Join Deke McClelland for an in-depth discussion in this video Sketching and drawing for Illustrator, part of Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Advanced.
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Over the course of this project we're going to assemble a vector-based pirate flag inside of Illustrator. I'm currently viewing the flag, the final piece of flag art. It measures 5 feet wide by 3 feet tall. So it's very large. It's ultimately a product of Illustrator's Live Trace feature, but if you've ever thought of Live Trace as being some sort of automatic art creation tool, it is nothing of the kind, as you're about to learn. This project involves every bit as much artistic labor as working with something like the Pen tool.
Note that this is an entirely original project. So you are more than welcome to use it any way, shape, or form that you see fit, with one provision, you've got to earn it, you've got to create this project along with me from the very beginning. So I'm going to show you how I sketched this artwork in the first place and how I assembled the imagery inside of Photoshop before we bring it over into Illustrator for tracing. So I'm going to switch over to Photoshop right now in fact. I have it running in the background. I have got open a series of five images that represent my progress as I developed this image here inside Photoshop.
I started things off with this image here. It's a ballpoint pen sketch. So I just took a pen and began sketching this on a piece of paper. I was working from a few photographs that I had of skulls, but I had to sort of mix and match the skulls to come up with this image. And notice that some of the contours along this goal are fairly realistically rendered. For example, the eye sockets, and the cheekbones, this hole for the nose and so on. I didn't really pay that much attention to the teeth. I just kind of whipped them in. I don't even know how many teeth there are. Obviously, an object without any ears isn't really going to be able to hold on to earrings.
So I took some artistic license. We have some ghost eyes on the inside and so on. Now, I couldn't just work with this ballpoint pen sketch, even though I did go ahead and scan it in, just so that you can see it here, I didn't actually bring it into Illustrator, because Illustrator's Live Trace feature would try to trace each and every one of these scribbly lines. So somehow I had to take this sketch and turn it into an ink drawing that featured all of the scribbly stuff in black and everything else in white. And that's how I came up with this rendering here.
So this is a separate piece of paper, just laid it on top of the first one and traced the skull using a Sharpie, and that's all that's going on in this case. Now, I didn't even have a light table to work with, so I ended up having to lift the page several times in order to keep track of the original sketch, so that I was matching the details. That doesn't mean that I necessarily came up with an impeccable piece of art. You'll notice here, among other things, that this eye is slightly smaller and sort of more scrunched than the eye over here on the right-hand side. So I needed to open it up and make some alterations to the image in general.
I also needed to blacken up the lines. If I zoom into this artwork, you'll see that the lines aren't exactly black, they're very, very, dark gray, but we do have some light area showing up. And the page isn't absolutely white either. It's a very light gray. So I needed to increase the contrast and make some alterations all the way around. We have some paper wrinkles back here inside the earring. And if I zoom all the back out, you'll see that I captured the edges of the page as well when I scanned this piece of artwork. The other big thing that's missing here, you may notice, is there are no sabers.
I've got the skull drawn but I do not have the sabers rendered in the background. I knew I wanted to use sabers, I wanted to have nice sharp sabers instead of crossbones, for example. However, I didn't have room to add them to the piece of artwork, because I drew the face too big in the first place. Now, I could have drawn on a bigger piece of paper, which would require me taking a second approach to the project, I didn't want to do that. But also, this was a small scanner. It only accepted letter-size pieces of paper. So I had to fit everything on that page, which means that what I ultimately needed to do was take this skull and shrink it, which is something that's hard to do in the real world, whereas, once you take it into Photoshop, it's no problem.
So I went ahead and took this original piece of Sharpie art and I converted it into this here inside Photoshop. So it doesn't look all that different, however, the lines are nice and black, the paper is nice and white. We don't have any of those paper edges showing up, and the eyes are rendered a little more proportionally vis-a-vis each other and the larger skull as well. I did that using the Liquify command, and we'll see how that works later, I'll run you through the entire process. But the other thing I wanted you to see was, at this point I went ahead and took this image, and I went up to the File menu and I chose the Print command.
And it's very important that you use a halfway decent printer. I tried printing this to one of the black-and-white laser printers here inside the building and I ended up getting a bunch of white lines through the black art, and that wasn't going to work at all, because ultimately, I need to shrink this guy down and then draw the sabers in the background. So I ended up going with this Ricoh printer, this full-color printer in the building and it worked out spectacularly well. Also, notice that I scaled the image to 76% roughly, and I also turned off the Center Image check box, and I moved the image around to center it on the page, so that I would have room to draw my sabers, and then I went ahead and printed the artwork, and then I drew on that.
Anyway, I'm going to click Done for now, just to escape out of that dialog box, and I'll switch to the next piece of artwork. So this one shows the skull as it appeared when printed, and then I painted the sabers in using the Sharpie once again. Notice I also filled in the mouth. So if I zoom in on that mouth, you can see that this area was drawn in using the Sharpie, where the rest of the black was created by the printer itself. That doesn't mean anything is quite black, and again, the paper isn't quite white. So we still need to darken up the details.
And I wanted to make some additional modifications to the art. For example, I'm not happy with the fact that the handle of this saber is touching the jaw, that's not something I meant to see happen. And there's a few other details that need adjustments. The eye is still not quite right. This blade is too thin, you may notice. And so there were some changes I needed to make inside of Photoshop before I got this final piece of artwork here, with the nice black lines, the white areas inside the skull, the red background, the red eyes as well, and a few other details going on.
What I am going to do is I am going to walk you through the process of converting this piece of artwork here, my final Sharpie drawing, to this final imagery here inside of Photoshop, in the very next exercise.
- Tracing a pixel-based image
- Sketching and drawing for Illustrator
- Creating and editing gradients
- Creating multi-colored blends
- Creating seamlessly repeating tile patterns
- Creating interlocking artwork with Live Paint
- Designing advanced type effects
- Recoloring artwork with color harmonies
- Making the most of symbols
- Integrating Illustrator with Photoshop
- Using transparency, blend modes, and opacity masks