Thursday, September 25, 2014

Illustrator: 3D Image Wrap Technique

01. Open Adobe Illustrator and create a new document (I'm using an artboard  size of 12"x12"). Once created use the line segment tool to draw a line at the top of the artboard. Increase the stroke width (here I'm using a 20 pixel stroke width).

02. Make sure the line segment tool is selected and click Effects > Distort and Transform > Transform.

03. Turn on preview checkbox, increase number of copies and play with vertical movement to fill the artboard (making sure to keep the positive and negative space as equal as possible. Feel free to create your own ratio of quantity and scale. 

04. Stroke weight when not expanded can cause problems down the road so we'll go ahead and expand the strokes (Object > Expand Appearance).

05. And once more to make sure they are fully expanded (Object > Expand).

06. Place or copy and drag and drop your photo into your document. Make sure your photo is embedded and not just linked (see red arrow).

07. Use the pen tool to draw a path around the object you are drawing. You want to create a flat silhouette/mask of the object.
08. Things should look like this at this point. Make sure to lock these initial layers so that future pen tool work will not accidentally modify them (see red arrows).

09. Use the pen tool to rough out the cross contour shapes. I suggest making sure smart guides are turned on initially to help with alignment issues but feel free to turn them off later (CMND U).

10. Here I've torn off the pen tool (see floating menu near top of sphere) to have easy access to the convert anchor point tool. Use the white arrow to select the points you would like to modify and then use the convert anchor point tool to drag direction handles out from the points. The direction handles with give your object a curved organic appearance. Notice that with this particular example the part of the object closest to me is largest and as the surface moves away from that region things get smaller and smaller (lines and spaces between the lines). You'll have to work this phase for awhile to get things just right.

11. After you feel good about your lines and the way they curve to create dimension, zoom in (CMND +) to do some precision cleaning up. Use the arrow keys on your keyboard to nudge anchor points around to get things in the right location. 

12. A look at the completed tracing.

13. I'll export it as a jpg so that I can upload it to a blog.

14. I'll select JPG format and click the "Use Artboards" option that will crop the exported file to the size of the artboard and therefore will not accidentally include anything outside of the artboard (discarded points, hidden objects, etc.)
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