Tutorials & Tips Archive

Vector Halftone Text in Illustrator

Here’s a tutorial for halftone text. I took my halftone pattern from the vector halftone tutorial and added text to it.

I start out with the halftone pattern. I modified it by flipping a copy of it.

Next, I type out the text I want to use with the type tool.

With my type still selected, I go to Type > Create Outlines. This will turn my text into shapes.

I take my outlined text and Ungroup it. Go to Object > Ungroup. The reason for this is you need to Ungroup objects to use the Add pathfinder on them.

The next step is to use the Add pathfinder to make each letter in your text one shape. The Add is first button on the Pathfinder palette. Click Expand after you hit the Add button.

After your text is one shape, you’ll need to select your dot pattern and make that one shape with the Add pathfinder. You may need to Ungroup it to use the Add pathfinder.

Now, you should have two shapes. The text shape and the dot pattern shape. Position the two over the top of each other.

With both shapes selected, use the Intersect pathfinder on them and click Expand.

You will be left with dots in the shape of your text.

I copied the text, changed the color and offset the new version a little. I thought it gave it a nice Pop Art screen printed look.

This post was written on IllustrationInfo.com. Content copyright 2008 Cory Thoman.

Word Bubble Tutorial in Illustrator

Without word bubbles and thought clouds, we’d never see those great Sunday comic punchlines. Here is a quick Adobe Illustrator tutorial for creating a cartoon word bubble. You can find more of my tutorials here.

Start by opening a new file. Select the Ellipse Tool from the Tool Bar and draw an oval.

Next, use the pen tool to draw a small pointed shape on top of the oval.

Select both shapes and use the Add to Shape Area from the Pathfinder Palette. Click Expand after you’ve clicked the Add to Shape Area. If your Pathfinder Palette isn’t open, go to Window > Pathfinder.

Your two shapes should now be one. Select the new shape and go to Object > Path > Offset Path.

A dialogue box will appear. I set my offset to -2 pt, but feel free to play around with the settings.

A new shape is created that is -2 points smaller than the original. Fill this with white and you’re done.

This post was written on IllustrationInfo.com. Content copyright 2008 Cory Thoman.

Illustrator Burst Tutorial with the Star Tool

I thought I would do another burst tutorial, since the first one seems to be popular. If you missed the first one, you can find it here.

Start by opening a new file. Select the Star Tool from the Tool Bar.

With the Star Tool selected, click once on the artboard (the area you draw in). A dialogue box will appear. I set the Radius 1 to 65 pt, the Radius 2 to 55 pt and the Points to 19. The greater the difference between your two Radius settings the more your points will jut out. The points setting is just the number of points on your star.

That is basically it. This is what my burst looks like with the settings above.

Here’s a little tip for using the Star Tool. Draw a star shape with the Star Tool, but don’t release the mouse button. Instead, use the up and down arrows on your keyboard to change the number of points on your star. If you keep pressing the down arrow, you’ll end up with a triangle. When you get the number of points you want, you can release the mouse button.

This post was written on IllustrationInfo.com. Content copyright 2008 Cory Thoman.

Symmetrical Objects in Illustrator

Having symmetrical vector files is very useful. The best way to make sure your file is symmetrical is to do draw half of it and flip it. Below is a tutorial I’ve written for creating a symmetrical vector file in Adobe Illustrator.

I start by tracing over my placed sketch with the Pen Tool. I make my first point at the top of the leaf and hold down the shift key and make my next point at the base of the leaf. Holding down the Shift key will keep your line straight. I continue with tracing the rest of the outline and connect my points back at the top. Since the stem isn’t symmetrical, I’ll draw that later.

Next, I want to use the Reflect Tool. It usually hides under the Rotate Tool, so click and hold the Rotate Tool to see it.

With your leaf half selected, double click on the Reflect Tool. A dialogue box will pop up. Set the Axis to Vertical and click copy.

This will make a copy of your leaf facing the opposite way.

Next, you’ll want to make sure your Smart Guides are on. Go to View > Smart Guides or use the keyboard shortcut Command/Control U.

With your Smart Guides are on, you can roll over your lines and they light up and say things like path or anchor. Now, you’ll need to line up the two edges of your leaf halves. Roll over straight edge of one of your leaf halves. When it says path, click on the line and drag it towards the other half’s straight edge. You’ll want to hold down Shift while dragging the half. Holding down Shift constrains your object to moving on only one axis. In this case, you want your object to move right and left, but not up and down. When the leaf half line that you’re dragging hits the other leaf half’s line, the line will light up and it will say intersect. That means they are lined up and you can stop dragging.

Now that your leaf halves are lined up, you’ll need to join them.

You can use the Pathfinder palette to join them. If you don’t have your pathfinder palette open, go to Window > Pathfinder. With the two halves selected, use the Add to shape area on the palette. It is the first button on the top row. Click Expand to finish joining the objects. Now, you have a symmetrical object.

Here’s the finished product. If you want to see how to do all the lines and shading, I have a cartoon tutorial here.

This post was written on IllustrationInfo.com. Content copyright 2008 Cory Thoman.

Vector Halftone in Illustrator

Below is a tutorial I’ve written for creating a vector halftone in Adobe Illustrator. I also have a halftone tutorial for Photoshop here.

I start by making a linear gradient that fades from black to white.

Next, I rasterize my gradient. Go to Object > Rasterize.

A dialogue box pops up. Since I’m just going to use this object to trace over, I select 72 dpi.

With my rasterized gradient selected, I go to Filter > Pixelate > Color Halftone.

A dialogue box will appear. Set the Max. Radius to 10 or another number. The lower the number, the smaller the dots. I kept my Screen Angles at 0, so my dot pattern wasn’t at an angle (this makes it easier to trace).

Here’s what my pattern looks like. Now it is time to trace.

I draw two red circles. One over the biggest dot on the end and another one on the smallest dot on the other end. Using the Align palette, I center align my dots vertically.

Next, I want to do a blend. Go to Object > Blend > Blend Options to set up your blend options.

A dialogue box will pop up. Set your Spacing to Specified Steps. The number of steps should be the number of black dots between your two red dots. I counted mine and had 22 dots.

Now you need to run the blend, so make sure your two red dots are selected. Go to Object > Blend > Make.

The blend creates several new dots between the two.

Since the blend creates a line of dots and not actual shapes, you’ll need to Flatten Transparency to convert them into shapes. Go to Object > Flatten Transparency.

A dialogue box will appear. Set the Raster/Vector balance to 100 and click OK.

Now your red dots are shapes.

Next, you’ll need to copy this row. Select all the dots and hold down the Option/Alt key and drag the dots down to line up with the next row.

You can repeat the copy you just made by going to Object >Transform > Transform Again or by using the keyboard shortcut for it: Command/Control D.

Keep hitting Command/Control D until you get to the bottom. Then, delete the raster dot pattern. Now, you have a vector halftone.

This post was written on IllustrationInfo.com. Content copyright 2008 Cory Thoman.

[tags]Vector, Halftone, Dots, Illustrator, Tutorial, Adobe[/tags]

Warp Type in Illustrator

Below is a tutorial I’ve written about warping text in Adobe Illustrator. Feel free to check out my other tutorials here. Enjoy!

I start by using the Type Tool to write the text that I want.

Next, I Select my type and go to Type > Create Outlines. This turns my type from text to shapes. You don’t have to Create Outlines to run the Warp effects, so if you think you might edit your type, keep it editable.

With my text shapes selected, I go to Effect > Warp > Arch.

A dialogue box will pop up. Check the Preview box to see what your text will look like. Play around with the sliders and style until you get the distortion that you are looking for.

After you click OK, you’ll notice that it shows you the original text in blue guides and the warp effect in black text. If you are unhappy with the results, you can run the filter again and it will discard the current warp effect.

If you’re happy with the results, you can use the Flatten transparency to turn your text into shapes again. Go to Object > Flatten Transparency.

A dialogue box will appear. Set the Raster/Vector Balance slider to 100.

Now, you have warped text. Feel free run a second warp effect.

This post was written on IllustrationInfo.com. Content copyright 2008 Cory Thoman.

Pen & Ink Technique with Live Trace

I’m not a huge fan of the autotrace feature in Adobe Illustrator. Mostly because I think it make the lines either too smooth or too sharp. You spend any time you saved using it cleaning up the messy lines. That being said, I’ve had a few success stories. Here’s a technique I used to add a pen and ink texture to my file.

I started with a file I drew using the Pen Tool in Illustrator. If you’re not familiar with drawing with the pen tool, I have cartoon tutorial here using the pen tool to trace a sketch.

I printed out my Illustrator file and drew in shading and wood texture with a sharpie. If you screw up the shading on the first shot, you can always print another file out to draw on top of. Next, I scanned the new inked drawing back in at 300 dpi. You may need to take your scan into Photoshop to tweak the Brightness and Contrast. After you get the contrast right, open your inked drawing in Illustrator.

Select the placed artwork and run Live Trace. I just used the default settings, but feel free to play with the settings.

Now, you have your inked sketch as a vector file. Illustrator seems to do a pretty good job at tracing its own work. If your outline is a little jagged, you can always take the original illustrator file and overlay it and use the Object > Path > Offset Path to cover any autotrace sloppiness.

This post was written on IllustrationInfo.com. Content copyright 2008 Cory Thoman.

Making a Burst in Illustrator

Here is a simple tutorial for creating a burst or call out shape in Illustrator. Feel free to check out my other burst tutorial here.

Start by opening a new file.

Next, use the Ellipse Tool on the tool bar to make a circle. Holding down the shift key while you draw the circle will constrain it to a perfect circle instead of an oval.

With the circle still selected, go to Object > Path > Add Anchor Points. This will add extra points to the circle.

Repeat the Add Anchor Points step until you have the desired number of points. I did mine about three times.

Next, with the shape still selected, go to Filter > Distort > Pucker & Bloat.

A dialogue box will appear. Hit the Preview check box and play with the slider until you get the shape you want. That’s it!

This post was written on IllustrationInfo.com. Content copyright 2008 Cory Thoman.

[tags]Adobe, Illustrator, burst, vector, tutorial[/tags]

Photoshop Halftone

Here is a simple tutorial for creating a halftone pattern in Photoshop. Feel free to check out my other tutorials here.

Start by opening a new file. Make sure you set the Color Mode to Grayscale.

Next, make a gradient shape that fades from black to white.

After that, convert the Color Mode from Grayscale to Bitmap.

This will prompt a few dialogue boxes. Feel free to play around with the settings.

That’s it.

I’ve got a halftone tutorial for Illustrator as well.

This post was written on IllustrationInfo.com. Content copyright 2008 Cory Thoman.

Adding Color to Your Shadows

OK, so maybe I’m obsessed with color. I still get excited when I see a new box of crayons in the store. I have to resist the urge to buy them. Mainly because I don’t know what I’d do with a box of crayons.

Regardless of my insanity (or unhealthy obsession with crayons), color is very important in illustration. I’ll never forget an exercise we did the first week of my painting class in college. The professor set up a still life with all white objects and said paint it. The only rules were that you couldn’t use white or black. It was a great assignment to teach you to see color in objects and in shadows.

Now, I’m not saying you should throw out your black and white tubes of paint. I’m justing pointing out that your shadows and highlights should have color in them. Adding two complimentary colors together like yellow and purple make a much better gray shadow than just black and white.

I rarely paint any more, but the same rule applies to colors on the computer. Adding a little cyan to your shadow gives you a much more dynamic color than just black. You don’t have to abandon black, but think about other options and keep your shadows colorful.

This post was written on IllustrationInfo.com. Content copyright 2008 Cory Thoman.