Join Justin Seeley for an in-depth discussion in this video Project: Creating a realistic guitar, part of Creating Gradient Meshes with Illustrator.
- All right, the final project that you and I are gonna work on together before I turn you loose on your final challenge is this poster for a local Arts and Music Festival. So this is gonna be like a real world scenario where you and I are working together on this poster, we sent it off to the client, the client has sent back some feedback, and they're saying, "Okay, we like the idea, "we like the concept, everything looks good, "but we want the guitar to have more detail. "It looks a little too fake, little too cartoonish." Okay, that's fine, we can fix that, and we can do it with Gradient Mesh. So what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna start off here on the body of the guitar, and the first thing I'm gonna do is add some layering to it.
These aren't necessarily going along with the Gradient Mesh, but this is gonna help us down the road. So, let's go to the Object menu, choose Path, and choose Offset Path, and then inside of this Offset Path dialog box, I'm gonna click Preview and then inside this Offset box just tap up with your arrow keys until you have a decent size border around the outside. I think .25, about a quarter of an inch should be okay, hit OK. There we go, and then in your Swatches Panel, let's go ahead and do kind of a darker 'round that, there we go, that looks good.
Now let's take this same interior yellow piece and copy it to the clipboard, Command or Control C, paste it behind itself with Command or Control B as in boy, and then once I do that, I'm gonna nudge it over, and we're going to give it a light color, a really light yellow. There we go. So you can kinda see now when I zoom in I've got that kinda light yellow edge and then the guitar. When I change the color of the guitar, you'll really be able to see that edge. So now let's select the main yellow piece, double-click the swatches here, and we are going to change that color to be a little bit more orange.
So my values are CMYK, 0% Cyan, 47% Magenta, 100% Yellow, and 0% Black. So then we'll hit OK to that, that gives me this, and what I'm going to do is I'm going to create a Gradient Mesh on this where we've got some really nice darkening around the outside, and we've got a little bit of haloing going on around the inside, and we've got that nice edge right out there to give it a little bit more of a 3D look. I may even back that in a couple more notches so let's select that, just to give it just a slight edge.
We don't even need that much of an edge, there we go, just to give it a little bit of a 3D effect. Then let's select this object, go to the Object menu and choose Create Gradient Mesh. The Gradient Mesh that this creates actually works really well even though this has a lot of curves, and the one reason why I left it as a whole guitar is if, when I tried to cut it in half, when I was originally setting this document up, the Gradient Mesh just went completely crazy, and it doesn't matter that I have stuff outside the bleed area of the poster because when it goes to print, it's all gonna be cut away anyway, so we don't really need that. So, when it gets exported out as a PDF only the area inside the bleed lines is gonna be exported so it doesn't matter.
So here, I've got eight rows and eight columns, that seems to be about right. Maybe a little bit more than that would be helpful, so maybe you'd bump that up to like 10 and 10. Something like that's just gonna give you a little bit more granular control. Hit OK, and now you're ready to start adding Gradient Mesh points to this. The first thing I'm going to do though is I'm going to create a New Swatch based on the color of this. So we'll create a New Swatch. I'm just gonna call this Base Guitar, not like bass, the kind of bass you play, but just the base coat of the guitar. So I've got that in place, and then what I'm going to do is I'm going to select all these objects over here, and we're gonna lock those down.
Command or Control 2, it's gonna lock those in place. Select the neck of the guitar, lock it down. Select the outline of the guitar, and then let's zoom in, select that little beveled edge, lock it down, then we'll lock all these pieces inside the guitar. Why am I doing this? I'm doing this because I only want to work on the guitar. I don't want to accidentally change anything else. Everything else looks good, just the guitar needs work. So here we go, first thing I'm gonna do is add some highlighting around the middle of the guitar. So I'll grab my Direct Selection tool, zoom in a bit, and let's see, let's grab this one, around here, I'm trying to stay inside the interior here around the inside of these circles, and I'm doing that 'cause I don't want it to bleed too far out.
So once I have all those selected, let's just give this like a bright yellow, see what that does? Maybe a little too much. Let's change that a little bit. Double-click, maybe whiten it up a little bit. There we go, looks a little better, and I may need to do the same thing here so let's do that and just Eyedropper it. That looks good. All right, so we got our halo. Might need a little bit more in here, so let's just give this one a try. There we go. Let's see what that looks like now. Not bad, I may want to adjust the mesh points in here, let me grab my Direct Selection tool.
I'll just kinda manipulate this one inward a little bit, there we go. That's gonna look a whole lot better. Just kinda manipulate that inward, and zoom out. There we go, nice little, got a little seam going on up there, but that's okay. I can get rid of that too. See that little seam right there? I'll just grab this, and we'll just kinda move that away from it, that's gonna flatten it out. There we go, very nice. Now, on the edge here and around the outside, actually let's add one more little piece of highlight right there, just gonna complete the look, there we go. Right around that edge, and maybe right there.
Let's just see what this looks like. Notice I'm not paying too much attention to the outside of this, on the other side, on the left over there, because that's all gonna get cut off, so I don't have to worry about that too much. Now let's take these, bring those down, those are the ones I just worked on, there we go just kinda give it a nice, little complete halo right around the middle. There we go. All right, now, let's work on the outside edge and really kinda darken it up. So I'll zoom in, I'm using Command or Control + to zoom in, and then I'm going to just start selecting around the outside, I'll use my Lasso tool for that.
Just gonna come right around here, grabbing a lot of those, and then, double-click here, and let's kinda deepen that up, and maybe even give it a little bit more of a red appearance there. There we go, kind of a deep red, orange look, and then we'll come right around here, and I'll use my Eyedropper tool, there we go. Switching back to the Lasso tool with the letter Q, grabbing all of those, and then going back to the Eyedropper tool and darkening those in like that, there we go, now you see that highlight on the outside is working very nicely for us, but now I might even want to pull that in even more.
So, I'll go to Object, Unlock All, click away and find that little yellow piece, and let's just move that back in just a little bit, zoom out, and there we go. So there we've got some nice highlighting around the inside, we've got our nice shadow in the middle, it's looking pretty good, now let's round out some of these elements here, so let's take this guy. Object, Create Gradient Mesh, and it doesn't have to be very complex at all, 4 by 4 should generate it. Look how messy that looks, though, let's cancel this.
That is because this thing here, if I move it down, let's see what this looks like when I move it down out of the way. Object, Create Gradient Mesh. There we go, little bit cleaner looking now. Let's do 4 by 4, that's better. Okay, now with this what I'm gonna do is Darken around the outsides, so I'm just gonna leave that dark, grab my Direct Selection tool, just grab the interior parts of this, and then...
Oh, you can see I accidentally made a selection of the parts of that little piece down there on the guitar, so let's zoom out a little bit, and let's move this guys over. That's the easiest way to do that. Make it dark, there we go, and then, grab the Lasso tool and just grab all these interior pieces here. There we go, give that a nice kind of beveled edge, move that back in right where it needs to go. There we go. Now, I'm just gonna do this last part right here this little black circle. Object, Create Gradient Mesh, and see it creates kind of a crazy Gradient Mesh because of the fact that the bounding box is not reset, but that's okay, I'm just gonna go 4 by 4, hit OK, let's zoom in here, select this guy right here, and then start adding in just a little bit of highlighting.
Not doing anything crazy though, just a little bit of highlighting right there. There we go, and I think I might have gone too far on that. Let's push that back in, let's get that right here, and let's make that just black. There we go, that looks good. We can also manipulate the point here just kinda bring it back a little bit 'til it's right along that edge. There we go, back up, there we go. Pretty much our completed guitar design. Now, you could add as much Gradient Mesh points as you want to anything else in here, but I think that looks pretty darn good, and when I go to the File menu, and we go, and let's just Save As a PDF really quick.
Let's go to the Desktop, save this as a PDF, and, let's just keep everything, let's change the Preset to High Quality Print. Save PDF, there we go, and if we open up the Preview App on the Mac, you could also use Acrobat if you wanted to. We can open this thing up, guitar-mesh, and there is my completed poster design, which looks really super cool with all of the different Gradient Mesh points that I put on there. I have also included in your Exercise Files a wood grain texture.
So, if we go to the File Menu and choose Open, in the Exercise Files Chapter 02, there's a wood grain texture in here. It would be interesting, I think, if you took this, and let's just select all of it, and let's copy that, and I'm gonna zoom way out 'cause this thing's gonna in really big, and I'll paste that in there like so. Then, let's move over here and zoom in to the little yellow outline guitar. Copy that, zoom back out, and just paste it so that it comes over here into the wood grain.
Then what I'll do is zoom in here, I'll lock this object temporarily, Command or Control 2, take the wood grain, and let's just shrink that down quite a bit so that it fits on top of that, and then I'll unlock that with Option Command or Alt Control and the number 2, and then let's select it all, grab my Shape Builder tool, Shift Command and the letter M, Hold down the Option key and just start drawing across these things to get rid of them, and I'm basically just making a wood grain texture that fits the guitar.
So I'm gonna clean this up really quickly, doesn't really matter if you're very precise just for now, we're just getting the last little bit of this in there, and this is just minor details that you didn't really have to add, has nothing to do with Gradient Mesh, but it's just a fun, little extra to stick on at the end. There we go, okay. So we've got pretty much everything trimmed out the way we want it. Remove that, leave just the wood grain. I can take the wood grain now, and let's move that over the guitar, something kinda like that, and then we'll give it kind of a red.
Go into the Transparency panel, change that to a Multiply, and then set it to about 50% Opacity, something kinda like that, and then click away from it, and there you can see kind of the wood grain effect that I was going for, and Undo that just so I can get a big selection of it. I'll group these together, Command or Control G, so it makes it a lot easier to get a hold of 'em, and then all I'm gonna do is come in here and grab the interior circles. Once I have those, I'm gonna bring those to the front, and I'm doing that by pressing the Command key on the Mac, the Control key on the PC, and the right bracket key.
You could also just right-click on them and choose Arrange, Bring to Front, and I'll do the same thing for the neck, just bring that to the front like so. There we go, and so there is a nice little added touch, but you see with the Gradient Mesh tool, we added some depth, some dimension, added some really nice detail, and at the end we just kinda finished it off with that wood grain texture, and it creates a very compelling piece. So, hopefully we can send this off to our client, and they will approve it, but, you know, clients will be clients, and we'll probably have to change something else, but for now, I think we're doing pretty good.