Join Von Glitschka for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating surface texture, part of Drawing Vector Graphics Laboratory.
(logo whooshing) (gear grinding) - [Instructor] Welcome to Drawing Vector Graphics Laboratory. If you've been watching my DVG Lab movies for any period of time you've probably noticed that I love using textures in my vector based artwork. So in this movie we're going to create a texture resource we can then use in Illustrator. So let's get started. So this process is going to start in Photoshop because that's the ideal environment for creating textures that you can then use in Illustrator.
Now this texture is the easiest of all textures. It's not even based off of the photograph which is a fun way to create a texture too. This one I just took an old toothbrush. Instead of throwing them away save them and you can use them to create textures with. So I just took this, dipped it in some watered down black acrylic paint, and just flicked it. This is a pretty flexible toothbrush so I could bend it back a little and then let go and it would speckle onto the paper and that's what I've done here and I've scanned that exact texture in.
So this is my raw scan of that speckled kind of watered down acrylic black ink and this can work great for a texture. So that's the raw scan. We're going to go up to the adjusted one 'cause I'm going to adjust it now and I'm going to adjust it. Where I usually start is I go to Layers and we want to go to Image, that is, not Layers and go to Adjust and I'm going to go to Levels. And when I bring Levels up we can go ahead and move this this guy over so you can see what's going on and I'm just going to play with this.
And there's no distinct way to do this. This is a visual based exploratory process so I want to blow out any kind of gray that might be in the background so I'll pull this over but then I want to make more of the distinct black and white of this image. And that's looking pretty good and we'll go ahead and just settle on that right there. So all I've done is I'm kind of creating a black and white of the artwork.
So I toggle this off. The original and I've adjusted the contrast. Now I'll take this image and I'll start kind of cleaning it up of sorts and making it a better, idealistic texture that I can use. Like I don't really like this smear over there so you could use the clone brush. Sometimes I don't even do that. I'll just make a selection kind of like this and then I'll just drag it over like this and that's how (chuckling) I'll fix something like that.
It's kind of the lazy man's cloning method but when you're dealing with a texture it doesn't matter if it's a little sloppy 'cause zero people are going to notice that. They just won't. A texture by its very nature is degraded so don't overthink or complicate the process. I like keeping things pretty easy and I'll do the same like that. And I'll clean it up and on this one I wanted to create a texture that was. First I wanted to create a large texture. I actually created like three or four textures from this one scan here but the first one I created was a more kind of finite speckling of that texture so if I turn that off you can see I went in.
I cloned out all the big ones and I just made it more uniform to cover a larger surface. So that was one thing I did. Here's another one where I cropped it into a square and this is going to work good for certain types of usages but then I wanted to create one that I could turn into a Scatter brush specifically for Photoshop and Illustrator. So in Photoshop it's really simple to create a brush and there is an upcoming DVG Lab where I'm going to go over that so stay tuned for that.
But on this one I wanted to create a dense one where the speckles are more densely pushed together then a lighter one where there's more space in between, and then a really compact one where it gets a little smaller but it's still highly dense. Now in this file here, just to give you an idea, this is at 800 pixels per inch resolution. So I always scan in art at a very high detail. Now I have this selection prefabricated here so I can just hold Command down and click it to get the selection.
You don't have to do that. You could go over here and just drag your selection. It really doesn't matter but I have this selected so you don't even have to do that. Now what do you do once you get to this level? How do you turn it into a resource you can bring into Illustrator? Well you need to create what's called a bitmap TIFF image. If we go to Image, we're in Grayscale so we're going to switch to Bitmap. It's going to ask us if we want to flatten or it's going to warn us that is that you're going to flatten your layers and discard all the hidden layers.
That's okay. What I do before I do this is make sure to save my PSD file so I can always go back to it and port out new variations of a texture. In this case I don't have to worry about that but I will click OK and now it's going to say what resolution do I want? We'll keep it at 800 and what method do you want it to take? Well, for this one, I want 50% threshold and we'll click OK. So now, as you can see in the top tab here, it is a bitmap and if I zoom in on it the difference between a bitmap and grayscale is bitmap has distinct white pixels and black pixels.
There are zero anti-aliased or transparent pixels that are variations of the black. It's just black or white pixels and the nice thing about this is as we move into Illustrator it's going to work really well to create a Scatter brush. So that's what we're going to do now. We're going to move over to Illustrator and I'm going to show you how to create a Scatter brush. Now we're inside Illustrator and here is our placed bitmap TIFF image.
Now I should point out that bitmaps, by default, are transparent. So anywhere where those white pixels are it shows through to whatever your background is. So it's really nice in that respect and what we're going to do now is we're going to go up to Window and we're going to go down to Image Trace and bring this up. We'll slide it over. We're going to click Advanced so we get full access to all the features and with this image selected I want to make sure to click Ignore White. You want this. You don't want white becoming a shape.
You want it to be non existent so we only want to image trace what is the black pixels in our design so make sure to click that on. We'll put Paths all the way to the right. This is going to be the highest quality and on Noise we want to go all the way down to the left so it picks up a lot of the detail. Everything else you can remain by default and we're going to click Trace. And then once it's traced we have to then go up and expand it in the top menu bar here and we'll expand it and you can see how it's turned it into a nice vector shape.
We can close the Image Trace palette now and now we have what is a vector version of that scattering texture we created inside Photoshop. What I want to do now is if I select this image right now it's going to default just to black. So what we want to do is I'm going to click into this and this is what I call it's an RGB Black. Sometimes I'll even name this a specific name and that is Inky Black.
And (chuckling) the reason, that's just a name I gave it. Essentially it's an RGB black but I like calling it Inky Black and when you view it in CMYK this is what it'll break down to and I just leave those and I'm going to leave 'em for specific reasons. So we'll click OK and I want to show you why. So when this color is selected and I go to Color you can see it says Inky Black. It's a CMYK but if I click on this and go under here and change to RGB it's a true RGB black and that's important because if you work in CMYK or you prefer working in RGB black you want to make sure you select your brush after it's traced and go to your swatches and color it, not the default black that'll just automatically be there, but, in this case, the Inky Black.
That way, whether you work RGB or CMYK, it'll be 100% black for brush. If you use the default black and create a brush when you work in RGB it'll appear as a gray not a black and it'll be transparent. So you don't want that. You want to use this. So I just point that out because I made that mistake in the past and nobody explained it to me. I kind of figured it out when I created some brushes, gave 'em to somebody, and they had problems so I just wanted to point that out. Now we're going to go to the brushes palette. We'll open it up.
You can see a couple other Scatter brushes I've created here. We're going to create a new one. So I'm going to just drag this over, drop it on this. Another window will come up. It automatically selects Scatter Brush first so we want that so we'll click OK. Then we're going to drag this over and we're going to name this. I have a naming standard going for this little set and I should point out that this set is included in the exercise files so you get three brushes. Not only vector based Scatter brushes but you can get Photoshop Scatter brushes that I created as well.
So make sure to grab those. So we'll name it, I'll go down here and select tint. This allows me to color it however I want and on this, this is really important, you want to pick Random for all of these. And if you use a Wacom tablet you can always go back into this brush and you can select pressure too for anything you want and you can customize it. Once you have this brush you can create variations of it and set your own standards for whatever you want.
Now the best way to explain the interface here is just try it. Just set it, then click OK, then see what it does. If you don't like it go back and mess with it. That's how I discovered what's going to work here. So first of all we'll set this one to like 45. We'll leave this one at 100. We'll set this at 50. We'll set this at 15. I'll do 70 degrees here. This one's going to be almost opposite so we'll do minus 70.
This one'll be minus 10. Once again you discover these by just exploring with it. I'm just showing you what I've found works pretty well. You can rotate relative to what? The page? Nope you want to have the Path since this is going to wrap around the path and with this we'll click OK. So you can see how it's added that here now. I'm going to go ahead and turn on this layer and this is just a layer. We're going to test this brush. So I'm going to grab my paint brush tool. We'll have this brush selected. Right now I have a fill.
I don't even need a fill 'cause the color will be based off of whatever the stroke is and let's pick a different color other than black. We'll go, let's see, we'll go with this kind of burnt orange color and we'll paint out like this and you can see how it paints that Scatter brush on there. So I think let me do one other test just to make sure this is going to work. That's okay. I think we can adjust this. So what I'm going to do is I'm going to go back into this brush by double-clicking it and on the setting for Random I don't want it to change so much so we'll go up to 75 and I'll go OK.
When you do this it'll say hey. You have used this already. Do you want it to affect that? And you can go leave strokes or you can go apply to strokes and so we're going to go apply to strokes and you can see how it affects it. I'll delete this and we'll test it again and see how this looks. That looks okay. Let's do a straight line. Yeah that looks good. So you can see how the Scatter brush works. Now this is vector based and I should point out you're adding hundreds and hundreds of anchor points to your design when you use this.
If you use a lot you're adding thousands so this can slug down a machine at times if you go overboard. So you want to use this with balance and care I guess I'd point out and I want to show you how I can use it on an illustration. So I'm going to turn on some layers here and this is an illustration that I created for an editorial piece. And we'll go ahead and turn on the background here and, on this one, we're going to turn on this layer and I'll go ahead just so you can see what's going on we'll turn on the nest.
It's a bunch of businessmen with the head CEO kind of feeding 'em like a bird. It was a business article editorial piece I did a few years back and we're going to add some brushwork on this. Now one thing. When I work I like to name my layers exactly what I'm going to do so on this one it's Brush Work1 and it's just later so I can go back. I know what I'm doing but on this one we're going to select this other brush I created. The same type of Scatter brush but a different kind of texture called Brush1.
I'll select that and on Brush1 I want to select the color of white. Notice how it's below our nest and below our birds so it's going to affect the background and that's what I want it to focus on is affecting our background. So we'll be on this layer white loaded. Think of it as painting. We have the brush loaded with white, we have the brush selected, and then we're going to hit the paintbrush tool, and now we can go ahead and draw right into this area.
And I'm just going to do a random one kind of like this and you can see how it creates this nice kind of scattering of texture. I'm going to go ahead and select this 'cause I don't want it to be stark white. I want the value to be knocked back quite a bit so we'll knock it back to like 30%. I want it to be subtle. Just to add some nice organic flair to the overall background. Now on this you can change the size of the scatter by changing the size of the path.
This is one. If I click this up you can see how it gets bigger. That's too big so I want to keep this at one. Go back to layers. We'll go ahead and lock that layer and I'm going to do another one on the layer right above it and this is going to utilize the same brush. So we have the same brush selected, we'll select the paint brush tool, but on this one I want to change the color so I'm going to change it to this purple color and we're going to affect another part of the design.
Let's say what are we going to do now? I think what we'll do is we'll go I want to add some of this color to the overall design so I'm going to go like this and just like. Oh that looks good but, once again, it's breaking outside of that too much so I want to lower this a little and once again you can control it through the stroke. So we'll go in here. I'll see what .75 looks like.
That looks, actually, that looks pretty good. We're going to go to blend mode and we're going to go to Color Burn so it interacts with all the colors underneath it and let's see. You know what? Well I think Color Burn looks okay. I don't know. Let me think. (laughing) Sorry this is part of the process. This is how I actually do it. I'll try something, look at it, stare at the screen, and in a movie like this that's kind of boring for you if I'm just (laughing) staring at the screen but that's actually what I do. So you caught me doing what I do in my normal everyday workflow so I've adjusted it, I've set it, now I'm trying to decide (chuckling) if I like it.
I probably should have done this ahead of time but that's okay. I think I do like it. I'm going to go with it but I'm going to knock the value down just a little more. We'll go 10% more 'cause it was applying the 30% I had on the previous application and I think that looks that looks okay. Let me remove this. Just see what it looks like without it. No, you know what? I do like it with the Color Burn and I think I'm going to increase this to 25. So exploratory is just that.
You're going to have to explore and once you get it to a point and you like it then you know you're done. You can move on to the next one. We're going to do a few more. So I'm going to select this top layer here. Now we're going to affect the artwork that's on top of everything. So the next one we're going to do is we're going to use the second brush over here. Select the paint brush and we're going to pick a color. I want to pick let's see. We'll do a lighter orange I guess and I will go ahead and I want to add some texture to this tree over here.
So I'm just going to paint on top of the tree like this and you can see it applied the opacity I had before. I don't want that and it's using the same blend mode. So that will be retained so make sure to check those. I want this to be I want the blend mode to be multiplied and then on the opacity we'll set this to like 35 maybe and that looks good but it's going too far outside so we need to adjust the size.
So I'll go in here and we'll knock it down to half a point and you know what? Maybe even less than that. It could be probably even smaller than that. Let's try .3. I think that looks a lot better so we'll go with that. Now we'll do one more and we're going to affect the character themselves so let's go ahead and select this. We'll use the nah we'll try the brush we made.
We'll try Brush3 and I'm going to select our blue color which is used in our design. That's what the stroke will be and the size of the stroke we'll start with one. I don't want multiply on and I want the full value just so I can see it initially. And now I'm going to draw over the top of this character kind of like this. And (chuckling) you can see he's like surrounded by gnats. Okay the stroke's too big so we need to knock that down, I think, by half.
We don't want it to breach outside of that character too much and on this I want this to be a very, very subtle application just so it's not so stark. And what we'll do on this is I'm going to go to multiply and then on the value we'll knock that by half and I think that's still. You know maybe dark blue wasn't the greatest color. Let's try a lighter blue or even lighter blue than that.
That looks pretty good. Let's knock the value down quite a bit. I want this to be very subtle. I want it to be apparent but not obtuse in terms of getting in the way of the visual. If I zoom in on this you can see how it's applying to everything but in the total context it doesn't really distract you. So I think that's important so that's how I would apply Scatter brushes to this. I mix all kinds of methods in so what I'm going to do now is I'm going to bring over this bitmap texture.
It's the same way I created the texture I used for the Scatter brush but specifically this one was created from an old Xerox machine just xeroxing a piece of white paper and the drum is bad and so you get all this nice artifacting. Now at this size it might look a little weird but if I scan in you can see what it looks like. It's just really broken up and on this texture we're going to go ahead and color it. Let's see we'll color it light blue? So I think oop.
Not the outline. We want to color the actual fill light blue like this and on this one because we have a lot of blues in here I think we're going to do color ooh like that. That looks cool but I don't want the value all the way so I'll do 50. Maybe more. 40? That looks pretty good and I want this to be let's see. That's good and then I've created a masking shape based on the perimeter of the art and I'm going to use that to mask.
Now I have F1 key setup for mask but if you want to mask you just go down to Clipping Mask. I have F1. Use keyboard shortcuts. It makes things easier. And we'll mask it and it masks that into shape. And so that's how I'll go about using Scatter brushes, using placed bitmap textures just to make a more engaging piece of artwork. And creating your own Scatter brush, creating your own textures is a really fun way to just make a piece of artwork that, in my opinion, just has more humanity in it.
Nothing is perfect in life and if you can infuse that into your art I think it makes it even better. So Scatter brushes in Illustrator work much the same way as Photoshop. The biggest difference is vector based Scatter brushes will increase file size because they are memory intensive and contain thousands of anchor points so just be aware of that. Don't let it scare ya but just be aware of it. I've included a set of three surface texture brushes containing both Photoshop and Illustrator and you can use those in your own projects however you like.
For more information on creating custom brushes of all types make sure to watch my Drawing Vector Graphics Painting with Vectors and my Creating and Using Textures for Design courses which cover these methods in far more detail. Thank you for watching DVG Lab and, as always, never stop drawing.
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.