17 October 2008

Adobe Illustrator Extra Goodies: You Haz Them!


To an Adobe Illustrator power-user, this is nothing new. I'm not a power user yet, but I do know my way around the app I affectionately call Illy, and just like my advetures in Photoshop latterly, I'm working on sharpening my Illy skills up.

Illustrator is an image editor too, but it works on vectors. It's somewhat counter-intuitive from natural drawing styles, but once you learn Illy's ways and means, you can do amazing things (there's something about Illy, and that's a subject for a not-too-far-in-the-future epistle).

If you have Illy CS, CS2, CS3 or (and now) CS4, and you're on Mac, open a Finder window and navigate to your Mac HD/Applications/Adobe Illustrator (whatever)/Cool Extras/Sample Files folder. There is some great stuff in there, yo.

Now, open the Crystal.ai file. This is what you'll see:

Miaymoki Crystal AI Sample File

Is that not gorgeous? You just about want to reach into your monitor and pick it up. But it's all paths, fills, gradients, and blending modes (need it also be added that the artist, Miyamoto Yukio, is evidently a master of photorealism?)

Let's take a good close look at one of those marbles in the water. Here's one I isolated:

Single Marble

The reflection on the left side now starts to resolve into individual shapes. These are actually filled paths, but when viewed at the proper scale, the eye naturally blends these together, and it looks like the reflection of the side of the glass and the marbles around it.

The shadow covering the lower 2/3rds of the marble is like this (I turned Smart Guides on, which highlights all sorts of nifty things when you use it:

Miyamoto Marble way close up

(the blue-green boundary around the gradient fill is because of the Smart Guides. Like I said, Nifty! Clicky here to embiggen) So you see here that the shadow of the marble is just one big path and fill. Gradient fill, to be exact (check the fill box at the bottom of the tool bar to find out)

Adobe Illustrator is ideally qualified to create photorealistic illustrations for things like icons and the ever-popular glossy-glassy buttons that Web 2.0 has made ever-so-fashionable.

I'm looking for Illy tutes that have done the same thing that the Photoshop tutes I've found do; limber my mad skillz and show off just what these amazing programs do.

And if you're lucky enough to have Illy, look for the Cool Extras folder. You won't be sorry.

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Anonymous said...

I have illustrator cs4, and there is hardly anything in my Cool Extras folder. There is no Crystal.ai file. I don't get it.

Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis said...

I've not had the chance to install CS4 (I still have only a PowerMac G4, and you need a G5 or Intel Mac at minimum to run that) so I can't really give you a good answer here, I'm afraid. I can make two educated guesses though:

1) If there's another disk other than the installation disk, you may well find it on that.

2) It is possible I suppose that Adobe is not including some of those files anymore. That doesn't sound like Adobe, but anything's possible.

I'm sorry I can't give you a better answer than that at present.

Good luck.