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Design Surface Patterns From Scratch

Lesson 3 of 31

Introduction to Illustrator

Bonnie Christine

Design Surface Patterns From Scratch

Bonnie Christine

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Lesson Info

3. Introduction to Illustrator

Lesson Info

Introduction to Illustrator

I'm so excited to dive in headfirst to Illustrator. We are gonna start from the very, very basics, and go to the advanced by day three. So I just want to throw out a quick definition to Illustrator. You guys have used the program before probably. So the unique thing about Illustrator is that it's all vector based, and what that means is that instead of pixels that you're used to, so if you are working with a photograph, or a JPEG, if you blow it up really big you get to see all those little squares, and so it looks pixelated. Illustrator works with anchor points and lines so that it is endlessly scalable and it doesn't lose any of its integrity. So, we are gonna be working with that while we draw, and that gives us our end product as something that is applicable to mediums of all kinds of different things. So, we're gonna hop onto the computer, and I am just gonna start by opening the program. I'm using CS6, but everything that I cover in this course, you'll be able to use in Creative ...

Cloud all the way down to any of the other Illustrator versions. There just may be some minor differences but you'll be able to follow along. So, just gonna click to open CS6. Okay so this brings up the main Illustrator interface, and I'm gonna be using some keyboard shortcuts during this course, and so I want to give these to our studio audience, but also let you know that these are my personal favorite keyboard shortcuts. And I'll be using them throughout the course. So they're just the ones that I tend to use that are specific to surface pattern design. Yeah, while Bonnie is handing those out to the students, I will remind everyone, it's very easy for you to get a hold of these. All you have to do is click the RSVP button. Again that's on the course page, so you'll see if you're on the live page just click on the title of the course. It'll bring you over to the course page. RSVP right there, completely free of charge and if you scroll down you'll see the downloads section, and this keyboard shortcut PDF is one of the files there, so you can just click on it, download the PDF. Print it out if you like, have it next to your computer, or you can keep it digitally on your computer or on your iPad, however you want to use it. Great, thanks Chris. Sure. So there are hundreds of keyboard shortcuts that come installed on Illustrator. These are the ones I use most often and I will also be talking you through them during the course, but if you have any questions just refer back to this printable. So, I'm gonna hit Command + N to open a new document. So you can title your document if you want to. I'll call this CreativeLive. You can also decide how many artboards that you would like to work with. So usually it's one, but if you're creating a multi page PDF document, then you'll put in or how many ever documents you want. You can also create artboards after you get started, and I'll show you how to do that in a little bit. So, the profile, you can choose whether this is for the print or the web. I'll choose Print, and the size, Letter is standard eight and a half by 11 inch, or you can choose something else, or you can put in a custom width and height here. This is in points. Points and pixels are similar, but I like to work in pixels. You can also work in inches, millimeters, and centimeters, and a couple of other things. So we will stick with this. It's a letter page, in pixels. Here's where you add your bleed. I don't usually have to do this, but if are working for a print and this is something that a printer will usually tell you ahead of time that we need .125 inches of a bleed all around. This is where you add that. If you click down here on Advanced, you get to choose your color mode, either CMYK or RGB. You can change this later on but it's best to know what your project is for now, so CMYK is for print, and RGB is for web. So I am gonna stick with CMYK and click OK. Yes? Kind of an early on question. Okay. The difference between CMYK and RGB, since you're creating it on the web, even though it ultimately may be printed on a press, they say that you should kind of for your colors and everything that you're working stick with RGB until you have to convert it over. Does that make sense at all to do that? Sure, yeah. So I kind of work from both ends, because you can convert things at the last minute, and I also work with Pantone colors which I'll discuss a little later too. So I don't have to worry too much about that, but it's probably safe to start in either, but it's definitely safe to start in RGB if you're gonna be putting this on the web, and then convert to CMYK if you are gonna be putting it to a printer, just like you said. Did I explain that well? Yes, yes. Okay. So here's our new document. What I want to begin with today is probably everybody's workspace looks differently, and if you're comfortable with your workspace, you can keep it as it is, but if you're new I'm gonna get us all on the same page so that all of our tools are in the same place. The first thing I'm gonna do though is Illustrator lets you change the color of the workspace here, and I am just gonna get mine to what I'm used to working with at home. So it's under Illustrator, Preferences, and I believe it's User Interface. So right now it's all the way light, and I like to bring this down to the dark, and have my canvas color be white. Okay, you don't have to do that. If you want to do it, that's where you find it. I'll hit OK. So, now I want to build up my workspace. I think I'll, maybe I'll just close out everything and build from the beginning. So you're gonna find all these tools under Windows, and I'm gonna start with clicking on Color. And this is gonna bring up my Color panel over here. Swatches is also under View, and just make sure that you click on Swatches. Mine is already up, but yours may not be, so make sure you select Swatches and that there's a checkmark beside that. So what I'm gonna do with this is if you click, hold it and drag it, you can bring it over here, and that turns into a blue line right there. Can you see that line? So when you drop it, it goes right in between there, so these are kind of magnetic, if this makes sense, so you can really build out your workspace over here to the right. I'm just gonna close this so I can show you how to get that too. Go to View, sorry Window, and make sure that Stroke is checked. I'm gonna do the same thing with that. Just grab the Stroke and bring it over here until it kind of magnets to that bottom one. Then the other way I like to work is kind of keep some small icons over here that I use frequently, so I'm gonna start with Image Trace. Okay, so this little icon looks like this, and a couple of other things have popped up here too. But I'm gonna show you how to get those, and you can move this around by just clicking and dragging, and taking it down or up, wherever you want to do this. And if you click on that Image Trace it's gonna expand out to the left. It's gonna have this fly-out menu, and we'll get into how to use all these tools later, but that's where you'll find that. Next I like to have the Align tools. So, I'm not sure why all these are out, but I'm just gonna, I'm gonna close them all so I can really walk you through how to open them all up. So, the only thing that I have open so far is Image Trace. So I'm gonna grab the Align tools. And just grab this and bring it right there, okay? Next I'm gonna build in my Artboards. Grab the artboard and drag and drop it over here. Next, I want my Pathfinder. Same thing. And my Layers, Layers panel. Gonna drag that and drop it over here. Okay so we'll get into the nitty gritty on those a little later, but, I wanted you to have a workspace that feels comfortable and has all of the essential tools that we'll be using over the next few days. So if there's something that you use that's not on here now, you can add it, and you can always find them up here in the Window panel. There's some things I don't use very frequently that we'll be coming up here to grab, but this is the essentials. So once you have your artboard the way that you want it, you're happy with it, come up to Window, go to Workspace, and create a new workspace. So I'm going to name this BonnieLive, and click OK. So it is saved now, so if you mess it up, move things around, and you ever want to get back to this, all you have to go is Window, Workspace, and now you can see I'm on BonnieLive, so you can switch through. You can also if you're brand new to Illustrator you can also run through these that are built into Illustrator to see if any of those look appealing to you, and how they have them setup. Okay, I have for this first segment created a little activity file just to show you some things, so I'm gonna go ahead and open that. Okay so I have some existing artwork on this page. I don't want you to worry about that. It's just for me to show you some techniques and tools, but we're gonna get to how to create this actual artwork in the days to come, okay? So the first thing I want to do is zoom in a little bit, and to do that I hit the Command + Spacebar, and then I drag my marquee over what I want to zoom into. So I just want to zoom in a little bit here, and if you do too far you can zoom out by hitting Option + Command + Spacebar. Okay and I want to talk about that for just a second. When I got here yesterday, the Option + Command + Spacebar was bringing up Spotlight for me, the Spotlight Finder on a Mac, and so I just want to, in case you're at home and you're getting really frustrated because Spotlight is coming up, I want to show you how to turn that off. Because, if you're on a Mac, those keyboard shortcuts do two things, and so if you want to use the Option + Command + Spacebar like I'm doing for this course, you need to turn that keyboard shortcut off in your Mac, and I'm gonna show you how to do it right now. Go to your Finder, and you need to open System Preferences. Then you're gonna go to Keyboard, Keyboard Shortcuts, and then I believe it's under Spotlight and you can see here this Show Spotlight window is Option + Command + Spacebar, and yesterday it was checked. Okay, so that brings up this. Let's see right here, and so I want to uncheck that and your zoom out will work. Now if you, I'm just gonna close out of here, okay. Bonnie, we have some people on the chatroom who are on PCs. I know everybody has a different situation at home. Great, yes. Is there any advice you can give to PC users? I know you're on a Mac right now but do a lot of these shortcuts, do they transfer over to PC users as well? So I believe Command is Control on the PC, and that is as far as I'm concerned the only difference. So instead of saying Command or Control, I'm gonna be saying Command. If you're on a PC it's Control. Great. Will that be good? Yeah. And the other than that you won't have to do this Spotlight thing, so hooray. And other than that all the keyboard shortcuts should be the same. Excellent. Yeah, great question. So, what I want to start with is just going through our Tools panel over here to the left, okay? This black arrow tool is called the Direct Selection Tool, and it is what is going to allow us to just move things around, okay? It selects the whole object. And, the keyboard shortcut for that is V, and I remember that because V looks like an arrow, upside down pointy arrow, okay? Let me make sure two other things so that your application looks the same as mine does. If you are under View, make sure that your Smart Guides are checked. We'll get into that a little later. And make sure that right here it says Show Bounding Box. If yours says Hide Bounding Box, go ahead and hit that, so that will hide the bounding box so that you can see our direct selection a little easier, okay? I can show you what that looks like. If Show Bounding Box is on, it puts a whole box around the entire illustration, and what we're gonna be doing is so detail oriented that I prefer not to see the box. So I choose Hide Bounding Box. Okay, the white arrow tool is called the Direct Selection Tool, and its keyboard shortcut is A. So if I hit A, the arrow turns white, and what that allows me to do, I'm gonna zoom in, is grab a single point and move just the single point, okay? So I can turn that square into a rectangle. I couldn't do that with the, I could not do that with the black arrow tool. Okay so if I come down here to this little bird I have, and I want to just make his beak a little different, I use my white arrow tool, and I can just come in and manipulate these little anchor points all the way around, okay? The other thing that the white arrow tool gives you is if I zoom way, way in, this is how, this is what I was talking about, this is how Illustrator works with these anchor points, and then lines in between them. So with the Direct Selection Tool, you can click on these little tiny anchor points, and these handles will show up for you. So you can grab this handle and change the curvature of the line between the anchor point that you're on and its partner anchor point. So if you just hold it down, the blue lines are gonna show you where if you let go of your mouse, where this line is gonna drop, okay? So, you can change that. Come over here and change this one and just keep changing these anchor points, okay? So this takes a little bit of time to get used to, but you'll get the hang of it. Both sides of an anchor point have a handle on them, and you can see that it kind of turns it into an S shape as you go about this, okay? So I'm just gonna move this down a little bit and make that look a little more natural, okay? That's the difference in the Direct and the Indirect Selection Tool. If you want to go back and forth between the two, it's V and A. Another keyboard shortcut that I use all the time is Command + Zero, and that brings us up to our full page. It makes your art space zoom out to where you see the full artboard that you're working on. So this is the artboard that is selected. You can see it's a little darker of a line than its sister artboard over here. But if I click over here then that one turns to darker, okay? So I'm gonna go back over here. Next up on our tools that I want to share with you is the Lasso Tool. So, another way to select things in Illustrator is to just draw a marquee around them, okay? So that selects the bird. If I want this bird it selects this bird, but if I'm down here and I want to select this bird, drawing a marquee is not happening. It's not great, and it would not be easy to go in here, if you hold the Shift button, you can click on these to deselect them, but that's a ton of work. The other problem is that I haven't grouped these together, so these are all little tiny bits that make up these birds. So, the easiest way to go about that is to use the Lasso Tool. The keyboard shortcut is Q, and you can remember that because it kind of looks like a lasso. And what it allows you to do is it's basically the Direct Selection Tool, so the white arrow tool, but you can draw around it. So I'm gonna just hold my mouse down and start drawing around this bird. And get in there. And then if I release it'll select everything that I've drawn the lasso around. At this point I can hit Command + G to group those little bits together. So I am going to do that to all of these. Using the Lasso Tool, just holding it down and getting in there, and back up, and I'm gonna hit Command + G to group that. And I'll come here, hit Command + G to group that. And then, this is the last one. Command + G. So now if I have the Direct Selection Tool I can grab these guys when they're grouped together, and move them independently from each other. If you need to ungroup those, you can right-click and select Ungroup, and that will take it back to all the little bits, okay? When you do the Lasso Tool, it doesn't matter that you have something else selected? Like it's already all highlighted. If you just want to go to your next group that you want to group together, you can just go ahead and start? You can just start drawing. You don't have to worry about deselecting that first group that you started with? That's correct, so like I have this highlighted right now, I can just go ahead and start, and I believe if I'm right it pops over. Yeah. Yeah, so I do tend to deselect what I'm working on a lot, and you'll notice me like kind of doing that. I'll go through how I do that. I deselect what I'm doing a lot so that I, I think I just learned that because I messed up a bunch of stuff enough times to just deselect everything and start fresh. Okay. So I'll go ahead and explain that. When you are using a tool, something that's great in Illustrator is that if you hit the Command key, it will take you back to either the Direct or the Indirect Tool, depending on which one you last used. Okay, so I have the Lasso Tool selected now. If I hit Command it takes, you see my arrow turn black. It took me back to the black, but I'm holding down the Command key. If I let go I go right back to the tool I was using. This is incredibly helpful. Because you'll use the Direct and Indirect Selection Tools more than anything in Illustrator, so you're constantly having to go back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. So no matter what tool you're using, if you need to get back to one to select something, hit Command, move this around, and then as soon as you let go of Command, you're back to the Lasso Tool. Okay, and that will make more and more sense as we start going, and these keyboard shortcuts, I know that they can be a little overwhelming. They were super overwhelming to me when I was learning, but if you just hang in there and get the hang of them, they will make your work experience so much smoother. Okay. Next I want to talk about artboards. So I'm gonna hit Command + Zero to zoom out to the artboard that I'm currently on. You can find your artboards in a couple of different places. I already put them in our tools over here on the right, so if you hit, if you hit that Artboards, you will see all the artboards that I have open in this document, which is kind of a lot, seven, or a little more. So if you, you can double-click on these to enter a name for them. This is incredibly helpful if you are working on certain projects, you'll just want to name your artboards so that you, especially if you have, I would say if you have more than six, it's great to name them. This one is groups and isolation mode. I didn't really need to name them for our application today. And then the other thing that happens if you double-click on it is that it takes you to that artboard. So, once again if you have them named I can double-click on that one, and it'll take me to that page. If you want to, I have a couple of blank ones down here. If I click on the artboard and select it, you can tell it's selected because it's a little darker around the edges. It'll also become highlighted over here in your Artboards panel. If you're done with that artboard you can just click it, hold it, and drag it to the trash. Okay, and I think six is empty too so I'll just drag that one to the trash. If you need a duplicate of an artboard, you can select one, and drag and drop it over here to, let me tell you what that's called, New Artboard. You can click and drag it over to the New Artboard and it will create a duplicate. I believe it probably put it up here though, yeah. So it created an exact duplicate of whatever I had on that artboard. So my text is not super important, but if I, say this comes in handy if you are building a portfolio and you have something you want aligned on every single page, like a page number at the bottom, you don't want to have to mess with aligning it, you can just duplicate your pages. I'm gonna hit Command + Z to undo that because we don't really need it. The other thing that you can do is make custom artboards in your document by drawing a square or rectangle of any size. So that takes us right on into the next tool which is the Rectangle Tool. The keyboard shortcut for that is M, so if you click on the Rectangle Tool you have two options. You can either start dragging and dropping a rectangle or a square. I'm gonna hit Command, Undo, or if you just click once it'll bring up the Rectangle tool panel and you can insert the width and height that you want that rectangle to be, or square to be. And the other really great thing in Illustrator is that even though my document is setup in points, it will register any measurement that you put in there. So if I want this to be eight and a half inches, I can put in eight and a half, and when I hit the Tab button it converts it to points. So I don't have to know how many points eight and a half inches is. If I want a eight and a half by 11 inches, okay, Tab and it automatically changes it to whatever I have the document setup to be. So I'll click OK, and as long as this is a solid color box, it doesn't matter what it is, you can convert it to a artboard by going to Object, Artboard, Convert to Artboard. Something I use all the time. I don't even worry about what my beginning artboard size usually is, unless I know for sure what I'm working on, because I'll just create the artboard that I want to once I'm in the document. Okay, the next thing I want to talk about is the Pathfinder. This is something I use all the time, and it makes creating shapes incredibly, kind of unique shapes incredibly easy. So I am gonna run down, let's see. I'm gonna run over here to my blank artboard, oops. And, so I'm gonna, under the Rectangle Tool, if you hold your mouse down and drag to the right it'll bring out the fly-out menu, and you'll see that you can draw a rectangle, a rounded corner rectangle, circles, polygons, stars, and flares, if you so feel like you want to flare. So I'm gonna start with a rectangle. When I start drawing a square, okay, if I keep my mouse down I have complete freedom over what size this draws, okay? If I want it to be an exact square I need to hold down the Shift key. The Shift key constrains my proportions to make it a perfect square. This is true with everything in Illustrator, so if you're drawing a line and you want it straight, hold down the Shift key. If you're doing rotation, and you want 90, 45, 180 degrees, hold down the Shift key and it will constrain that for you. So I'll be talking you through that and I'll be using it all the time, but the Shift key is your best friend. So if I have a square here, say I want, and then I'm gonna come grab the Ellipse Tool and draw a circle, and so the same deal with this. It's kind of an oval, but if I hold down the Shift key, it'll make it an exact circle. Okay, and I'm gonna just change the color. We're gonna get to color in a second. But for my purposes I just want to show you this. Say for some reason I wanted this shape to be one solid shape. This would be a little difficult to make using the Pen Tool, which we'll get into in a minute, but if I select both of those, I can come over to my Pathfinder, and select Unite. Okay, and so that just united both of those shapes. You can build all kinds of shapes using this. Taking basic shapes, squares, stars, rectangles, circles, ovals, and making big shapes without having to go in and really being meticulous about your pens, your pen points. I'm gonna come in, Command + Z to undo that action, and then the other thing I want to show you is if you have that selected, and you select Minus Front, it's gonna delete the shape that's on top from the shape on the bottom, okay? Incredibly handy tool as well.

Class Description

Short on time? This class is available HERE as a Fast Class, exclusively for Creator Pass subscribers.

Did you know that you can turn your sketches, drawings, and doodles into patterns? Join Bonnie Christine for an introduction to creating patterns to use in your very own fabric prints, stationery designs, website backgrounds, cell phone covers, and much, much more.

This course will take you through the process of working with Adobe Illustrator to create digital versions of your artwork. You’ll learn tips and tricks for working in Illustrator and how you can use the software to create repeating patterns of your very own drawings. Bonnie will guide you step-by-step through the process of transforming sketches and tracings into vector art which can be used for an endless array of printable and online projects from customized stationery to computer wallpaper. You’ll also learn how to assemble your collection of designs into a portfolio you can use to impress potential collectors and buyers.

This course will lay a solid foundation for those new to Illustrator and open up exciting new possibilities for people already familiar with the program. If you are ready to bring your drawings to life in new ways this class is for you.


Adobe Illustrator CS6

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Desktop and Smartphone Backgrounds

Grow Your Blog eBook

Jouney to Becoming a Surface Pattern Designer

Design Printables

Color Palettes and Pattern Mockups

Keynote Session 1

Keynote Session 2

Keynote Session 3

Math Made Easy with Rotate Tool

Industry Resources and Supplies

Keyboard Shortcuts

My Creative Story


Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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Emily Leggett

I am so glad I took the time to sit through all 3 days of this course. I have been to hour long classes that I can't wait to get out of and this one I sat in for 3 days and I am wishing it wasn't over. I take a lot of continuing education classes and am always trying to learn new things and I have to say this is by far the absolute most informative, educational, inspiring, and motivating classes I have ever taken. Bonnie Christine was an amazing teacher. She took the time to take us through all aspects of the process and even beyond showing us so many things that can be done with everything she taught us in this class. I think she did a great job with the class, was easy to follow and is someone I would love to learn from again. Great job on everything. I would recommend this class to anyone who wants to learn about surface pattern design and Illustrator. Great job to everyone involved in putting this course together!

a Creativelive Student

I'm about halfway through my first viewing of the course and I have to say, its been electrifying! There is so much quality information here, its an excellent starting point, and I do think I can start working towards a career in design now. It also makes me want to find more information and courses in the art and design area. Bonnie is such a joyful, honest and enthusiastic instructor and really, it feels like she';s hosting an amazing party for her friends. Thank you Bonnie for doing this course and thank you CreativeLive for pricing it so affordably

a Creativelive Student

Awesome awesome awesome course! Thank you Bonnie! Thank you Creative Live! I have learned so much... so much great information packed together in one class. I am so glad I bought the course so I can rewatch it any time I need to.