Adobe Illustrator Foundations
Pick up a fun and useful set of skills while social distancing! Adobe Illustrator Foundations will introduce the application to new users and level-up those already familiar with the program through practical exploration. The course will begin with an overview of the application workspace and core concepts before quickly turning to an exploratory model where students become proficient in drawing and shape building. Students are responsible for furnishing their own computer and licensing their own software for the duration of the course.
You must have Adobe Illustrator and a Mac or PC that can run it well. I strongly recommend you have the latest CC version. You can subscribe to Illustrator for the duration of this course for about $60.
Adobe Illustrator | $20.99/month
We will be using Illustrator, obviously.
Unsplash | Freely-usable images
We will work with bitmaps, AKA photos or images too! Unsplash is a source for free-to-use images. See their license for details.
Grabient | Pretty gradients
Need some color inspiration? Gradients are pretty and trendy too. Grab a gradient here.
Behance | Adobe portfolio site
Dig around for inspiration and ideas. User-generated content, so keep that in mind.
- Let us please be kind, thoughtful and patient with each other. We’re working with the video format and there will be hiccups and mistakes.
- The first day will be a lot of talking, but we will move quickly to more doing.
- Toggle between Zoom and Illustrator. Mac: Command + Tab / Windows: Alt + Tab
- If you stump me — and this will happen — we’ll do some learning together, which is more fun anyway.
|1||Students will gain an introduction to the Adobe Illustrator workspace and toolset by learning basic shape building and drawing.|
|2||The class will move beyond basic shape building with the introduction of additional drawing and color tools. Students will design a logo.|
|3||The class will start a website banner project and learn how to mask objects and create gradients.|
|4||To complete the project, students will apply and adjust text along with design elements. The class will conclude the project by properly exporting the drawing.|
|5||Students will learn about compound shapes by designing an abstract paper cutout. We will also cover shape distortions and effects.|
|6||The class will start a poster design project where students learn about color modes. Students will learn additional drawing skills and to make repeating patterns.|
|7||Students will continue the poster project and learn new typography skills, including typing on shapes. Students will conclude the project by exporting for print.|
|8||Through an art illustration project, students will learn how to vectorize images, new drawing techniques and how to use color themes to build pallets from color rules.|
|9||The class will learn several workflow enhancements and shortcuts. Students will synthesize the skills they have developed and apply them to individual capstone projects for screen or print.|
|10||Students will conclude their capstone projects and discuss with the group.|
Daily Schedule Plan
|Session||Target Duration||Target Start Time|
|Session 1||35||6:10 PM|
|Session 2||45||7:00 PM|
|Check in||15||7:45 PM|
Weekly Agenda & Notes
- Before class: Download course files from the Dropbox link Oklahoma Contemporary sent you.
- Navigation and get to know the workspace
- Shape building
- Homework Assignment: Bring a sketch of a logo design or one you want to copy. And some colors you want to use! Use Adobe Capture, your scanner, or just take a photo for your sketch. For color, get hex codes (example #3c2fa5), save an image from the web, take a photo or use Adobe Capture and save to your Adobe Library.
|Navigation 1||Workspace, Properties, Toolbar, Layers||Foundations of moving around the workspace. Get to know the panels and tool locations.|
Understand the difference between bitmap and vector art.
Get a feel for the breadth of tools and shortcuts. Know that there is more than one way to work, that we will go over a few and students can choose the ways they prefer to work as the course progresses.
|Navigation 2||Space + drag to move, Z to zoom, Option/Alt + Z to zoom out.||Be able to move around in the workspace.|
|Shape Building 1: Shapes & lines||Rectangle, Ellipse, Line, Polygon, Selection Tool, stroke and fill box |
Properties Panel for shape parameters
Properties Panel for arranging
Object > Arrange > Send To, Bring To.
|Learn that everything builds off of shapes and lines. |
Color shapes and lines with fills and strokes. Apply stroke weights. Dial in exact parameters with the Properties Panel.
Order and reorder objects.
|Color 1||Fill/Stroke Box, Color Panel introduction||Basic introduction to using the Fill/Stroke box and three modes.|
|Drawing 1: Drawing basics — Curvature Tool||Curvature Tool||Draw more naturally with the curvature tool. Make fine adjustments.|
- Pen Tool
- Shape Builder
- Arrange, align, transform and group, snap and Smart Guides
- Copy/Paste and Paste in Place
- Eye Dropper and more color options
- Homework Assignment: (Revised) Download the course files for Week 3 and a stock photo from https://unsplash.com or your own stash.
|Drawing 1: Drawing basics — Pen Tool||Pen||Pen Tool: the original drawing tool.|
|Shape Building 2: Layers and compound shapes||Shape Builder, Pathfinder|
Layers Panel, Arrange Panel
Align and Distribute Panel
Edit > Copy/Paste, Paste in Place, Paste in Front
Alt + drag to duplicate
Object > Transform
|Use tools to combine and subtract shapes to create complex shapes.|
Arrange shapes and turn on and off snapping.
Align and distribute objects.
Copy and paste objects and arrange them so you can use the Shape Builder
Groups and Isolation Mode.
|Color 2: Eyedropper and Color Guides||Eyedropper Tool, |
Color Panel additional information, Color Guides Panel
|Sample colors from objects and bitmaps and change and swap stroke and fill colors. Set colors using the Colors Panel. |
Save colors from a Guide as a Swatch
|Libraries||Libraries Panel||Use Libraries to store colors, patterns and assets across documents easily. Build folders for personal projects, client work, or moods|
Week 3Note: homework was revised for this week. Download the course files for Week 3 and a save a photo to use in the banner. Use a photo of your own or download a stock photo. Course files will be ready by noon on Monday, January 25 in the Dropbox. You can get free, high-quality stock art from https://unsplash.com.
- Clipping Masks
|Artboards and Presets||Artboard Tool, File New||Use Artboards for layouts. Use the modern New screen to select common setups.|
|Color 3: Gradients||Gradients Panel||Create and modify gradients.|
|Masking 1||Clipping Masks|
Object > Clipping Mask > Make/Release
|Creating clipping masks for vectors and bitmaps.|
Gradients Practice — Break Out Session Notes
- Draw a rectangle the same size as the Artboard.
- Use the Smart Guides to line it up perfectly. You can check it in the Properties Panel. Drawing should be registered at 0,0 and be 1920 px wide by 1080 px tall
- Change the Fill to a gradient, leave Stroke blank
Use colors from your chosen swatch to set the colors.
Play with Gradient Tools to get it the way you want.
Clipping Masks Practice — Break Out Session Notes
Part 1 — Shape
- Create a new layer — Layer Panel > Panel Menu > New Layer
- Draw a funky shape along part of your design that extends off the artboard
- Draw a rectangle that is the same size as your artboard.
- Select the funky shape and the rectangle
- Object > Clipping Mask > Make
Part 2 — Image
- Create a new layer — Layer Panel > Panel Menu > New Layer
- Place your image — File > Place, then choose your image
- Draw a shape for a mask
- Select the image and the shape
- Object > Clipping Mask > Make
- Line qualities
- Pencil Tool, Brush Tool/Brushes
- Export for digital
|Typography 1: Fundamentals||Type, Type Area, Point Type|
Character Panel, Paragraph Panel
|Type and the differences between Type Point and Type Area and how to convert. |
Select and modify Type, change paragraph and character options.
|Drawing 2: Line quality||Brush, Pencil Tool|
Properties Panel for strokes
Object > Path > Join
|Draw and smooth the Pencil and Brush.|
Draw more complex lines, modify widths and profiles, apply Caps, Corners, Dashed Lines and Arrowheads.
Make organic shapes and add texture to your line work
|Exporting 1: Exporting for digital||File > Export > Save As, Export for Screens, Export As||Use the Export options for web, video, apps, and other digital.|
Typography Practice — Break Out Session Notes
- Set a Point Type on your guide near the top of the art. Make up a title for your banner.
- Pick a font and adjust the size. Go for a title with some presence
- Set a Type Area below the title. Use the default text or type up a little blurb
- Adjust the font, size, and play with options.
- Bonus, create a more advanced Type Area that has an interesting shape
Lines Practice — Break Out Session Notes
- Draw a few solid shapes using the Pencil Tool. Use a solid fill color from your Swatch and no Stroke.
- Draw some lines around your shapes or wherever you want in your design with the Pencil or Brush Tool. Use a Stroke from your Swatch or a high contrast color like black or white and no Fill.
- Adjust the parameters of those lines. Stroke thickness, profile, dashes, etc. Pick the elements you are most interested and try those.
- If you are interested in Brushes, try several Brush Libraries from Window > Brush Libraries or the Brushes pallet window.
- Asset Export — Window > Asset Export
- Great for quickly exporting some art regardless of Artboard
- Drag objects in to make “assets”
- Option (Alt) drag to make several objects into one asset
- Set export scales/formats you want and click Export
- Export for Screens — File > Export > Export for Screens
- Great for carefully exporting whole Artboards out at multiple scales and setting complex naming options.
- Select one or more Artboard
- Choose and export location
- Set up one or multiple scales/formats
- Set a filename prefix if you want
- Click Export to save them out
Let’s take break from projects and just warp stuff and learn some more tricks for lines.
- Warp Tool
- Turn lines into shapes
- Width Tool
- Outline Stroke
- Compound Paths
|Distortions and Effects||Warp Tools and the warp family of tools|
Effects > Illustrator Effects
Object > Expand Appearance
|Contort and smash up shapes using Warp tools.|
Distortions change actual shapes by altering Anchor Points. Effects are preview rendered until expanded.
Apply Illustrator effects.
Understand how the Appearances are applied and modified for live effects.
Expanding an Illustrator Effect creates a vector.
|Drawing 3: Combining drawing and building lines into shapes||Object > Path > Outline Stroke |
|Turn your modified lines into outlined shapes.|
|Masking 2||Compound Paths|
Object > Compound Path > Make/Release
|Cut out and combine shapes and retain the ability to edit the individual shapes in the Path.|
Warp Tool Exercise Notes
- Open Distortions.ai from the course files
- Make sure the Warp Tools layer is visible and unlocked an the other layer is neither
- You must turn on the Advanced Toolbar first:
- Click the … at the bottom of the Toolbar
- In the Fly-out, click the pallet’s menu and select Advanced Toolbar
- Click and hold on the Width Tool to find the Warp tools
- Try out the Warp tools on the ice cream cones
Effects Exercise Notes
- In the Distortions.ai file, make sure to show and unlock the Warp Effects layer and hide and lock the Warp Tools layer
- Play with Warps and Distortions & Transformations
- Warp effects are under Effects > Illustrator Effects> Warp
- Distortions are under Effects > Illustrator Effects > Distort & Transform
- Effects are Appearances and can be changed after being applied through the Appearance Panel. Double-click and Appearance effect to reopen the dialog box and edit.
- To commit an Appearance, go to Object > Expand Appearance
- Photoshop effects are too much for our time today, but apply raster (pixel) effects. They turn vectors into images when applied.
Width Tool Exercise Notes
- Create a new blank document using the Print preset for Letter
- Draw some lines and use the width tool on them
- If you want, use File > Place to insert the Lettering PDF file from Course Files into the document, lock it on a layer and draw on top of it
Compound Path Exercise Notes
- New Document: File > New and choose Letter from Print.
- Get a Color pallet going by opening the Window > Color Themes panel
- Click the Explore Tab and find a theme you like
- Click the … and then Add to Swatches
- Now draw a rectangle the size of the Artboard
- Duplicate that rectangle until you have five. Use the Layers panel’s menu to Duplicate or Copy and Paste in Place
- Make each rectangle a different color from your swatches. Use the little target button next to each rectangle to select it since they are all on top of each other.
- Draw out some shapes with the Pencil Tool or your favorite drawing tool. Make a series of four shapes that become smaller each time.
- Feel free to have some overlap for interest
- Rearrange your layers so each shape or blob is over a rectangle
- Select pairs of blobs and Rectangles using the object target in the Layers panel
- Use Object > Compound Path > Make once each pair is selected. You will do this once for each of the four pairs.
- Rearrange the layers so the solid “base” rectangle is on bottom
- Next on top of that is the smallest blob, then the next smallest until the widest one is on top
- Select all and go to Effects > Stylize Drop Shadow and play with settings
If you think Compound Paths are cool, and want to get into advanced territory, here’s the complete Adobe help article on combining shapes.
- Color Modes
- Print file setup
|Color 4: Color Modes||File > Document Color Mode > RGB/CMYK||Understand the difference between RGB and CMYK.|
|Transformations||Scale Tool, Rotate and Reflect Tools|
Object > Transform >
|Scale, rotate and reflect objects.|
Transform Each and Transform Again.
|Patterns||Pattern||Make repeatable patterns and apply them.|
- You can use Shift to constrain Rotation and Reflection tools to 45 degree increments. Use Option / Alt to duplicate
- Click to move the rotation/reflection point or click, hold and drag to move.
- Find transformations under Object > Transform > …
- Transform Again is Command + D / Control + D
- Window > Pattern Options
- Use the panel’s menu to create a new Pattern.
- When you create a Pattern, you’re creating a type of swatch.
- You can then use it as a fill or stroke.
- Double-click the swatch to open it as an editable pattern.
- The art you used to create the pattern remains as regular art, separate from the copy turned into a pattern swatch.
Print File Setup Notes/Homework
- File > New and use the Tabloid (11” x 17”) preset under Print.
- Change to Inches instead of Points, keep CMYK color and add 0.125 (1/8) inch bleeds all around.
- The project is up to you to design with the skills you have learned, but here are some ideas:
- Create a color palette with your own colors or found colors.
- Use Point Type to create headlines and subheads.
- Use Type Area to make paragraph text boxes.
- Create design elements with shapes, lines and patterns.
- Add images.
- Precision drawing using the grid
- Type on Paths
- Create type outlines
- Save for Print
Start thinking about your capstone project. It could be illustration, print, web, whatever.
What do you want to accomplish as your final project? What do you want to try why you have a friendly community around you to ask questions and solve problems?
|Drawing 5: Precision drawing||Grid, Snap to Grid|
Object > Path > Join
|Use the Grid to draw with precision.|
Connect Paths with Join.
|Color 5||Color Themes Panel|
|Discover and built color themes and use color theory |
Recolor art with Recolor
|Typography 2: Modifying text||Type on Path|
Type > Create Outlines
|Convert text to shapes to break apart and modify text.|
|Exporting 2: Export for print||File > Save As||Use Save As to create PDFs. Use the PDF dialog to specify things like bleeds, crop marks and optimal settings for print.|
- Turn on the grid with View > Show Grid — near the bottom of the menu
- Turn on snapping with View > Snap to Grid
- Set up the grid preferences in the Preferences dialog. Look for the Guides & Grids section. Mac: Illustrator > Preferences. Windows: Edit > Preferences
- Saving to PDF is like saving your document, not exporting.
- File > Save As…
- Choose PDF from the Format options at the bottom of the window.
- This opens the PDF dialog with loads of options.
- I recommend High Quality Print
- It flattens layers
- Sets PPI/DPI at 300 for image compression
- I recommend turning off “Preserve Illustrator Editing Capabilities” as it will reduce file size
PDF embeds all images and fonts, but to be really sure your text comes across exactly as you have it, and to prevent clients or others from messing with it, you can outline the text. I recommend doing this on a copy. For example, my typical print workflow goes like this:
- Finish up work on a document and use Save as… or Save a Copy to duplicate my work. I save this one with the word print in the name, usually at the end like “Poster – Print.ai”
- I outline all text (select all text, Type > Create Outlines)
- Remove any extra layers, guides, anything not in the final visual product
- Then either package the file or save as PDF, depending on the client or printer’s request.
|Vectorize Bitmaps||Properties Panel: Quick actions > Image Trace/Expand Appearance||Import a bitmap and run an Image Trace. Explore the outcome of different presets.|
Commit a trace with Expand Appearance
|Drawing 4: Blob Brush Tool||Blob Brush Tool||Draw with the Blob Brush tool to draw shapes freeform.|
|Distortions and Effects 2: Raster effects||Effects > Photoshop Effects|
Rasterize > Rasterize
|Apply Photoshop effects.|
Expanding a Photoshop effect creates a bitmap.
|Color 6: Opacity||Opacity and Blend Modes||Change the opacity elements and alter blending modes.|
- Workflow tricks and keyboard shortcuts
Keep working on your capstone project. Not working out? There’s plenty of time to correct course.
No skills table for this week. We’ll run through lots of keyboard shortcuts and workflow tricks.
You did it! We’ll share our experiences and art from our capstone projects.