Monday, January 21, 2013

Illustrator: Gradients and Patterns

Adobe Illustrator is one of my favorite programs.  It's given me the ability to create dolls that I don't think I otherwise could have created.  The precision and flexibility of it are fantastic.  Today's lesson is going to build upon the Illustrator lessons from November.  See the Lesson Plan for a refresher of those lessons.

Open your vector doll in Illustrator.  I added some outfits in flat color to my doll.  We're going to add gradients to liven up the color, work with the Appearance panel and apply patterns over the gradients, and talk a little about creating graphic styles.

This is the doll with the colors blocked in.  I want to add gradients to these colors.  Illustrator has a lot of built-in gradients, and there are tons more to download if you do a Google search.  As always, deviantArt also has great resources.  To get to the gradients, click on the Swatch Libraries menu button on the Swatches palette.  It's the symbol on the far left on the bottom.  Then select Gradients and whatever subcategory you want.  I'll start with the Brights.

Part of the reason why I like to block in colors ahead of time is so that they are easier to select later.  Let's say I want all of  the areas blocked in purple to change.  I click on one of them with either the black or white arrow tool (Select or Direct Select), go to the Select menu on the menu bar, and choose Select Same Fill Color.  You can use any attribute to select.

Once you've selected the areas you want to change, click on a gradient swatch.  You can click on the gradient symbol on the left menu bar as well as the gradient palette on the right side of the screen to edit the gradient.  If the gradient is linear, you can switch it to radial and vice versa.  There's a white bar that shows up when you select the gradient tool.  Use this to adjust distance, color, color spacing, etc.

 I apply gradients to the whole doll, as seen in the image below.  The gradients are subtle but you could certainly make them more pronounced.  I have a radial gradient on the hair, face (including eyes & lips), body, and base, with a linear gradient on the outfit and shoes.  Like anything else, play around with what looks & feels right.

Here's the doll with the gradients filled in.  I think this looks better than the flat color, but why stop here?!  Illustrator has some beautiful built-in patterns as well so I'll show you how to use those as well.

Next, we're going to give the jeans some texture.   Illustrator has the ability to apply multiple fills to one shape.  I'm not sure which versions of Illustrator have this.  I'm using CS4 and I think CS3 (at least) has it as well.  Earlier than that, I'm not sure.  The Appearance palette is where we can apply multiple fills, and it looks like a small circle on the menu on the right of your Illustrator screen.

This is the Appearance palette.  You can adjust fill, stroke, and opacity (as well as blending modes) in this panel.  To create a new fill, click on the Fill line and hit the New button (circled in red).  It creates a duplicate of the current fill.

To change the second (top) fill, select it and click on the drop-down menu.  Your swatches palette pops up here.  Either select from your swatches, or choose the Swatches Library menu to select the fill you want.  I want to use the burlap pattern fill so I go to Swatches Library>Patterns>Basic Graphics>Basic GraphicsTextures.  It's the second pattern on the top. 

The burlap fill is too dark as it is, so I use blending modes to change it.  To get to the blending modes, click the grey arrow next to the fill you want to change.  An Opacity menu pops up.  You can change opacity & blending modes there. On the left, the burlap fill over the gradient.  On the right, the burlap fill set to the screen blending mode.  Again, it's subtle and conveys a little bit of the texture and color of jeans.

If you like this, save it as a graphic style.  To do this, make sure your object is not in a group.  Use the black arrow to select the jeans.  Go to the Graphic Styles palette.  It looks like a square with two smaller squares.  With your object selected, click on the New button.  And that's it!  New style to work with.

With a graphic style, you can now speed up the process of coloring your doll.  I want the jean skirt to look just like the jeans, so I apply the graphic style.  And you can edit the graphic style in the Appearance palette as well.

This is the completed doll.  I added extra fills and created graphic styles for all of the colors.  Feel free to download & print out the doll to see how they look.  This is the technique I use on the Fashion Friday dolls, as well as any of my other vector dolls, like the PaperJanes.  It's handy to know.  Anyway, play around in Illustrator.  The possibilities are almost limitless!  Look for a new doll to download on Friday!

No comments:

Post a Comment