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Illustrator Tutorials, Tutorials

Shapebuilder and Pathfinder ways to create a compound element (Free PDF tutorial)
















Do you ever get ratty with the Shapebuilder tool? The longer you use it, the slower and more painful it becomes? Pathfinder is your friend. Download the free PDF tutorial on how to use the Shapebuilder tool and, my preferred method, using functions from the Pathfinder menu.

Tutorial PDF



foxy O papercut

I have a papercutting to do. The first stage is design—a rough paper drawing then drawn in iIllustrator. Tracing the design doesn’t really work too well, I’ve found.  I create the flowers and leaves and superimpose them over the design then do the painstaking Shapebuilding and / or my method (I think it’s my method as I’ve never read of the technique anywhere else), of using Pathfinder and the Direct Selection tool.

It’s not really a job I’ve got time for as we’re in the middle of some refurbishment around the house. The back room has its new floor, it’s painted, the futon has been assembled and put into place, the curtains are up… joy and happiness are on my doorstep along with the new mats. We have a bedroom to refloor and some wardrobe doors to put up. Lots and lots of painting. 🙁 I really don’t like painting house things). 🙁

Poor Gracie had a very nasty tail injury. She came in with it drooping, almost dragging it. It was obviously very painful as she didn’t want us to touch her lower back or tail and yowled and pawed at us to leave it. We got her to the vet where they put her under anaesthesia, X-rayed it and checked her over. Luckily, it’s not broken. The vet thinks something make have yanked it or she got it caught and yanked it herself to get free. She was kept in overnight to recover from the anaesthetic and to check that she could wee.

Now, I’ve been down this road before with Homer, my gorgeous old ginger tom that I had for 20, possibly 22 – we can’t remember what year it was when we got him) years. He had to have his tail amputated and was never recovered the ability to wee. The vet showed me how to express his bladder and said he probably wouldn’t live more than a couple of years beyond that time. Very wrong, I’m glad to say, he lived another good 10 years or so. But, we —I say we but I was the only one who could do it—managed it and kept him healthy and happy and spoiled till the end of his long days. Yes it was inconvenient at times and holidays abroad were not an option as no cattery could take him. We managed and still got holidays—we booked a mobile home caravan every year and had weeks by the sea a couple of times a year, keeping him in while away, of course.

However, I was over the moon when the vet rang to say we could collect her – she’d had a wee (and the other), she’d twitched her tail though it was still drooping but there was no reason to believe she wouldn’t make a full recovery. Phew! Am glad to say that her tail is much more upright today but is still not the upright antenna we’re used to seeing but I’m confident she’s getting better so it’s a matter of time. Give her a few days or a week and I’m sure she’ll be back to normal.

As for the injury… hmmmm, I have suspicions that someone nearby hurt her. No proof. A certain man who came to my door after finding a dead pigeon in his garden and told me to put a F***** bell on her, put a F***** fence up (we have walls with tall hedges on three sides!!!!) and said he’d know what to do if he found her in his garden again… That was only a week ago.  It seems a little too coincidental that after making vague threats about what to do and then her suddenly coming home badly injured. I don’t think it is. I think it’s deliberate.

FYI: Gracie is a hunter but believe me, there are numerous cats round here. In Ireland, it is normal for most cats to be outdoor cats – though we keep her in every night when she comes in for her tea, that’s it, she’s in till the next day. And I truly wish she didn’t kill birds (or mice that breed is the shouty man’s F****ing compost heap) and we have tried collars and bells but she always gets them off. And, there are plenty of other cats that also catch birds. I’ve had birds left on my doorstep overnight when Gracie (and Jess) have been in all night. Jess, for the record, is not interested in catching birds. He has a core belief that every bird captured and killed round here is down to her. Ignorant P****.

So work to do and a bit of a vent. That’s all for now.


A papercut F design

Happy Bank Holiday Monday to all in Ireland.

The red design above is one I’ve been working on in Illustrator for a little while. Adding bits, deleting bits, tweaking, smoothing and checking in outline mode. The usual. As ever, I skip the Shapebuilder tool as it gets progressively slower the more it’s used till it becomes a pain and incurs the potential ‘Illustrator program is no longer responding’ threat. The way I add while still being able to keep cut outs (see the tip of the butterfly’s wing in the letter F) is a different method altogether. I wrote a quick Illustrator tutorial to explain it here. It is never as easy as it looks to weld everything together, keep clear definition of the elements and still ensure that the papercut will come away in one piece. Luckily, it cut perfectly, all in one piece as you can see in the top photo. Happy head.


Seventies inspiration

I was following some Pinterest links and came across an interesting one about things that reminded somebody of their childhood and found some lovely design work on a seventies perfume bottle. It inspired me to create a little flower and orange-filled menagerie. The rabbit shape was another pinned image but had no link to the original source. I tried using Tineye but it didn’t find a match so I’m stuck on giving anyone credit for the basic rabbit shape (it isn’t traced and has several points of variation to the original, though).

All the design elements were drawn in Illustrator, using Clipping Masks, Intersect and the Shapebuilder tools to crop things to the outlines.

The zigzag border is a simple brush created in Photoshop. I used the Polygon tool (set to 3 sides) to make a solid black triangle, turned it into a brush and then set the brush spacing so that each instance would be contiguous. It’s a simple matter to then hold down the Shift key to constrain each triangle to a straight line and draw a border.

I like the browns, oranges and greens. Not my usual pallette but lovely!

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