Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A vector illustration approach to text in corelDRAW tutorial

One of the most important and powerful tools within corelDRAW is the interactive transparency tool, circled in red below.

Open up DRAW and practice on a solid object with this tool to get a feel of how it works, if you have never used it. It's super easy and once you get the hang of it... Your illustration will improve exponentially. Got a feel for it already? Nice... Let's make something.

First thing is to choose your text and font. I chose the basic font "compacta"... Solid black and boring. I pressed the p key to center the graphic.

I filled it with a pastel green color and gave it a darker green outline. Still boring!

I duplicated the graphic and made it a dark forest green color. Using the interactive transparency tool, I made the top left of the word opaque and gradually faded the transparency towards the bottom right. The layer looks like this.

Press the p key to center over the main graphic and it shoud look like this. Much better already!

I duplicated the main graphic again and made it a brownish green color, I then faded it using the transparency tool shown below.

Press the p key and this graphic should center itself over the main graphic to look like the example below. It's a very subtle effect... Compare with the above version. Layering subtle layers on top of one another like this will start to distinguish your illustration from other pieces and achieve harmonious color schemes (if done properly) as well as add depth to the image. We're going to do a lot of this.

Next... I duplicated the word corel again but this time I deleted the fill and used only the outline. I deleted the portion of the outline that would have been in the shadow, made it a bright yellowish green and used the tranparency tool on it shown below. The letters can be broken appart as well using the break curve appart function and the transparency tool can be used individually on each letter for even more control. I faded it accross the word as a whole.

I then centered it across the main graphic shown below. This is kind of a "generic" rim light effect to act as a light in the upper left hand side of the graphic. It's looking better but still rather flat. I like to think in terms of lighting when working... How am I going to light this for a more aesthetically pleasing image?

Duplicate the word corel again, you're going to be doing alot of that. I made it yellow this time and used the transparency tool again. Experiment with custom colors for the best effect. I found this color yellow to work well while other shades did not work as good. Using custom colors will seperate your illustration as well... It's important to establish a good custom palette of colors.

Center this image on to your main graphic. The yellow layer sort of imitates a yellowish light emitting from the bottom right of the graphic. It's looking better and more interesting already!

I then made a blue layer and lit the bottom left. Notice the smooth transition of color from cool to warm across the graphic now. By layering like this you are creating thousands (if not millions) of colors in your image using only a few.

Next, I made a Dark red box with a navy blue outline and ordered it to the bottom of the stack of layers. The same process will be applied to the box to give it a more interesting and multi-dimensional look.

I made a light towards the bottom right...

The image looks like this...

I made another light...

Now it looks like this. Super subtle... But effective. Experiment with layering a lot. Notice how much warmer the image is below compared to the previous version.

I duplicated the box, made it dark gray and used the interactive transparency tool to darken the upper left of the graphic.

Centered it across the main graphic. Notice how that bright green rim light is strategically placed to push on the dark area of the box for more contrast.

A blueish purple light from the bottom left.

I made three versions of a shadow for our word graphic... One for the bottom left light source, one for the bottom right and a very subtle one for the top center. Notice the value changes where the transparent text overlaps... Depth and realism in illustration is achieved by layering many MANY transparent layers to show form by the way of shadow, light and surface properties.

I placed the shadows strategically to bump up the contrast, thus separating the text from the background... Notice the darks between the E and the L. Also, note the very subtle shadow below the base of the letters... SUBTLE transparent layers make subtle color variances. Super important. More realistic shadows can be made by rasterizing the layer and bluring it as a bitmap graphic. Below is the finished image.

A little clip art with shadow added.

The interactive transparency tool is the key for solid vector illustration. It's ease of use is the primary reason I love corelDRAW so much and it alone has made me a much better and more versatile artist. I hope you've enjoyed my interactive transparency tool on text tutorial.
Happy holidays everyone!

Keywords: corel draw vector illustration text tutorial using the interactive transparency tool lighting approach to look like a raster method application

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