25 Nov 2014

Recolor Artwork in Illustrator: Tonal Colors

There are a lot of tutorials about recoloring artwork in Illustrator, but I haven’t seen any that document working with tonal colors.  This is great for recoloring tonal prints, heathers / melanges, and other textures that you want to keep tonal.
recolor_heather_melange_swatches_illustratorThis specific example is demonstrated using a 3 color tonal heather pattern swatch.  You can grab a library of 360 different color melange texture swatches here if you don’t want to make them all yourself!

Start by selecting your swatch and choosing Edit > Edit Colors > Recolor Artwork, or choose the Recolor Artwork icon from the control bar.
recolor_artwork_illustratorThe Recolor Artwork dialog will launch in “Assign” mode where there are 2 columns of colors: Current Color(s) and New.  You will want to switch to “Edit” mode, which shows a color wheel with all of the colors.
edit_assign_recolor_illustratorOnce in Edit mode, you can play around with manually adjusting each of the colors.  Notice that they each move on the color wheel independently.  This is great if you want to manage each color individually, but for tonal colors it’s not the best / easiest way to do it, so you’ll want to “Link harmony colors” by clicking on the chain icon in the bottom right.
link_harmony_colors_illustratorWith harmony colors linked, you can move them around the color wheel and their hues will be locked to each other.  You can still drag each individual color towards the center or the exterior of the circle to change saturation if you need more or less contrast.
harmony_colors_linked_illustratorEach time you click OK from the Recolor Artwork dialog box (make sure Recolor Artwork is checked in the bottom left corner before clicking OK), a new pattern swatch in those colors will be created (if you’re working with a pattern – if you working with artwork, then you’ll want to make multiple copies on your artboard depending on how many color variations you want to make).

Play around with it yourself to see how easy it is to adjust tonal colors super quickly!

21 Nov 2014

Creating Ruffles in Illustrator with a Brush

Illustrator Ruffle Brush
In Illustrator, it’s easy to emulate ruffles, ruching, elastic and gathering with brushes.  This is by far one of the more underutilized brushes I see, finding that most fashion designers draw ruffles manually one by one.    This tutorial will go through a few different techniques to easily create a basic ruffle brush:

  • How to convert multiple anchor points to smooth (or corner)
  • How to adjust stroke profiles for more realistic looking paths
  • How to flip stroke profiles on a path
  • How to create a simple pattern brush
  • How to define the pattern brush path alignment

How to Convert Multiple Anchor Points

Instead of trying to draw smooth curved paths for our ruffles, we’ll start with jagged zig zag paths and let Illustrator do the work for us.  I’ve drawn a variety of paths with the Pen Tool that I want to use for my ruffle brush, and I’ve then selected all of the corner anchor points (all anchor points except the start and end points) on each path with the Direct Selection Tool (white arrow).  With those points selected, you will notice along your Control Bar along the top of you workspace there are two convert icons: convert to corner and convert to smooth (if you don’t see the Control Bar, turn it on via Window > Control).  For this example, we want to convert to smooth, so click that icon.
Convert Multiple Anchor Points in Illustrator

How to Adjust Stroke Profiles

Our paths look like a pretty good start to a ruffle, but they’re not quite as realistic as they could be.  I want to vary the width of the stroke so they aren’t all exactly 1 pt weight.  Using the various Stroke Profiles, we can easily adjust this.  For ruffles, I like Width Profile 5.  From the bottom of the Stroke panel, choose the profile you like best.
Illustrator Stroke Profile

How to Flip Stroke Profiles

Depending on what profile you’ve chosen, it might not be applied to the path in the correct direction.  Don’t worry, you can easily fix this!  Select the path(s) with the profiles you want to change direction of, and choose Flip Along at the bottom of the Stroke panel.
Illustrator Flip Stroke Profile

How to Create a Simple Pattern Brush

With your ruffles selected, drag the artwork into the Brushes panel and choose Pattern Brush from the options.  Leave all settings as default and choose OK.  Now, draw a path and apply the brush to it.  It probably looks great, BUT you will notice that the path runs along the center of the ruffles, which in my opinion is not a very intuitive place for the path to be.
Illustrator Simple Ruffle Pattern Brush

How to Define the Brush Path Alignment

If you want the path to run along the bottom of the ruffles, it’s simple to define.  Draw a rectangle along the bottom edge of the ruffles.  Wherever the middle of the rectangle hits (as shown with a red dotted line) will define where the path runs along the brush.  Before turning this into a brush, you have to make sure the rectangle has two attributes:

  1. The rectangle must have NO STROKE & NO FILL
  2. The rectangle must be in the very back of the artwork (Object > Arrange > Send to Back)

Once you’ve done this, drag the ruffles and the “invisible” rectangle into the Brushes panel (if you want to overwrite the first brush, simply hold opt/alt while you drop it on top of the old brush) and create the Pattern Brush.
Align Pattern Brush to Path
Now, draw the path again with the new brush and you will notice the path alignment is on the bottom of the ruffle – PERFECT!
Ruffle Pattern Brush Aligned

16 Nov 2014

Scaling, Rotating & Moving Patterns in Illustrator: Must Know Tricks

Did you know that repeating patterns in Illustrator are extremely easy to manage and manipulate?  I’ve seen many people make multiple versions of patterns to have them appear at different sizes or angles, but this is completely unnecessary.  Using Object > Transform with the correct settings (or the tilde key with certain tools), you’ll quickly be able to scale, rotate and move patterns independent from objects.

Click through for the full tutorial with instructions on how to do it all.
Scale Patterns in Illustrator

04 Nov 2014

Align in Illustrator: The Best Trick

I personally have always thought that the align icons in Illustrator are a very good visual of the result that you’re going to get…BUT my students continually tell me otherwise.  People really get tripped up by what the icons mean and how to know which align to choose.  Just last night I was teaching my class and one of my (brilliant) students said “Oh, so it’s like the paragraph alignment in Word!”  WOW!  What an observation, and definitely not something I had thought of before!  So, think about it like aligning a body of text!  The next time align is not working, maybe you’re not using the right one or your objects are already aligned!

NOTE: The black line next to the buttons is not being aligned with them, it is simply there as a visual to show where the buttons move with each alignment.

If you want to align right, think about what happens when you align text right - it pushes everything to the far right.
Align in Illustrator
If you want to align center, think about what happens when you align text center - it aligns everything to the center.
Align in Illustrator
If you want to align left, think about what happens when you align text left – it pushes everything to the far left.
Align in Illustrator

Make sure each of your buttons (or whatever types of objects you are aligning) are grouped so they’re treated as one object.  The align top, center and bottom icons work the same way, just rotated 90°.  Sometimes the best way to learn how to use this feature correctly is to play around with it until you start to understand when and why you are getting certain results (and don’t get too frustrated)!

31 Oct 2014

Banana Republic Instagram Ad: The Reality of Fashion Design

Grab the free vector jacket sketch that I make in the video: 

Instagram just released video ads, and Banana Republic was one of the first to jump on board.  While I respect and admire fashion illustrators, I also couldn’t help but think “you don’t go from a pretty illustration to a fully manufactured garment”.  In reality, I’d argue that there are more fashion designers out there who work exclusively or mostly on the computer than there are those or sketch by hand and create nicely illustrated fully colored designs with pen and paper.

This video is my interpretation of a more realistic design process (with the BR ad as an overlay in the bottom right corner).

Designers – just don’t think you’re going to get out of school and get a job sketching pretty pictures all day.  The reality is you also need to be savvy on the computer and learn how to use Illustrator for fashion design.