Adobe Illustrator Illustration Tutorial

Tutorial: How to Create a Space Illustration Using Adobe Illustrator

How to Use Vector Textures

Tutorial: How to Use Vector Textures in Adobe Illustrator to Distress Your Logo/Design

how to use an opacity mask in illustrator

Try this Opacity Mask Tip with your New Vector Brushes for a Tattered, Torn Effect

How to Use an Opacity Mask in Illustrator (A Newbie’s Guide)

Hey Fans of Go Media’s Arsenal, the best resources for designers on the planet. We’re here for a quick guide to using your new Brink Design Co. Industrial Vector Brushes, just released a day ago! These 100 handmade vector brushes were created with an unparalleled level of detail, made using a variety of different mediums and techniques to give your work that dirty, grungy, industrial look so many of you, our loyal customers, have been requesting.

Hop on this train, as the pack is 21% off through Monday, December 21st. And these vector brushes are exclusive to the Arsenal, so you won’t find this detailed work elsewhere

Learn More Now!

Or, if you love the Arsenal products in general, you could join our Membership and gain access to our huge product library ($10,500+ in products) for only $15 per month. No strings attached, cancel at anytime. And yes, we’re totally serious.

Membership Me

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Now, let’s get to the tip!

Skill Level: Newbie
Tools Needed: Cool Illustration, Brink Design Co. Industrial Pack and Adobe Illustrator

1. Install your Brink Design Co. Industrial Pack Vector Brushes (or, as I like to call, 100 handmade brushes from the heavens)
Instructions are included with the pack.

what's-included

2. Open your illustration in Adobe Illustrator. We chose this cute little monster guy.

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3. Start going crazy with some brush strokes. This is the fun part. Soak it all in.

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4. Group your brush strokes all together. Ensure that your monster is left out of the mix.

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5. Object > Expand Appearance

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6. Using your Pathfinder Tool (Window > Pathfinder), select the first option – Merge

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7. “Control C” to copy this element. Next, go into your Transparency Window. From the drop-down, select “Make Opacity Mask”

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8. Click on the small black box within the window.

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9. Click “Invert Mask” and BOOM.

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10. Click on the masked area if you’d like change where your mask is placed.

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11. You’re done! We hope you’ve enjoyed this tip. Make sure to pick up the Brink Design Co. Industrial Pack and create something great everyday.

Shop Brink Design Co. Industrial Pack

The Wait is over! This is Dirty: From Sketch to Vector Illustration Video Tutorial is Here!

From Sketch to Vector Illustration Video Tutorial

The wait is finally over.

The long awaited, highly anticipated video tutorial by Cleveland brand design services guru & Go Media President William Beachy, is finally here. Based on his wildly popular blog post, From Sketch to Vector Illustration, “This is Dirty: From Sketch to Vector Illustration Video Tutorial,” is an intimate look into Bill’s design process.

{Whoops! Somehow missed the popular “From Sketch to Vector Illustration post? Check it out here.}

“This is Dirty,” is a compilation of all Bill has learned over twenty years as an illustrator, designer and entrepreneur.

I want it now.

You’ll spend an intimate 1 hour, 11 minutes with Bill, pouring over an illustration he has created specifically for this tutorial. Bill gives you a raw, rare look into his process from start to finish. Giving away all of his secrets, tips, tricks and talents, Bill shares the resources you’ll need to follow along and includes the following recommendations/information:

Supplies
The Staedler Mars mechanical pencil and sharpener
Eraser of choice
The pros and cons of hard vs. soft lead
Preferred paper type

Drawing (Pencil Sketch)
Getting into the right head-space
Getting your arm loose
Why starting with rough sketches is so important
Getting started
Having proper expectations of yourself
Being flexible while drawing
Drawing using basic geometrical shapes
Drawing the human face
Developing a series of cheats to draw
Shading – how much black vs. white
Using reference materials

Scanning
Equipment specifications
Scanning specifications

(Vector) Inking
Equipment and software specifications
Dell(PC) vs. Apple
Mouse vs. Wacom
Nodes and bezier lines
Setting up your layers
Setting up gradients and picking colors
Inking options
Creating shapes in Illustrator
Cross hatching

Coloring
Photoshop vs. Illustrator
Setting up your layers
Process strategy
Highlights and secondary light source
Adding Shadows
Adding a texture

What you receive with the download:

  • Extended Tutorial (MP4 Video)
  • Blue Concrete Square texture (jpeg)
  • This is Dirty Illustration (pencil art)
  • This is Dirty Illustration Version 1 (jpeg)
  • This is Dirty Illustration Version 2 (jpeg)
  • This is Dirty Illustration – Final (AI File)

Yes. Let’s do this!

We can’t wait to see what you create! Share your work with us over at our Flickr Pool Showcase.

From Sketch to Vector Illustration Video Tutorial

The Tutorial you’ve been waiting for is finally upon us.

//

Introducing…

Long awaited, highly anticipated.

Our newest tutorial on the Go Media Arsenal release is based on Go Media President William Beachy’s wildly popular blog post on our ‘Zine, From Sketch to Vector Illustration.

This is Dirty: From Sketch to Vector Illustration Video Tutorial is an intimate look into Bill’s design process.

Included in this 1 hour, 11 minute intimate instructional tutorial:

* All the resources you’ll need to follow along including: the extended tutorial (mp4 video), textures, pencil art, jpeg illustrations and AI illustration file

* Bill’s tips and tricks on >

– Supplies (the Staedler Mars mechanical pencil and sharpener, eraser of choice, the pros and cons of hard vs. soft lead, preferred paper type)

– Drawing (Pencil Sketch) (Getting into the right head-space, getting your arm loose, why starting with rough sketches is so important, getting started, having proper expectations of yourself, being flexible while drawing, drawing using basic geometrical shapes, drawing the human face, developing a series of cheats to draw, shading – how much black vs. white, using reference materials)

– Scanning (equipment specifications, scanning specifications)

– (Vector) Inking (Equipment and software specifications, Dell(PC) vs. Apple, Mouse vs. Wacom, nodes and bezier lines, setting up your layers, setting up gradients and picking colors, inking options, creating shapes in Illustrator, cross hatching)

– Coloring (Photoshop vs. Illustrator, setting up your layers, process strategy, highlights and secondary light source, adding shadows, adding a texture)

Stay tuned to this spot, as well as to our Arsenal to find out when and how you can buy this product.

Tutorial: How to Create a Decoder Design in Illustrator

Secret Decoder Illustrator Tutorial with real Cleveland Graphic Designers

I think one of my favorite things about being a theatre person is discovering ways I can incorporate some aspect of theatre into my projects. Recently, I created a self-promotional piece that incorporates my three favorite things – Theatre, Graphic Design and Typography. It’s a play off of the old super-awesome decoder glasses and hidden messages and all that awesome stuff I remember getting in cereal boxes. Using stage lighting gels and layering type, I managed to do something like this:

final1final2

This process is super easy so don’t worry! And I’ll be right here with you to guide you through this. *cue angelic music*

The difficulty is knowing what colors work well together and what light gel you need to reveal those colors. I know because I have done this already, that Red and Cyan will work and I will get a result that I am looking for…but let’s take this step by step instead of jumping ahead.

First: We’ll have to set up the new Illustrator (or Photoshop, it will work in either program) document. The cards that I was making were 3.5 in x 6 in, but for this guide we’ll make slightly larger cards – 5 x 8 – in CMYK mode at 300 ppi. Though we will be using additive color theory, the piece is still going to be printed (well, I printed these, so I’ll be in CMYK RGB will work but you won’t be seeing the same thing as I am.) Now we’ll have a little better idea about how the colors are going to look like printed.

1

Next, I’m going to create a text box that says what I want my viewer to read first. In lieu of coming up with something witty and interesting for the sake of being witty and interesting, I think I’m going to use a couple lines of lyrics. Let’s start with what’s playing in my headphones…or wait until something a little more interesting than the movie score of “Interstellar,” and has lyrics to type.

1-01-01

Sweet, some Maroon 5. I suggest using a bolder typeface. You’ll get some pretty rad shapes when we get through the next couple of steps. I am going to also have my text centered and aligned to the center of the card. I personally think centering it this way gives some nice shapes in the negative space. It’s also how I did my cards and I had a lot more content then some lyrics. Moving on….

After I set in the type, I went to get the highest value red that I could get, and since we are working in CMYK it was 100% Magenta and 100% Yellow. Boom. I’m ready to move on to the next lyric of whatever is playing in my headphones now. This text is going to be set to 100% Cyan.

cyantext-01

Prince. Also nice. A guilty pleasure I suppose, but it works! I should have mentioned I copied my original red block of text so I knew the leading, type size, and all that was similar. Then I changed the color. Then I moved my red layer back to ye-ol’center. Oh no! What’s this? I can’t see anything…AHHH!

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Is what one might say if they didn’t complete this tutorial.  Of course we can’t see what’s overlapping. The blending modes are normal and opacity is set to 100%. We need to fix that…Now I’m going to change the blending mode to multiply on the red layer. If you are in Illustrator and have a hard time finding the blending modes you have two (maybe three) options: 1) Click on Opacity in the top bar and click on the drop down. 2) Click on the Appearance panel (if you don’t see that, go to Window / Appearance). 3)There is no third option to my knowledge.  This will darken the overlapping areas and give the lighting gel information to complete the text..

no-opacity-01

So, this is a little hard to read the red text. My goal is to read the red text first, then apply the light gel to read the cyan text. I’m going to bring the opacity of the cyan down a bit until I get something that works.

opacity-01

I brought the opacity down to 45%, I think this works better. The red text can be read and the cyan cannot – for now. You might not want the text to be placed on top of each other. If you go back to my example, the text is offset a little from each other. That is more of a personal preference.

3-01-01

If you want to check out if the colors you selected have potential to work there are two options. 1. You can make a box and fill it with the color of the color you want to get rid of. In this example, we want to absorb the red and darken the cyan to make it legible. So I made a red box and set it to multiply (seen above). Option 2 is, if you’re like me and have a Roscolux Stage lighting gel swatch book, you can hold up different swatches to the screen and see what’s working. In this case it’s Rosco #26 Light Red.

Fun Facts with Phil: You can order the gels online, so I’m also sure you can get a swatch book online as well. So there’s that.

Here are a couple other color solutions:

phil-tut-5

phil-tut-6

Logo Design tutorial

How to Design an Iconic and Memorable Band Logo

Create a Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Part II

A bit of background information

Hello all! Simon, the Arsenal manager here. Today, I finally have time to release the 2nd part of the vector set 22 inspired poster tutorial Steve Knerem poster a while back.

<Fair warning> the post is fairly long (6000+ words), but I deemed it necessary to take the time to meticulously explain the process I went through to re-design this poster. For instance, I took the time to detail my research and mood-board steps, which are often overlooked in tutorials. I also detailed as much as possible my “trial and error” style approach to choosing typefaces, and to constructing typeface arrangements. If you are a seasoned veteran, these extra steps will definitely seem boring, if not frustrating. Just skip them!</fair warning>

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Poster preview

For those of you that haven’t been following, we released our 22nd vector set a few weeks ago. Steve Knerem, the artist behind the set’s content, decided to create a rockabilly themed poster to demonstrate the set’s potential. He then proceeded to write a tutorial about it. We said that we would expand a bit on Steve’s tutorial to bring his design to the next level, and to make it a tad more truthful to the rockabilly vibe.

What are we going to do?

First, we’ll be doing some research. There’s plenty to be learned from gig posters of the 1950s and 1960s, in terms of typefaces, composition, color palettes, etc. Our goal will be to identify some design elements and patterns from that era, and to improve Steve’s design based on them with the tools we have available now in the second decade of the XXIst century.

Second, we’ll see how we will recreate the patterns we’re seeing in our research to improve Steve’s original composition, while respecting his original concept. I’m anticipating mostly type work at this stage.

Finally, Steve’s original goal was to work towards a screen printed poster, hence his limited color palette and work primarily in Illustrator. I’m going to show you some of the techniques I use to texture and weather artwork, to make our clean and digital vector art look a tad more analog, and just like if you had pulled the poster out of your parents or grand parents’ attic after all these years. Sounds fun? Then let’s do this!

Research, research, research

Well, the easiest way to search for something these days is to google it. So I went ahead and researched using the following keywords:

Follow the links to see the results I encountered. I was hunting in the first couple links of the web search, as well as in the image search results.

Create a Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Part II - Reference research

Create a Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Part II - Reference research

Create a Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Part II - Reference research

There are already a few things that jump right to my face just by looking at these:

  • The vibe difference between the 3 styles (rockabilly, 50s, and 60s) is pretty strong
  • The rockabilly posters draw a lot on the Kustom culture
  • The crazy gig posters with a bunch of colors and eerie designs started more in the 60s. This probably comes from psychedelic rock starting to be mainstream,  printing techniques improving, and full color printing becoming cheaper
  • Condensed, bold or extra bold sans-serif are among the most readable typefaces
  • And Steve’s poster is even showing up in the search!

A look up-close

Let’s start with the rockabilly search. I ended up also exploring some of the links the web search turned up. There’s a pinterest board in particular called Rockabilly, Greaser, Pin Up, Posters & Art that was pretty rad. Just look at these:

Create a Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Part II - Reference research - Rockabilly  Create a Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Part II - Reference research - Rockabilly

While the Go Johnny go poster is cool, I prefer the Gene Vincent/Eddie Cochran one. This was a rather cheap poster to design and print: I count only 2 colors (black and red), and there’s no custom illustration. The eye gets attracted by the typeface relationships and color variations. One of the ways to add a few graphical elements is to use that star symbol. I see you coming already by saying that there are some other, way cooler looking other pieces on that page. There’s that Coney Island rockabilly festival poster, that Viva Las Vegas poster, and these 2 Social Distortion pieces. Well that’s the whole problem: a lot of the Rockabilly art that we see nowadays is contemporary art with a flair that’s inspired by the culture behind that music, the Kustom culture, etc. And the faithfulness of their emulation of the original design codes of the gig poster artists of the 1950s and 1960s varies greatly. That being said, looking at the typefaces they use, we can still see the affinity for either the hand painted sign type vibe, or the whole Sailor Jerry/tattoo vibe, or the condensed, cheaply printed, sans-serifs I was talking about earlier. Steve’s art matches the Sailor Jerry tattoo vibe pretty well, so that’s definitely a direction we can explore.

Go Media's Arsenal vector set 22 sample - Pinups Go Media's Arsenal vector set 22 sample - Tattoo Go Media's Arsenal vector set 22 sample - Tattoo

A look at the 1950s posters

Create a Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Part II - Reference research - 1950s Create a Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Part II - Reference research - 1950s Create a Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Part II - Reference research - 1950s Create a Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Part II - Reference research - 1950s Create a Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Part II - Reference research - 1950s Create a Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Part II - Reference research - 1950s Create a Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Part II - Reference research - 1950s Create a Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Part II - Reference research - 1950s

These have a bit more color, and feature performers portrait. The “vintage diner” style of type seems to come from there. Looks at the BB King or T-Bone Walker type treatments. There are frames and not-quite-accurately-square color rectangles used as supports for content blocks, among other little design elements that immediately make us associate these posters with that era (stars, horizontal dividers, etc.). More to keep in mind.

1960s posters

Create a Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Part II - Reference research - 1960s  Create a Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Part II - Reference research - 1960s  Create a Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Part II - Reference research - 1960s  Create a Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Part II - Reference research - 1960s  Jimi-hendrix-Miles-Davis-1971-Isle-of-Wight-LP-Promo-Poster-Type-Ad  beatles_tickets_poster

And here are the 60s! Enter the psychedelic scene… There’s also that cut paper look. These are getting away from the style we’re trying to emulate for sure.

Let’s recap

So, it looks like we’re trying to find a happy medium between the boxing style posters of the 1950s and the modern interpretation of the Rockabilly/Kustom/Sailor Jerry approach. We’ll pay a special attention to type, and might modify or add to the borders already put in place by Steve in his original art. Finally, we might give some hierarchy to thew type with some box elements or dividers. And let’s go!

First: the type elements

Here are the type pieces from Steve’s design:

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Original art detail

The title features a type midway between western and country. That’s the good part. The main issue I have with it are these pre-made grunge scratches on it.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Original art detail

The band names features some solid options (The Blue Storm, Hail Hail Hellstorm, maybe Jack is coughing), and some less solid ones (Home Grown Heroes, The Billies, Sound of Thunder, Young Turtles, 1950s Alive).

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Original art detail

The gig information space is written in that condensed slab serif. I like it, but maybe we can find a more fitting one. And here are type pieces from our references:

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – References details

I think it’s time to start looking at our typeface collection, at the Lost Type Co-op, and at Dafont.com. Working at Go Media as its perks, as they’ve accumulated a solid type library over the years. But since it’s not the case for everybody, let’s see what we can find before digging into the secret vault here.

The Lost Type Co-op

Lost Type has quite a few candidates: Mission Gothic, Dude, Mission Script, Sullivan, Bemio, Arvil Sans, Oil Can, Outage, Aldine Expanded, Duke, Onramp, and Tightrope. The cool thing is that you can get a personal license (and sometimes even a commercial one!) for these typefaces for free. But you should totally give a few $$$, as these are so amazing.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Typefaces options Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Typefaces options Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Typefaces options Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Typefaces options Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Typefaces options Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Typefaces options Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Typefaces options Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Typefaces options Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Typefaces options Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Typefaces options Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Typefaces options Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Typefaces options

(Images via Lost Type Co-op and its various contributors – © all rights reserved)

Dafont

Let’s be honest, Dafont is a place listing cool typefaces but also some very lame ones. That’s why I’m very wary of using that site anymore. But maybe just for today we can find some good surprises. Remember, not all of these are free! Most of these, in fact, are free for personal use only. You’ll need to get in touch with the font creator if you want to use them on a commercial basis. The two categories I focused my searches on are western and retro fonts. And I have quite a list there too. Anderson Four Feather Falls, Anti Hero, Laredo Trail, Pointedly Mad, Regulators, Alpenkreuzer, ARB-218 Big & BluntARB-66 Neon JUN-37, Franklin M54HFF Sultan of Swat, NPS Signage 1945, Phat Phreddy, Super Retro M54, and Tattoo Ink.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Typefaces options Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Typefaces options Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Typefaces options Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Typefaces options Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Typefaces options Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Typefaces options Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Typefaces options Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Typefaces options Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Typefaces options Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Typefaces options Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Typefaces options Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Typefaces options Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Typefaces options  Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Typefaces options

(Images via Dafont.com – © all rights reserved)

But aren’t we supposed to design something at some point?

Agreed! But at the same time, all that research process is necessary to make sure that you’re producing relevant concepts. A rockabilly poster wouldn’t look rockabilly with the Matrix typeface on it.

There, it starts

So, now that you have downloaded and installed all the typefaces, that you tracked down the file you created when following the first part of the tutorial, and created a mood board with all your references, let’s do this. I wrote earlier that I only wanted to improve on what Steve did. So the pinup, the car, the guitar, and the microphone are going to stay. They form the core of Steve’s composition, and while they’re not really looking like a vintage multi-act gig poster, I think their impact is undeniable. First step: track down your Ai file from the first tutorial, and save a copy with a name clearly labeling the fact that you’re going to alter your design. For example: if my first file was named gma-vector-set-22-rockabilly-poster-tutorial-c1r1.ai (Go Media’s Arsenal – Vector set 22 rockabilly poster tutorial – Concept 01, revision 01), my new file will be named something like: gma-vector-set-22-rockabilly-poster-tutorial-c1r2.ai. You get the idea.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – File naming

Now might also be a good time to clean out and to organize these layers, groups, etc. This will make your life so much easier in the long run, I promise.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Layer clean up

I mean, check this out: isn’t the sight on the right a bit more pleasant?

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Layer clean up

Also, since we’re going to move elements around, I can tell that having them properly labelled is super helpful to keep track of them. Also, I’d like to point our something in my newly organized file: I have created 3 layers: art, color palette, and type experimentation. Art could end up getting some sub-layers (which allows to add hierarchy without having to group elements together). Color palette is a layer that just features 5 squares, one of each of the colors we’re using. It’s super useful to quickly switch an element or series of elements to the same color, since even when the layer is locked you can still use the eye dropper on its elements.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Color palette layer Type experimentation is obviously where the fun is going to happen. Let’s tackle the title first, shall we?

The rockabilly throwdown

Let’s start by pointing out the typefaces we’re going to try from that bigger list of contenders we’ve assembled. I typically start by typing the text I’m trying to format in uppercase, lowercase, and in a mix of both to see what character combinations look like. I’ll also add the typeface name in there for you to follow. And make sure you’re on the right layer and that it’s unlocked.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Title type options

Once that’s done, we can start eliminating a bunch of these. It’s pretty clear to me that we should keep that western vibe in the title. Think about the Coney Island Rockabilly Festival poster vs. the Destination Unknown poster. The tattoo type looks great, but the sailor/pirate vibe is too strong and gets us away from the rockabilly feel in my opinion. Let’s weed out whatever doesn’t fit this declaration of intent.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Title type options refined

We still have too long of a list, but it’s better. Other than the obvious western typefaces, I’ve also kept Bemio (both regular and italic), because it has the retro vibe we’re after, and a very dynamic quality. Combining these two (italic for “the” and “throwdown,” regular for “rockabilly”) would be swell. Phat Phreddy has also that distinct retro feel, but it doesn’t seem to sit well with that restrained list. Phat Phreddy is then out. Anti Hero is sweet, but it has a “raw” hand drawn vibe that doesn’t match Steve’s clean and detailed hand drawn vector pinup. Out. Tightrope looks sweet, but feels like too much. Out. Regulators seems a bit plain. Out. Aldine is a tad too expanded, but I’ll leave it in to try. Pointedly Mad seems perfect (think of the Coney Island poster again). Dude is simply too much. Laredo Train seems a tad bland, like Regulators. Out. Anderson Four Feather Falls seems like a solid candidate too. This leaves us to the final four (well, five, but I’ll combine both Bemio styles together).

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Title type options, final four

It’s now time to create title treatments based on these typefaces. I used Steve’s as a base, as his was solid. I just didn’t like the typeface he chose. The other thing I’ve kept in mind is the treatment of “rockabilly” on the Coney Island poster. All of the work happens on the type exploration layer, and outside of the main canvas. I’ve also locked my art layer, just in case. I typed each word individually, and moved them around as needed. I’ve also used the effects arc lower and/or arc upper quite a few times (Effects > Warp > Arc upper/Arc lower – use a negative value for arc lower). The stars are just simple 5 point stars, straight out of the shape tool (radius 1: 25px, radius 2: 50px).

Don’t hesitate to heavily rely on your alignment palette to go faster, and to fine tune the overall feel by nudging the words and elements little bit by little bit. Finally, to make sure that my star groups would be well spaced all the time, I made a proficient use of blends (Object > Blend > Make and Object > Blend > Options). You can read more about the blend tool on Vector Tuts+ and on Bittbox.

The results

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Title type options, Bemio Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Title type options, Anderson four feather falls Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Title type options, Aldine expanded Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Title type options, Pointedly mad

Letting a little bit of time pass between these iteration and the moment of having to choose which one I will go ahead with is helpful. I realized along the design process that the Pointedly mad typeface is the one used on the Coney island festival poster. While I don’t want to recreate what the designer of that poster did, I’m currently more attracted by the iterations made with that typeface. There’s also one made with Anderson Four Feather Falls that could be a contender.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Title type options, final three

I’m going to tinker a tad more these 3:

  1. For the Pointedly mad option (left), I’ll make sure to visually center the stars, and that the spacing is consistent all around
  2. For the Anderson Four Feather Fall options (top and bottom right), I’ll make sure to
    • Mimic the layout of the Pointedly mad option (add a divider, change were the stars are, etc.)
    • Add a divider to the current layouts

Bemio alone wasn’t rockabilly enough. Mix it in with either Pointedly or Anderson, and you have a way stronger result. Aldine looks super rad, but it doesn’t nail the vibe right on the head. It’s somewhat there, but there’s a better option available.

Ah also, I’m going to quickly create a new layer and archive the unused type experiments there. I’m just selecting the type combos I don’t want, and cutting them (CTRL/CMD + X) and pasting them in front on the newly created layer (CTRL/CMD + F). Like that, they’ll stay at the same visual spot, but not on the same layer. Once that’s done, just lock and hide the layer.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Unused type options Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Unused type options

After playing a bit, I’m once again in front of quite a few variations on the same theme. My goal is to choose the final one out of the group (minus the final alignment adjustments and other touch ups). If I were to be designing this poster for a client, I’d have to be much more careful about how much I’m spending on just that text piece, in order not to blow the budget. Let’s have a look at the options I came up with.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Final title option 01 Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Final title option 02 Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Final title option 03 Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Final title option 04 Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Final title option 05 Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Final title option 06

While the choice is difficult, a winner seems to emerge. First, it looks like option based on a type combo have more impact. Exit for options 2, 4, and 5. The lines are way too thick in option 3. This leaves us with options 1 and 6. I wrote earlier that I didn’t want to recreate my Coney island poster reference, but it looks like my preference goes to the Pointedly mad/Bemio based option. Four feather just looks too complex with all the carved out shapes, and more “western” than rockabilly to me.

After a little bit of clean up (alignments, centering, expanding the typefaces to object, etc.), I have my final title element!

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Final title

And here’s a comparison with the concept I quickly jotted down:

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Final title - Comparison with concept

The concept is on top, the final at the bottom. You see that the spacing isn’t the same, the dividers are thicker and extend further, etc.

Time to remove the old title, and to put the new one in place:

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Title integration

Steve’s title (visible above my art board) used 2 colors (our green and our yellow), as well as outlines and shadows to stand out. Time to get some of that magic working.

Steve used a black shadow behind “rockabilly”, and multiple outlines on “throwdown.” Let’s see what a similar treatment would give. But before that, the first thing you want to do is to create a sub-layer on your Art layer, and to call it title. Then cut and paste your title object in front in that “title” sub-layer. It’ll make the editing much easier, as it will separate the title from the rest of the art. To create the sub-layer, just select your art layer, and click on the new sub-layer button. Label it properly, and place that title in there. We’ll that process of separating elements as we go through the edits, and we’ll have a wonderful layer structure at the end.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Title integration Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Title integration

Let’s start by doing the black shadow.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Title integration

Let’s have a look at the layer palette to understand how I created the effect (once again, please label your layers and groups!). I have 2 instances of “rockabilly” there, a yellow one and a black one. I simply copied (CTRL/CMD+C) and pasted in front (CTRL/CMD+F) to get my copy of it. I renamed the bottom one, switch its color to our black, and manually offset it with my arrow keys (6 taps down and 6 taps to the right to be exact).  I’m pretty happy with how it makes rockabilly stand out. Next up, the treatment of “throwdown.”

First, we want to switch the word to green. Then, if we look at Steve’s original treatment, there’s a red outline, then a white outline to be able to overlay “throwdown” over “rockabilly” and neutralize what would be a clashing color combo (the green of “throwdown,” the red outline, and the yellow and black of “rockabilly”). I’m not overlaying the words on each other, but for the sake of sticking to Steve’s layout, I’ll redo both outlines.

Let’s paste a copy of “throwdown” in front of itself. Switch the bottom copy to the red of the background, and relabel the layer properly. Then, let’s offset the path to accomplish the outline (Object > Path > Offset path). I used 0.1 inch as the value, and left my joins on “miter” to keep their sharp edges.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Title integration

Then, by using the pathfinder (the unite function, first option of the top row), I made sure to just keep the outlines of the letters. This simplifies a bit the paths the computer has to calculate.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Title integration

I followed the same process to get my white outline.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Title integration

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Title integration

And here’s our result, compared to Steve’s treatment:

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Title integration

Let’s be honest, it’s not great. We loose a lot of the dynamism of Steve’s angled words. And his multiple outlines were motivated by overlapping words, which we don’t have here. So I decided to experiment in a different direction. I selected my top, yellow copy of “rockabilly,” and applied a 4 point black stroke, aligned to the outside of the shape. This gives a lot more punch to the word.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Title integration

Since I liked the effect a lot, I went ahead and removed the outlines and switched back “throwdown” to yellow. I then gave it the same treatment.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Title integration

The result is nice, but slightly overpowering the rest of the title’s elements. Time to unify everything.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Title integration

Four points of stroke on the stars and on “the” was too much. Same of a 6 by 6 arrow taps offset. And the offset on my horizontal dividers was too much too.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Title integrationAfter tinkering, my final values are as follows: the offset on “the” and the star group is of 4 by 4 arrow taps. I have them configured to be of 0.1″ in Ai’s preferences. The stroke thickness I used on both is of 3 points. I nudged the stars a bit for a better visual alignment, and grouped my elements together for a cleaner layer hierarchy.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Title integration

And finally, I’ve decided to switch “throwdown” back to green instead of yellow. It’s closer to Steve’s original title treatment, and puts “rockabilly” forward.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Title integration

Taa-daa, we have our title in place. The reason why I’ve spent so much time detailing the process for the title is that it’ll be the foundation for the treatment of the rest of the text elements. We’re going to use similar values for offseting what will be offset, similar stroke values, and so on.

The date, time and place

These elements are secondary to the title in the original design.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Date and place

I’m going to make my version close to the original design, I’ll just be using Pointedly mad for the typeface instead. I might also change the layout of the words a tad.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Date and place

The layout and typefaces are very similar. I chose to make the date more preeminent than the town. I’ve also used resized stars taken from the title to space “USA”, it’s a cool little detail. In terms of sizes, I started with “August” written at 72 points, and “28” written at 144 points. The other sizes come from there. As you can see, I also gave the date and place their dedicated sub-layer. Time to place the date block in the poster.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Date and place

And here it is. This updated version takes a bit less room, which I don’t mind. Note the object organized in their sub layer, which you can lock (at least for now).

Featuring…

Time to tackle one of the most important piece of the puzzle, the band list.

I’m going to tap in the typeface list we got on Dafont and Lost Type, as most of these have the vintage qualities we’re looking for, and will probably fit better than the ones Steve used.

Here’s a side by side view of the current version of the list, and of my work-in-progress list. I just copied, pasted in front, and slide on the side the original one. I’ve also created the band list specific sub-layer.

Step one, the “Featuring” title. Like I wrote above, I’m going to take my cues from the main title type element. I used Pointedly mad, and went through the same duplication, outline adding, and offseting processes to get the type element. I then quickly unlocked my title sub-layer to steal one of the dividers over, and just switched its color to green rather than yellow. I resized it using my direct selection tool (A) to fit the width of our band list, and taa-daaa.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Band list

Time to tackle the band names themselves. I first started by switching the old list to gray, like that I can write the new version above and use the former as a guide.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Band list

Here’s my first complete draft. I’ve used Pointedly mad for Home Grown Heroes, Mission Script (Lost Type) for The Billies, Anti Hero for Jack is coughing, ARB-66 Neon JUN-37 for the Blue Storm, Bemio Italic (with a custom line height value)  for Hail Hail Hellstorm, Alpenkreuzer (center aligned, with a custom line height value, as well as a slightly bigger second line) for Sounds of Thunder, Aldine Expanded (with a custom line height value) for Young Turtles, and Sullivan Fill for 1950s Alive. Now, it’s time to remove the old list for good, and to clean up the alignments.

I know for a fact that this list is going to be aligned on the right edge of my poster. So I’m going to cleanly align to the right all of the band names that are on the right side of the list, make sure that the vertical distribution is a bit better, and manually place the names on the left of the list to make a visually compelling band name group. Finally, I’ll make sure that the divider under “Featuring” extends a bit more than all the way to the left of the list (cf. how the dividers of the title block extend).

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Band list

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Band list

Here’s my almost complete take on the band list. I’ve moved the name around a bit more, but as you can see, there’s still a weird gap at the bottom right. It looks like I’m going to have to add a band name to visually balance stuff out.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Band list

Let’s call them the Hot Rods. I’ll use that Oil Can typeface (Lost Type). I sized “Rods” bigger, centered the text, and used a custom line height value to make sure it looks not too spaced out.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Band list

Once you’re happy with the placement, it’s time to switch the text to outlines (make sure there are no spelling mistakes!), and to switch our brand new lineup for the evening with the old one.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Band list

And it’s pretty clear that we’re having a problem here. Not only is the list too close to the border on the right, but it’s also obliterating the guitar and the microphone on the left. One remedy: let’s take the size of the band names down a notch. I still want to keep the “Featuring” title and divider to the size they’re at right now, to match the main title better.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Band list

And voilà, we have a better fitting band list! There’s a little bit of room won at the bottom of the list, which is where I’ll be sticking the “Gates open at 9pm” information. To stay consistent with the original design, I wrote it in Pointedly mad. My type is sized at 42 points, with the kerning set on “optical” (like most of the text blocks throughout this poster). I also switched the “AM” mention to superscript on the character panel’s options. Time to also remove the old “gates open at (…),” and to move forward.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Band listA check-in point

Where are we at?

With this super long tutorial, it seemed a good idea to take a quick step back, and to see what else we are going to finalize. We’re so close to the end I can feel it, but there are still a few details here and there.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Band list

  1. Finalize and touch up the look and feel of the “tickets” text block
  2. Check if downsizing the pinup just a bit to give more breathing room to the title is a good idea
  3. Maybe move the “Gates open at 9AM” mention back where it originally was?
  4. Potential background simplification
  5. Potential borders touch-ups

Now that the road map is set, let’s go for the final stretch.

Tickets and other miscellaneous information

The main change I want to make happen here is the typeface. I haven’t used a slab serif at all in the design so far, and I think it feels a bit out of place. I might use Sullivan or Bemio from Lost Type to have a certain sense of unity. Sullivan appeals more to me at this stage, but we’ll see as I go.

Here’s my first draft. The type is Sullivan Fill, set in 24 points. The line height is set at 24 points as well. “Tickets” is set at 60 points.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Tickets and misc.Just to make sure, I made an alternate version in Bemio. You can see the Sullivan version in light gray underneath. Given the somewhat condensed nature of Sullivan, I think it’s a better fit given the space I have available. Bemio looks clean and good, but it would take so much more room.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Tickets and misc.So Sullivan it is. It’s also time to align my copy to the right, since these text blocks will be aligned in the same fashion than the bands list. I also did some minor adjustments to the pricing block. Let’s put this in place in the poster, and remember to switch the “Tickets” title to our yellow.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Tickets and misc.Well, just placing the new type above the old one made me realize than my potential layout correction for the pricing section will look too weird. Time to revert that.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Tickets and misc.Much better, isn’t it? Let’s align everything the way it’s supposed to be (location information on the bands list, the ticketing information on the “Ticket” word), and delete the old type.

I also made a minor alignment alteration for the ticketing information, as it seems to fit the contour of the car better than way.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Tickets and misc.I decided to also move the gate information back down. The colors are switched over. The ticket and miscellaneous information block is done!

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Tickets and misc.The pinup’s size

Next on our list is the pinup’s size issue. In its current state, I believe her head is a tad close to the title. That’s the only thing I want to act on: the width of the stroke around it, the colors, the placement of the halftones, all of these are good.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Pinup size

First, we need to select all of the pinups layers: the line art, the colors, and the outline. Thankfully for ourselves, we already grouped all of the elements together at the beginning. We can see that we included one of the halftone elements (bottom left, under the shoe) with the group.

I’m going to move the pinup on her own sub-layer, and un-group everything there, for better control. It’s just a game of cutting and pasting in front.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Pinup size

Once the pinup is in its own layer and the elements are un-grouped, we can have a better understanding of what needs to move and what can stay as is. I also managed to track down the halftone element as hidden in the outline group. I just slid it, out of there, on the main art layer for the time being.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Pinup size

What we want to do now is to select all of the pinup’s element, and to slowly size her down to leave something like half an inch of extra space. And sizing the pinup down by holding the SHIFT key and from the center top handle allows us to size the element down proportionally, while keeping it in a very similar spot. This avoids me to have to replace the pinup manually afterwards.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Pinup sizeWhen checking in closely, it also looks like the outline is sensibly similar to the other outlines in place (see around the car, the guitar, and the microphone). So we don’t even need to worry about adjusting it.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Pinup sizeLast little thing about the pinup: I used the same pathfinder technique than when creating the first version of the title’s outlines to clean up the shapes composing the pinup. The white shapes, once united, becomes a clean silhouette shape, rather than a shape made of multiple shapes.  Grouping the inner shapes of the same color also helps to clean things up.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Pinup size Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Pinup size Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Pinup size Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Pinup size

If you feel like it, and while you’re at it, why not applying the same cleanup process to the car, guitar, and microphone?

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Pinup size

Background cleanup and simplification

Steve’s background (shown here without any of the type or main illustrative elements) features a star burst, flames, and the borders. First, I’d like to clean up and organize my layers further. Then, it looks like we have to simplify this background, as we’ve added a color (the burst’s light red) to our original color palette, and this will explode the budget of the hypothetical project. Finally, I think we can touch up the borders to make them visually centered.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Background

Removal of the background burst

Select the burst shape, and hit delete on your keyboard. Done. Time to bust out the “That was easy” button.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – BackgroundRemoving the flames

We have a problem, and it’s the flames. They are also in the light red, and don’t fit there anyways since we removed the burst. Let’s remove them as well.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – BackgroundMore cleanup and organization

Now that the extra elements have been removed, we can organize our leftover visual ornaments into a sub-layer as well. I choose to create one for the borders, one for the halftones, and one for the pinstripes.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – BackgroundBorder fixes

The borders aren’t fuller centered, and it seems that some of the spacing could be enhanced as well (see my highlights below). I’m going to use my direct selection tool (A) and the alignment palette to make sure the yellow and white borders are horizontally centered, and to make the bottom gap between the white and yellow borders identical to the one side gap between.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – BackgroundWhile I was at it, I’ve also made sure to center and align the top yellow pinstripe and the wings.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – BackgroundTaa-daa, we have a fixed background!

Last overall touch ups

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Last stretchI’m pretty happy with the changes so far. Last but not least, the background still seems empty, or missing something. This is because we removed the burst and the flames. Elements like the halftones were arranged around these, and they left gaps.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Last stretchInstead of putting the burst back in place, I’m going to use the halftones already in the design, as well as some new ones, to “fill” the gaps. The trick for the new arrangement to fit is to keep a maximum dote size consistent with the dot sizes already in the design. Unless you start the halftones placement from scratch. Finally, some halftones elements  can be found through your symbol panel.

The button I’ve highlighted in red will give you access to an option menu. From there, navigate to Open symbol library > Dot pattern vector pack.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Last stretch Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Last stretch

I created a new sub-layer named “New halftones,” colored the old ones in gray (to keep them visible as a non-intrusive reference), and started placing my new ones.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Last stretchSymbols are super easy to place: just drag and drop them from the palette into your design. Here’s my first draft after tinkering a bit with placement and sizes. You can see which ones of the pack elements I’ve used in the layer palette. It’s time to turn the old ones off, and to switch the new ones to white.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Last stretch

Since these are symbols, we’ll have to expand them before we can change their color to white. Let’s do so by selecting them all, and going to Object > Expand.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Last stretch

And here are our white halftones.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Last stretch

I don’t think I’ve accomplished the consistency I’m looking for. The one I’m happy (in terms of scale particularly) with is the little one in the back of the pinup. Let’s see if we can reuse it to fill the other gaps.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Last stretch

I’m happier with this second attempt. I basically used Dot Pattern Vector Pack 12 multiple times, after grouping it. In order to not break the scale consistency, I only sized it up very cautiously (check the bottom left corner, under the left shoe). It’s time to shuffle our layers a wee bit to make sure that the halftone at the bottom left covers the void left were we hid the back of the car. I just created a “Halftones #2” sub-layer, and placed it above the car layer. I then proceeded to cut and paste in front the halftone that’s behind the shoe in that sub-layer.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Last stretchOnce that’s done, I moved my “borders” layer up, in order to have the border above the halftone. Time to delete the halftone that’s outside the limits of the borders. Just use your direct selection tool to select the part you don’t want, and hit delete on your keyboard to remove them.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Last stretch Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Last stretch Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Last stretch

It seemed clear that the gap between the yellow and white borders needed to be cleaned up as well, both from the halftone and from the outline of the pinup. To do so, I created two red rectangles that I placed high enough in my layer structure to be above the girl and the halftone, but not over the borders. I also made sure to size them properly to not go over the edge of the artboard, and gave them their own sub layer.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Last stretch Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Last stretch Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Last stretch

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Last stretchA bit more layer clean up, and we’re done! Delete the unused halftones, delete Steve’s old halftones, get the type explorations and color palette layers hidden and tucked underneath everything, and taa-daa, you’ve got yourselves a cleaner Rockabilly Throwdown poster.

Create an Iconic Rockabilly Poster With Vector Set 22 – Last stretch

What’s next?

The next step will be to take this design in Ps to add texture to it. Imagine yourself in your parents’ or grandparents’ attic, and finding it after all these years. We’ll manipulate paper textures, aging Ps actions, noise, stains, fake folds, etc.

Until it’s written, cheers!

6 Essentials to Setting Up Your Illustrator Documents

A quick thanks to Josh Bunts who suggested this post on Go Media’s Facebook page. Technically, he asked for advice on “…document set up and color pallets.” I thought I should expand the post to speak generally about all things Illustrator pre-work.

1. When setting up your document specs, keep the end in mind

When creating a new Illustrator document, the very first thing you’ll be confronted by is the New Document (profile) window that asks you a bunch of questions. The important thing here is that you know what you’re designing for. Are you designing a web page or a poster? Is your design going to be viewed mostly online or in printed form? Once you know the primary way that your design will be used, here are my recommendations:

Name

Duh.

New Document Profile

Adobe has been kind enough to create document spec cheat sheets. Instead of making all the following decisions on your own, you can simply select a common-use profile. But none of these seem ideal to me, so I suggest you set this to “custom.”

Number of Art Boards

If you will need multiple art boards of the same size, go ahead and select how many you’ll need. A common example of this would be a multi-page brochure, or multi-page website design. If you’re planning on laying out anything over 12 pages you might seriously consider switching over to InDesign which is better suited for large documents. If you are setting up a document that will require multiple art boards of different sizes, I wouldn’t worry too much about this here either. You’ll need to set up those art boards once you’re in the document.

Spacing

If you have multiple art boards Adobe wants to know how much space to put between them. Personally, I use lots of space around my art boards to put design elements I’m working with. So, I like at least 300pts (if not more.)

Columns

This is NOT column guides on your art boards, this is simply how Adobe arranges the art boards on your work area. This adjusts automatically based on the number of art boards. I typically leave this alone.

Size

Obviously, this is the size of the art board. Here’s what you need to know. If you’re designing for print and require a bleed, you can either add the bleed dimensions directly to the art board or you can add a bleed dimension, and Illustrator will include the art in the bleed area when it exports. However, if you “Save For Web,” then it will not include that bleed artwork. As with the New Document Profile, Adobe has kindly provided you with a list of common art board sizes.

Width and Height

Obviously, if you’re creating a custom art board size, this is where you put it in.

Units

Before I type in my custom art board size, I like to establish what units I’ll be working in. It’s just much easier for me to think of print dimensions in terms of inches and web dimensions in terms of pixels.

Orientation

The orientation is established by the width and height you enter in. But if you decide to flip it, this is an easy way to swap those dimensions.

Bleed

This is where you’ll enter in how much bleed you’ll need. For most printers this will be .125” (inches) on all four sides. Obviously, if you’re designing for the web you won’t need a bleed.

There is a little double-arrow to open the “Advanced” area, which I recommend.

Color Mode

This is probably one of the most important settings you’ll need to establish for your document. For print you’ll want CMYK. For web you’ll want RGB. If you’re doing something like branding where the design (a logo) will be used on both print and web, I would start with RGB. Of course, if you’re building someone a brand you’re going to need to establish RGB, CMYK and Pantone spot-colors for their company, but that’s another lesson.

Raster Effects

This is the resolution at which Illustrator will render its effects – things like drop shadows. Although technically you shouldn’t really need anything over 72dpi for the web, I always set this to 300dpi. I am just never sure when I might want to use part of a design for print or decide to blow-up a part of the design.

Preview Mode

Most of the time you’ll want to be in the default Illustrator view, but if you’re designing for the web and want to have a more realistic view of how your design will look once rasterized, the Pixel Preview Mode can be useful. There is also an overprint preview mode which, quite frankly, I never use and have a very difficult time imagining a scenario where you might need it, so I’ll skip trying to explain that in this article.

Align New Objects to Pixel Grid

If you’re designing for the web checking this off will force your vectors to align to the pixel grid. This helps keep your vectors pixel-perfect when they rasterize. Though you’ll also notice your objects snapping into locations that are not necessarily where you’re putting them.

2. Set up and save your preferred Workspace

When you’re working in Illustrator there are tons of tool panels (known as Windows) all over your screen. You probably know that you can open, close and move your tool Windows around, but did you know you can also save the way you arrange them? This is critical to my work flow. I know which windows I use most frequently, so I’ve systematically arranged them in just the right order. When you have your work space set up just how you like it click Window/Workspace/Save Workspace.

Then name it something like “Beachy_Print_Workspace.” You may find, as I did, that you’ll want to set up slightly different workspaces depending on the type of project you’re working on. Here is my default workspace set-up.

One item to take note of in my set-up here is that I’ve set up my own color swatch palette and called it Beachy. This is very easy to do. To set up your own custom color swatch palette just edit the normal swatches window until you have all the colors you like then open the drop-down menu and click Save Swatch Library as ASE…

The next time you create a new Illustrator document you will need to open your custom swatch palette by clicking Window/Swatch Libraries/User Defined.

You may also notice my Layers Window, which brings me to my next essential point:

3. Set up and use Layers!

Layers are one of the most important tools for managing your illustrator documents. It took me many years to grow an appreciation for Layers. But just like a computer, the wheel and fire – once you learn how to use them, you won’t imagine living without them. Here is a typical layer stack that I will create while working on a project. Sometimes I’ll get even more specific by setting up layers with names like “Header Art,” “Navigation” or “Footer.” Basically, any design element that I might want to design as a distinct unit can be put on its own layer. Then, as I work, I’m constantly locking and unlocking the layers. This allows me to easily manipulate the elements on the layer I’m working on without disturbing the elements on the other layers. You should really get into the habit of building well organized layers that have clear titles. I promise over your lifetime you will save yourself a lot of aggravation by making this a habit now.

4. Create a template.

You’ll notice that the top layer of my document is labeled “Template.” I always start by designing a template and locking the layer. I actually created tons of templates in advance and now I just open the appropriate template before I start each project. My templates for print projects look something like this: Solid black line for the exterior full-bleed area, then .125” inside of that I make a solid red line for the trimmed art area and finally, .25” inside of that I make a dashed black line for the “live area.”

When I’m working on web designs I typically start with a 960 grid template. You can download one here: 960.gs I normally expand the art board from 1020px wide to 1920px. I do this because I design all my web pages for a monitor that supports 1920px width. Sure, most people will never see the entire width of my designs. But if someone happens to have a monster monitor, I want their viewing experience to be as beautiful as possible. Of course, I keep all the live content within the 960 grid.

5. Link your photos

This little piece of advice doesn’t take place during the set-up, but will occur each time you place an image into your Illustrator file. Any time you place an image into Illustrator, you have two options. You can either embed the image or you can link it. Here is the Place window that will pop up when you go to add an image:

If you don’t check off this “Link” box, then Illustrator assumes you want to embed your image. When you embed an image it means that the photo’s data becomes part of the Illustrator file. When you link your images Illustrator does not embed the photo data. Instead, it just refers back to the photo file that is saved on your hard drive. Here are the reasons I believe linking is the right way to go versus embedding. First, it will keep your illustrator file sizes down. Second, when a photo is linked you can edit the photo outside of Illustrator and it will automatically update the image in Illustrator. Lastly, but most importantly, embedded images are known to corrupt Illustrator files. I’ve lost many Illustrator files because it had difficulty managing my embedded images. The only down side to linked images is that if you move your images on your hard drive, you’ll need to re-link them when you open your Illustrator file. But re-linking files, in my opinion, is a small burden when you consider the advantages.

6. When saving, uncheck “Create PDF Compatible File”

One of the great advantages of Illustrator over raster based software like Photoshop is the ability to keep your file sizes very small.  But for some reason Illustrator, by default, creates a PDF compatible file when you save it. This essentially bloats your file size to something similar to a raster file. While you may want to use this option when saving the final file that you give your client or send to a printer, you don’t need it for day-to-day saving. So long as you’re not done and don’t plan on trying to open the file in some alternative software, uncheck the Create PDF Compatible File option when saving.

So, that’s it – short and sweet. I hope these tips will help you when working in Adobe Illustrator. It’s certainly my favorite program and the more you use it, the more you’ll love it. I promise!

Do androids dream of electric sheep PSD breakdown

SAoS - Do androids dream of electric sheep? PSD breakdown header

Introduction

Hello dear Zine readers. Simon and Jon from Studio Ace of Spade here. Today, we’ll have the pleasure of walking you through the making of our entry for an old installment of The Fox Is Black’s Recovered Books contest.

SAoS - Do androids dream of electric sheep?

Our goal with this walk-through/PSD break down is to provide some insight on the concept behind the poster, and on the various techniques that helped during the execution phase of it.

Let’s be clear: we don’t think we’ll give you any magic recipe to create a cool poster, but rather a detailed look at what our workflow for this one was, and a look at some of our favorite techniques when manipulating images and blending them with type elements and textures. We hope you’ll be tempted to actually play with the various values we used in our level editings and filters as well as the different textures in the packs we used, in order to make this piece your own.

How it came to be

The contest on The Fox Is Black

Like we said earlier, what became this poster was an entry for The Fox Is Black’s Re-covered book contest.

The Fox Is Black, formerly Kitsune Noir, was started in April of 2007 as a way of sharing interesting ideas with likeminded people.

— From TFIB’s About page

The contest is quite simple. Bobby and his team of authors choose a book, provide some background inf, cover examples, and a deadline. Here’s some of the announcement post:

Well, it’s been a few months since our last Re-Covered Books contest, so I figured it was time we get back to creating some awesome work, don’t you think? I decided that I wanted to pick a book that was newer, something that could really inspire a lot of bold ideas and not be marred with clichés. Browsing through our library at the TFIB HQ I came across a copy of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, and realized that’s exactly what I was looking for.

It’s important to remember that this was the book that inspired Blade Runner, the emphasis here is on the word inspired. That means I don’t want to see any Harrison Ford looking guys on your covers, or anything that’s borrowed from Blade Runner. Try and use your imagination and come up with some crazy, sci-fi imagery.

And here are the examples of (beautiful) vintage covers he provided:

Do androids dream of electric sheep cover examples

Do androids dream of electric sheep cover examples

Having read excerpts of that book a long time ago and not seen Blade Runner yet, we quickly proceeded to do so in order to understand the difference between the 2. After some research, we also discovered a comic book version of the book, edited by Boom Comics!

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by BOOM Comics - All rights reserved

After all that research and armed with our best memories of sci-fi movies (from Metropolis to The Matrix), we felt like we could go ahead with conceptualizing a direction that would be ours, even if not totally unique.

Conceptualization

The title gave us the most obvious visual direction. There are androids, sheep, electricity, dreams that are mentioned. The story includes robots that are so close to look like humans that they might not be recognized by an untrained person. It’s also happening in a society devastated by a global nuclear war, and Earth is in a shape so bad that most of the people left to colonize the stars.

In short, we want robots, electronic elements (circuit boards…), sheep, and a gloomy atmosphere.

From there, we started to gather reference photos and some other visual to create something close to a mood board.

SAoS - Do androids dream of electric sheep? - Mood board

This mood board includes a WPA poster with 2 bighorns sheep, a 1890s photo of the National Galleries of Scotland of a sheep named MacGregor, one of Hannes Beer’s ADED project installment, a photo of sleeping sheep, and the Bighorn sheep print designed by Mark Weaver.

After the mood board, we embarked on a quick texture research, to find circuit board textures we could use. As usual, Caleb from Lost and Taken got us covered, with this pack of circuit board textures, published on WeGraphics.net. Bittbox also has a series of circuit board textures up, but we ended up not using them. We’ll explain why a bit later.

After some quick sketching on paper, it became clear that trying to draw a robot sheep wouldn’t work as efficiently as using a photo as the base of our poster. We did some posters including hand drawn elements before, but this one just didn’t seem to work. Instead, we decided to use the 1890 photo of MacGregor the sheep as the base element of our poster.

Once the base of the poster was determined, we also knew we wanted to have the circuit boards present in the image as well, probably overlayed on top of it. We also knew we had to have the author name and book title on it somewhere.

A lot of the things that happened during the execution of that cover/poster were happy accidents, as it often happens with an organic design process. This means one thing: EXPERIMENTATION IS KEY. It also means that what we sometimes consider as mistakes can actually be more interesting than the original direction you planned for.

With all that said, let’s dive in the execution part of this piece, shall we?

First, some useful resources

Most of these resources will be textures. It goes from paper to stone and other grunge elements. They come from all over the internets: Lost and Taken, Bittbox, DeviantArt, sxc.hu

The very first file you’ll need to get is the picture of MacGregor the sheep. Don’t forget to grab the biggest size available.

Let’s look at our layer palette to see what we used and what you’ll need to emulate it. First, the background.

SAoS - Do androids dream of electric sheep - Background layers detail

In here, we have, from top to bottom:

You’ll also see a color layer (in blue #6faab8), but more on this later.

The next set of resources will be useful for the global texturing process:

SAoS - Do androids dream of electric sheep - Global texturing layers detail

Here’s where to grab these ones:

Phew. That’s all the resources you’ll need in terms of textures. In addition to that, you’ll need the 2 aged effect actions, created by the good folks here at Go Media (Aged Effect One and Aged Effect Two).

Note: in order to save the actions, just do a right click on the links above, and choose “Save link as…”

Let’s make this piece

Step 1: creating a new document

Let’s remember that at first it’s supposed to become a book cover. So we could just go ahead and decide on a cover format based on one of the most common book sizes. Since we weren’t sure we’d make it through the contest and just in case we’d want to turn this into a print, we decided to design our submission as an 18×24 inches poster.

So let’s create a new 18×24 inches document in Ps. As you can see, our document will be in RGB mode since some of the filters we’ll be using in the final phases are available in RGB mode only.

SAoS - Do androids dream of electric sheep - Document specifications

Other than that, since we might end up getting this to print, don’t forget to put the resolution of your document to 300 ppi. We’ve also added guides, as they help us to structure the composition. On a 18″x24″ print, we have them typically set up at 1, 2, 9, 16 and 17 inches vertically, and 1, 2, 12, 22 and 23 inches horizontally. Then, you can also add some as needed.

SAoS - Do androids dream of electric sheep - Guide details

Note: you might want to create a similarly set up document in Ai, and leave it open in the background. We’ll use that one for creating the type elements a bit later.

Step 2: let’s place MacGregor

We could have started with the background texture buildup, but we wanted to make sure we’d place the main element of our poster without the distractions of background textures. We already knew that our type would mimic a typical book cover layout (title at the top, author at the bottom), so a somewhat off-centered placement for MacGregor was what made sense.

Drag the sheep image in your document.  Desaturate it, then, convert it to a smart object (right click on the layer).  This allows to keep “access” to the original file, even though you’re going to resize it and/or apply filters to it. Beware, this state has some limitations. Once it’s a smart object, place and resize it as you see fit.

SAoS - Do androids dream of electric sheep - Sheep placement

The image the National Galleries of Scotland are making available is fairly small. We’ll need to think about sharpening and other enhancements. In terms of sharpening, one method I like to use a lot is based on the high pass filter. It’s been explained very well on this blog by Oliver Barrett, so I won’t go over it too much in detail.

You’ll need to make a copy of your correctly placed sheep layer. Then, right click on the layer and rasterize it. Once it’s rasterized, apply the high pass filter. I used the highest value possible for the filter, 250, because the base image is so small. Switch the blending mode of the high-passed layer to soft light and play with the opacity to adjust the intensity of the effect. You can see I actually have my base layer (not high passed) on hard light, to let the color and background effects play through, then the high passed layers are set on soft light at 25% opacity. The second copy is here because I needed to make the sheep a bit more present once the background was done.

The background textures

Since we wanted to create a dark and digital mood but not fall into a Matrix style, we opted for an electric, kind of muted, blue as our base color: #6faab8. After that, we wanted to start with a paper grain and rusted metal background. As you’ll see, it evolved into something a bit different.

First, a layer filled with the base blue (#6faab8).

SAoS - Do androids dream of electric sheep - Background textures detail 01

Then, our first texture: Metallic Blue (2). Open it, drag it in your document and place it at the center. Resize it in order to cover the full extent of the canvas (or even to go beyond its limits). Then you want to desaturate it (CTRL/CMD+SHIFT+U) and adjust its levels (CTRL/CMD+L), to bring the details of the texture out. Then, sharpen it a couple time by using the sharpen filter found at filters > sharpen > sharpen. Just compare your original Metallic Blue (2) file with the one I have here. You’ll also notice that I placed the blending mode of this texture on Overlay @ 100% opacity.

SAoS - Do androids dream of electric sheep - Background textures detail 02

Now, by following a similar process, let’s build up all the other layers used for our background. Here, Metallic Blue (6) has been placed on Soft light @ 100% opacity, after being leveled and sharpened.

SAoS - Do androids dream of electric sheep - Background textures detail 03

bashocorpo_com__paper3 is bringing us the splatters we wanted. It also lightens the piece.

SAoS - Do androids dream of electric sheep - Background textures detail 04

VV_DirtyPaperPack_02 adds folds and other worn effects.

SAoS - Do androids dream of electric sheep - Background textures detail 05

VV_PaperDotsSingle is probably the texture that has the most impact throughout the piece. It’s what makes the final piece’s halftone effect so strong. Now that we have a chance to look back on this, maybe we would have put it on Soft light instead of Overlay, and also down to 50% opacity instead of 75%. Yet, as said before, it’s what brings most of the main feel to the piece. It’s bringing these great lines of worn folds.

SAoS - Do androids dream of electric sheep - Background textures detail 06

Scan-32 is part of the Vintage paper textures Vol. 1. We edited the levels to make it really dark (the black is at 125, the mid-tones at 0.5 and the white at 200). Using Linear burn as a blending mode brings a lot of dark back into the piece.

SAoS - Do androids dream of electric sheep - Background textures detail 07

Finally, ending up with the photocopy texture on Soft light @ 75% opacity helps to restore some light in the center zone, where MacGregor awaits some further treatment.

SAoS - Do androids dream of electric sheep - Background textures detail 08

This concludes the background. If you’ve read our tutorial/case study of our Lost and Taken poster on this very blog, you’ll see that the process to play with the textures and combine them together is pretty similar.

Adjustments to MacGregor

Once you turn back on the layers for MacGregor, this is what your piece should resemble. All the texture work of the background is hidden! So, instead of leaving your base sheep layer on normal @ 100% opacity, let’s switch it to hard light.

SAoS - Do androids dream of electric sheep - MacGregor layer details 01

The result of this blending mode switch lets the background show through pretty well. We’re definitely hitting the grunge vibe we wanted the piece to have.

SAoS - Do androids dream of electric sheep - MacGregor layer details 2

We’re not having much of a technological feel to this, but that’s where the global texturing process will play. For now, it’s time to create our type elements.

The type elements creation

As a rule of thumb, when working on a piece like this one where there aren’t too many type elements to manage, we like to create them in Ai. It offers more control on the type, and allows to adjust scaling at will before applying textures and other effects.

Here are the final elements we used in the piece.

SAoS - Do androids dream of electric sheep - Type elements details 01

You’ve probably all recognized Gotham. We decided to use it because it’s a really legible typeface, but also because it has that great vintage feel. Because of the overall dark piece, we wanted the type to be white. In order to make sure it would be legible, we included it within these black blocks that act as a separation between the busy texture of the piece and the type. Finally, the white rectangles help to structure the type elements a bit better.

SAoS - Do androids dream of electric sheep - Type elements detail 2

If you look closely at our type elements, you’ll notice they’re looking worn out. To achieve this effect, we’re using the roughen filter in Ai (Effect > Distort and Transform > Roughen). You can see the values we’ve used on the screenshot. We need to give credit here to Simon Walker (aka Super Furry) and to Dan Cassaro (aka Youngjerks) for the tips and tricks on how to use this filter. Simon did a great post over at Method & Craft detailing his use of it.

When placing our type back in the piece in Ps, we realized that white type in a black rectangle wasn’t that efficient. We then decided to invert the type elements to black text in white rectangles, which has much more visual impact.

SAoS - Do androids dream of electric sheep - Type elements detail 03

Once both type elements were placed, it was time to start adding texture to them.  Instead of adding another set of texture layers specifically to them, we decided to just place their blending mode on Soft light @ 100% opacity. When stacking copies of the layer, you’ll give it more opacity, with the textures below still playing through it. In our case, we stacked up 3 copies of the layer of each type block.

You’ll also notice a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer for both elements, and here’s the reason why. This is what happens without the adjustment layer:

SAoS - Do androids dream of electric sheep - Type elements details 05

The colors are just way too “hot”, too saturated by places. Sometimes, this can be a sought after effect. James White (aka Signalnoise) explained in his broadcast about his Dagger Woods poster that his really flashy colors are often obtained that way. But this time, we weren’t pursuing this route, so we added that adjustment layer, and turned the saturation down to -75.

SAoS - Do androids dream of electric sheep - Type elements details 04

Which gives us the following result:

SAoS - Do androids dream of electric sheep - Type elements details 05.01

Much more subtle. Also, remember we’re designing in RGB, and that when printing, these really bright colors don’t translate all that well (unless you add a spot color and work with some really talented pre-press guys).

The last thing we added to the type was a layer mask in which we pasted a grunge texture to add some extra grunge. Demonstration:

Without the grunged layer mask, this is what we get.

SAoS - Do androids dream of electric sheep - Type elements details 06

Here’s what the content of my layer mask looks like:

SAoS - Do androids dream of electric sheep - Type elements details 06.02

The texture was probably taken from this grungy lamp post texture pack from DesignInstruct, but we could be wrong. To paste a texture in a layer mask, it’s quite easy. Start by opening the texture you’re interested to use. Copy all its content (CTRL/CMD+A, CTRL/CMD+ C). Then go to your main document, and ALT+CLICK on the layer mask. You’ll be switched to see the content of the layer mask. You then just have to paste the texture you previously copied in there, adjust its placement, size and levels, maybe use the sharpen filter, and you’re all set. This technique allows to use elements than are bigger than brushed, which are limited to a 2500×2500 pixels size. And here’s the result of our manipulation:

SAoS - Do androids dream of electric sheep - Type elements details 06.01

Here’s a shot of the current state of our piece:

SAoS - Do androids dream of electric sheep - Type elements details 07

Now that the type is in place, it’s time to add some global textures on here.

Global texturing

This step is important, because it helps us to bring coherence to the piece by unifying all the elements together. The technique behind it is the same than when building the textures for the background, except this time you have to take the legibility of everything you have underneath into account. What’s the point of adding more to the composition if it takes your original work away?

Let’s start by adding something we’ve been talking about from the start, the circuit board textures.

We’ll start by using c_2_b, which comes from that WeGraphics free texture pack. We placed it vertically and made sure it would cover all the design. After the typical desaturation, sharpening and level editing, we switched its blending mode to Overlay @ 100% opacity.

SAoS - Do androids dream of electric sheep? - Global texturing 01

Thinking the effect wasn’t as strong as we wanted it to be, we duplicated the texture, which gave us the following result:

SAoS - Do androids dream of electric sheep? - Global texturing 02

We were happy with the added intensity. We just put the opacity of the copy a bit down to 75%.

If you looked well, you’ll see we have a layer mask on part of the board textures. The reason for that layer mask is to soften the board texture on the text blocks. Let’s look closer at our text without the layer mask:

SAoS - Do androids dream of electric sheep? - Global texturing 03

And now, here’s the text with the layer mask being active:

SAoS - Do androids dream of electric sheep? - Global texturing 04

It’s really subtle on the top part, more obvious on the credits, and helps quite a bit. The layer mask content consists of the text blocks surface filled with #d4d4d4 gray.

Next texture in line is one of the circuit board textures from Bittbox’s set. It’s on Soft light @ 100% opacity. It adds some really soft lines.

SAoS - Do androids dream of electric sheep? - Global texturing 05

Next, we have noise2_7 (or you can use the free sample, spot the link under the download button). It’s placed on Screen @ 50% opacity. Screen makes the black parts of the image transparent, which just leaves the white speckles and dust appearing. This ages your piece in a heart beat.

SAoS - Do androids dream of electric sheep? - Global texturing 06

For the same reason we duplicated the circuit board texture, we’ve duplicated that one too. The other thing we did to the duplicated layer is to rotate it 180°, to add some more visual variations.

Next texture in line, Old_Film_02. Placed on Soft light @ 50% opacity, it’ll had some soft hints of more dust and speckles.

SAoS - Do androids dream of electric sheep? - Global texturing 08

The next texture is taken from Lost and Taken’s subtle grunge textures. Placed on Soft light @ 100% opacity, it brings some brightness back in the piece.

SAoS - Do androids dream of electric sheep? - Global texturing 09

m. r. nelson’s texture_from_film_05 brings some of that film grain into the piece. Soft light @ 100% opacity.

SAoS - Do androids dream of electric sheep? - Global texturing 10

too_dusty, the film texture from Miss Alienation’s DeviantArt gallery, is yet another dust speckle texture. You’ll need to apply some pretty harsh levels to make the speckles come out. Place it on Soft light @ 50% opacity.

SAoS - Do androids dream of electric sheep? - Global texturing 11

Andre Meca’s splash texture adds another layer of subtle variations. Its blending mode should be Soft light at 50% opacity.

SAoS -  Do androids dream of electric sheep? - Global texturing 12

The tape border layer has been created using the various pieces of tape of the packs I listed above. If it’s too long and painful for you, you could also use these great brushes released by Chris Spooner. Combine your tape elements to create a frame that would go around the edge of the piece. Then, put the layer on overlay @ 100% opacity. Since we didn’t think it was creating a strong enough frame, we duplicated it and tuned down the opacity of the copy to 75%.

SAoS - Do androids dream of electric sheep? - Global texturing 13

SAoS - Do androids dream of electric sheep? - Global texturing 14

Phew. Almost done! Bear with me for the finishing touches, and you’ll have yourself a great finished product!

Finalizing the piece

So far, here’s what we have:

SAoS - Do androids dream of electric sheep? - Final steps 01

What we’ll do now is to gain time in the following steps. First, select the whole piece (CTRL/CMD+A) and then crop it (Image > crop). The reason we do that is to clear the file of the excess of texture that goes beyond the limits of the canvas. You don’t see them, but Ps does and it slows it down when applying filters and inflates your file size.

Once the cropping is done, let’s create a new layer that will include a merged copy of all the content of our piece so far. There’s a shortcut for this, it’s SHIFT+CTRL/CMD+ALT/OPTION+E. Once that’s done (and it can take a while, so go grab a warmer for your coffee mug), make 2 copies of that layer.

This is where the actions we’ve asked you to download will get useful. Get them loaded in Ps, and let’s play with them a little (Addicted to design wrote a quick how-to).

Run the first aging action on on the first copy of the comp layer. Here’s a preview of the result:

SAoS - Do android dream of electric sheep? - Final steps 02

The action effect is a really harsh, almost xerox like (but with color) rendition of the piece. Let’s switch that to Soft light @ 25% opacity, for a less aggressive result.

SAoS - Do android dream of electric sheep? - Final steps 03

Let’s turn back on the second copy of our comp and run the 2nd aging action on it:

SAoS - Do androids dream of electric sheep? - Final steps 04

For the same reasons as before, let’s switch this to Soft Light @ 25% opacity, and it’ll already look much better.

SAoS - Do androids dream of electric sheep? - Final steps 05

These 2 actions help to enhance the contrast, while still adding something of an aged look to the piece. Now the last piece, the halftone effect.

The halftone effect we use to finish most of the posters we do is greatly based on this tutorial written by Adam Levermore. Mad props to him. Let’s create another comp layer (once again, the shortcut for that is SHIFT+CTRL/CMD+ALT/OPTION+E). Once it’s done, rename it halftones and make it a smart object. Reset your color palette to black as your foreground color and white as the background color. We do this because your active foreground color will be used as the color of the dots of the halftone effect. Go to Filter > Sketch > Halftone pattern. Here’s what you should see:

SAoS - Do androids dream of electric sheep? - Final steps 06

The first thing you should go is head over to the zoom menu, and hit the “Fit in view” option. Now you’ll see what you’re doing. After that, we choose to emulate a pretty realistic halftone effect, with a minimum dot size of 5. We set the contrast at 15, like that it’s high enough to still show highlights and dark areas, but it’s also low enough for the brightest areas to how some of the halftone dots in them. Here’s the result:

SAoS - Do androids dream of electric sheep? - Final steps 07

Now, it’s time to use to our benefit some of the smart object status of our halftone layer. First, let’s change the blending mode of the actual halftone effect. Double click on that symbol, noted 1.. Then, in the drop-down menu (2.), choose Soft light @ 100%.

SAoS - Do androids dream of electric sheep? - The final steps 08

And then, finally, we can put the blending mode of the layer on lighten @ 50%.

SAoS - Do androids dream of electric sheep? - The final steps 09

Now, hit File > save! Save it as a PSB, as the final file is over the PSD file format size limit. Our file weighs a whopping 2.5+ Gb. And here you are, with a neat grunge, Do androids dream of electric sheep?-themed, poster.

SAoS - Do androids dream of electric sheep?

Conclusion

Thanks again for sticking with us to the end of this rather long tutorial. We hope we’ve given you some insight on how we do things. If you have questions, suggestions, love/hate messages, let’s get the discussion going in the comments! Also, if you want to follow the progress of the poster as we made it, you can check the stream of Dribbble rebounds associated with it.

Simon H. and Jon Savage, Studio Ace of Spade.

Art Files: Illustrator’s Missing ‘Collect for Output’

Plenty of designers out there do their design work not in InDesign, but in Illustrator. If you’re among those, you’ve no doubt been confounded by the lack of a “collect for output” feature in Illustrator. Enter Art Files from Code Line Software.

And be sure to read on for a special discount offer on Art Files for our Go Media ‘Zine readers.

Get it together

Art Files is a standalone program for Mac OS X that gives Illustrator users a “collect for output” or “package” feature, just like in InDesign.

Perhaps because Art Files was created for such a specific purpose, it’s dead simple to use and to figure out what it does. If you need software like Art Files, it does exactly what you want it to do.

After launching Art Files, you’ll be presented with a new document window. Here you drag the .ai files you want to process and Art Files goes to work immediately. All linked images and any fonts used in the .ai document are presented in an easy-to-read folder/subfolder structure. Color-coded symbols inform you of any errors.

Art Files will even scan for fonts in the placed EPS documents within your file. How cool is that?

What it does

Art Files is designed so that each document scanned can be saved as an .artfiles document, allowing you to run the scan again in the future without needing to go back an locate the original files. Very handy.

Another great feature is the slide-out Info panel, which gives you a visual preview of the placed files, as well as Finder file paths to the file, and buttons to open the placed file in the Finder or open them directly in Illustrator. Again, very handy.

When it comes to collecting your files, again Art Files is on top of things. You have the option to save the resulting Collection with a Notes file, very similar to InDesign’s “instructions.txt” file. The Notes text file can contain custom notes (and you can set up a default notes section in the preferences as well), contact info and a log of the collection process.

Again, as expected when you click “Collect”, you are prompted to choose a location for the Collection folder. Once Art Files is done collecting you files you have a nicely packaged Collection folder with subfolders containing your linked files and any fonts used in the document.

The right tool for the job

As with the rest of Code Line’s graphics software tools for Mac, Art files fills a niche and does it just as you’d want and expect it to. If you need a “collect for output” or “packaging” feature for your Adobe Illustrator files, look no further.

Code Line Software has generously created a special offer just for the ‘Zine readers — use this link to get Art Files for 10% off the full $49.95 license. Offer is good until the end of February 2010. And this offer is good for any Code Line bundle that contains Art Files, including multi-user licenses.

Code Line also has a video overviewing the features of Art Files:

Create A Vector Art Twitter Bird Character Icon In Adobe Illustrator

twitter-bird-final-preview

Twitter is quite a social media juggernaut as of late. It’s getting to the point that one has to have a Twitter account. And what good is a Twitter account without a link to it? And what better way to link to your Twitter account than with a cool blue bird character illustration? This tutorial will walk you through the steps from sketch to vector in creating an original cartoon-style character vector illustration.

I currently work in Adobe Illustrator CS4, but most of the steps here can be retro-fitted to earlier version of Adobe Illustrator — or to alternate vector art graphics software. This tutorial also assumes you have a working knowledge of Adobe Illustrator, the basics of creating vector paths using the pen tool, and the basic vector art tools. What follows is a walkthrough of a method to go about creating cartoon-style illustrations in vector art giving them a clean, yet hand-drawn look. Hold on to your Beziér curves, and let’s get started…