Last night I finished the design for a brochure promoting a missions trip to Africa that we plan to take in September. Along the way, I found myself against a few odd problems in Illustrator and thought it worth while to share their solutions.
Large-scale Texture Backgrounds
For the backgrounds of both the inside and outside of the brochure, I wanted solid colors that were accented by subtle textures. Initially, I created full size raster graphics in Photoshop, using textures from the always lovely CGTextures and simply linked to them from Illustrator. This wasn't too cumbersome to deal with, but as the brochure is 8.5" by 11", the file size for each raster was unnecessarily large.
After trying a few things, I found a nice replacement in Illustrator's Swatch Patterns (Window > Swatch Libraries > Patterns). There are only so many that come bundled with the application, but with the right layer blending and opacity, they'll do nicely. Plus, since each is made up of vector shapes, they tile to large physical sizes but maintain an overall low file size.
I knew from the start of this project that I wanted to drop in the photos with each having a border of consistent look and assumed that I could directly apply a border (e.g. typical Illustrator shapes) or use the Appearance panel to apply a border (e.g. a nice trick to get gradients and borders on live text). Unfortunately, neither option works on linked photos.
I did, however, find success by first placing the photo, applying a shape mask (in this case, it was a simple rectangle) and then adding a border. You won't get access to the Stroke Alignment options (among many other options), but it did make it a lot easier to get consistent borders without having to switch to a page layout application like InDesign or Pages.
My preliminary sketch had these patterned lines that I was immediately fond of excited to see in color. Unfortunately, the pattern used wouldn't separate with the "Expand" command and didn't result in what I wanted with different blending modes.
What did work was recreating the pattern by applying three new Strokes to the line via the Appearance panel (one thick solid for the middle, one white for the space and the last one dotted for the outside) and then using the Graphic Styles panel to apply it to the rest of the border lines. In retrospect, I might have tried using the Symbol Sprayer Tool, as it has done solved similar problems before.
The rest of the hard stuff was easy enough to get around, thanks to CS4/CS5's new features ... Artboard Tool, Key Object Selection and Magic Wand options. That last one isn't really too new, but I don't think as many people use it as should. Oh and the last piece of goodness was that this is another design project that I kept versions of using git. Commits at the major changes and if I needed to roll back, I just ran a checkout. Easy peasy.
- Type Blend Icon – Preview
- The lovely geometric type icon I made during the DFP Lecture today. Simple and customizable, but after continually seeing all of the pretty things that James White keeps putting out, I really just wanted to make something colorful. The icon is entirely vector, which was really difficult to achieve with the color blending of the ...
- IF – Linked
- My entry for this week's Illustration Friday theme of "linked" ... a simple sketch in Illustrator. I had planned to color this, but I haven't been using the Blob Brush as much I as I usually do as of late and it took longer than I wanted to get to this point. I might color ...
- Day 2007-12-27
- Day 2007-12-27 (uploaded by DRA Studio)Day #21 – I am really liking the lines and patterns in these pieces. The mesh-work in the bottom panel seems to have a great balance with the empty white characters within. What do you think? ...
- Restore to Defaults
- One only has to sit in on my DFP Icon lecture, perused my Flickr uploads tagged osx, or (for you privileged few) use my Mac for a few minutes to realize that I am very particular AND very protective of the way my Finder windows look. I have nice sidebar separators, several essential tool bar ...
- You Send It
- Looking for a great way to send a large file to someone? Like a file that is bigger than email, Gmail, or even 7 lane highways? Look no further than YouSendIt, the leader in digital file delivery. Also, if you are needing a new way to find music, check out the Pandora project! Just ...