Saturday, 23 August 2014

learn: Using hand-rendered patterns into Adobe Illustrator with Tania McCartney


I have quite the obsession with both gorgeous backgrounds/pattern, and mixed-media picture books. The book I'm working on at the moment incorporates these elements and I thought I'd show you how to create your own special images, using both hand-rendered and digital images.

First, create a document in AI (or Photoshop, though you may find the following commands slightly different in PS) ...


Paste in (crtl V) your hand-rendered jpeg. This is an A4 piece I produced using a gelli print press. Make sure the file isn't too big. If the resolution is high (ensure your scanner scans at high res), you should be able to enlarge a smaller file with no loss of clarity.


Click on your paintbrush or pencil tool ...


And draw your shape over the background ...


You will now need to join up the ends of this shape to make it solid, and fillable. Zoom in and locate the two ends, as below. Click on your Direct Selection Tool (or press A) and select both end points of each line ...


Now right cluck your mouse and select JOIN ...


You will now have a solid shape, below. Select this shape with your black arrow Selection Tool (or press V), and also select your jpeg image. You can do this by clicking on image, holding the shift key, and pressing the other image.


When both are selected, right click your mouse and select MAKE CLIPPING MASK. You will get this lovely filled shape!


Clipping masks make AI files really huge, so bear this in mind when adding big jpegs, and only do a few clipping masks per document. Resize your shape to the desired size, as shown. If you hold down the shift key while resizing, the ratio will remain consistent ...


Want more? Why not add a blue background - here a simple square, filled in with blue. Once you've created this, press ctrl [ to send it behind your shape ...


Want to add some clouds? Paste in another patterned jpeg and do the same as before ...


Draw a cloud shape on top, join it's ends to create a solid shape ... 


Right click and make a clipping mask. Make more of these or simply copy and resize the same one.


Send them back behind the mountains, as before...


To add some really interesting texture to the sky, paste in another patterned jpeg and enlarge it to cover your entire image ...


Highlight it then click on Transparency. I will set mine to 20% opacity ...


You'll now see a lovely texture to the sky. This layer is currently sitting over ALL elements, including the sky and mountains ...


I think this looks really cool as-is ...


But if you wanted your objects to have more clarity, you could send this new opaque layer behind your objects. Then you could add a sun and some birds ...


I hope you have a lot of fun with this--I know I have! And my biggest thanks to my friend, my book illustrator and eternal support, Tina Snerling, for helping me learning about clipping masks in the first place.



3 comments:

  1. Wow, thanks Tania! This actually makes me keen to learn more about digital art. :)

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  2. This is such a helpful post Tania - thanks for sharing your process. :-)

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