View Full Version : Adobe Illustrator: Q&A Thread??

18th July 2009, 10:38 PM
Was wondering if an Adobe Illustrator Q&A thread would be useful at all for new and old users? Some very helpfull tools and processes in AI, when tracing and designing artwork.. (such as the simple kick-ass Pathfinder shape modes and expanding)... which even some regular users are either unaware of or not sure how to use. After trial and error, forum trawling, lots of practice tracing and buying the best manual I could find for my brain (AI version 10 back then) ... I got my shit together.

I can answer most of the questions off the bat.... as will some members on here obviously.

In years past, I have either compiled from scratch or assisted in a decent number of artwork traces. I've also finished off quite a few unfinished projects for some. I found even some good experienced vector tracers, have very messy grouping, path compounds and layout... as did I at the begginning. One of the vector boys comes to mind who kicks butt!!! but his layers and paths are messy as f%*k. Clean-up can take 25% of the project.

A thread like this may help some who want to learn more... or just want to learn full-stop.

If it's popular.. then good! If not ... then I'll get admin to delete. Simple. No skin off my sack :blink: :rolleyes Just feeling the water.

18th July 2009, 10:42 PM
I think it's a good idea :023:. In the past I've struggled with the basics (and still do) and over time would like to learn more

18th July 2009, 11:16 PM
+1, i'm interested in learning how to use illustrator. So it all sounds good to me, hope others feel the same.

19th July 2009, 01:22 AM
+1, i'm interested in learning how to use illustrator. So it all sounds good to me, hope others feel the same.

Sounds good to me....... I have A.I but also have NO IDEA how to use properly........ :023::023::023::023:

19th July 2009, 03:06 AM
Ive never used it but would be interested to read what everyone has to say :) .

19th July 2009, 06:55 AM
I will be watching also.
I also used to have messy layers and grouping. I am getting better but if it is a small job then I never bother.

Seems the Perth boys are showing you guys up!! Or showing off?? :p

19th July 2009, 08:12 AM
Plenty of video guides on YouTube ranging from total beginner to expert.

Heaps of blogs and sites dedicated to them too. First hit out of Google:

Let the intertubes be your guide. Find a guide, and start practising.

19th July 2009, 08:39 AM
Ok. Well that's cool then.

Unless I get an overwhelming push to head in this direction , this will not be a thread on how to teach users the basics of using AI and the standard tools.. ie pen, selection/direct selection tools, text, basic layer principle... that is .. I won't prompt this. It is a Q&A thread ... so I will answer any AI quentions thrown my way. (and I imagine other experienced users)

Now and again.. I'll probably chuck in an unprompted tutorial or tips talk. I'll also include screenies to help explain some processes that may sound wacky.:cool:

Alright ladies.. Game On! :098: Start chucking those questions(i'll start off with some general tips on something. At work today.. and Sundays are quiet :boring:)

19th July 2009, 08:42 AM
I dont have AI, but interested in learning about the file formats and using AI so that i can do some work on existing files for my Williams projects.

Also interested in freeware, shareware, low cost and open source software (windows mac or linux), that people may have come across that can view, modify or convert AI files.

19th July 2009, 09:32 AM
lynda.com is another great site.

19th July 2009, 11:18 AM

A lot of users on AA are aware of Frosty's excellent, simplistic 'Vector Graphic & Arcade Artwork' tuturial. It has been around for many years and has been hammered by many a beginner.. including myself at the time. For reference again.. get it here .. http://www.arcadecontrols.com/files/Miscellaneous/VectorTutorial_v1_3.zip or http://www.rotheblog.com/downloads/vector_arcade_artwork_tutorial.zip

Some important simple tutorials for AI and arcade artwork are up at Jeff Rothe's blog... Rotheblog.. under his tutorial area. Important articles on dimensioning, artwork set-up and checks, what is 'bleed and setting 'bleed' for screenprinted artwork files.. and so on. Help get's your head around some why? questions in the bigger picture of vector tracing artwork. Here..

Always remember ......

In general .. Vector tracing a piece of arcade artwork degrades the original image. eg .If you have a nice high dpi scan of a bezel (The raw 'Mad Planets' bezel that is available comes to mind .. http://www.localarcade.com/arcade_art/details.php?image_id=576&mode=search) and it is either close to perfect or needs some simple photoshop touchups and color corrections.. use it as is. No need to trace it. If you can use the original artwork in it's original form and detail.. then all the better. I used to think.. 'must vector everything'. The 'Mad Planets' bezel was one of my vector projects originally, before a hard drive crash... then Jeff @ Rotheblog compiled it. It was also when longtime vectorboy 'Zorg' woke me up over this point of 'raw file vs vector'. In the case of our hobby... tracing should be used to restore a dodgy or damaged set of artwork, Not replicate for the sake of it.
However, as is Jeff's case on the 'MP' bezel, you would still go down the vector path on nice raw files, if you were going to setup the artwork for 'screenprinting' reproduction. But that's another story and process.

imo that is... :062:

19th July 2009, 12:50 PM
Great idea mate,I will be asking some questions even after the good reference book that you put me onto,you can get this pretty cheap off ebay

19th July 2009, 12:54 PM
Can't help myself. My soapbox hasn't been outta the cupboard in a while <_<

I don't like using 'strokes' or borders around paths, when restoring/tracing artwork for a number of reasons. I have used them in some of my earlier projects (eg some borders in my Bubble Bobble marquee up at the AAL :redface), but I'm am now wiser :realmad: . Yes, it can make a job easier or faster, but it can also comprimise accuracy (in most cases anyway).

However, if you do use them. I few things to remember. I'll use my Bubble Bobble marquee as an example ... which will also outline my incorrect set-up and use of stroke, back when I first compiled it .

So here are some of the strokes I shouldn't have used on the BB marquee :rolleyes

http://img401.imageshack.us/img401/2325/bbstrokes.jpg (http://img401.imageshack.us/i/bbstrokes.jpg/)

Strokes are measured by points. Hence, normally when you scale an image with strokes (smaller or larger), the stroke weight will stay the same, but the standard path will scale properly.. making the image now unproportional. This is the marquee scaled at 25% (1/4 of original size)

http://img259.imageshack.us/img259/9524/bbstrokes2.jpg (http://img259.imageshack.us/i/bbstrokes2.jpg/)

By 'outlining' the stroked areas, you could rescale the BB marquee to fit a lowboy, as an example, and keep the correct proportion between main path and stroke weight. So, select the path with the strokes you want to outline. Select Menu command : Object > Path > Outline Stroke
Done. Will look like this..

http://img339.imageshack.us/img339/5096/bbstrokes3.jpg (http://img339.imageshack.us/i/bbstrokes3.jpg/)

Now scale away. For intersts sake.. ideally you would trace the black layers first, then layer paths of the colors over top. Sure, the black layers are pretty much just an even offset of the color areas... but sometimes there is slight, or even noticable differences which should be replicated.. instead of cutting corners. I should really go back and fix my old 'junior' work.. :redface<_<

19th July 2009, 03:11 PM
Great idea mate,I will be asking some questions even after the good reference book that you put me onto,you can get this pretty cheap off ebay

Thx for the reminder m8. The O'Bearded one brings up a good point. If you really want to learn Illustrator properly... don't dick around .. get a manual. Dymocks used to stock them ... and I gather still do. Ebay obviously.

I searched far and wide for a good manual when AI 10 came out. Most important thing was size ;) and it had to have lots of visuals and pics. Not just fricken words and crap.

For private use and self-taught AI users, such as myself, I recommend Elaine Weinmann and Peter Lourekas's Illustrator Visual Quickstart Guide. My AI skills increased 10 fold with this book... and so easy to reference whilst your on AI live. They update the guides inline with updated Ai versions. Upto CS4 now.

Nuff said.. Nice call Gibo.

http://img520.imageshack.us/img520/9595/aiguide.jpg (http://img520.imageshack.us/i/aiguide.jpg/)

22nd July 2009, 05:12 PM
Bit of time b4 nightshift.. so .. grab a Coffee :rolleyes

Time to talk about the 'Pathfinder' palette and processes. IMO .. probably the most helpful palette for vector tracing projects. Used with 1 or more paths to add, subtract, intersect, exclude, divide, trim, merge, crop , outline etc ..

I'll use a simple example, which will outline how it can be used to make tracing easier and more efficient. I'll also chuck in some processes that are related to the trace example. I'll use a scan of the Donkey Kong Junior CPO, and we'll trace the left, joystick directional 'arrow' ellement.

You'll notice I use shortcuts [###], because it's faster, rather than using the top menu systems, where possible.

I create a new document and set my artboard width and height. I've created a layer and 'placed' the scan [File>Place]. I'll set my rulers [Ctrl+R], turn on smart-guides [Ctrl+U] and then 'zero' the rulers to the top-left corner of the scan [move mouse over empty square, where the rulers intersect top left. Left-click and drag to the top-left corner of the scan. The smart guide will help align you on the corner. I then turn off Smart-guide [Ctrl+U]. I then double-click this layer within the 'Layers' window [bottom left for me], which opens up the layer options. Tick 'Template' and set the opacity. I use 60%. The scan is now locked as a template. I'll then create a new layer on top.

http://img146.imageshack.us/img146/2315/pf1.jpg (http://img146.imageshack.us/i/pf1.jpg/)

We'll trace the base 'black' path 1st. I obviously have the 'pathfinder' palette window always open within the left tool windows, but I'll drag it out and put it near the work area so you can see easier. You could just trace the black path, including the rounded corners with the pen, but it's rather symetrical, so I'm going use the 'Rectangle Tool' too start [M] and trace the square part of the arrow. I'll make sure the fill and stroke are set to 'none' [bottom of left Tool bar] I'll adjust the square with the 'Selection' tool [V]. I'll make sure the left face of the square encroaches slightly into the triangle shape of the arrow. I'll now fill it black so you can see the processes interact better.

http://img401.imageshack.us/img401/4413/pf2r.jpg (http://img401.imageshack.us/i/pf2r.jpg/)

Now the Pen [P] to trace the triangle shape, and adjust the corner points to align the straight paths to suit, by clicking on a corner point and dragging them around with the 'Direct Selection' tool [A]. Even better.. when using the pen, hold down Ctrl whilst using the pen and it turns into the ' Direct Selection' tool. My hand lives around that area of Shift/Control/Alt.

http://img268.imageshack.us/img268/4235/pf3b.jpg (http://img268.imageshack.us/i/pf3b.jpg/)

Now, select both layers together. I'll [A], left-click the triangle, hold shift+left-click the square.

http://img232.imageshack.us/img232/107/pf4.jpg (http://img232.imageshack.us/i/pf4.jpg/)

Now, move to the Pathfinder palette, and the Shape modes along the top. Hold [Alt+left-click] the far left icon, 'Add to shape area'. This will then add the 2 paths together as 1, then merge them into a single path. If you didn't hold Alt. You would click the ATS icon, then click the 'Expand' button on the right. Alt just shortcuts.

http://img240.imageshack.us/img240/637/pf5.jpg (http://img240.imageshack.us/i/pf5.jpg/)

Now we'll round the corners. I'll hold [Ctrl+left-click] the little 'eye' next to Layer 2. This will turn the layer invisible so we can see the scan properly for the trace, but still work on the path. I'll obviously make sure the path is slected with [A]. Then Filter>Stylize>Rounder Corners. I've used 0.8pt for this one.

http://img190.imageshack.us/img190/2863/pf6.jpg (http://img190.imageshack.us/i/pf6.jpg/)

Pretty close, but areas like the top corner are out, so i'll again adjust the corner path points by click and dragging again with [A]. Also if you click on the curve itself and drag, you can uniformerly move the corner curve in an out to suit. Fixed within no time and I'll make the path visible again by Ctrl+left-click again on the eye.

http://img263.imageshack.us/img263/4118/pf7.jpg (http://img263.imageshack.us/i/pf7.jpg/)

1 more thing. Let's imagine that the center, smaller white arrow is the same color as the 'Blue' main base color. Hence, for all intents and purposes, the black arrow, has a smaller arrow 'hole' in the middle and you can see through this hole to the background color or layer behind it. So let's cut out the 'arrow' hole to see the layer behind.

I'll make the layer invisible again, and trace the white arrow as was done with the black. For viewing purposes, I'll show the layers as visible. I've also selected [A], the lower black arrow and Shift+select the top smaller arrow.

http://img339.imageshack.us/img339/5094/pf8.jpg (http://img339.imageshack.us/i/pf8.jpg/)

Now we will cut out the smaller arrow, making what is called a 'Compound Path'. A compound path is two or more objects joined into one object. Where the original objects overlapped, a transparent hole is created, through which shapes and patterns behind can be revealed. So, [Ctrl+8], and the compound path is done. For reasons I won't go into here, sometimes [Ctrl+8] can be troublesome. Just as quickly, I [Alt+left-click] the pathfinder palette again, but this time the 2nd icon from the left, 'Subtract from shape area'. You'll notice in the Layers palette, the layer is now called a 'Compound Path' Funnily enuff <_<.

http://img23.imageshack.us/img23/382/pf9.jpg (http://img23.imageshack.us/i/pf9.jpg/)

Now you can see the layer behind through the arrow hole. One important thing to remember, when you make a Compound path [Ctrl+8], it joins the two paths together, but it still keeps both paths identified as individuals. That means, if you need to release those paths to indivdiual ones again (their original state) for some reason, you can select that compound path and [Alt+Shift+Ctrl+8] to release the layers back to normal. If you 'Expand' that compound path, by either pressing 'Expand' on the Pathfinder palette or holding Alt down when clicking on Pathfinder options (as we did above), then they will merge as one single layer and cannot be released. So make sure your happy with the path or just never Expand. When necessary, I expand to make the file neater and with less paths and groups.

These above simple processes are a staple for artwork tracing. Learn your shortcuts, especially the Ctrl/Shift and Alt alternatives whilst using different tools. When using the Pen [P], these keys really speed up your tracing time.. allowing you to make path mods kwikly. Tracing is laborious work. Shortcuts and alternate key methods can dramatically speed up a prject over the long run.


23rd July 2009, 07:44 PM
Thanks for that, really usefull :023:

23rd July 2009, 10:00 PM
Thanks for that, really usefull :023:

Next week I'll show you how to cook 'Slow Roasted Pork' <_<:047: