In this week’s free Deke’s Techniques video, Deke McClelland shows you how to create a Spirograph-style pattern from a single, continuous path in Adobe Illustrator. Yes, it’s true, two weeks ago, Deke showed you a similar technique, but the fact is, although that project was legitimately a Spirograph-esque design, it was not a legitimate unbrokenhypotrochoid. Those of you who may remember using a Spirograph know that the magic of it involved creating the design without ever lifting your pen from the paper. And Deke has discovered two ways to achieve that continuous line effect with Illustrator, which he demonstrates in this week’s episode:
The first step involves squishing a standard circle shape into this unassuming ellipse:
That ellipse is then duplicated 11 times using the Rotate tool to make copies, and each copy is turned 30 degrees from the previous copy’s opposite anchor point. Once the entire rotation is complete (and this is admittedly tedious), you can delete all the center anchor points and join the remaining half-ellipses to make a single path. After converting all the outer points to smooth points, you’re left with this regulation hypotrochoid:
The second approach Deke demonstrates in the video also starts with an ellipse. But in this case, rather than duplicating whole ellipses and then efficiently cutting half of them away, Deke creates an open shape (like a lowercase cursive letter l) by cutting the shape open with the Scissors tool, then slightly rotating half of it:
Once you have this open shape, it can be duplicated and rotated using Transform Effect:
With either approach, there are a few fine tuning tweaks needed to perfect the shape, which Deke demonstrates in the video. In the end, you can combine the two shapes and apply the Multiply blend mode to mix the ink colors for a nostalgic, single-path Spirograph-like piece of artwork.
For members of lynda.com, Deke also has a third approach for this kind of effect called Scaling circles into complex patterns, where he shows you how to use the Scale tool to make very intricate, lace-like designs.
Deke will be back next week with another free technique!
For his sample file, Deke uses a scanned pencil-sketched comic strip reminiscent of art he drew in his youth:
The first step is to get rid of some color effects that were created during the scanning process. Because this unwanted color is living in the Blue channel, Deke uses the Photoshop Channel Mixer to reduce the effects by mixing in greater values of the Red and Green channels. This process also creates an opportunity for Deke to darken the outlines of his characters.
Next, he strengthens the black outlines with a Levels adjustment:
Then Deke applies the Despeckle filter to help reduce the noisy edges around the drawing caused by the JPEG compression, and creates a white rectangle to cover the edge of the drawing paper that reveals where the scanned paper ends and the scanner itself starts.
One advantage of drawing digitally is the ability to reconsider details. Before taking the time to redraw the cartoon with pencil, Deke brushes white around the eyes of his square character, who he’s affectionately named Jello, so he can redraw the eyes digitally.
After switching his brush color to black, Deke redraws a more refined expression of gelatinous rage and reconstructs the side of Jello’s face that got cut off by the scan:
In the end, you get all the benefits of drawing in the real world, and refining in the digital one. To see every nuance and detail of the process, check out the movie Turning a pencil sketch into digital ink at the top of this post, or on lynda.com.
For members of lynda.com, Deke also has a member-exclusive movie this week called Adding a graph-paper background, where he shows you how to give your digitally inked characters a unique background.
In this week’s free InDesign Secrets episode, Anne-Marie Concepción shows you how to wrap your text around the contours of an image object. In Anne-Marie’s example, she creates a custom text wrap by instructing Adobe InDesign to wrap around the object shape, which in her case is defined by a mask that’s part of a placed image. Once you’ve established the text wrap boundary, you can actually manipulate it as you would any vector shape: add anchor points with the Pen tool, move the control handles, and generally follow the lines of your graphic element as closely as you want.
The technique that Anne-Marie demonstrates can be used for any placed graphic. For instance, let’s say I had the text below placed next to this stylized lightbulb:
As Anne-Marie demonstrates, using the Text Wrap option called Wrap Around Object Shape, I can create a boundary for the wrapping effect that’s independent from the graphic’s bounding box. Because my lightbulb is sitting on a transparent background, InDesign can see the contours and I can reshape the green text wrap boundary so the words wrap around the curves of the lightbulb exactly as I wish:
Here’s the final result:
Check out the video above or on lynda.com to learn more about the details and nuances of using the Wrap Around Object Shape feature.
In this week’s free episode of Deke’s Techniques, Deke shows you how to take any font you like and give it a carved, sculpted, or engraved effect.
As Deke points out in the video, some fonts already have an engraved, or sculpted effect built in, like Imprint Shadow for instance:
You don’t have to rely on a font to come with this effect though. You can create your own built-up, carved effect using any font you have available, Adobe Illustrator, and a host of Transform and Offset effects applied systematically to a collection of strokes and fills. Take this type from last week’s project, which is set in the classic 1910 typeface Hobo, for instance:
In the video, you’ll see how Deke transforms flat letters into sculpted, almost molded, letters by duplicating the stroke and resizing, moving, and changing its colors to create shadows and the illusion of highlights. In the finished font below, you can also see he’s applied a similar treatment to the stars, which he demonstrates with another set of effects in this week’s video. Note the number of effects applied to the multiple strokes in the Appearance panel. These are all just mutated duplicates of the original stroke (in other words, no drawing involved):
The result, when combined with last week’s Spirograph-style embellishment, is this striking logo that—dare I say—really pops.
Deke will be back with another new technique next week!
In this week’s free Deke’s Techniques episode, Deke McClelland uses Adobe Illustrator to recreate the classic Spirograph toy effect. Rather than watching this work take shape with a pen stuck into a plastic gear, Deke shows you how to grow your Spirograph shape with the simple application of dynamic transformations viewable in the Illustrator Appearance panel. In fact, all you have to do for this effect is draw one single circle in Illustrator, then duplicate and transform your circle’s stroke to create the hypotrochoidic shape. (Deke’s Techniques, bringing you great graphic techniques and free vocabulary expander words!)
As you can see in the video above, Deke begins this technique by selecting the central circle in a simple circular logo design:
By simply selecting that circle, using the Transform command to make the circle an ellipse, and duplicating the ellipse over and over with variations, a familiar Spirograph pattern begins to quickly take shape. You can see from my Appearance panel screen capture below that this effect is the result of multiple transformations.
In the end, the skeletal logo we started with becomes the intricate, refined logo we see below, complete with outer circle, thin edge around the inner circle, and intertwining ellipses in the center created by transforming the original outer circle.
Even if you’re new to Illustrator and not particularly gifted at drawing, you can achieve this technique with some concentration and Deke’s advice. (And if you are new to Illustrator, this is also a good lesson on how to use the Transform effect.)
For members of lynda.com, Deke also has an exclusive movie in our library this week, called Tracing scalloped gear teeth around a circle, in which he dynamically adds gear-like teeth to the outer circle of our example logo using a similar type of dynamic Illustrator approach.
Deke will be back with another free technique next week.
In this week’s InDesign Secrets episode, David Blatner shows you how to use the free IndyFont script to create one custom font character that you can use to create a custom bullet. There is also a commercial version of the IndyFont script that allows you to make complete fonts, but for our purposes today, we only need the free version that lets you make a single bullet character.
If you want to get right to watching the technique, here’s David explaining the process, video style:
If you prefer a step-by-step visual walk-through of this technique, here’s how it’s done:
Part one:Downloading and installing the IndyFont script
Installing a script isn’t as daunting as it might sound. First, and perhaps most obvious, you’ll need to download the script, which you can do by clicking here to automatically download the .zip file, or by visiting indiscripts.com.
After the file is unzipped, installing the script simply requires dragging it to the correct folder. To discover where that folder is, open the Scripts panel in InDesign (Window > Utilities > Scripts), then right-click on the User folder and choose Reveal in Finder (or Reveal in Explorer if you’re working in Windows).
Next, open up the Scripts Panel folder and drag the script file, indyfont_demo.jsxbin, from your Downloads folder, or wherever you downloaded and unzipped it, and put it into your Scripts panel.
There’s no need to restart InDesign or perform any other acrobatics, just return to InDesign to find the script visible in the panel.
Part two: Pasting in your vector art
Next, you’ll need a piece of vector art to turn into your new character. You’ll want it to be fairly substantive and black. I thought it would be fun to use my personal light bulb doodle, a little graphic that I draw in my notebook margin when I want to mark an idea. Here’s the vector-based version of the light bulb:
Note: IndyFont requires that the vector art be defined in black. (Possibly, I learned this the hard way. )
To turn this graphic into a bullet character, double-click on the IndyFont script in the Scripts panel. In the Create font template dialog box, enter the name of your new font. (Don’t worry, it’s still a font, even if there’s only one character.) The /bullet in the Character field indicates that your graphic is going to become the default bullet character.
IndyFont will automatically create a new InDesign file. (One of the beauties of IndyFont is that you get to work primarily in InDesign; the weird thing is that it’s not particularly intuitive.) On the second page of that new file, there’s a place to paste your vector art. The red line represents the text baseline, and the green vertical line can be moved left and right to accommodate your artwork. It’s important that your artwork is placed between the two vertical green lines.
Run the script again and you’ll be asked where you want to save your font. In this case, go with the default InDesign Fonts and click OK.
Part three: Applying your new single-character font
When you return to InDesign, your new character will be available in any place a standard character would be. So in David’s example, he sets his new character up as a custom bullet. So let’s say I started with this boring list of our most recent InDesign weekly ideas:
To customize the bullets in your list, first Alt-click on the bulleted list icon in the options bar.
Then, in the Bullets and Numbering section of the Paragraph Style Options dialog box, click the Add button.
Then in the Add Bullets dialog box, navigate to your new character. It will be in the Font Family called IF (for IndyFont) and it will be named whatever name you gave it (I named my light bulb bulbosaur). Since you only created one IndyFont character, it will be the only character you see.
Click OK twice to back out of the two dialog boxes, and voilà, your boring bullet has become your interesting new character. If you’ve applied a paragraph style (in this case, I’ve turned my light bulbs a nice lynda Yellow), you can update all the bullets at once:
In this week’s free Deke’s Techniques, Deke uses Adobe Photoshop to create the effect of hand-carved letters in a wooden sign. I don’t mean embossing typed-out text into a wood background, but rather, making hand-drawn letters look like they were manually carved into an old wooden sign many years ago and weathered over time. To create this effect, Deke uses the fairly uncommon Dissolve blend mode. While Dissolve is seldom used, for this particular effect it provides the gritty, worn edges we’re looking for. If you want to watch the video right now, here’s the episode:
If you prefer a step-by-step visual walk-through of this technique, here’s how it’s done:
Starting with an old wooden sign masked against an appropriately desolate background, Deke begins his technique by hand-drawing some white letters on to their own layer using a Wacom tablet.
The next step is to make the letters soft and more or less invisible. Deke starts by setting the fill Opacity to 0% in the Layers panel so that the writing disappears. Next, he brings back the edges of the now invisible letters by applying a white drop shadow. To do this, click the fx icon at the bottom of the Layers panel to bring up the Layer Style dialog box. Within the dialog box, set the color of your drop shadow to white, the Opacity to 100%, and the blend mode to Normal. In order to ensure the original characters don’t cut holes in the drop shadow (which will become the basis for the letters from this point on), Deke unchecks the Layer Knocks Out Drop Shadow check box in order to see the shadow all by itself (minus the actual letters that informed it).
In order to get the dithered-edge effect that will simulate carved, weathered wood, Deke applies the seldom-used (and, in truth, seldom-useful) Dissolve blend mode to the drop shadow. Although Dissolve is problematic in most situations, for this technique it works well. Setting a Distance value of 0 and Size value of 10 creates noisy, ratty edges.
The next step is to turn the letters into a layer mask, so that you can ultimately make a selection that includes both the shape of the letters and the effects you’ve applied. Deke starts by creating an adjustment layer beneath the Go Away character layer that’s filled with black. To do this, click the layer with your sign image to make it active, and then click the black-and-white circle icon to bring up the fill/adjustment layer pop-up menu at the bottom of the Layers panel. Choose Solid Color from the pop-up menu, and set the color to black. Next, go to the Channels panel and grab the white letters off the black background by Command-clicking (or Ctrl-clicking on a PC) the RGB channel option to automatically select the white characters, and deselect the black background.
Once Deke has the selection he wants with all its great noise-infused edges, he turns off the original Go Away character layer and black background layer and duplicates the sign image layer to serve as a base for where he’ll create the carved letters. Since, in its original incarnation, the sign layer once served to mask the sign against the background, you’ll see the duplicate you made of the sign layer also has a layer mask that is no longer needed (or wanted). Right-clicking on the layer mask and choosing Delete Layer Mask from the contextual menu gets rid of your layer mask and puts you in a position to add a Go Away–shaped layer mask to the new sign layer. Clicking the Add Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers panel will create that mask based on the currently loaded selection.
Because the letters are filled with the sign and they are set against the very same sign, they’re invisible ghostly placeholders until Deke applies some layer effects. First, the carving gets burned into the sign by applying an Inner Shadow effect. After clicking the fx icon at the bottom of the Layers panel and choosing Inner Shadow, he sets the color to a dark brown (Hue: 30, Saturation: 100, Brightness: 25), sets the blend mode to Linear Burn, sets the Opacity to 50%, the Distance to 15 pixels, and the Size to 25 pixels.
To add some differentiation around the outline of the letters, Deke next adds an Outer Glow layer style. Since the Layer Style dialog box is already open, he can just click Outer Glow from the left-hand list. After setting the color to the same dark brown used for the inner shadow (Hue: 30, Saturation: 100, Brightness: 25), he changes the blend mode to Linear Burn again, sets the Opacity at 55%, and the sets the Size to 2 pixels.
Finally, Deke applies color to the inside of the carving by clicking Color Overlay from the left-hand list within the still-open Layer Style dialog box. Using a color of Hue: 30, Saturation: 75, Brightness: 35; a blend mode of Hard Light; and an Opacity of 40%, he fills the Go Away letter area with a rich dark brown. Clicking OK at this point applies all three layer effects.
In order to give the carved area an appropriate sense of depth, Deke moves the wood grain inside the letters down by unlinking the image from its mask (click on the chain-link icon between the sign image and Go Away layer-mask thumbnails) and nudging the sign image down five pixels. You can do this by clicking on the thumbnail with the sign image to make it active; then, holding down the Command key (or Ctrl key on a PC), press the down arrow button five times.
Finally, to turn the stray pixels around the outlines of the letters into little bits of Photoshop-simulated wood grain, Deke applies a bit of motion blur. Clicking the Go Away layer-mask thumbnail to ensure he’s only applying the blur to the mask, Deke chooses Filter > Blur > Motion Blur, sets the Angle to -3 (to match the direction of the wood grain), and a sets a Distance of 5 pixels.
To compensate for the softness created by the blur, Deke lastly applies a bit of sharpening by selecting Filter > Sharpen > Smart Sharpen, then setting the Amount to 100, the Radius to 1, and the Remove setting to Lens Blur.
And here is the final effect:
You can see this entire technique in detailed action, including on-the-fly tips and insights from Deke, in the video above, or by navigating to video number 160 on the lynda.com Deke’s Techniques series page. Please let me know in the comments if you like this expanded combination of text instruction alongside video, and if you find it helpful.
And, of course, since we don’t want you to really go away, Deke will be back with another technique next week.
In this week’s free Deke’s Techniques episode, Deke shows how to clone yourself with Photoshop, so that you’ll never be lonely again and always have someone else to do the laundry. Well actually, he creates a composite image featuring clones of his friend and lynda.com director Jacob Cunningham. But you could use the advice Deke shares here to have a full on party, concert, or company meeting with yourself.
Despite the name of this episode, there is not a single pass of the clone stamp tool in sight. Rather, working with a dozen separate images in different poses that Jacob shot of himself, Deke shows you how to mask all the Jacobs into one realistic scene (well, as realistic as one guy having a fight with himself, breaking up the fight with himself, and having nine other himselves looking on can be).
Each additional version of Jacob needs to be carefully masked into place. Deke uses an entire arsenal of Photoshop tools, from a simple rectangular marquee, to a deftly placed gradient mask, to meticulous hand painting. In the video, he considers each new addition to the composite, then troubleshoots the new challenges that each shot presents. Adding all these images together, he eventually arrives at this wonderful festival of Jacobs:
For members of lynda.com, Deke has an exclusive movie this week in which he shows how to light this scene consistently and have the characters cast shadows on one another.
Deke will be back next week with another free technique.