Note: Because this is an ongoing series, viewers will not receive a certificate of completion.
Skill Level Intermediate
- [Instructor] Welcome to Drawing Vector Graphics Laboratory. I received an email asking me how would I use drop shadows on an illustrated project? Well truth be told, most often I use drop shadows in a very subtle way, but in this movie I'm going to demonstrate how you could use drop shadows in a more overt manner to create a unique depth to a design, so let's get started. For me, the process always starts in analog, whether it's a thumbnail rough sketch like shown in here, and then I just take vellum on a light pad I use next to my computer, I put it on there and on that I draw with a mechanical pencil to really work out a more precise drawing to help guide my vector building as I move to Illustrator. Now this doesn't have to be iron clad perfect because many times I'll change it as I go along. But in this case my thinking is I want all of the negative shapes, these shapes in between like the feathers here and the eye and the top part of his head, the brow, I guess that's what they call it. His breast, I want all of these spaces to be the same continuity of space in between the shapes. Now you can tell this is thinner than this, now you don't have to draw it perfect, but that's still going to guide my vector building, so once I have this drawn out. It becomes my refined sketch, I place it in Illustrator. In this case, since I'm building symmetrically I drop a guide on the same layer and then I lock that layer. And that just ensures that it won't move as I'm creating it or I won't accidentally select something. Then it just comes down to simple vector building based off of those shapes. Let's go in and zoom in a little bit so I can demonstrate this better. So in terms of the easiest shape to build, well obviously the elliptical shape, that was like a no brainer. But even the outside of the eye started as a perfect elliptical shape like the pupil, and all I did is I went in on anchor points and just started moving around, pulling handles out to create this kind of oblong shape that better aligns with my drawing. And so that's one case where the drawing just helps me figure out what I need to create before I even need to create it. Now to create those evenly spaced gaps to have that continuity of an even space between all the shapes that make up this character, we're going to start with the eye and I'm going to go to object, path offset path, and in this case, let's try 10, I don't know if 14 will work. That looks pretty good, but maybe 14 was the way. Actually I didn't need to click out of it, I could have just stayed in there. Let's just go back and we'll go 14. And yeah, that looks good, so we'll just stick with 14. Now we want to make sure this offset path is above the layer we're going to trim with it, and that is this under part of the eye, his feathers there. In this case, let's go ahead and temporarily select this and fill it with this color so you can see it's below that. So that's not what we need, if you're using Pathfinder to trim shapes with another shape, the shape that you want to trim with, the cookie cutter if you will, needs to be on top. Now I have a keyboard shortcut set up, F5 where it brings it to top, but if you don't know how to do that, just go to object, arrange, bring to front, you can see I have F5, once again keyboard shortcuts save a lot of time. And then we can select this and I can go ahead and minus front with the Pathfinder to get the shape I need. Now that's where offset works really great, works perfect every time on a circular shape. When you get to a shape like this that isn't a perfect circle, and it comes to some pretty sharp points, you're going to run into some mitering issues. And this is better just shown than explained, so let's go to object and do the same thing, offset, we're going to use 14 to match the other one, but watch what happens when I click preview. There's no way to get around this, you can try to adjust the mitering sometimes and it'll subtly improve stuff, but this just isn't that great, but I go with it anyway because I'm going to go in here and start doing some craftsmanship vector finessing. So we're going to go in here, zoom in on this, and I'm going to just select this anchor point on this shape, and I'm going to just drag it down past the halfway guide that I have set up, and then I'm just going to manually pull this up and what I'm doing now is I'm paying attention to the spacing and I'm trying to match it. We might have to go back here and fudge this down a little like that, I think that looks pretty good. Now because we have one here, we have an anchor point here and another one here and another one here, we don't need all these extra anchor points, so we're going to select this one. First let's just remove it with Illustrator, just remove anchor point button here. And you can see it ruins our path, so this is where plugins come in. There's no way to smart remove in Illustrator, not yet at least, so I use a plugin called Vectorscribe because it has this button called smart remove and so what it does, unlike the button in Illustrator, I can select that path, smart remove it, and it doesn't mess up my path. It knows the math is here and it retains that while still removing it. So that's why I use plugins. Actually, the whole reason why I use plugins, it makes the process go faster. On this, I can probably drag this one down, let's see if it goes out like this, goes out probably right about there. Then once again, you can use the anchor point tool if you like to grab a path and distort it. I mean it works fine, but the thing you'll notice is at times when you do that, this won't affect this Bezier curve on the other side here even though there's an anchor point right here. It's considering that anchor point a corner. And the only way to fix this is to select this and to go up here and click on this round anchor point button but at times what that does is it'll mess up that curve on the opposing side in order to make that a curve. So if we do that, you can see how it'd bump this out, and so it ruined that curve. And so I'm going to undo that because I never used that feature. Once again, another reason why I use plugins is because the same plugin, Vectorscribe, I can go here to the Pathscribe which is the same tool that allows me to gab a path and move it like this, but I can grab an anchor handle such as on this path here, if I select it, like this. And I can go ahead and oops, wrong one, select this, and notice this S appears. That means it's smooth, meaning it's fixed. Let go, now it's a smooth anchor point, I can go up here, finesse that one, I can even select this and smart remove it because I don't even need that anchor point and it's going to retain the curve. You might still need to go in and finesse some of the Beziers like that, I think that looks a little better. But this is why I use it. Here's a case where we can just delete that anchor point. These handles will be here, and just visually, manually if you will, can just pull out those Bezier curve handles. You might have to, in this case, we might have to move this up a little bit, pull this out like this. And I'm just looking at the spacing, like this, and then over here the same problem, we're going to pull this over here like this, and this is where, notice how it wants to snap. This is where you might want to toggle off smart guides, Command + U, so you can make small moves without it trying to snap back on itself or another path. Like that, and then I'm just going to go ahead and smart remove this because then it will force these handles to come out, like that, that looks pretty good. And then I'll just finesse it. Another reason why I love plugins is this one has what's called ghost handles, these white dots. You can just grab them and pull out the anchor handles. That's why, oops. Grab this, that's why I use them. Just 'cause once again it's a little faster than using some of the native features. And that's how I go in and clean up a shape like this. This still isn't perfect 'cause I'd want to trim it to the center line here on the right side. So I'm going to go ahead and delete that because like a good cooking show, I have the path already figured out, I spent far more time on it to finesse the spacing up here which was the critical area in my mind, but once I have that, I would just select that shape, make sure it's on top, select the eye, and trim the eye to get all these interior shapes like this. So this is the methodology and process I use using offset path and now I'm just going to show you all the base shapes after I've done offset paths, after I've done all the trimming. This is what you end up with, is all these inner shapes on this motif. Now all the offset paths, I turn those on, it looks pretty cluttered as you're building, so I usually move them to another layer and turn them on and off when I need access to them as I'm building each shape and offsetting each shape. But this is how I ensure the continuity of everything. Now the reason why I put them on their own layer is because I want to use these for my final art. So I'm going to select all of these and just go unite with Pathfinder, there's some anchors we don't need here like these, so we'll just select those and just get rid of them. By the way I am using Illustrator's remove anchor point feature here because I don't care if it removes the anchors unsmartly, if that's a word. Because I'm just dealing with a 90 degree line, and that it has no problem with, it's only with curves that it wonks up the path. So that's all in creating, so if I turn on the inside shapes you see this and because it's symmetric, we can go ahead and create the full symmetric artwork. You can see I have some of these shapes, like the top part of the brow, the beak, and the feathers. Those are already reflected, so I'm not going to reflect those, just these. So with these selected I'll clone them, Command + C, Command + F. And then using the reflect tool, find a central anchor point. Now I don't have smart guides turned on, so I'm going to hit Command + U. So I can hover over an anchor point, know I'm right in the middle, click on it and reflect to get my art, now it comes down to welding these together. So I'll select the outline of the body, unite it with Pathfinder, select the brow, unite that. I'll go down here to the breast, select those two parts and unite those, and this is how quickly you can pull together art like this. So it's really nice working symmetrically, it makes the process go faster. Now this is the part where the half-toning and color is going to come into. So I'm going to go ahead and I'm going to turn on these inner shapes, we're going to use this tonal family to create everything now. We're going to go ahead and then apply the half tones. So in this case, I have the inner shape set up like this, let me turn those off really quick, and I have this set up like this. Now if I select this and I just go black fill, we'll get rid of the outline here. This is how it looks. Now all these colors, if I turn this off again and turn this one back on, if I select this, then let's say on this one we'll start off with this magenta. And I turn the outline back on. This is all I'm doing, I'm making it so those shapes are independent of the outline. I could set this up where all these inner white shapes are just little islands floating on black and fill them, but it wouldn't allow me to do the effect I'm going to end up doing, and that's why I'm not doing it that way. So I just wanted to explain that. We certainly don't want this to be black. I'm going to color this an off-white if you will. So I'm going to go ahead and select this, and I'm going to color that off-white. So you can see barely the difference between the background and this off-white. Now that looks a little weird, but it's going to make sense as we move forward, but right now I'm going to turn that layer off and we're going to keep coloring these. I'm going to select these eyes, they'll become a blue. His beak we'll go literal, make it kind of an orange. These we'll make purple like this. And then I'll go ahead and select, let's see. We'll make these, kind of this an aqua color like that, and then the bottom part of the wings, I don't know. Let's make it blue, I think that looks pretty good. And then his chest, we're going to make that green. So this is how it'll look when they're all colored in, if I turn on the owl shape on top, you can see what that looks like, that looks fine. But this is where kind of the magic is going to happen now. I'm going to go ahead and lock this layer temporarily so I don't move it. What we're going to do now is we're going to go ahead and we're going to apply actually, let's unlock that layer and then to lock this layer, the underline shapes, and we're going to select this outline, and we're going to go ahead and apply a drop shadow to it. You can do that one or two ways. You can go down here and click, oh I don't want to do that. Am I at the right one? No, I'm not. If you're on the appearance panel, not in the layers panel, you can go down here and apply effects this way. I almost never do that because I usually don't have the appearance panel forefront, it's usually layers in terms of how I have everything set up. So I usually go up to view or effect, pull down to stylize and then click on drop shadow, like this. And this is where we'll make some decisions, let's see what it looks by default. That's not bad, but I don't want it shifting on the X axis, I want that to be central. So we're going to go zero on that. And oops, I didn't mean to click out of that. You can get back to it by going here, so we'll open that back up under the appearance panel. So you can see I have it set up here, but another thing I want to do is I don't want this to be black. So I created this color over here which is like a bluish dark gray because that's going to interact with the colors better I think, so I'm going to go ahead and click on this, go to color swatches, select the dark gray, and click okay. And then if we preview it you can see what that looks like, and I think that looks a little better, we just want it darker. So let's bump up the opacity. And then I don't want the offset to be so far on Y axis, so we'll bump that down to six. And let's see what that looks like. I think that looks good. And then we're going to go ahead and click okay. So you can see how it's giving some depth, the only problem is I don't want that drop shadow to show on the outside of this shape. So this is where I'm going to go ahead and turn on this layer which is the same exact outline profile of that shape, and then we're just going to select this. I'm going to go ahead and select the shape we applied the drop shadow too, and I'm going to use this as a mask. And I have mask set up if you want to mask them you go to object down to clipping mask, make, but notice I have F1. So I just select both, hit F1, and it's a lot faster and going down to the pulldown menu. I'm going to go to the background, right now we have it white and I'm going to go ahead and change it to this off-white, make sure you're on fill, off-white color like this. We can go ahead and turn off tonal family, and I think that looks pretty cool. Now in the final context I would finesse this a little more. Actually, let's go ahead and back out a bit, 'cause I notice when you do that there's a subtle edge that you can see. So if you don't like that you can always go here, go to offset path, let's say we do it even more so inside. It's not going to matter because we don't need to define the outer edge of this shape. So we're just going to go minus three, let's see if this goes in far enough. Yeah that does, like that. We can get rid of our original drop shadow, so let's go like this. Get rid of that, then we'll select this one that we inset, select the drop shadow, apply shape, and then we'll go ahead and mask it, F1 again, like that. Then we'll go back to the background, we'll change that to the off-white color, and you're still seeing a little bit of edge. I think that's just a preview bug, it's not actually there. But that's how you can get a really cool effect where this looks like it's cut through a top layer showing down to a bottom layer. So it gives a really nice dimensional effect. So how would I use this in an actual design? Now some projects I show are real world projects where I'm just demonstrating something I did on a project for a client. You've seen a lot of those if you've watched the DVG Labs. In this case, I tried to figure what could I do, and then I came up with this idea, and then I go well how would I use that? And I always try to show usage because I think that demystifies the possibility. So I'm going to turn that on, and this is how it could work really easily in terms of being a branding, maybe it's a Prepress Management System for color, and you can just use this to get that, maybe it's the splash screen for the software that controls that. But this is how I would use an effect like this in a more overt way. As I stated previously, I tend to use drop shadows in far subtler ways than what I showed in this movie. That said, for a style like this it does create a very effective visual illusion of depth to an otherwise flat motif. If you have any questions about anything related to design, illustration, the creative process, et cetera, and want me to consider it for an upcoming DVG lab movie, then by all means send it to me using this email, firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for watching DVG Lab, and until next time, never stop drawing.
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.