Join Von Glitschka for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating with a template, part of Drawing Vector Graphics Laboratory.
(electronic whooshing) (gears clicking) - [Instructor] Welcome to drawing vector graphics laboratory. Someone recently emailed me and wondered why I never use the template feature in Adobe Illustrator. So in this movie, I want to show you this feature and how you might choose to use this template to assist you in your vector creation efforts. So, normally, when I approach any design, be it a logo, or an illustration, any kind of graphic, I'm always working out my design in analog, so you can see a sketch here of a Holstein cow and this was for some dairy logo explorations for a client that I worked with, oh this goes back about eight years or so now.
But, I take my refined sketch and I scan it in, and I place a bitmap TIFF into Illustrator as shown here. Now normally, I'll select a sketch like this, I'll go to the transparency palette, and I'll adjust the opacity to like 20% and then I'll lock a layer, and then on the layer above it, I'll create my vector art as shown here. And I use it as a guide for my creativity, for executing my vector artwork, and it just kind of gives me a roadmap to build on, if you want to think of it as that analogy.
Now there is another way to do this, and this is what was pointed out through an email, and I was aware of this. I just choose to not use it, but I want to show you it, and we're going to turn on that layer now, and it's called the template layer. And we'll go ahead and turn off the layer below that we had initially created, and once again, it's the same bitmap TIFF, but instead of adjusting the opacity on the TIFF itself, mocking the layer, we're just going to double-click on this layer, and when we get to this layer, you'll notice there's a checkbox you can select that's called Template.
We're going to click that and select it, and then it gives you an option of dim the images that are on this layer, and right now it's set for 50, but we'll go ahead and do 20, and we'll click OK. And you can see, it gives us the same aesthetic appearance that we did with the refined sketch placement, and adjusting the opacity. So I'm going to turn on the original layer, and I'm going to toggle off this template layer we just created, and you'll see as I'm doing this, I'm changing the layers but there's no aesthetic difference, meaning it works the same way.
It's just a different way of doing the same thing. Now there's a couple benefits and differences in each approach, so with the base vectors let's say you're creating your base vectors. And we'll go ahead and zoom in on the head here specifically, and if we turn off the base vectors here, you can see our underlying initial sketch that we adjusted the opacity and locked it on its own layer, and we're building on top of it. But, if I go to Keyline View, which is Command + Y, you'll notice that it no longer displays our placed image, it just displays the bounding box for that placed image.
You know, we can access our core vector path here and see how that's formed, but we have no idea how it aligns with the underlying drawing. Whereas, if I turn on the template layer, you can see that that shows the visual image even in a keyline mode such as this. Now I don't happen to build in keyline mode like hardly ever, I just don't. I have no need for it I always use preview mode as shown here and in such case, I can get away with just using my normal placement procedure that I always use.
So, that's the reason why I don't use the template but some of you might like the template. So on this specific design, once again, it was for a dairy and I'll just show you a couple explorations that I created using the artwork that you saw me build there. And now, another aspect of the template mode, I want to show you another way that it could be used, is we'll turn on this cow reference. This was reference provided me by this client, who's a dairy owner, just because there's a slight difference between a bull and a dairy cow, and I just wanted to capture the essence of what that is.
So, they provided this image for me, and then based off of this image, I can select a photograph like this. And on this photograph, once again, I can double-click on the layer, go to template, and set this to whatever I want. In this case we'll leave it at 50, and I'll go OK and now that's locked. And then on the layer above it, you can see I have one of my initial sketches that I'm working off of based off of the underlying photography. So if I double-click on this level now, and select Template, and let's say we're going to do 40% here, and we'll click OK.
Notice that it dims the template 40% even if we go back and we do this so let's say it's 15%, so very faint. And go like this, you don't see the image underneath it, it won't show through, that's because it's not opacity it's dimming the layer. And so all the elements on that layer just are devalued in terms of their hue intensity, but it isn't transparency so you can't see through it to the layer below. And this is one reason why I don't use templates because I have no need for this.
But what I do want to do, and we'll go back in here and we'll go ahead and deselect Template and click OK. And instead I'll select the image itself, and I'll set it to like 20% for the opacity, and, actually, we can go up a little more, let's go 40 that'll probably be better, yeah that's better. And you can see how we can now do analysis and understand how our underlying image that is inspiring the graphic we're creating from it, how that aligns with the shape and is associating with what we want to do.
And this is why I use this in my own personal workflow so that I can then turn on vector shapes and build from this sketch. And then, whenever I need to, I can go back and look at the photograph, analyze it and make any edits based off of that. Whereas if I used the template, I don't have this ability because you run into problematic natures in terms of it not showing through to the layer underneath. Now another aspect that I find problematic with template is that if I'm turning this into black and white artwork as you see here, many times I'll print this out, and then on the printout I'll actually draw out my shading.
And, once again, if I double-click on this, select Template, and then let's say, 40% we put in for the dim, and I click OK. It dims it the way I want it to, but, once again, I don't see the vector shapes underneath. I can scroll over areas and it will highlight em, but I want to see specifically where the edges of those vector shapes are as I'm building the shading on top on a level above it. So I'm going to go ahead and turn Template off, and instead, once again, I'm going to select the image, and in this case I'll go like 40%, and then I'll lock the layer like I always do.
So we still can select those vector shapes underneath it on the base black and white level, and then on a level on top of that, I can go to my graphic styles, select stroke, color and weight I want, and then we'll go ahead and zoom in here like this. I can still see my underlying shading I've drawn out and that's going to guide my vector building efforts, but the most important thing for me is I need to see where the edge of the vector shape is underneath just so I know where I can place anchor points, and just start building this path.
Now I'm not going to build all of this, I just wanted to show that. And then I'll go back in and start editing it, and, you know, adjusting the bezier curves, so on and so forth to create my shading. So it's really important for me to be able to not only see the shading layer that I lock and turn on and off, but I want to see this bottom layer underneath that that has my base vector art because, at times, I'll want to snap to anchor points, and I need to see exactly where those are to facilitate quicker building and precise building for that matter.
So it's important to have that in my creative process as I'm working and so I find template mode doesn't work very well for that kind of building. So that's why I'm not using it. When it's all said and done, by the way, this design iteration came out looking like this. Now these clients were kind of hippie and so I pushed for another idea too that I presented and that was like a ying yang cow logo mark. And, I really like this but they didn't so much like it. Actually, when it was all said and done, they didn't like anything I created for em, and it didn't really go anywhere.
So, sometimes that happens, but everything in this movie, actually, is cow related cause the next thing I want to show you is this sketch. And this was for another dairy project that was more recent. And, once again, just to make a comparison, is if you're doing just basic building, where you need something to guide your vector building efforts, like a roadmap, you can either do it the way I always do it, where you select the actual scan itself, and you adjust the opacity to 20%, you lock the layer and then on a layer above it, you build your vectors.
If that works for you, great. Then by all means use this methodology. But, some of you might prefer if we go back here and we select the Template instead, and we go 20% and we go OK. And, actually, on this one, I still have the 20% on the initial image, so we'll go back and change that. But now it's a template the same way. It works the same way, it looks the same. So if you prefer working this way and you don't have to worry about having images on top and seeing through to layers underneath, then a template mode is going to work equally as well.
It all comes to down to what you prefer your creative process to work like, and when it was all said and done, on this given project, this is one direction that I developed for this client, and that was a fun project. So, Illustrator has hundreds of features, and some are obvious, some are seemingly hidden, and others at times, prove very useful but other times not so useful, and I find the template feature one of those latter features. It's okay, but it has too many drawbacks, and it doesn't do anything that my methodology already provides me so that's simply why I don't use it.
But you might like it. You might find the template feature very useful and beneficial to your creative workflow, so if that's the case, then by all means use it. And if you have a question about the creative process, about vector building, about anything related to crafting your design or illustration make sure to send me a question at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll do my best to answer them. Thank you for watching DVG Lab. Until next time, remember, never stop drawing.
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