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Lectures & Projects

Digital Illustration Project 4 Intro to Adobe Illustrator

For assignment 4, you will learn the basics of illustrator through by tracing a photograph. Place images into Adobe Illustrator (by going to File > Place) and then trace on top. It’s also a good idea to put your image on a separate layer from your artwork, so you can turn it on and off to check your progress.

For this tracing, you will find a photo of a flower and use the pen tool and focus on creating shapes such as petals, leaves and stems. The pen tool is the most important tool to use in Illustrator. Then, you will use the gradient mesh tool to create realistic shading. The gradient mesh tool is not for everyone, some of you may find it frustrating as a fair warning. But I am only showing you the tools, what you choose to use for your final projects is up to you, so don’t stress out. Plus, you’ll do another tracing project after this and it will be much easier, no gradient mesh tool required!

Document Setup

It was a big deal setting up your document in Adobe Photoshop because it’s possible that you could really mess up if you do it incorrectly. But in Adobe Illustrator, we are working with vector graphics, so size doesn’t matter. You can work at 8.5 x 11, or whatever size you’d like. Vector graphics can be made as large or small as needed without any loss of graphic quality.

Tools to know in Adobe Illustrator

You need to study and practice these with these tools in Adobe Illustrator. I can demonstrate these tools and techniques in class, but otherwise use the help menu and Google to learn more.

  1. move tool (black arrow): selects OBJECTS
  2. direct selection tool (white arrow): selects POINTS and LINES
  3. lasso tool: select multiple POINTS
  4. pen tool: connect the dots to create shapes, click and hold to create curves
  5. convert anchor point tool (found under the pen tool): allows you to independently move the “handle bars” on curves
  6. rectangle/ellipse tool: make rectangles and circles. HOLD SHIFT to make perfect squares and circles
  7. brush/pencil: create freehand vector lines
  8. mesh tool: create mesh points for realistic shading
  9. color palette: choose and change your colors
  10. smooth tool: trace over pre-existing lines to “smooth” them out; double click this tool for options
  11. edit -> edit colors -> adjust color balance – especially when using the mesh tool, this will shift colors to your specifications