Join Von Glitschka for an in-depth discussion in this video Using masks effectively: Part 1, part of Drawing Vector Graphics: Isometric Illustration.
- Using masks in Illustrator allows you to create and compose elements to achieve the look and feel you want in your illustration. Let me show you how I use various forms of masking in my isometric illustrations. Before I jump into this, I just want to say that later in the course I'm gonna be specifically going over creating isometric people that can populate your isometric illustrations. That said, you're gonna see them show up before that in examples I'm gonna walk you through, such as this one.
This is gonna be an illustration used as an editorial illustration about the city engineers that manage and maintain the sewer system for our urban environment. So this is an illustration that will be used to kind of introduce you to the article that's going into that and, in this case, this is where I'll go back to my Asset Library and I'll pick artwork that I can re-purpose or re-use; in this case, this figure . And all I do when I do that is I create the new assets that I can adapt to it to kind of push it into the kind of context I need it for.
In this case, I wanted to create an engineer and so I just gave him a vest and a hardhat so he would fit the context of what this illustration's gonna be. Like all of my isometric illustrations, I try to build as much of the artwork that I can in a 2D environment in order to facilitate the process moving faster and, frankly, it's just easier to build content like this in a flat, 2D point of view rather than trying to do it on the fly in isometric projection.
Frankly, it's impossible to do some of this that way so it's easier and more appropriate to do it in a 2D way. In this case, I'm utilizing a pattern to make kind of this no-skid surface of the manhole cover and that was done just creating a simple pattern tile that if you look over here in the swatches, you can see it right here and I also have a texture one I'm gonna go over in a little bit. So I like to utilize various methods that I've created completely other courses on, such as my pattern course, and I plug it in to whatever context I'm illustrating, in this case, isometric.
So the methodologies used in one course can apply to another course and I think that's helpful so if you go through the pattern course, you're gonna be able to apply that to other forms of illustration and that goes with color and detail as well as a lot of the other courses. So a lot of overlap between courses because of the methodology being the same. Now I tried to create most of my content in 2D so this shape right here makes up the street cone, this makes up the map of the sewer system, and a barricade.
So there's one thing I need to point out in terms of the map on the sewer system is we need to skew the art first before we project it and that's to assist in the illusion we're trying to create. So I've broken this map into three areas like a folded piece of paper and that's why we're doing this, is I want to give that illusion of the map being folded. So first, we're gonna go to the Shear tool and we're gonna go ahead and project this Shear tool and we wanna do this on a vertical plane and we wanna do this at 30% such as this and Preview will help you know if you're doing it right.
That's what we want there, we'll click OK. We'll select this middle one and we're gonna do the same thing with the Shear tool but, in this case, we're gonna go minus 30, like that, and the last one, we'll Shear it and this one we'll do 30 as well, so you can see how it creates kind of this folded paper look. What we want to do, now, is select this, we can go to our actions and wanna hit the Top and you can see how it's now created in an isometric projection, this map, but it looks like a folded piece of paper kind of laying on the ground being revealed as it's being viewed.
So this is how I'll compose different elements and then I start formulating how to put them together to form my overall composition for the illustration I'm working on. So this is where I'll start building up my illustration and, this case, I've created a road so this is all my base colors and I've projected into isometric projection this kind of sidewalk and this represents the road. Now I'll add certain kinds of detail such as shadows and stripes just to make it a little more believable.
I'm not trying to be photo realistic when I do isometric illustration. Frankly, I never try to push anything photo realistic. If I want photo realism, even in an isometric point of view, frankly I wouldn't use vectors, I'd do it in CGI because you have more control over the lighting and you can do pretty much anything you want after it's created in the 3D environment. So, I think of isometric and my detailing of isometric illustration as being idealistic, not realistic, so I kinda keep it simplified and this is where I need to bring in another texture, a Road Texture in this case, and so this outline you can see here, that's in pink, this is gonna be the area I'm gonna fill with a texture pattern.
So I'm gonna select this and I'm gonna click on the texture fill and you can see how it'll fill this shape with kind of a speckle. We can turn off the stroke and if I zoom in on this, you'll see what it's doing, it's adding that. Now, that looks okay but we can make it better by adjusting the transparency, so we're gonna make this like let's try 45, we don't want it super stark, and we're gonna hit multiple so if it goes over color it interacts with the color better and we'll zoom out, and if we zoom in on the line, you can see how it's doing that.
So that's what we want, just to give a little more detail there. If I zoom back in here, I've also done another fill of texture but I've made it white and it sits on top of the other one just to give a nice kind of modeled, organic feel to the road surface. And as we continue to compose, we'll take our 2D artwork project it out, and start colorizing it. Once again, I've utilized tonal families to guide me on this and you can see all of those can be found here in the Swatches Palette.
So as I'm starting to compose things, I'll bring our character in that represents a road worker. Now, he looks good but this is where masking comes in. You're not gonna be able to create every illusion you're trying to make believable by just building it on the same layer or even in multiple layers. Sometimes you're gonna have to use masking and all masking is, is taking a shape, and this shows the shape we're using here. I've created part of it from part of this manhole opening and the top part is just encapsulating where the figure is so we make sure to capture him as a whole.
I'll select this shape, the Mask Shape, select the figure, and I wanna mask him within this shape. Now, you can mask it by going to Object, pulling down to Clipping Mask and Make, I have it set up as an F key, so we'll go ahead and click Make, and you can see how it's starting to give that illusion that he's kind of coming up out of the manhole cover and this is just easier to handle this type of composition using a mask like this.
Now there's other details we want to add to it, such as the shading coming from behind and in front, just to kinda make it a little more believable. Once again, we're not worrying about realism, we're just trying to make it a little more compelling. So this is where I'll select these shapes and I'll copy 'em. Now we're gonna go into what's called isolation mode, so I'm gonna double-click this mask now and now it's showing us the artwork in isolation mode. I'm gonna go ahead and paste, Command F, what we just copied to the clipboard, and you can see how this shadow is in front of him.
We're gonna move this to the back, so we're gonna go Object, Arrange, Send to Back, and then we'll double-click out here to the left to get out of isolation mode and it now makes it a little more believable. Its shadows are kind of nesting him into that context a little better. We'll continue to work out the remaining part of this illustration, such as him discovering a leak underground. And once you have everything composed, this is where I tend to work larger than what I need on a given project in isometric because I never know how things are gonna line up.
I'll wanna move things around to improve the composition and once I have it nailed down, such as shown in this compiled image here, I might continue to mask this so this shows the actual size of the publication that I created this for, and I wanna select this mask, select my whole composition, and instead of pulling down to Mask here, I'm gonna use the F key, which is F1, so with the mask selected and the artwork selected, I'll hit F1 and that masked my artwork into the final proportional shapes of this publication and this is where I can then turn on the final context for the text that goes with this illustration used on the cover of this manual.
So, that's how I use masks in context of this type of illustration, just to kind of make it more believable, more engaging, and work better in context.
- Building and coloring isometric shapes
- Using Smart Guides and actions
- Masking and blending effects
- Creating an isometric asset library
- Illustrating isometric views of buildings, vehicles, and people
- Introducing Greg Maxson, inspiring isometric illustrator