Illustrator paper cut tutorial

121615If you are looking for a way to create a paper-cut look with digital tools, check out this Paper Cut tutorial. Using a combination of hand sketching and Adobe Illustrator, Adobe senior designer Lidia Lukianova walks you through just a few simple steps to get this stunning effect. Her example shows a beautiful letterform but I’m sure you could use this technique with illustrations or icons just as effectively.

A picture a day keeps…away

coverI manage a group of designers who make tutorials for Adobe’s products. My team is super-talented and I love working with them. You might think that since I work at Adobe, I get to draw and create all day long. Nope. I attend lots of meetings and create spreadsheets and emails but I don’t create much in the way of artwork anymore.

Not long ago, this fact started to really depress me. When I went to art school I took scores of photography, drawing, and painting classes. But in the last few years, I haven’t actually made any art at work – or at home. I’ve been too busy managing people and projects. Last summer, I decided that I would spend just a few minutes each day making a picture. Here are the guidelines I set for myself:

  1. use only an iPhone camera
  2. explore different iPhone photography and painting apps
  3. post an image to Instagram once a day for one year

I have been doing just that for one full year and it has been a great experience. I’ve stretched myself artistically and reconnected with things that I have always loved about photography and photo-illustration. When I started this project in August, 2014, I began by focusing on composition.

Challenge: working within a square
My self-imposed requirement to post on Instagram inadvertently created a secondary limitation – all the images need to be square. I know there are ways around this but I decided to embrace the challenge. I didn’t set my iPhone camera to square though. I wanted the whole image with the opportunity to crop later. Cropping became part of my process and it has helped me take better pictures.

HawaiiChallenge: Learn to use new tools
During the past year I have experimented with many different apps. I’ve used Lightroom Mobile, Photoshop Touch, PaintCan, Snapseed, SlowShutter, Camera+, and Stackables. Each app offers different tools and I have dabbled with most of them. This is by no means an exhaustive list of photography apps. Seán Duggan has a great blog with a list of recommended photo apps for iphoneography. Its a nice place to start if you are interested in exploring these tools.

oversaturateI considered this project an exploration and a daily journal – not a daily masterpiece. Learning to use the macro feature with Camera+ enabled me to photograph insects and waterdrops close-up. I experimented with saturation and HDR. Sometimes I pushed the tools and the iPhone camera too far and discovered their limitations.

Challenge: Relax and just experiment
When I began this project, I put a lot of pressure on myself to create a beautiful work of art each day. The problem with this thinking was that it really stunted my ability to freely experiment and try new things. It takes time to finesse and craft an image and time was something I didn’t have enough of. I decided I would post an image before I went to bed each night even if I didn’t have a masterpiece. While visiting my aunt in Portland last fall, I took the same shot of the Tualatin River several days in a row. Each day it looked different and I never got bored of that view. Experimenting and playing can produce masterpieces you never knew you had inside you.

OregonExperiment: Turn a photograph into a digital painting
Sometimes I just want to capture the feeling of a visual scene without a lot of the fussy detail and distractions that can come with a photo. I started playing around with some of the filters and apps that add grain, textures, or a painterly effect. The apps I used for painting effects were Photoshop Touch, PaintCan (an experimental app from Adobe), Snapseed (mostly the Grunge filter), and Stackables. Here are some of the results of my painting and impressionistic experiments:

paintingsExperiment: Create a series
I take the train to our San Francisco office every Wednesday. This means I’m sitting on a train facing other passengers for 2 hours each week. If you are sitting in the right seat, the light coming in from the windows can be quite lovely. At first, I wanted to take pictures of the travelers’ faces but I was worried about being rude and invasive, so I started taking pictures of their hands while they rode the train. I realized that because almost everyone had a cell phone in their hands, nobody noticed me taking pictures of them. Most of these images I created in black & white because I found the colors distracting. I wanted all the focus to be on the hand gesture and expressiveness. What started as an experiment, turned into a series of photographs that I call “Fellow Traveler.” Here are a few from that ongoing series:

trainAnother theme developed from my photo walks qualifies loosely as a series. These are the images of plants and flowers I created from walking around my neighborhood and my garden in the early mornings. Here are a few of my flower images:

plantsOnline critiques
This project has brought me back to my art school days in a certain way. The art students would pin our work to the wall in the studio classroom and then stand back and listen while the teacher critiqued the work. Instagram isn’t exactly like art school. But there is something about the act of making my image available for public viewing that causes me to take a bit more care than I would with a private sketchbook.

This has been a project I’ve done for myself, not for a particular audience. Some of my posts have received no notice at all. I’ve had a very, very small group of people who have liked or commented on my images and that has been interesting to observe. For example, one of my most popular images literally took 1 minute to create – from snapping the photo to posting the cropped and unaltered version of it. And some of the images that I spent a lot more time on – images that I really, really loved looking at – garnered very little attention or comment.

My former colleague, John Nack, now a product manager for Google’s photo apps, once told me about how some people follow the Instagram Rule of 11. They will take down a post if it doesn’t get 11 likes fairly quickly. I hardly ever get 11 likes and frankly, I don’t care. My teenaged niece swears that you should never, ever post more than once a day – its not cool. I’m not doing this to be cool or to be liked. I’m doing it for myself. I’m having fun. I’m practicing my art. And I think I’m improving. What’s not to like about that?

Great image journals and art process posts on Instagram:
Photography:

Illustration:

If you are interested, please check out all the images on my Instagram feed.

How I made a Renaissance portrait with Photoshop and a sari

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The ADIM Conference
Russell Brown has been hosting the yearly ADIM Conference for many years. In previous years, I taught and assisted. But this year I went as an attendee to literally walk in the shoes of Adobe’s customers as they learn to use Creative Cloud apps. I manage a team of UX designers at Adobe who create many of the tutorials our customers use to learn our apps. As User Experience Designers, we need to regularly remind ourselves of what our customers face everyday when trying to use Adobe products.

Each year the conference has a different theme. This year’s theme was Shakespeare and the attendees worked on two projects: a Renaissance self-portrait and a book. For the portraits, Russell invited a fabulous photographer, Joel Grimes, to shoot using lighting similar to that in many Renaissance era paintings. Most everyone brought a costume to wear for their portrait. Russell brought three – Caveman Shakespeare, Renaissance Shakespeare, and Futureman Shakespeare.

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The Costume
I started with some beautiful Indian sari silk that I had purchased in Bangalore, India while on a business trip. After doing some research on 16th century clothing, I made a sketch of my idea. I decided to create a man’s costume based on the cross-dressing character Viola in Twelfth Night. It took me many weekend hours to create because I was mostly designing as I constructed. As you can imagine, I had to rip out many stitches and start over several times.

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The Painting
Let me just say right now that I hate having my photo taken. I much prefer to be the one behind the camera instead of in front of it. I posed for the portrait photo along with everyone else and I really disliked almost all of mine. The only ones I liked were the ones where Russell photobombed the shot (dressed as “Caveman Shakespeare”). I returned later that evening and had the portrait reshot—this time wearing a stunning dragon mask created by costume-maker Robert LaMarche.

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Once I had the photo, I started to play with it in Photoshop. We were taught several techniques on how to make your photo look like a painting. I discovered the Impression filters for Photoshop from TopazLabs and really liked them. I ended up experimenting for hours to create really cool painterly effects. Once my file was ready, it was printed onto textured, stretched canvas. I picked a gold frame, attached it, and voilá!—a framed Renaissance self-portrait made with Photoshop.

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The Book
The book project had two parts. The cover was to be designed using Illustrator and because it was made of wood, it was laser cut by a Universal Laser machine. I LOVE using these laser cutters! It is so fun to design something in Illustrator and then output a three-dimensional object with incredible precision. Once the cover was finished, I started on the contents of the book.

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For the inside of my book, I created a set of digital paintings with Photoshop that I printed onto heavy watercolor paper. I had created these paintings by using many of the portrait photos that Joel Grimes shot of the attendees. I chose to focus on the hands – as if it were a close-up view of a larger painting. These reminded me very much of my art history classes where the professors would show magnified views of different paintings and sculpture to discuss creation techniques and details.

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The Renaissance – yet again
In 1987 I designed the first Adobe Illustrator packaging using Botticelli’s Venus as the base of the imagery. I did that because I felt that Adobe was part of a 20th Century Renaissance with the advent of digital publishing and digital art. That was almost 30 years ago and it feels like another Renaissance is happening in the 21st century as well. Artists have so many digital and mobile tools and output options at their disposal that it’s a bit overwhelming. But at the same time, I find it a very, very exciting time to be an artist.

Learn Adobe Illustrator tools in a game

shape-builder_1408x792My team has some cool new learning games for you to try! If you’ve never tried Illustrator before, these games teach three essential skills to get you creating in no time.

Our group has been working on building learning experiences that engage users. We want to hear what you think of these games because we’re working on making them bigger and better, so make sure to leave feedback by clicking on the “Provide feedback in our survey” link on the bottom of each page. Here are the interactive learning games:

How to use the Line tool
How to draw shapes
How to use Shape Builder

Cropping images in Adobe Illustrator — Test this tutorial

100713My design team is testing out a new format—”Visual Tutorials.” The goal is to use simplified visuals to communicate, instead of lots of text. We are currently testing a tutorial for masking an image in Illustrator. You can help us create the most effective content possible by following this link, looking at the tutorial, and giving us some feedback. This might be especially interesting to you if you are interested in topics of semiotics or illustration. Thanks!

Creating arrows and arrowheads in Illustrator CS6

There are several ways to create an arrow using Illustrator CS6. Here are five different methods that will give you a wide variety of arrows to choose from:

  • Using the Stroke Panel
  • Using Symbols
  • Using Glyphs
  • Using Brushes
  • Using Shapes

Using the Stroke Panel

In Illustrator CS6, turning any line into an arrow with arrowheads and tails is easy.

  1. Create any line (straight or curved) with two end points.
  2. With the line selected, open the Stroke panel by choosing Window > Stroke.
  3. Find the section titled “Arrowheads” and select your arrowhead and tail sections!

Below are some examples of arrows created using the Stroke panel:

Using Symbols

  1. To use the preset symbols in Illustrator CS6, open the Symbols panel by choosing Window > Symbols.
  2. In the Symbols panel, open the fly-out menu, choose “Open Symbols Library” and open the Arrows Library.
  3. From there, just drag and drop your arrows onto your artboard.

Here are some examples of Arrow Symbols:

NoteWhen you make edits to the symbol on your artboard it will apply the change to the symbol in the library. To prevent this, right-click on the symbol you dragged out and click “Break Link to Symbol” before making any alterations to it.

Using Glyphs

  1. You can choose a typeface that contains special arrow characters. To see if a font contains arrow characters, choose Window > Type > Glyphs.
  2. Select the font at the bottom of the panel and scroll through the glyphs (characters) to search for arrows.
  3. Create a text box. Double-click the glyph you would like to use and it will appear in the text box.
  4. To convert the arrow from live text into a graphic icon, select your text box and choose Type > Create Outlines. Converting live text to outlines is important if you would like to edit the text in the same way that you edit objects. For example, you may want to alter the edge of a text character but cannot do so if you don’t convert to outlines.

Here are some examples of arrow glyphs in the typeface Zapf Dingbats:

Using Brushes

  1. To use the arrow brushes, select Window > Brushes.
  2. In the panel fly-out menu, choose Open Brush Library > Arrows.
  3. There are three default arrow libraries in Illustrator CS6 (Special Arrows, Standard Arrows, Pattern Arrows). Open any of the libraries and select any arrow you desire.
  4. Use the Paintbrush tool and paint your arrow onto the artboard. The arrow will follow the motion of your brush.

Here are some examples of arrow created using the Brush Tool:

Using Shapes

Creating your own custom arrows using shapes is very easy with the help of the Pathfinder tool. Here’s a basic example using simple shapes.

  1. Start by creating a rectangle and a triangle.
  2. Position the two so that they overlap slightly and make an arrow shape.
  3. Open the Pathfinder panel by choosing Window > Pathfinder. Select both shapes and choose Unite in the Pathfinder panel.
  4. The two pieces have united to become one! This same process can be used with any number of shapes that you create, so get creative!

More Resources

There you have it… five simple methods to give you a variety of arrows for any of your designing needs! If you’d like to learn more about creating Arrows and Arrowheads using Illustrator CS6, check out these great resources:

[Note from Luanne: This is a post from guest blogger, Michael Jarrott, one of the digital media interns working for me here at Adobe.]