Over the years, Adobe Illustrator has become one of the top applications for creating vector illustrations. There is almost nothing you can’t make in Illustrator. It is a powerful tool for creating vectors for all kind of logos, websites, icons, business cards, print materials, etc. One of the best features of the vector format is its ability to scale up or down to any size without any loss in quality (unlike raster illustrations).
But let’s not forget that Adobe Illustrator is complex software. Despite all of its advantages, Illustrator demands a lot of skill, work, time and patience. The software will not generate effects automatically; excellent effects are the result of trying and testing different settings. Trial and error is an effective method in achieving the desired result. Creating realistic vector illustrations in Adobe Illustrator can be fun, but it can also give you a headache if you can tell something’s missing from an illustration but don’t know how to get it.
Here is a list of things to consider when creating stunning vector illustrations:
When it comes to drawing realistic vector illustrations, perspective is paramount in importance. If you ignore perspective, the illustration will look flat and distorted and lack depth.
The most important aspects of perspective are size and distance. The farther away an object is, the smaller it will appear, and vice versa. By increasing and decreasing size in this way, you can achieve good depth in your illustrations.
There are a several methods of drawing perspective.
One very useful way is to use a perspective grid, which is a new feature in Illustrator CS5. Establishing a horizon and the vanishing point is part of this. The perspective grid in Illustrator is an editable tool, so it can be adapted to suit one’s purpose. You can change the perspective simply by dragging the corner nodes of the grid. You can make the vanishing point longer or shorter and change the number of boxes in the grid. Being able to adapt the working environment to your needs will make it easy for you to do advanced drawings.
Some people have trouble seeing and presenting perspective in the first place. In this case, I would recommend “Extrude and Bevel,” which is a convenient tool for creating 3-D objects. You can set a value for “Perspective” in the “Extrude and Bevel” options box (either type in a value or drag the slider over). Expanding an object will make it editable. Because the Extrude and Bevel effect gives you an object with many parts and anchor points, it is highly recommended that you use that object as the reference for tracing with the Pen tool (P). This way, you’ll create clean and simple vector illustrations without any unwanted parts or any anchor points that are an obstacle in the printing process.
If you have imagination and some skill, you will be able to draw an illustration based on an estimation of perspective. Of course, this method is not quite precise.
But adding perspective alone is obviously not enough to create stunning artwork.
Creating shapes in Illustrator shouldn’t be complicated. To draw paths and curves, either use the Pen tool (P) or simply combine objects with Pathfinder features such as “Unite,” “Minus Front,” “Subtract,” “Intersect,” etc. Because the paths contain numerous anchor points, you will have to adjust them to create smooth lines. Anchor points are highly editable and can be adjusted with a few excellent tools. You can change the position of the path just by editing one anchor point. This takes a lot of practice; you’ll need a steady hand and patience.
Live tracing is one effective way to create vector illustrations. Try to complete a drawing with as few anchor points as possible; avoid adding anchor points at shorter intervals just to maintain the smoothness. To get smooth lines, make sure that the handle of the anchor point forms a tangent on the curve (i.e. inner or outer tangent). You can always add or remove anchor points by going to the “Add Anchor Point” (+) and “Delete Anchor Point” tools (-).
“Convert Anchor Point” (Shift + C) allows you to make changes on the anchor points themselves. With this amazing tool, you will be able to change the angle of the handle, thus enabling you to change the path of the lines. Whereas adjusting just one side of the handle will result in an angular shape.
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