Archive for May, 2009

May 7, 2009

Blobacious: adjective: Extremely bold or daring; original; without restriction

Contributed by Brenda Sutherland, Illustrator Team Rowing Captain
I know we’ve all had this experience. You take on a project that looks so simple you’re confident you’ll knock it out in no time. Then it turns out to be far more complicated then you ever expected, and you realize that to do it well is going to take a lot more time and effort. That’s exactly what happened when we implemented the Blob Brush in CS4. We thought it would be a pretty simple thing to do, as we had already implemented the Eraser tool back in CS3, and the idea behind the Blob Brush was to use Pathfinder to create shapes like the Eraser does, but instead of erasing them, fill them with color. What could be simpler than that?

I suppose if we had left it at that, it just might have been that simple, but there was another piece that seemed essential to making this tool complete, and that was merging. If you’ve been following my series on Pathfinder and the features in Illustrator that use the Pathfinder Engine, then you’ll recognize the connection here. The Blob Brush works in a very similar way to the Eraser tool in that is starts off by creating a Calligraphic Brush object, expands it into simple paths, then runs Pathfinder to create either a simple or compound path, eliminating all the overlapping brush strokes as well as the original path.

Because it starts out as a Calligraphic Brush object, it has all of the same functionality available that Calligraphic brushes have. If you are using a pressure sensitive tablet, you can even vary its settings just as you can with a brush. And like the Brush and Eraser tools, you can increase and decrease the size with the square bracket keys.

So one question you might have is, if the Blob Brush is so similar to the Calligraphic Brush, why did we go through all this trouble to create a new tool in the first place? The answer is that as cool as brushes in Illustrator are, there are times when all you want to do is create a simple path, a blob so to speak, that doesn’t have editable brush attributes after it’s been created, but can easily be erased, have gradients or live effects applied, and if it’s not the right shape, can be added on to without having to expand and then run pathfinder on.

Blob_1.gif

More…

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May 3, 2009

Multiple Artboards–Tips and Tricks Part 1

We’re going to devote a few blog posts to help you understand how to use Multiple artboards and how they replace older features like Crop Areas and Page Tiling.
Q: How can I specify crop areas, especially when saving as EPS, PDF, or other graphic file formats? What about printing?
A: Use Multiple artboards.

By default, you have an artboard on which your artwork will be present. Now just draw an artboard equal to size of the Crop Area you want.

How to do this: Select the Artboard Tool from the toolbox and bring it over the artboard.

Hold down the Shift key. Immediately you will see that the cursor has taken the shape of Artboard Tool. Now click and drag to create an artboard equal to the size of crop area you want.

Or draw a rectangle equal to the size of the size of crop area you want, select the rectangle, and choose Object>Convert to Artboards. Once the new artboard has been created inside your original artwork you will have two artboards–one that was originally present, and the one you just created. (Select the Artboard Tool or press “Shift +O” to see this). The part you wanted inside the crop area lies inside second artboard and the part of the artwork you didn’t want lies inside first artboard.

If you want to export or print only the content of the second artboard, do the following:

For saving to EPS/PDF format: In the Save As dialog, check the “Use Artboards” option, select the Range radio button and input a value “2” in the Range text box, click Save and then click OK.

Crop&Save as EPS.png

Save as EPS dialog with “Use Artboards” checked on, and second artboard saved to EPS.

Similarly, for exporting only the cropped content to other graphic file formats: In the Export dialog, choose the file format you want, check the “Use Artboards” option, select the Range option and input a value “2” in the Range text box and click Export.

Crop&Export raster.png
Exporting a second artboard to PSD will only export the cropped content.

If you are saving to the web and want only the content lying inside second artboard, do the following: Using the Selection Tool, click anywhere inside second artboard to make it the active artboard. Then choose File>Save for Web & Devices. Inside the Save for Web dialog, go to the Image Size tab and make sure that “Clip to Artboard” is checked. Then press Save.

If you want to print just the cropped portion of your artwork, do the following: Invoke the Print dialog using File>Print, select the Range check box and input a value “2” in the Range text box, choose the Media equal to the size of the paper in the printer and click Print.

Crop&print.png
How to print an artboard inside another artboard. This works similar to printing the crop area in CS3.

Watch out for our next section on Multiple Artboard Tips and Tricks on how to create and preserve crop marks in EPS using Illustrator CS4.

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Weekend Wrap—Random Musings

Contributed by Terry Hemphill, Illustrator Product Marketing Manager

The complexity of the important issues of today and the reduction of these topics to sound bites, invective and the outright misrepresentation of facts by print and broadcast media, as well as blogs and other social media, is so commonplace today it’s a cliché, a banal sideshow that we’re bombarded with at most every turn in our modern lives.

But we are still faced with the issues, and no matter how involved and convoluted, we still struggle to extract the facts and craft our own opinions, at least those of us who care or who are threatened in some way by either the issues themselves or their possible outcomes.

Good graphic design can make these complex subjects more clear. Just as a good teacher can make even the most difficult subjects exciting, thoughtful graphic design can combine the mediums of print, motion graphics, video and interactivity to bring clarity to convoluted problems, and be visually elegant, entertaining and downright fun as well.

Two cases in point:

Jonathan Jarvis, and his video The Crisis of Credit Visualized, is an ingenious explanation of how our credit markets ended up in the mess we’re still struggling to understand and dig ourselves out of today.

Crisis of Credit.jpg

The Crisis of Credit Visualized from Jonathan Jarvis on Vimeo.

In addition to being a lively thinker and dissector of issues, Jonathan’s a wonderfully talented designer. Check out his Process as Drawing, where he’s captured 24 30-minute illustrations created using Illustrator and Photoshop into lively 90-second videos that are just pure fun to watch. His inspiration for these exercises came from participating in the Cut & Paste Design Tournament last year. Cut & Paste 2009 is just wrapping up in Europe before heading to the Asia-Pacific, and back to New York City for the final, global championship June 20.

Jonathan evolves this rapid illustration technique in The Stimulus: Unpacked to deliver an on-the-fly analysis of a speech by President Obama.

Jonathan’s work in The Stimulus: Unpacked called to mind sosolimited, a group of designers and artists who used their custom software to remix the 2008 presidential debates into Reconstitution 2008, a live performance that deconstructs both the spoken words and the body language of the candidates. And does so beautifully.

We may face a noisy, often hostile world of “news” and “entertainment,” but it’s a delight to discover designers and artists who are turning this media barrage inside out, in ways equally thoughtful, provocative and beautiful.

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May 1, 2009

Illustrator City

Contributed by David Macy, Illustrator Sr. Product Manager

I sometimes think of the job of Illustrator Product Manager as being Mayor of a great city. This city has millions of residents, some in affluent neighborhoods and others not, we have local small business owners as well as large companies who are headquartered here and others who have satellite offices. Each of these groups has their own reasons for living or being located here and their own desires to see the city improve in different ways. Like all great cities, we have visitors who come to us for our tremendous variety of cultural events and beautiful scenery. We also have an aging infrastructure with subways and sewer lines to be updated, streets to be maintained and parks to beautify. Some of these infrastructure projects are clear winners because they are relatively low cost and the benefits will be easy to see. Others are much harder because they will involve shutting down areas of the “old city” for some time and may even cause permanent damage to some of the historic buildings. In addition, we growth potential, which if managed right can both improve the quality of life for our citizens and stimulate prosperity for the business which rely on our city.

Of course we have an annual budget which is funded by taxes collected from most of the groups that I mentioned. In good times, this budget is enough to go around while in lean times it is very difficult and we have to drastically cut city spending. Additionally, for many of our residents the tax is voluntary, and if they don’t feel the city is providing services that are valuable to them, they may choose to keep their money. There are many city council and planning commission meetings where there is a lot of debate over how to spend the budget and there are obviously conflicting interests involved.

Now this is all just the first layer because one thing that makes our city great is that we are at the center of a greater metropolitan area, surrounded by a number of other cities (other Creative Suite applications), both large and small. Some of these have similar issues and concerns as ours, while others are more modern planned communities without the burden of aging infrastructure. The citizens of many of these cities move freely from one to another throughout the day, and several years ago the leaders of these cities got together and agreed to try to share resources in areas where it was feasible and made sense. For example, we are all part of the same electric grid, but we need to maintain our own sewers. Sharing as many resources as we can has benefits, but it also means that we need to negotiate with each other in order to make upgrades and ensure that everyone’s needs are met. The second layer of government that we have formed to oversee these shared activities often petitions for its own initiatives for the benefits of citizens across the region, but these initiatives usually need to compete for the same budget as the local growth or infrastructure projects.

This metropolitan area is not an island of course, we are part of a larger state, with its own government and budget to balance. Our great Creative Suite metro area is a huge contributor to the state budget, but even so there are times when the state faces a deficit and needs to pull funds from the local coffers.

So, you can see that it is quite a balancing act to manage the budget, define the feature set, develop the product as part of a set of suites, and focus on continued quality improvements and try to make this all fit into a longer term vision. All this makes for a job that I love!

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