Coloring and Line Work in Illustrator CS6

Posted by Jamie Condroski On Sunday, December 16, 2012 0 comments

Final Product What You'll Be Creating

Coloring and Line Work in Illustrator CS5
Do a search on “coloring comics,” and you get dozens of Photoshop tutorials. They all seem to involve building up areas of color with transparent brushes. Now you can achieve that same effect with Illustrator CS5, using the Bristle Brush.
Unlike Photoshop, however, Illustrator gives you the flexibility to edit individual paths. Since Illustrator’s brush strokes are vector, you can change the shape, width, color and blending mode to achieve exactly the look you want. You can even delete a brush stroke you don’t want. Try that, Photoshop! This tutorial will use another feature introduced in CS5, Draw Inside. Let’s get started!


Step 1

You can use this technique with any line art or illustration. I am going to quickly create my line art by tracing a source photo from Wikimedia Commons, photo by Guillaume Piolle.
Coloring and Line Work in Illustrator CS6
Place the photo in your document and make a Template layer by double-clicking the layer name to bring up its options. The Template layer will be locked by default. Make a new layer for the line work.

Step 2

To create the line art, use the “Tapered Strokes” brush from the default set. You can adjust the brush settings by double-clicking the Brush Tool to bring up its options. This is a matter of personal preference; experiment until you find a setting that works for you. I prefer to set the brush so that the paths confirm fairly closely to my strokes, but don’t end up with too many points.
Using the photo to trace, paint the outline with black strokes. Stick to the major shapes and lines — don’t worry about the shadows or any of the highlights. Once you have the line work done, it should look something like the image below. You can edit individual paths, and add or delete strokes as you see fit.

Step 3

Now you’ll do the modeling with the Bristle Brush. Lock the line work layer and create a new one below it.
In order to get the most out of the Bristle Brush, it’s best to understand its settings. I’ll add a detailed explanation of each setting at the end of this tutorial for reference.
It’s also important to note that to get the full benefit of the Bristle Brush, you must use a Wacom Intuous 3 or higher tablet and a 6D Art pen. The tablet and pen combination will respond to tilt, bearing, rotation, and pressure. A mouse alone will only respond to movement, but will still work fine for this tutorial.
To create a new bristle brush click the new brush icon on the brushes panel. Choose Bristle Brush, which will bring up its options. There are tons of possibilities with a Bristle Brush, but to start, choose Flat Angle as the shape, and increase the size to 5mm. Leave the other settings as they are, with the exception of the Opacity. Set it low, to about 30%.

Step 4

Using the Pen Tool, outline a flat area of shadow on the artwork. Here, I’ve drawn around the top lip. Select the shape and then choose Draw Inside at the bottom of the tool panel. Dotted-line brackets will appear around the shape, letting you know that you’re in Draw Inside mode. You can deselect the shape, but the brackets will remain.

Step 5

Choose a warm gray for the stroke color. I’ve used some swatches from the “Neutral” library, which can be accessed by clicking the Swatch Libraries Menu icon on the bottom left of the Swatches panel.
If you didn’t deselect the lip shape in the previous step, it may frustrate you to see that it now has the stroke color you just picked. This can be really annoying, but you just have to remember to deselect the shape. The dotted-line brackets indicate that the shape is still in Draw Inside mode.

Step 6

You may wish to turn off the photo layer, or move the photo to the side so you can use it as a reference. Now just start drawing strokes inside the lip shape. Depending on your Opacity setting, it may be hard to see a single stroke. You may also want to increase the brush size in the Strokes panel for wider swaths of color.
Keep painting and building up color and texture. Note that different brush strokes will interact in this way, but if you just use one brush and scrub back and forth, it won’t build up. In other words, a single brush stroke does not interact with itself, so deselect the existing strokes and paint new ones to layer the color.

Step 7

Do the same for the other shadow areas. First choose Draw Normal mode, then select the new shape and choose Draw Inside again. Make sure you’re finished with one before proceeding to the next. Once you exit Draw Inside Mode for a shape, you can’t access it again.
TIPS: If you want a darker stroke, you can change the opacity on the fly by using the numeric keys: 1 for 10%, 2 for 20% and so on.
You can double-click any Bristle Brush in the Brushes panel to edit it. If the brush you are changing is already in use in your file, you’ll get this warning. Unless you want every brush stoke to update with your changes, click “Leave Strokes” to leave the existing brush strokes unchanged.

Step 8

Once all the shadow shapes have been drawn and painted, your image should look something like the one below. “Draw Inside” simply creates a Clipping Mask before you draw. So if you want to edit some of the paths or start over, you can go to Object > Clipping Mask > Edit Contents.

Step 9

If you haven’t saved your work, now’s a good time to do that. You’ll most likely get a warning when you save, telling you that your document contains Bristle Brush paths and transparency. Well, duh. Actually, this is an important warning to heed, because Bristle Brushes can make the document very complex and the file size quite large. You can turn off the warning so it doesn’t appear again during this work session.

Step 10

Now we’re going to add some more color, texture and modeling. Create a new Bristle Brush if you want to experiment — a Flat Fan will work nicely.
As before, set the Opacity fairly low, then begin painting along the contours of the face and neck. It’s kind of a sculptural process, with the advantage of being able to edit the paths or start over if you want. If you paint a stroke you like, you can copy it and move it to another part of the illustration. You can change the stroke width, the opacity and the blending mode, just as you can with any vector path.
If you’re using a graphics tablet and pen, you’ll get visual feedback as to the direction, tilt and bearing of your brush. Still, it can be a rather random process, but that’s part of the fun, and can lend itself to some happy accidents.

Step 11

I can’t tell you exactly where and how to paint the rest of the strokes, you’ll just have to play around until it looks right. The beauty of using Illustrator instead of Photoshop (or real paint, for that matter), is that if it gets too muddy, you can just delete some strokes or change their opacity. The final image is below.

Conclusion

Due to their transparency and fluidity, Bristle Brushes can be used for a wide variety of coloring applications. And because they’re vector paths, you get the best of both worlds: The painterly effects of Photoshop brushes with the control and flexibility of Illustrator.
Keys to the Bristle Brush Options:
  • Name: Self-explanatory.
  • Shape: There are 10 styles. Each one attempts to mimic a real-life brush.
  • Size: This is the diameter of the brush. When you buy brushes in an art supply store, their size is measured at the point where the bristles meet the handle, so this measurement refers to that. Use the slider to change, or enter numerals from 1mm to 10mm.
  • Bristle Length: Measured from the bristle tip to the point where the bristles meet the handle.
  • Bristle Density: Has to do with the number of bristles in a brush. 1% is basically one bristle, but unlike a real-life brush, that one bristle will be the diameter of the brush as it is set in the Size field.
  • Bristle Thickness: Use the slider or enter numbers in the field.
  • Paint Opacity: 1% is translucent and 100% is opaque.
  • Stiffness: I like to think of Stiffness as the “squirly-ness” of the brush. That is, the lower the stiffness, the less the stroke will conform to the path you actually draw. This can be good for random strokes and surprises.

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Create Flash Animations Entirely in Illustrator

Posted by Jamie Condroski On 0 comments
The world of animation can seem really intimidating – between AfterEffects, Flash and everything else, there’s so much to learn. And who has time? Never fear – you can create simple Flash animations without ever leaving the familiar confines of Illustrator, and without any knowledge of Flash. Here are two easy ways to get things moving.

Final Image Preview

Below are two final SWF animations we will be working creating. Want access to the full Vector Source files and downloadable copies of every tutorial, including this one? Join Vector Plus for just 9$ a month.

Tutorial Details

  • Program: Adobe Illustrator CS4
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Estimated Completion Time: 45 minutes

Video Tutorial

I’ve created this video tutorial to compliment this text + image tutorial.

Method I: Blend and Morph

For this type of animation, in which one shape transforms into another (and another and another, if you wish), we’ll use the Blend Tool to make the in-between shapes, then release each shape to its own layer, then export these as a sequence for the Flash file.

Step 1

Since this animation will be used on the Web, start with a new RGB document. Here I have four simple icons, representing the four seasons. Select all the shapes, then center-align them horizontally and vertically, using the Align panel (or the Control panel). Make sure that each shape is on the same layer.

Step 2

Double-click the Blend Tool in the tool palette to bring up its options. Choose Specified Steps in the Spacing pull-down menu, and type 8. That will give us a smooth transition between the shapes, but won’t make too many layers.

Step 3

With all the shapes selected, go to Object > Blend > Make.

Step 4

With the blended shapes still selected, go to Object > Expand. This will separate the blend into individual shapes. For this effect to work, the individual shapes must be disassociated from one another, so go to Object > Ungroup.

Step 5

The ungrouped shapes should still be all on one layer. In the Layers panel, make sure the layer is highlighted, click the flyout menu, and choose Release to Layers (Sequence). You’ll notice that each shape is now on its own layer, and each layer has a different color. If you don’t see this, go back and make sure you have ungrouped the expanded blend.

Step 6

Go to File > Export and choose Flash (SWF) as the file format (NOTE: Depending on the version of Illustrator and/or the version of Flash you have installed on your computer, the file format might be called Macromedia Flash). Choose AI Layers to SWF Frames as the Export method.
Now click the Advanced button to bring up more options. Choose Lossless as the Image Format. Click Looping, so that your animation will play over and over again. The default settings are fine for the rest of the SWF Options dialog box, but you may want to experiment with them in future projects.

Step 7

To see your animation in action, do one of two things: Click the Web Preview button in the SWF Options dialog box, which will launch your default Web browser and play the animation. Or, save the SWF file, then drag it onto a blank browser window to play it.
The world of animation can seem really intimidating – between AfterEffects, Flash and everything else, there’s so much to learn. And who has time? Never fear – you can create simple Flash animations without ever leaving the familiar confines of Illustrator, and without any knowledge of Flash. Here are two easy ways to get things moving.

Final Image Preview

Below are two final SWF animations we will be working creating. Want access to the full Vector Source files and downloadable copies of every tutorial, including this one? Join Vector Plus for just 9$ a month.

Tutorial Details

  • Program: Adobe Illustrator CS4
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Estimated Completion Time: 45 minutes

Video Tutorial

I’ve created this video tutorial to compliment this text + image tutorial.

Method I: Blend and Morph

For this type of animation, in which one shape transforms into another (and another and another, if you wish), we’ll use the Blend Tool to make the in-between shapes, then release each shape to its own layer, then export these as a sequence for the Flash file.

Step 1

Since this animation will be used on the Web, start with a new RGB document. Here I have four simple icons, representing the four seasons. Select all the shapes, then center-align them horizontally and vertically, using the Align panel (or the Control panel). Make sure that each shape is on the same layer.

Step 2

Double-click the Blend Tool in the tool palette to bring up its options. Choose Specified Steps in the Spacing pull-down menu, and type 8. That will give us a smooth transition between the shapes, but won’t make too many layers.

Step 3

With all the shapes selected, go to Object > Blend > Make.

Step 4

With the blended shapes still selected, go to Object > Expand. This will separate the blend into individual shapes. For this effect to work, the individual shapes must be disassociated from one another, so go to Object > Ungroup.

Step 5

The ungrouped shapes should still be all on one layer. In the Layers panel, make sure the layer is highlighted, click the flyout menu, and choose Release to Layers (Sequence). You’ll notice that each shape is now on its own layer, and each layer has a different color. If you don’t see this, go back and make sure you have ungrouped the expanded blend.

Step 6

Go to File > Export and choose Flash (SWF) as the file format (NOTE: Depending on the version of Illustrator and/or the version of Flash you have installed on your computer, the file format might be called Macromedia Flash). Choose AI Layers to SWF Frames as the Export method.
Now click the Advanced button to bring up more options. Choose Lossless as the Image Format. Click Looping, so that your animation will play over and over again. The default settings are fine for the rest of the SWF Options dialog box, but you may want to experiment with them in future projects.

Step 7

To see your animation in action, do one of two things: Click the Web Preview button in the SWF Options dialog box, which will launch your default Web browser and play the animation. Or, save the SWF file, then drag it onto a blank browser window to play it.
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How to Create an Ultra Glossy Flaming Ball in Adobe Illustrator

Posted by Jamie Condroski On 0 comments
Tutorial Details
  • Program: Adobe Illustrator CS5
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Length: 22:58 mins

Final Product What You'll Be Creating

How to Create an Ultra Glossy Flaming Ball in Adobe Illustrator
Learn how to create a high gloss flaming ball using the Warp Settings, Blends and Transparency Panel in Adobe Illustrator CS5. The final image is scalable and can be used as an illustration or icon design. Let’s Begin!

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How to Use the New Image Trace in Adobe Illustrator CS6

Posted by Jamie Condroski On 0 comments
Today we will learn the new features of the tracing engine in Adobe Illustrator CS6 and talk about its new functions. We will trace a photo, a sketch and a texture; then we will compare the results between Adobe Illustrator CS5 and CS6. Let’s get started!

In this tutorial I’ll use a photo a strawberry (credit to deviantART user StockProject1) ; the sketch was kindly provided by Victoria Vasilyeva and the texture (credit to deviantART user ~kingkool6).

Step 1

In Adobe Illustrator CS6 the settings of the tracing is in the new Image Trace panel (Window > Image Trace).
How to Use the New Image Trace in Adobe Illustrator CS6
This allows us to use other panels and tools while tracing. Such features did not exist in Adobe Illustrator CS5 as well as in earlier releases; the setting of the tracing was made in the Tracing Options dialog box, and then it was impossible to access the other objects and interfaces.
How to Use the New Image Trace in Adobe Illustrator CS6

Step 2

The presets have also changed between Adobe Illustrator CS5 and CS6
The new preset, "Silhouettes" allows quick creation of vector silhouettes.
After the Expand command we get the vector object with the optimal amount of points.

Step 3

Let us evaluate the quality of the tracing using the same preset High Fidelity Photo in Adobe Illustrator CS5 and Adobe Illustrator CS6.
Note, in Adobe Illustrator CS6 you can set several of the Palette values. This parameter sets while the vector image is been made in color or in greyscale. As you can see, the new tracing engine in Adobe Illustrator CS6 shows better results.
There is a new feature in Adobe Illustrator according to which you can instantly check out your original image. To do so, press and hold the eye icon near the View option.

Step 4

There were some changes in the Colors parameter. This parameter specifies the number of colors which the final vector image will consist of. In Adobe Illustrator CS5 the Max Colors options can be set in the number values, in Adobe Illustrator CS6 the Colors option can be set accurately in percentage.

Step 5

You can get access to additional options of the settings if you press the Advanced key in the Image Trace panel. Now we have an opportunity to choose a tracing method. The Abutting method creates cutout paths. The contours of neighbor objects match.
The overlapping method creates stacked paths, the contours of neighbor objects overlay.

Step 6

The Path Fitting option defines the accuracy of the tracing of the initial raster image. In Adobe Illustrator CS5 the smaller value allows to create a more accurate contour, the bigger- the rough contour. In Adobe Illustrator CS6 it is vice versa, the bigger the value is the more accurate contour we get.
The Minimum Area option corresponds to the Noise option in Adobe Illustrator CS6. This option specifies the size of the smallest areas of the initial image, which will be taken into account while tracing.
The Corner Angle option in Abode Illustrator CS5 corresponds with the Corners option in Adobe Illustrator CS6 and is been set in percentage. The higher value we set, the bigger amount of angles the final image will have.
In Adobe Illustrator CS6 there are no such function of the tracing as the Blur and the Resample. In Adobe Illustrator CS5 the Blur function is for the reducing the number of small artifacts and smoothing the jagged edges in the final image. The Resample option allows speeding up the process of tracing for big size images, losing the quality of the output image.

Step 7

Let’s see how the new tracing engine works with sketches. Apply the preset Black & White Logo. The tracing of the sketch in Adobe Illustrator CS5 shows good results.
When we use the same preset in Adobe Illustrator CS6 the majority of small details disappear.
Unfortunately, you need to change the parameters of the tracing manually in order to get the same results in Adobe Illustrator CS6.

Step 8

Let’s try to make the tracing of the texture. We will use the same Black&White Logo preset. As we can see, the result of the tracing in Adobe Illustrator CS5 looks better than in Adobe Illustrator CS6
I’ve used different presets and operated the parameters manually, but I still couldn’t get the result which would correspond to the result that can be made in Adobe Illustrator CS5.

Conclusion

The new tracing engine really works good with the photos and allows quick and accurate vector silhouettes. But when you use it for tracing sketches and textures you will need to operate all the tracing processes manually, and that will not always show good result. If you work with the sketches and textures, the Live Trace feature in Adobe Illustrator CS5 shows good results when you use the presets. Have you used the trace features in Adobe CS6 yet? If so, what do you think?
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