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Free Vector Stickers

Hey everyone, I’ve been really busy lately and I haven’t been as active as I would like here. So here is a set of stickers to make up for my inactivity. I hope you enjoy them! Oh and you can use them for whatever you would like.

Vector Stickers

DOWNLOAD: Vector Stickers

 

Stickers

I used them for my Thesis project for aesthetic purposes, you can see them in action here.

Coming up this week I have another tutorial and an article about job hunting.

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Use The Gradient Mesh Tool to Create a Photorealistic Image

Gradient Mesh

The Gradient Mesh tool is one of the lesser used tools in Adobe Illustrator, for some reason people seem to neglect its capabilities. I cant count how many times I would stumble onto an illustration and think it was a photograph, and I’ll be the first to admit that I never knew what the tool was. Thinking back to my early days of college, I would get frustrated that I had mastered Adobe Illustrator, but I still didn’t know how to properly use the Gradient Mesh tool. Maybe I was afraid of it? The tool is a little intimidating to learn, but with some  a lot of patience, you too can master the tool.

Every time I attempted to use this tool, I kept remembering why I never use it. Its hard to master, its complicated, and its time consuming. Yet, every time I sat down and said to myself “todays the day I master this damn tool” I would make it half way and stop because the results were…lets just say…not photorealistic. Well, in this tutorial I will show you all a very easy way to master this tool!

PREPARATION

The things we are going to need is Adobe Illustrator, preferably CS5, and any image that you wish to recreate with photorealism. You will also need a fine eye for detail and patience.You can click below to download the F-35 jet image that I am using or use your own.
Sample

STEP 1

The first thing you want to do is put your image on the bottom layer and lock it. After you do that, create a new layer above the locked layer. You should double click on the layer and name it L_Rear for left rear. Before you hit OK, change the color to something that will be easily viewable, I like to use gold because it shows when it is above light or dark colors.

Layers

STEP 2

Next we want to zoom in to the left rear wing. You want to be close enough that you can see all the details, but you can see the entire wing at the same time. Now press M to equip the rectangle tool, then make a general shape around the wing.

Rectangle

STEP 3

Now grab the mesh tool or press U for the shortcut. This is the trickiest part, all of your work will depend on this part, it is the foundation. Even so, its not that hard once you get the hang of it.

Start by command clicking the eye next to the layer you are working on. This will make that layer appear in outline mode so you can work without you view being blocked. Next, with the mesh tool selected, click once on any of the vertical lines of the rectangle. This should make one horizontal line dividing the box.

Box

Then select the Direct Selection tool, or press the A button. This is when you can start manipulating the shape of the rectangle. Your goal is to “trace” the shape with the rectangle. You should always start with as few lines as possible so just move the two center points in and start moving the corner points. It doesn’t have to be perfect right now.

Reshape

To really get a tight shape you need to manipulate the anchor points. By using the Direct Selection tool, you can grab the handles to straighten out all the shapes. This will give you straight lines and tight corners.

Anchor Points

Now start bringing in the rest of the points to meet the edges of the wing. You will notice that eventually you will get to a point where you cannot bring the line any closer without messing up the rest of the points. This is where you start putting in additional lines. Just like before, click the middle of where you need the line and then start manipulating it. Its that easy!

Notice

This is where you can be liberal as possible. You need the rectangle to conform to the shape of the wing so start adding line by line. Each time you add a line you need to correct all the handles and reshape them so they do not do a zig zag. Zig zags are bad when working with the Gradient Mesh. Every detail you see, add a point to form it.

STEP 4

Detail

This is what your wing should look like with all the lines added on. Remember that for more detail, you need more lines. Don’t forget to add some vertical lines in there too. I didn’t add many lines towards the top of the wing because there isn’t many details, but at the bottom there is, which is why there are more lines. Also, don’t forget that overall, this shape is rounded, so you need to adjust your handles to be rounded.

STEP 5

Now for another tedious step. Again, make sure that your layer is in outline mode by cmd clicking the eye. Once you have your shape finalized, you will be using the Direct Selection tool (A) and the Eye Dropper tool (I). I would highly recommend using the keyboard shortcuts because you will be using them a lot.

OK, now find a comfy position because this might take a while depending on the complexity of the shape. Zoom in extremely close to the mesh outline and simply select a point. Now press (I) and take the Eye dropper to select directly under that point. You now have made that point the color that it is on top of. command click the layer eye to see if it worked.

Color
A really good tip to help you get the details perfect is that the closer the lines are together, the sharper the lines of the color will be. That is because each line stops at the next. So a wide open point like the one I just showed you will spread outward to the next lines. That means if you have a really sharp detail that needs to end abruptly, just create a line right NEXT to it. That way it will stop where you want it. Notice how close some of my lines are, that is because I want the color to stop.

You might also notice that once you preview your finished piece that there might be a few stray colors or blemishes. This is because you are picking up different colors from the photograph. Simply click that point and grab the Eye Dropper, then select a color in proximity so that it blends evenly.

STEP 6

Finish coloring in each point, get comfy and toggle between the two tools. Remember to be working in outline mode so you can get the exact colors. If you need more points and details, you can add them with the Mesh tool as you go.

Finished

This is what the final wing should look like. See? It wasn’t so hard. It might not look like much on its own, but once you start blocking in the rest, everything really pulls together. You just need to do it piece by piece. When I started doing this I made the mistake of making all my original shapes too big, trying to fit too much into it. When in doubt, make it a new shape.

 

STEP 7

Now you need to finish the rest of the Jet, or whatever you are making. I wont walk you thought each piece but I will do a quick overview of another larger section to make sure you know what you are doing. I will be making the left wing, so make a new layer and name it accordingly. This wing will be made up of three shapes.

Wing Rectangle

First, I will do the highlighted part that is not in the shadow. Simply block an outline around the shape. Then, make one single mesh point going down the center, vertically.

Shape

Start shaping the section to trace the wing. It is okay that it overlaps into the shadow part, this will come in handy later when we are trying to blend all the pieces together. Now start adding in all the detail by adding more and more lines. Remember to fix all the handles to conform to the shape of the wing.

Wing Details

This is what the finished details should look like. Notice how it extends past the shadow. If you do not do this, then there will be obvious lines inbetween each shape. By doing this the points will blend making it seamless. Now do the same exact thing for the two shadows.

Shadow Rectangle

Shadow Shape

Shadow Details

Finished

Finished Outline

 

TIP

If you ever have two shapes that need to be blended, as in not have an abrupt line like the wing above, just grab the two closest points of both respecting object and choose the same color. This will ensure even blending between multiple shapes.

CONCLUSION

These are just a few pieces of a greater image, but hopefully I have given you enough to follow through and finish the Jet or whatever it is that you chose to work with. These techniques will literally work for EVERY image you would ever want to Gradient Mesh, all you have to have is a fine eye for detail, patience, and create many lines. Below are a couple examples on how I used the Gradient Mesh tool, I hope you found this tutorial useful!

 

Gradient Mesh Cover

Christian Bale Gradient Mesh

How did your Gradient Mesh come out? Post below for us to see!

 

Create Movement In Your Illustrations

Jeep Illustration

There are an abundance of Illustrator tutorials out there for many different uses. Most of which are the same tutorials with different techniques, not that there is anything wrong with that, some techniques work better than others. This tutorial will teach you how to use Illustrator 5 tools to create stylistic lines that can be used to simulate movement. When I created this piece I was stuck on how to tackle the look and feel of movement for my waterfalls. After sifting through many tutorials, I couldn’t quite find what I was imagining. After some messing around with the new width tool in illustrator I found the perfect look for me, so I hope you all like it!

PREPARATION:

Any image that you want to create movement in. I used this technique in a few of my projects, each with varying looks. So depending on the object that needs movement, it can really stylize your image. You also need Adobe Illustrator CS 5, specifically the width tool.

STEP 1:

I like to sketch out my scenes beforehand. This is a very rough starting sketch (my sketches always tend to evolve down the line, even after vectoring has started). So if you already have a starting point, then great. Otherwise its OK to just follow the tutorial in an arbitrary shape to see how it comes out. For the sake of this tutorial, I am going to skip over everything in my scene except for the waterfalls.

sketch

STEP 2:

Next, I like to pick out a group of swatches that compliment each other. This will come in handy later when we are coloring each line. A great resource for getting great color swatches is Kuler, a great free resource from Adobe. The swatches I used are; #C6E9FB, #A5DEF4, #37789D, #C0E7FA, #2791C6, #4C88A9, and #68BBE9.

swatches

STEP 3:

Now its time for the tedious part, blocking in all the lines. Don’t worry, it might not look like much, but later it will all come together. Try filling in as much of the area as you can. The closer together the more details there will be and better the end result will look. Don’t worry about the color of the lines now, we will fill those out later, just focus on getting the lines perfect.

NOTE: Before I started blocking in the lines, all I did was outline my wave shape and make it a solid blue color.

Black Lines

Now just finish blocking in the lines. Remember, don’t get discouraged on how it look now, it will look better soon! I used to get discouraged about how my work was looking, but you have to remember its not done yet! After tweaking my work I always felt better after the end result.

Lines complete

STEP 4:

Now we can begin coloring the lines. Bring your swatches nice and close, then start selecting many lines and pick one of your colors. Remember to try to make the colors random so there are not a group of the same colors next to each other, make each line a different color from your preselected group. You can select the lines one by one and see what looks best, or you can shift + click a bunch of random lines and then select a swatch. Notice how by just changing the color of the lines, it is already starting to look much better, but we’re not done yet!

Color Lines

STEP 5:

To really bring out the depth and diversity to the lines we are going to do two things. First, select all the lines and in the stroke menu click but cap and miter join (this should be set by default). This will give the lines a sharper point to them.

Stroke Caps

The next thing that will change up the look of the lines is changing some of their sizes. My lines range anywhere from 1pt all the way to 5pts. You want to put emphasis on certain lines by making some lines bigger and some of the surrounding lines smaller. Just go through by mass selecting the lines and change their size. Here is a close up so you can see how my line widths vary. Notice how I make some of the lines bigger to stand out. This will be crucial for getting that movement feeling to it.

Line Sizes

STEP 6:

Now for the fun part (by fun I mean tedious…again). I love this step because you can finally see the transformation happening. First, select one line at a time and notice how many anchor points there are. Most of my lines only have 3 anchor points, although some of my longer lines have more. Next, select the Width tool (shift + w) and hover over one of those anchor points. Notice how you can increase and decrease certain parts of the lines. Select one end of the line at a time and make it as small as possible. By making each of the end caps as small as they can be, it creates movements across each line. The line should go from thin, to thick, to thin again

TIP: I like to select the middle anchor point first and make it SLIGHTLY bigger than it already is. The reason for this is because if you make each end cap as small as can be, then the line will just disappear. You need to first set a size for the middle so it doesn’t conform to the rest of the line.

Width Tool

Complete

This is how it should look complete

STEP 7:

This step is optional, it really only matters if your are doing something similar to my piece, but if you want to try it and see how it looks then go ahead! I am going to add a couple shapes throughout the water to give it a kind of “current” running through the stream. Select the pen tool and start creating wide pointy shapes. These shapes don’t have to be perfect. They are just going to be there for subtle details. Make sure they look like a broken puzzle that has been pulled apart. You can do this by making your next shape kind of go in and out of the previous shape. It looks more natural this way.

Shapes

Now that you have your shapes made, select one and go to the transparency panel. Change the transparency of each shape to a really low level. Mine are 18% and 35%. This makes the shapes really subtle but still adds details to the movement.

Final

That just about finishes it! Now your scene has some pretty stylized movement going on through it. You can of course add some more details throughout. Maybe a little blur here or there will look good on your piece. Thanks for reading, I hope everyone finds this tutorial useful! I’ll end by showing some more examples of this style.

Imagine

Blastoff!

Related Article: Use The Gradient Mesh Tool to Create Photorealistic Images

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