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Exercise 4: Drawing from Photographs

This exercise will teach you how to produce results like the image below:

Working in Layers
Adding Elements
Using a Clipping Mask
Saving and Exporting

You will be using the file screen.ai, tree.ai, africa.ai and women.jpg in the below exercise.

Working in Layers

1. Open the file screen.ai from the Adobe Illustrator images file provided.

2. Look at the Layers Palette. If it isn't already visible, make it visible by choosing Windows/Layers.

3. Notice there are many layers to this drawing. The bottom layer, called Layer 1, is the base layer I traced to get the image shown above. Working in layers, I built up the elements of the scene. One of the most important things to do when you begin to trace an image, is to put it on its own layer and lock the layer.

Lock the layer by selecting the box next to the eye (for visibility) in the Layer palette. A lock sign will appear. This prohibits accidental moving or shifting of the base layer containing the image to be traced.

4. Next, create a background on the next layer up. The bright background will help you to see all the things you draw on top of the base layer. If your original base layer is dark like mine, a neutral background or bright background layer will help you to clearly see the tracing lines.

Create a new layer by selecting Layer 1, then the top right arrow from the Layers Palette/ New Layer, name it and press ok. The new layer appears just above Layer 1.

Draw a Rectangle covering the entire background layer by choosing the shape in the Tools palette, 4th button on the right. Give the rectangle a color, then turn the layer off by clicking the eye in the Layer palette. This layer will come back on shortly.

5. Select the layer called red_bldg. With this layer on, turn Layer 1 on and off. You will see the following:

Each layer is a traced portion of the drawing, starting with the object the furthest away. Move up to layer orange bldg turn it on. Move up to layer red facade, side, and store front turn these on. You can see the image building with each layer turned on.

6. Begin a new layer and trace a building using Layer 1 as a guide. Use the pen tool, 3rd tool down in the Tools palette. Left click to make a point, then move and click to make another point. Don't forget to close the line. If you prefer, you can select a building already drawn and use the Direct Selection Tool, the white arrow to select points and modify them.

7. Turn on my Layer 23 or your layer with the rectangle you drew in step 4. You will notice that it blocks out the base layer, Layer 1, and shows you only what you have drawn. Refer to it often after tracing to ensure the drawing is coming along as expected. If you did not place the color background just above Layer 1, drag it to the appropriate position.

When I select the layer, my arrow mouse pointer turns into a hand. When I drag the layer to the appropriate place, I see double lines like that highlighted in the orange box above right. Release the mouse letting the layer be placed in this location.

8. Continue to build the layers by tracing each element into a separate layer.

Adding Elements

9. When you are finished with the buildings, create a new layer at the top of the layer list and choose File/ Place tree.psd into the drawing. A tree with a gradient white to green should appear in the drawing. Choose Edit/ Copy, Edit/Paste to create as many trees as desired. Place them appropriately.

10. The symbols.ai file contains elements you can drag and drop into the drawing. In the drawing below, I added a stop sign and man walking from the symbols file. I created a turning arrow under the stop sign and changed the color of the dirt under the trees and added leaves to the drawing. You are limitless in how you can enhance the screen.ai file.


Using A Clipping Mask

A clipping mask is crops part of the artwork so that only a portion of the artwork appears through the shape or shapes. The next exercise will show you how to "cut out" the shape of Africa from a photograph. You will work to create the image below:

1. Open africa.ai from the Adobe Illustrator images file provided.

2. There are 3 layers: the background, the map of Africa, and the inset of a portion of Africa. Make a duplicate copy of the big map of Africa by selecting the map of Africa, choosing the arrow in the top right of the Layer Palette, and selecting "Duplicate Africa." Turn off the original Africa layer.

There are now 2 layers containing Africa. Rename Copy of Africa to Clipping Mask. This is the layer we are going to create the large Africa with a photograph embedded in it.

3. Choose File/Place to import the photograph women.jpg into the Clipping Mask layer. The image appears but it is way too large. Select it and choose Object/Arrange/Send to Back. The photograph should pop behind Africa. Size it by dragging the corners and holding shift at the same time so that it is comfortably larger than Africa.

4. The space where Africa covers the photograph is where the image will be clipped. Move the photograph to the desired location so that all of the photograph is covered by Africa, and place on of the women completely within the African frame (see below).

5. It is extremely important the photograph of the women and the duplicate copy of Africa are on the same layer. The shape needs to be above what you want to mask, in this case, Africa needs to be on the same layer as the photograph and above the photograph. To create the clipping mask, select both the Africa and the photograph, choose Object/Clipping Mask/Make. You will now see the photograph through the frame of Africa.

6. By default, the Clipping Mask assumes no fill or stroke around the edges. Turn on the original Africa layer and move it above the Clipping Mask layer. Remove the green fill and color the outline stoke.

Add or remove a stroke by selecting the box that is empty within the color palette.




7. Select the small portion of Africa on the Africa layer that remains solid. (The small blue portion in the image below). Change its color to a shade of blue ( I used R: 0 G: 117 B: 187 ). You will need to use the Direct Selection Tool, the white arrow, to clean up the shape in order for the shape to completely fill the space within that region. In the following image, you see the region after the individual points were selected and stretched to fit within the region.

8. Select the layer, Inset and match the fill of the large circle to the small portion on the Africa map you just altered. Make sure you don't loose the stroke or outline. You will have to reselect the circle and remake a stroke. To add a drop shadow to the circle to give it some depth apart from the Africa map, choose Filter/Stylize/Drop Shadow. I used the default values.

Your image should appear very similar to the image shown at the beginning of this exercise. Change the orange background to a softer color and you have completed the Clipping Mask exercise. Keep the document open to complete the Saving and Exporting exercise.

Saving and Exporting

Save all of your original files in the Adobe Illustrator native format, *.ai. This enables you to alter layers within the image when necessary. However, you will want to export the image into a file format that is more suitable for Power Point, word processing and the web.

The most appropriate formats for the web, Power Point, and word processing documents is JPG (or JPEG), GIF, and PNG.

Adobe Illustrator allows you to do either of the two:

File/Export to export the image as a BMP or JPEG. For the best quality image, choose 10Maximum Quality and Resolution Depth High.

You can also choose File/Save or Web where you may view optimized version and choose between Gif, Jpeg, or PNG 24.

You will notice that our image is wider than it should be, it appears we have more room on the left than is needed. This is caused by the clipping mask we created of Africa. Illustrator does not recognize that we do not wish to include the extra space as a part of the final image.

1. Create a new layer at the top of the document. In that layer, draw a rectangle over all the artwork which will act like a clipping mask, printing only the artwork directly underneath the rectangle.

2. Select the rectangle you just drew, choose Object/Crop Marks/ Make. Your image will now be cropped and you will see cross hairs coming out of the corners of the document.

3. Choose File/Save for Web. The extra room from the left is now gone.

The rule of thumb for image types:

GIF: Choose gif for line art, like that which you create in Illustrator.

JPEG: Only use JPEG for photography

PNG: If the background is transparent or if you have a combination of photography and line art.

4. I saved the image in each of the 3 formats with the best quality settings selected. In this case, gif seems to loose the color depth while JPEG is good and PNG is best becauseit has a little more vibrancy than the JPEG.

GIF: Color in photo is a little flat JPG: Good PNG: Best

You are ready to Create a Presentation Board. Continue to Exercise5.