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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Drawing in Adobe Illustrator Part I - Live Trace

Live Trace in Adobe Illustrator
Since there are so many great ways to draw in Adobe Illustrator it might be good to explore that further.  It is not uncommon to find a photo that looks similar to what you wish to draw that way you have a realistic basic structure to work with for your own drawing.  One great feature for working with photos is Live Trace.  This allows you to turn a photo into a line drawing.
Some photos will work well in live trace and some will not.  Using a clean image with good contrasts will help you have success with this technique.  So let’s dig in and walk through it.  Launch Adobe Illustrator, and open a new page.
There are a couple ways you can add a photo to your page. 
  • Click “File” from the main navigation menu, from the drop down select “Place” this will launch a screen where you can search on your computer for the photo.  Once you find it highlight the image you wish to add by clicking once on it, then select the “Place” button at the bottom. 
  • Another great way to add an image to your page is to drag the image on to the open window.

Once you see the image on the page click once to select it.  You should see a blue box with handles around the image.  You should also see some options on the control palette.  By default the control palette is horizontal and just under the main navigation.  If you don’t see the control palette go into the main navigation “Window” and select “Control Palette” to add it to the page.

With the image selected there is a button in the control palette called “Live Trace” select it. You will then see a progress bar as it converts your image.  If the newly traced image is still selected you will see a specific menu with more options in the “Control Palette”.

Check out the presets drop down (click the arrow to see the options), it is probably on a default setting but I tend to change things to simple trace or even an inked drawing.  Try a few out and see how it looks, you can always undo if you don’t like it.  After trying several I ended up going with the Grayscale preset.
Directly to the right of the preset button there is a little square box.  Click the mouse once on the box (make sure your image is still selected).  I decided to edit the image to color and the default was at 6 colors so I clicked on it and slid the little slider to 256 colors.  Then I applied it all to see the changes made to my image.

Now with my color image still selected I went all the way over to the right and selected the Expand button.  This has now turned my entire image into vector art.  You will know this by all the blue dots in your image.  You could actually select small pieces of the image now and change colors or delete imperfections. 
Ungroup the image by going into “Object” in the main navigation, and selecting “Ungroup” from the drop down. This will allow you to easily select small pieces of the image to edit.  When it is grouped you have to use the Direct Selection tool or drill down the path.  This is a great tool but can get confusing.  When we ungroup we can select with the “Selection Tool” which for now will make editing much easier.
Click anywhere on the page to deselect the image.  Now click anywhere on the image and you will see that little portion of your image selected.  You can edit colors, delete or move around as you wish.  I decided to make some of the pink flowers red.
It does take some experimenting to get the effects you want but hopefully discovering live trace can help you get going in the right direction all the faster.

Part II of Drawing in Adobe Illustrator will discuss Pen Tools!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Drawing in Adobe Illustrator Part II - Pen Tools

The Pen Tools are great ways to draw objects in Adobe Illustrator.  There are actually a few types of pen tools with different jobs.  To access the pen tool launch Adobe Illustrator and open a new page.  Default page settings are just fine for this tutorial. By default the Tool Palette runs vertically up the left side of the window.  If you don’t see the Tool Palette go into Window in the main navigation and select Tool Palette from drop down menu. 
The pen tool is towards the top of the Tool Palette with an icon that looks like an old fashioned ink pen.  See the little tiny arrow on the bottom corner, this indicates there are additional options to this tool.  Click and hold on the pen tool to see a drop down menu.  You can move the mouse down over each item and select whichever pen tool you wish to use.

Let’s go over each type of pen tool and explore what they do.

The actual Pen Tool is the pen icon. This tool can be used for drawing.  Click anywhere on the page to make a point, then click again for a second point and see the line form in between.  Draw any shape by just clicking to create points and the line will fill in. Say for example  you want to draw a square, the very last point you make will actually be clicking on the first point made.  There will  be a little circle as your mouse hovers over the first point to show you that will close the shape.
The Add Anchor Point Tool  looks like the pen icon, however it also has a little plus sign.   This tool will add points to an existing line drawing.  An example might be turning a triangle into a square.  You could add a point to the triangle by clicking on a line.  Notice the point created, next you could click on that point with the Direct Selection Tool and draw it out to form a square.  This comes in handy when you need to fine tune a drawing.

The Delete Anchor Point Tool looks like the pen icon, however it also has a little minus sign.   This tool will delete points.  Using the square example again, we can convert the square to a triangle by clicking on one of the points with the delete tool.  The point and lines going to it will go away.
The Convert Anchor Point Tool is a must use for drawing.  It looks like an upside down V.   If you have been making points and lines with the tools discussed you will notice everything has a sharp corner with distinct angles.  What if we are drawing a more organic shape we need to round out our points.  This tool does just that, click on any point with the Convert Anchor Point Tool and drag.  You will see the shape round, and a tiny little handle bar form on each side of the point.  With the Direct Selection Tool you can drag the little handle bars to get deep curves or slight curves.

The Pen Tools can be great drawing tools just with themselves or combined with other tools. For example you can draw simple shapes with any of the Shape Tools and edit the points with Pen Tools to customize the shapes. This can be a quick way to knock out a digital drawing.  Regardless of how you choose to use the Pen Tools after a little experimenting you can draw anything you wish in Adobe Illustrator.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Proofreading Markup

A great way for clients and designers to communicate is to use Markups.  The industry standard is to use the common Proofreader Markups that have always been used in publishing. It is kind of like a short hand to editing copy that will save time because a client or editor can just use a symbol instead of write things out.  As a designer I have found the symbols easier to read than a client’s long hand, which eliminates the need for me to make an extra call asking for clarification. So for those designers, clients and even print houses learning these symbols can be very important in making edits and moving a job along. 
Today we are going to look at these symbols and what they mean.  There are more commonly used symbols I find as a designer that deal with spacing and very simple text edits but we will look at all editing marks so you have a grasp on everything that you could use or encounter.
Delete would be used by circling a word and then adding this symbol to it.

Stet means let it stand.  So if you accidently marked through something you might draw a line to it from the margin and then write Stet so it is known to leave that word.  
Punctuation Marks would be put in the spot where you wish to add that punctuation.
 Quotes (open or close)
 Question Mark
 Exclamation Mark

Editing actual copy is pretty easy if there is a line though it goes away if there is a circle around words it means to change.
 To change type to Caps will have three underlines beneath the letter or word affected and the markup in the margin.
 Going from caps to Lower Case would show a circle round the letters or words and the markup in the margin.

Justification of type can really make the difference in a design.
 Align Right means all copy inside the symbol will be even on the right and raged on the left.
 Alight Left means all copy inside the symbol will be even on the left and raged on the right.
 Justify means all copy inside the symbols will be even on both the left and right.

New paragraphs, indentations and positioning of text might have a symbol in the text to show you where in addition to the symbol that tells you what to do.
 A New Paragraph will be started right where the symbol is added in the text.
 Closing a paragraph would have a curved line connecting the the two paragraphs and the symbol would be by that type or in the margin.
 No Paragraph Indentation would have an arrow at the text that needs to lose the indent and the symbol next to it or in the margin.
 Closing up space between words would add the symbol between the two words that need to lose the extra space.
 Adding a space would have an upside down v where the space needs to go and the pound sign in the margin or above within the text.

Using these marks on any creative copy, and understanding them by all parties will help quickly communicate changes and get projects turned out.