need to select everything, let's just select these shapes, and we'll select these shapes, and we'll do it the same on both sides over here and this shape, and then we'll go back to the Shape Building Tool and all we're going to do here is we're going to hold the Option key down and minus out what we don't want here, so we'll minus out everything that cuts in and creates a negative gap and then these positive shapes, we can trim off with it where it overlaps on the bottom, these will create nice negative shapes here like this and you can see this process goes really fast, it's not hard, most of the heavy lifting, creatively speaking, on a design like this, it's just figuring out how to deduce your shape and form to replicate.
You can see we have a line here, so we're going to get rid of that as well and that's something we might have to go into. Let me zoom in on that, 'cause I'm not sure what's going on there. Okay, it looks like we have a line, so we'll just select it and delete it. I've never seen that before, so that's a little interesting. If we select everything, we do have some shapes right down here at the bottom, so we'll select those, we'll go ahead and zoom in so you can see what's going on, select the shape building tool, hold Option down, and we'll punch those through as well.
So, that's how quickly it'll go to create your base black and white artwork and it doesn't get complicated when you're doing that but it creates a really cool motif that we have now. Now, once you have a design like this, I like it in black, I like the simplification without having multiple colors, it's just a really cool, simple graphic design of a samurai. Now, this is going to work really well in a black and white form if we colorize some of the backgrounds, this shows that even though it's black, it'll work on a nice diverse range of colored backgrounds, so if we color each of these tiles a different color, this one we'll do gold and this one we'll do this green color, you can see it looks really cool even though it's black on a background like this.
Now, we could also select all these samurai shapes and even though they're black, this style works really well if you reverse it, so white is going to work just as well and in the final context, I'm going to show you that again just to show how well it works in that kind of context again. If it's color on color, it's going to work good, so this is a very flexible style, this positive, negative, and in this case, we're going to lock it up with some nice type and the way you pronounce this is Bugaku, it's a classical Japanese dance and it was originally designed as entertainment for the Imperial Palace.
Nowadays it's more ceremonial than official but they dress up in all of this samurai Regalia, it looks really cool and they do these traditional dances, so, that's what this production company is all about. It's going to look cool but I think it'll be even better and so I'm going to turn on this layer and we're going to go up and open the brushes pallette and I have a pattern texture here that we're going to wrap around this path. So, I'm going to select the path, whatever color your path is is the color that the pattern will take on when you wrap it around, so this is a little small, so we're going to go to our strokes pallette and we're going to punch in 3.25 and that'll create a nice effect as shown here.
Now, we're going to go to the transparency pallette and I'm going to set this to 30% and then multiply, so it multiplies with the red color underneath and then we're just kind of creating this focused vignette on this mark. We'll take and select the brand mark here and I'm going to copy it and then on the layer with the pattern we've applied to the brush, we're going to go ahead and paste that in place, select the path, and we're going to go ahead and mask it and you can mask it by going Clipping Mask and Make, notice I have F1, so I could just hit F1 with both shapes and it would mask it but that's how you mask it if you don't have keyboard shortcut setup that is and this looks really cool, very compelling and kind of dramatic with that kind of spotlight of color and the nice little vignette of texturized brushing on the edge.
Now, obviously, if I set this up as final art, I'd want to expand that brush and make really clean vector art so you don't have to worry about a mask and everything pasted inside of it but this kind of motif works really well in color but, once again, works just as well, if not better, in as simplified one color, in this case, a knock out of a colored background, so, I love taking somewhat complex visuals like a Samurai theme and graphically simplifying the forms to create engaging design motifs like this and the Shape Building Tool just makes the whole process go a lot faster, so, thank you for watching DVG Lab and until next time, never stop drawing.
Note: Because this is an ongoing series, viewers will not receive a certificate of completion.
Skill Level Intermediate
Q: Why can't I earn a Certificate of Completion for this course?
A: We publish a new tutorial or tutorials for this course on a regular basis. We are unable to offer a Certificate of Completion because it is an ever-evolving course that is not designed to be completed. Check back often for new movies.