In this excellent tutorial at VectorTuts, you’ll learn how to easily create 3D springs in Adobe Illustrator using little more than a simple shape and the 3D Revolve Effect. The finished results look complex and time consuming, but the actual technique really isn’t at all. You may not have cause to create a spring in the near future, but the technique is quite handy to learn – you never know when you can apply it to something else you’re working on.
With simple shapes and gradients, this Adobe Illustrator tutorial will show you how to create an alarm clock icon. We’ll be using Illustrator CS4 for this tutorial, but those of you with older versions of Illustrator should be able to follow along as well. VectorTuts is a great site for Illustrator users to explore. Be sure to check out the community links section as well!
Layers Magazine has posted a great little tutorial for Adobe Illustrator users, showing you one way to create eye-catching text in a comic book style. The technique is simple and uses little more than the Free Transform tool, some strokes and the Pen tool.
Adding color to a grayscale image is a great effect that offers a lot of visual impact with little effort. Many digital cameras can actually do it automatically. But the results are often less than optimal. Lesa Snider at The Graphic Reporter wrote a brief tutorial a few years ago that illustrates this simple technique that creates a central point of interest in your image. The tutorial involves the use of layers and layer blending modes, as well as the brush tool. Once you master the effect doing it as described in the tutorial, you can move on to using Masks and Channels for more accurate results. One bit of advice though, less is more. In other words, pick and choose the areas of your image you want to draw attention to the most. Colorizing most of the image defeats the purpose of the effect entirely. In the sample image above, I probably would have left the hat, gloves and purse in grayscale, drawing more attention to the purse. But that’s just my opinion.
Reader Brian recently asked if there is a way to modify a Graphic Style in Adobe Illustrator once it’s already been created and applied to objects on the artboard, without creating a new style and relinking all your objects to the new style. The answer is yes, you can edit the attributes of a Graphic Style once it’s been applied to objects. In fact, it’s quite easy.
Selecting the Style
The first thing you need to do is click the style you wish to edit the attributes of in the Graphic Styles panel. Note: You’ll find it helpful to have both the Graphic Styles and the Appearance panels open at the same time. Now take a look at the Appearance panel. You will see the attributes listed of the Graphic Style you just selected, including fills, strokes, effects, etc. (see image at the right)
Now for the adjustments
Adjust the attributes of the style in the Appearance panel to your liking. For example, I’m going to change the green color of a Graphic Style I’ve applied to some objects to a blue color. As you can see in the image below, editing the Appearance of a Graphic Style is simple. Just select the attribute from the Appearance panel list and edit away. In this case, I clicked on the green fill icon which pops up the Color Picker. I then selected a blue color. As you can see in the image below, the preview of the Style at the top of the Appearance panel has updated to reflect the new fill color. At this point, we’re ready to apply the newly edited attributes to the existing Graphic Style. All you have to do is hold the Option key down and drag that little preview icon at the top of the Appearance panel to the preview icon of the style in the Graphic Styles panel and drop it on top of the style, in this case, the green style I had selected earlier. Note: It’s important that you hold the Option key down while you drop the icon. If you don’t, you’ll simply be creating a new Graphic Style, not updating the existing one. That’s it. All the objects on the page that had the original green Graphic Style applied to them should automatically update with the new blue colored Graphic Style we adjusted.
Whenever the need arises to make a natural element white or whiter (such as in portraits of people), it’s tempting to set the foreground color to white and reach for the brush tool. This works if applied with care, but it’s easier to achieve a more realistic effect using other Photoshop tools. Here, a small amount of whitening applied to the model’s teeth and eyes will lift the whole image. PhotoshopSupport has a quick tutorial on how to whiten the eyes and teeth of your subject in Photoshop.
When you’re working with Photoshop brushes such as corner shaped or otherwise directionally oriented, you can easily rotate the brush to fit your needs without manually rotating them with the Transform command. In the sample image above, I want to use a brush that was meant to be used in the lower right corner. But I want to use it in the upper right corner, so I need to rotate the brush. First, open the Brushes panel by going to Window>Brushes. When the panel pops up, select the brush you wish to use. Next, select Brush Tip Shape from the Brush Presets list on the left side. Finally, click the arrow on the crosshair icon in the lower right and drag it so the arrow points in the direction you wish to have the brush point. You can preview the brush direction change simply by moving your cursor over the canvas area – the brush outline will give you the visual feedback you need.
If you’ve ever tried to expand the size of a selection in Photoshop, you’ve no doubt come across a nasty result. Using the Expand Selection menu item results in the corners of a rectangular selection being rounded off. It’s quite frustrating. Creativetechs has the solution. Rather than choosing Select>Modify>Expand from the menu, choose Select>Transform Selection instead. Doing so will result in Photoshop’s normal transform box appearing around your selection. Now you can drag a corner to resize, or enter new values in the Options Bar to give you a new selection area with the squared-off corners you expect.
Top-notch Photoshop tutorials sites offer 30 beautiful illustration tutorials for Adobe Photoshop users. While you may not have the need to create a shiny green apple any time soon, the techniques used in all of these tutorials will surely give you a better grasp of what is possible.