Monday, November 26, 2012

More on Illustrator

Last week we left off in Illustrator.  We'll finish that up, and this will be the last lesson for this year.  I'll post a Fashion Friday doll this week, too, but December is going to be an experiment.  I am going to post a black & white doll on December first and then a new outfit every day for the month!  January will be back to the normal routine.  After today's lesson, I feel like all of the "basics" of how I make a paper doll will have been covered.  I'd like to dig deeper into some techniques, as well as take a look at various products to explore the differences.  If there's a topic someone would like to explore, let me know.  I'm happy to take lesson requests!

So back to the lesson.

Last week we left off with an outlined doll.  I want to create the base for the doll, color the doll, and place the doll in the proper position to print on a standard sheet of paper.  Let's start by creating the base.

Open the shape tool on the menu toolbar and select the ellipse option.  Hold down Shift while drawing an ellipse and you'll end up with a circle.  This works with the rectangle tool as well: you get a square by holding Shift.  If you also hold down Option (or Alt on a PC) while drawing, you'll creating your circle from the center out.  It can be handy.

We've created a circle for the base, but the base needs to be a straight line.  I could delete points and fiddle with the convert anchor tool, but there's a much easier way - the pathfinder tool.  So next we need to draw a rectangle.  It needs to be wider than the circle and at least half the height.  Bigger is better.

Here's how it should look.  Next I want to center it horizontally and vertically and use the pathfinder tool to delete it.  Select the circle and rectangle together.  Hold shift to select multiple objects at the same time.

After you select your two shapes, a new menu pops up on the top toolbar.  The second button aligns the shapes vertically, the fifth button will align the shapes horizontally.  Once you do that, open your pathfinder tool.  It looks like two overlapping boxes, or you can select it from the drop-down menus at the top: Window>Pathfinder.

So select your two shapes and click on the second button in the first row of the pathfinder tool.  If you hover over it, you'll see that it's called Minus Front. And that's exactly what we want! The image above shows the before and after.  Now take that base shape and send it to the back.  We've going to resize and position the doll.  I've unlocked the template layer and moved all the outfit templates off the artboard (that's the white rectangle we've been working on top of).

Click on the Document Setup button at the top of the screen and you get the menu pictured above.  There's an Edit Artboards button.  That's what we want to do.  You can drag and move the artboard to resize it, but I just want to make it 8.5 inches high by 11 inches wide.  Type those numbers into the appropriate slots.

There's an X,Y,W, and H option.  X and Y give you the location of the board on the X and Y axis.  We don't need that.  W and H give you the dimensions of your board.  I want it 11 inches wide, and 8.5 inches tall.  If the measurements are in pixels, points, etc, just type "8.5in" or "11in".

So our artboard is the correct size, all but one of our templates have been moved (remember the template under the doll!), and we're ready to move and resize.  Make sure your template layer has been re-locked.

Using the black arrow, draw a box around the whole doll.  There will then be an invisible rectangle around the doll.  Grab anywhere and drag it to the lower left of the artboard.  With everything still selected, grab the upper right corner of the rectangle, hold shift (to contstrain the proportions), and drag to the size you want.

This is now your final doll and all clothes must fit this doll.  Delete the doll template.  What I do from here is trace the doll outfit templates somewhere outside the artboard using the same techniques we used to trace the doll.  Then I select the outfit the way I selected the whole doll, and place it over the doll and fiddle around with the fit.  I would recommend doing this on a new layer!

Here I've created one quick little outfit on a new layer.  Make sure your outside lines are the same thickness as the doll.  You can do this by changing the stroke.

To color your doll, click on each shape and select a color.  You can change the foreground and stroke colors, you can make the fill a gradient, you can add patterns, etc.  In this case, I just want to make the doll flat colors.  Click on the part you want to color and select a swatch from your swatches panel.

And here's a flat color on the doll and clothes.  Next year, we'll dig deeper into some of these programs and techniques.  For now, play around with Illustrator and see what you can come up with.  And think about what lessons might be fun to try for next year!


  1. Thanks for the tutorial! I can't wait for your next posts! Thank you again so much!

  2. Thanks :) It's always nice to hear that someone out there enjoys reading my little hobby blog!