Thursday, August 31st, 2017

Illustrator: Extract dots from a stroked line

how to extract vector dots from a dotted stroke

Sounds easy but it isn’t! How to turn a dotted stroked line into a line of dots

Adding a series of dots to a line in Illustrator is as easy as setting some stroke options. For example, with a black stroke and no fill, set the stroke to a Weight of 20, select Rounded Caps, select Dashed Line, set the Dash value to 0 and the Gap to 40. This will give you a line like this:

how to make a dotted line in Illustrator

To turn the dotted stroke into individual dots, select the line and then, with the line selected perform this set of instructions without changing the selection:

  1. Select Object > Expand Appearance
  2. Select Object > Expand, disable Fill and enable Stroke and click OK
  3. Select Object > Compound Path > Release
  4. Select Object > Ungroup repeatedly until it can no longer be selected
  5. Then, optionally, choose Object > Group

There is a lot of discussion on the web offering solutions which involve rasterizing the line at high resolution. Luckily my method is much better as it doesn’t require you to then trace the dots which results in them looking just horrible. My method is 100% vector all the way and it works!

convert a dotted stroke into a series of dots

This method will work for capsule shapes and dashes – in fact, any shape you can design to stoke a line with, this process will extract the shapes from that stroke for you.

Thursday, June 16th, 2016

Start a New Line on top of an Existing One in Illustrator

illustrator pen tool start new path without merge or join

How to start a new path at the exact same place as another path starts or ends

In Illustrator, when you go to start a new path on the exact place that there is another path Illustrator wants to join them together – if you click on the start or end anchor. Or it wants to delete the anchor if you are over an anchor elsewhere on the path. If you’re just hovering over the path it tries to add an anchor point. Sucks doesn’t it? It seems impossible to make a totally new path and leave the existing one exactly where it is, untouched.

So, here’s the solution. First of all there is no key you can press to change this behaviour so you didn’t miss the memo on how to do this. You have to execute a workaround. So, you have two choices. Firstly you can go to the Layers palette and lock down the path that you want to draw on top of. When it is locked you can’t alter it so you can go ahead and start your new path anywhere on it. The second option is a little tricky but works a treat. Start your new line away from the path you don’t want to effect – you can be close but not close enough to effect the line.  Then, while you have the mouse still pressed on the start point, hold the SpaceBar and move the starting point to where it needs to be. Then let go the SpaceBar and continue drawing.

It’s not a pretty solution but it does work. So there you have it – how to draw a path in Illustrator on top of an existing path without the auto merge / auto join behaviour. Oh! and if you need it, the shortcut key to lock the currently selected object is Command (Control) + 2.

Friday, November 20th, 2015

Create Long Shadow Icons in Illustrator

Flat design is all the rage and here’s how to make your own icons with long shadows in Illustrator

Flat design is very popular and it looks great. It’s a design style that has little or no dimension so it is simple and very neat and clean. If there is any dimension it is typically illustrated by adding shadows – lovely long shadows that look best coming off the bottom right of the subject in the same way they would fall if the sun actually were casting the shadow off a real life 3D surface.

In this video I will show you two ways of creating long shadows for flat icon design. The first is simple and pretty fast and will work for personal projects. What worries me about it is that it isn’t very neat when you are selling vector stock. If you want to make it easier for a person who buys your images to be able to edit them then you need to provide a tidier resulting image. Hence my version #2 of the long shadow designs. In my second version everything is neatened up so it will be easier for a purchaser to understand what is going on in the image objects and to recolor the art if they need to do so.

So, here is the video that shows how to use blends and clipping masks and some other Illustrator tools to make wonderful long shadows for your icons. Fittingly I’ll be making my design using the Ai Illustrator logo as my example but it will work with any graphic or text element.

Friday, October 30th, 2015

Draw Colorful Boxes for Text in Illustrator


Learn some great Illustrator skills while you create text boxes in Illustrator

In this video you will see how to draw two different text boxes in Illustrator. You will learn how to add multiple strokes and effects to single shapes and also to grouped shapes each having a very different result in the final art. These techniques will help you build confidence as you use multiple strokes on shapes in Illustrator and with using the all important Appearance panel too.



Tuesday, October 27th, 2015

Paint in Illustrator using the Blob Brush

The Blob Brush lets you paint vector shapes – it’s a fun and easy tool to master in Illustrator

If you hate the pen tool but want a different and easy way to create shapes in Illustrator why not try the Blob Brush? This tool lets you paint real vector shapes with paintbrush like strokes.

In this video you will learn how to use the Blob Brush – how to select a color, how to add to existing strokes and how to edit shapes you have painted using the Smooth tool, Pencil tool and Eraser.

The blob brush is fun and extremely useful as you will see when you click to play the video:

Monday, October 26th, 2015

Draw a cityscape after dark in Illustrator

Learn to draw a cityscape at night in Illustrator

This nightscape city drawing is fun to draw in Illustrator and, in drawing it, you will learn a lot of tricks and techniques for filling and making shapes in Illustrator. You will make patterns and create repeating elements and you will learn how to texture an image. This video is jam packed with useful Illustrator skills as well as being interesting and challenging to draw.

Sunday, September 6th, 2015

How black is Illustrator Black?

I’ve been working with glossy things in Illustrator recently and I’ve encountered an interesting situation in relation to black.

To create the glosses for the baubles I am making, I need to use a black to white gradient in screen blend mode. It turns out that there are different ‘grades’ of black and, although they look pretty much the same on the screen when you are looking at the black objects, they actually work differently when using with blend modes.

Here is the regular Illustrator black (from the Swatches panel) – I am working in RGB mode, and this is how a filled black circle looks when added over the underlying shape and blended using Screen blend mode. You can see clearly where the circle begins and ends. You can also see from the Color palette that the black isn’t truly black:

Here is the same shape, but this time I’ve set the K value in the CMYK specification for the color as 100% (RGB are all 0) and the result is very different and you can’t see the edges of the circle:

Even though I am working in RGB and even though I only plan to use the images on the web, nevertheless creating a more blacker black using the CMYK color specification makes for a different and better blend (at least in this situation). If you need to, it might be a good idea to add a black black to your swatches so it will always be available.




Thursday, July 9th, 2015

It’s Fun to Make Flat Design Portrait Icons in Illustrator

Even if you can’t draw, you can make these icons!

It sounds scary to be drawing facial icons if you can’t draw, but these are simple to make. The lovely thing about using Illustrator is that you can move pieces around until you get the result you like. You can also delete bits that you don’t like and redraw them.

In this Youtube video I’ll show you the basics of making a flat design female portrait in Illustrator. You’ll build it from the bottom up stating with the shoulders and neck and the clothes. Then make the head and add the features. Finally you’ll do the hair and the optional shadow. Building a solution up step by step like this is a great way to learn to use Illustrator and a fun way to put your skills to work.

Your design can be realistic or quirky, as these samples show but they are all done the same way with simple steps that anyone can do.



So, without further ado, here is the video for your enjoyment:

Friday, February 20th, 2015

Illustrator Script to Make a Rectangle the Size of the Artboard

I used to have this information buried at the end of another post but I keep looking for it and never finding it. So, if I have trouble finding it, you probably do too! So, here is a post dedicated to creating a rectangle the size of the artboard in Illustrator. If you have multiple artboards then each gets a rectangle.

I found the script over at the Adobe forums there is a short script from a user called moluapple which creates a rectangle the size of the artboard. It’s a great script and I use it just about every day.

To use the script, head over to the forum and copy the code from there, paste it into a plain text editor such as Notepad or WordPad and save it as a script file with the .jsx extension and a name that makes sense to you. Put it in the Presets/Scripts folder for your Illustrator installation. Restart Illustrator and you’re ready to go.

Just in case the forum thread one day disappears, here is a screenshot of the script which makes a rectangle the size of the artboard – that way, you can always type it by hand!

Also, here is a link to my Youtube video on scripting in Illustrator just in case you need some more help downloading and installing scripts:

So, now you are all ready to download, unzip, locate and run scripts in Illustrator and I have a post I can refer to anytime I need to do it too!

Saturday, January 24th, 2015

What Symbols are Included in Illustrator

Instantly view the entire Illustrator Symbol collection

Illustrator comes with a lot of handy symbols but opening each set in turn looking for something usable is a major time suck.

If you think like me then you’ll love this blog post over at  Tiny Tutorials’ Adobe Classroom which has a honking big image with all the symbols shown in it for your enjoyment.

Here’s a mini preview of what you will find there – go! click! savor the goodness! Tell them I sent you.





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