Blog.SpoonGraphics http://blog.spoongraphics.co.uk Design Tutorials and Free Resource Downloads Mon, 14 Apr 2014 06:00:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 How To Create a Realistic Money Effect in Photoshophttp://blog.spoongraphics.co.uk/tutorials/create-realistic-money-effect-photoshop http://blog.spoongraphics.co.uk/tutorials/create-realistic-money-effect-photoshop#comments Mon, 14 Apr 2014 06:00:17 +0000 http://blog.spoongraphics.co.uk/?p=4768 The classic illustration style used on money is something I’ve always wanted to figure out how to replicate in Photoshop. There’s plenty of Photoshop tutorials that show how to create a basic halftone line effect, but they never quite capture that authentic engraved look with plenty of shading and tone. After lots of trial and […]

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The classic illustration style used on money is something I’ve always wanted to figure out how to replicate in Photoshop. There’s plenty of Photoshop tutorials that show how to create a basic halftone line effect, but they never quite capture that authentic engraved look with plenty of shading and tone. After lots of trial and error I finally managed to figure it out, so here’s an in depth tutorial on how to create a realistic money illustration effect in Photoshop (with some help from Illustrator!).

Photoshop money illustration effect

The effect we’ll be creating in today’s tutorial is this vintage engraved or etched illustration style that builds up the tonal areas of an image with lots of tiny lines. Unlike the basic halftone line effect used in other tutorials, this method actually uses curved and wavy lines that vary in weight to produce an accurate replica of this classic illustration technique.

Preparing the screens

Before we can add the effect to a photograph we first need to build a range of ‘screens’ which will then be layered up over our chosen image to produce the carved illustration effect. Photoshop can certainly be used here, but Illustrator makes this job much easier. Create a new Illustrator document and draw a straight line on the artboard. Adjust it with no fill and a 1pt black stroke, then head to Effect > Distort & Transform > Zig Zag.

Enter 4mm in the Size option and apply 11 ridges in the settings. Select the Smooth option to create a wavy line.

Hold the ALT and Shift keys and drag a duplicate of the wavy line vertically down the artboard then with both lines selected go to Object > Blend > Make.

Head back to Object > Blend > Blend Options to configure the settings. Choose Specified Steps and adjust the number to produce a series of tightly packed parallel lines. 220 was a good figure for the scale of my document.

Take a copy of the blended lines then open a new document in Photoshop and paste them in. Choose Pixels as the Paste method.

Switch back over to Illustrator and change the stroke weight to 2pt. Take a copy of this updated element and paste it onto a new layer in the Photoshop document.

Repeat the process of increasing the line weight by 1pt then pasting the heavier version on a new layer. Do this for 3pt, 4pt, 5pt and finally 6pt lines.

The layers in the Photoshop document should all be perfectly aligned, so as each layer is toggled in visibility the lines should subtly get thicker and thicker.

Now comes the trick that really allows this technique to work. Rename the darkest screen layer to Shadows and the following two layers to Dark Shading. On those two Dark Shading layers press CMD+T and rotate them by 90° so the wavy lines run vertically.

Rename the following two layers to Light Shading and the final lightest layer to Highlights. Transform this Highlights layer and rotate it by 45° so the wavy lines run diagonally.

After spending hours trying to replicate this effect my real breakthrough came when I discovered that I needed more layers. When I analysed artwork in this style I could only see three weights of lines in different directions, but my original attempts with 3 layers didn’t quite cut it. Too much detail was lost and there we harsh lines between each tonal layer. The key is to use a couple of layers in the same direction that only have a difference in line weight of 1pt (the Dark Shading and Light Shading lines in our document). These layers hardly seem to make a difference when you see them individually, but when viewed on the whole as part of the full illustration they really add an extra level of detail and tone to the effect.

Applying the effect

Open up your chosen image in Photoshop and duplicate it 6 times (one for each screen layer) by pressing the shortcut CMD+J. I’ve chosen this image of a haughty queen in royal dress from Shutterstock.

Turn off the visibility of all layers except the first one then go to Image > Adjustments > Threshold. Enter 80 for the Threshold Level. Repeat the process with all other layers, but incrementally increase the Threshold level to 100, 120, 140, 160 & 180;

Drag the 6 layers and lines into the photograph document and align them centrally over your image. Turn off the visibility for all these layers.

Turn on the visibility of the first layer with the lowest threshold value and go to Select > Color Range.

Change the Selection option to Shadows then hit OK. Alternatively make sure your foreground colour is set to black, then the default Sampled Colors option will suffice.

With the color range selection active select the Shadows layer and click the New Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers palette. This will apply a mask using the selection to automatically erase out portions of the image that correspond to the brighter areas of the image.

Turn off the visibility of all layers with the exception of the next Threshold layer. Load the Color Range selection of this layer and apply it as a layer mask to the Dark Shading layer.

Repeat the process of loading a selection and applying it as a layer mask to each layer of lines until the darkest threshold layer has been applied to the highlights lines layer.

Turn off all the Threshold layers and make all the line shading layers visible to see the full effect. Each layer of linework is limited to different areas of the image thanks to the variances in threshold levels. The shading layers that run in the same direction but have 1pt differences in weight help add extra levels of tone & detail and the shading is intensified further by the cross hatching.

Add a Solid Color adjustment layer with a green fill to the top of the stack and change the blending mode to Color to give the illustration a green hue to finish off the money effect.

Photoshop money illustration effect

The final Photoshop money effect looks super realistic and really captures the authenticity of that classic engraved illustration style. The curvature of the lines and how they build up the detail and tone are what really makes this effect work. It can be quite a tedious process building those screen layers, but Access All Areas members will find a series of ready made PNGs in the source file download to make life easier.

Download the source file

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Customizable Vintage Motorcycle Logos for Membershttp://blog.spoongraphics.co.uk/premium/customizable-vintage-motorcycle-logos-members http://blog.spoongraphics.co.uk/premium/customizable-vintage-motorcycle-logos-members#comments Fri, 11 Apr 2014 06:00:21 +0000 http://blog.spoongraphics.co.uk/?p=4763 Expert designer and illustrator Ian Barnard of Vintage Design Co has donated more fantastic resources for Access All Areas members. This pack of vintage motorcycle logos contains 6 customisable logo templates that allow you to quickly create a cool identity for your personal branding or retro t-shirt designs. They’re all brilliantly designed with a hand […]

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Expert designer and illustrator Ian Barnard of Vintage Design Co has donated more fantastic resources for Access All Areas members. This pack of vintage motorcycle logos contains 6 customisable logo templates that allow you to quickly create a cool identity for your personal branding or retro t-shirt designs. They’re all brilliantly designed with a hand drawn appearance, but all the text remains editable, making it easy to create authentic vintage style hand illustrated art in seconds.

Vintage motorcycle logos

Ian Barnard is a talented logo designer & illustrator who creates and sells amazing hand crafted resources in his Vintage Design Co shop. His marketplace is packed full of logos and resources that can be quickly and easily customised to create authentic vintage style identity designs. Ian is kindly treating Access All Areas members to his full vintage motorcycle logos pack, one of the latest additions to his Vintage Design Co shop and a fantastic time saving resource for designers like myself who have a passion for motorcycles and the vintage design style.

Vintage motorcycle logos preview

This vintage motorcycle logo pack contains 6 Illustrator vector logo template files with editable text both in normal and knockout styles along with a separate file of all the individual vector elements (bikes, helmets, sunbursts, etc) for easy picking and use in your own designs. There’s also a great looking texture file (the one used in these previews) in vector and PNG format.

Download the source file

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15 Free PSD Templates to Mockup Your T-Shirt Designshttp://blog.spoongraphics.co.uk/articles/15-free-psd-templates-mockup-t-shirt-designs http://blog.spoongraphics.co.uk/articles/15-free-psd-templates-mockup-t-shirt-designs#comments Mon, 07 Apr 2014 06:00:00 +0000 http://blog.spoongraphics.co.uk/?p=4761 T-shirt PSD templates are one of the most sought after types of mockup files, they allow you to preview how your latest illustration or apparel design would look after being freshly screen printed on a garment. I’ve tried and tested each file in this roundup to narrow the collection down to the best freebies available. […]

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T-shirt PSD templates are one of the most sought after types of mockup files, they allow you to preview how your latest illustration or apparel design would look after being freshly screen printed on a garment. I’ve tried and tested each file in this roundup to narrow the collection down to the best freebies available. Each PSD file comes with multiple layers that allow you to change the colour of the shirt and apply your own design to blend with the creases and folds.

Pixeden Tshirt Mockup Template PSD

Pixeden Tshirt Mockup Template PSD

GraphicBurger T-Shirt MockUp PSD

GraphicBurger T-Shirt MockUp PSD

Threadless Blank Mock-Ups (Shirt_02)

Threadless Blank Mock-Ups (Shirt_02)

Threadless Blank Mock-Ups (Girly Styles)

Threadless Blank Mock-Ups (Girly Styles)

Angelacevedo Blank T-Shirt – White 001

angelaacevedo Blank T-Shirt - White 001

Shirt PSD V2 by GrahamPhisherDotCom

Shirt PSD V2 by GrahamPhisherDotCom

T-Shirt PSD by GrahamPhisherDotCom

T-Shirt PSD by GrahamPhisherDotCom

V-Neck Shirt PSD by GrahamPhisherDotCom

V Neck Shirt Template by GrahamPhisherDotCom

WeGraphics Free T-Shirt Mockup PSD Files

WeGraphics Free T-Shirt Mockup PSD Files

Male T-Shirt Template by Thetrueguilty

Male T-Shirt Template by Thetrueguilty

Freebie Clouds T-shirt Mockup

Freebie Clouds T-shirt Mockup

Gildan Tee V2.0 by TheApparelGuy

Gildan Tee V2.0 by TheApparelGuy

Women’s Scoop Tee by TheApparelGuy

Women's Scoop Tee by TheApparelGuy

Fashion V-Neck PSD by TheApparelGuy

Fashion Button V-Neck PSD by TheApparelGuy

Upstate Merch T-Shirt Mockup Template

Upstate Merch T-Shirt Mockup Template

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Blog.SpoonGraphics Turns 7 – Surviving the Apocalypsehttp://blog.spoongraphics.co.uk/latest_news/blog-spoongraphics-turns-7-surviving-apocalypse http://blog.spoongraphics.co.uk/latest_news/blog-spoongraphics-turns-7-surviving-apocalypse#comments Fri, 04 Apr 2014 06:00:31 +0000 http://blog.spoongraphics.co.uk/?p=4750 Happy Birthday everyone! April marks that time of year when I celebrate another year of running this blog and take a look back at what has changed over time. Seven years have now ticked by since I started this site in April of 2007. I was a little worried after writing up last year’s 6 […]

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Happy Birthday everyone! April marks that time of year when I celebrate another year of running this blog and take a look back at what has changed over time. Seven years have now ticked by since I started this site in April of 2007. I was a little worried after writing up last year’s 6 year anniversary post because soon after Google Reader was due to be retired, which was the tool 75% of my readers used to browse my content. Thankfully I survived the apocalypse and my blog is doing better than ever! Let’s take a look behind the scenes and see what’s new this year.

Blog.SpoonGraphics 2014

I always start these anniversary posts with links to my previous yearly celebrations. It’s always interesting to go back and see how my blog has progressed and how I described my experiences:

Surviving the apocalypse

I guess the main cause for celebration is that my blog is still managing to bring in viewers despite the drama that led me to believe that my traffic was going to drop by half due to Google Reader’s demise. I began prepping for the apocalypse this time last year by setting up an email newsletter. I always thought these things were a little old fashioned and that RSS was surely the new fangled way to ping your readers about new content, but I knew many Internet marketers were making a killing from their email list and that every well known blogger always cites that they wish they had started building their list earlier.

Subscribe page screenshot

I knew that only a fraction of the 45,000 Google Reader users who subscribed to my blog would take the time to resubscribe with an alternative tool, so I needed to begin building a fresh audience of email subscribers. I selected AWeber as my email service of choice and began configuring my lists. Thankfully I had a head start with the collection of emails that were currently receiving my RSS-to-Email broadcasts via Feedburner. I actually documented the process of migrating as a post over on Line25, check out my guide titled How to Move From Feedburner to a Newsletter Service if you’re interested.

Like before, but better!

Thanks to some great advice from my buddy Tom Ross I soon realised that email newsletters offer so many more benefits than RSS. I started out using my mailing list as a direct replacement to RSS, simply sending out the entire post to subscribers, but Tom helped me realise that spending some extra time crafting a complementary email can really help drive additional traffic to your content. Then there was the whole idea of incentives to drastically grow your subscriber base. Rather than hope that people subscribed after finding my posts, I now offer a free design bundle for every subscriber, which increased my subscriber rate by 10x overnight!

Email subscriber growth chart

My email list is now upwards of 20,000 active subscribers and growing by over 100 new subs every day! My blog is now seeing its most active readership ever and email has also opened up an extra form of communication with my readers. It’s great to see people hit the reply button and send their thoughts directly back to me.

Design & content tweaks

Over recent months I’ve also been making some tweaks to the design and layout of my site. Some areas, such as the About page had been neglected for years, but there’s now a drive to funnel new users to browse all the content I have on offer within the 7 years of archives.

New links to next post

At the botton of each page the related posts list has now been condensed into a single link to the previous post in the category, accompanied by the header image to grab your attention. Rather than a post being a one-hit wonder the idea is that new users will explore back through previous posts.

New About page

Driving traffic to older content is also the new role of the About page. Rather than being my boring life story, it now introduces what kind of content you can expect to find here on Blog.SpoonGraphics with links off to my most popular content from each category. There’s also a big focus on subscribing, with these forms being amongst the most successful at recruiting new readers.

New Access All Areas page

The Access All Areas page has also been revamped. It now clearly shows the insane value of membership by listing out all the amazing premium resources members can get their hands on. I’ve also been working with some talented designers to arrange some awesome content for members going into the future.

Average stats of late

Daily visitors stats

Average visits per day: 23,000 (down 15% from 2013)
Top Content: 50 Illustrator Tutorials Every Designer Should See (2009) & 25 Free PSD Templates to Mockup Your Print Designs (2013)
RSS Subscribers: Who knows?! Feedburner is broken these days. Feedly suggests 10K+ readers use their app.
Email Subscribers: 20,950 (new!)
Highest Traffic Peak: Thursday March 7th 2013 – 36,635 visitors (How To Make a Cool Cinemagraph Image in Photoshop)

It’s a shame to see my daily visitors figure drop for the first time since my blog’s launch. Every year since 2007 I’ve seen the daily average increase by a few thousand, but this time it has dropped significantly. Maybe the retirement of Google Reader did affect things, or maybe Google’s change of algorithms has cleaned up some of my older content from search results. I’d otherwise be a little disappointed about this, but over the past year I’ve definitely noticed an increase in community interaction with posts receiving way more comments and feedback than over previous years. I’m sure this is related to the new audience my email newsletter has helped build.

The highest traffic peak goes unchallenged this year. The closest was 31,499 on Nov 25th when an surprising influx of traffic came from Facebook to my 25 Free PSD Templates to Mockup Your Print Designs post, almost a month after it was published.

Technical stats

Powered by: WordPress
Hosted on: 4GB VPS
Server location: Chicago (Rackspace)
Monthly bandwidth: 1.9TB

My server admin buddy @davidsilburn has been working hard keeping everything in order behind the scenes. Hiring him has been the best thing I’ve ever done for my blog’s health, over the past year he’s investigated all kinds of little bugs as well as hardened my site after a hack attempt and fine tuned the server for stability.

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Retro Text Effects with Illustrator’s Appearance Panelhttp://blog.spoongraphics.co.uk/tutorials/retro-text-effects-illustrators-appearance-panel http://blog.spoongraphics.co.uk/tutorials/retro-text-effects-illustrators-appearance-panel#comments Mon, 31 Mar 2014 06:00:11 +0000 http://blog.spoongraphics.co.uk/?p=4746 All kinds of cool effects can be created in Illustrator by outlining text into a solid shape then making various permanent alterations, but what if you want to keep your text editable? In today’s Illustrator tutorial we’ll take a look at the Appearance Panel and see how it can be used to build up layers […]

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All kinds of cool effects can be created in Illustrator by outlining text into a solid shape then making various permanent alterations, but what if you want to keep your text editable? In today’s Illustrator tutorial we’ll take a look at the Appearance Panel and see how it can be used to build up layers of non-destructive effects that can then be saved as Graphic Styles so the effect can be instantly applied to any elements with just one click.

Retro text effect

The effect we’ll be creating is this bright and colourful retro style text style. It’s made up from multiple fills and strokes in the Appearance Panel, some with extra modifications thanks to the Effects tools. The result is a cool looking effect that retains the editability of the basic text, allowing you to easily change the wording or apply the effect to other elements.

To create this specific effect we’ll need to set up our Illustrator document in RGB mode to make use of the wider spectrum of vibrant colours. Under the Advanced settings alter the Color Mode to RGB.

Draw a rectangle across the artboard and fill it with a bright Magenta to provide a background for this retro text effect design. Use the Type tool to add a letter to the artboard. Use any font your prefer, but I’m going with the classic Clarendon Heavy.

Make sure the Appearance Panel is open, then click the New Stroke icon at the bottom of the palette. This is similar to editing the default stroke settings, but the Appearances Panel allows you to build up multiple fills and strokes. Set the colour to a slightly darker turquoise and the size to 6pt.

Add another stroke then change the colour to 7pt white. This currently hides the turquoise stroke, but select it from the Appearance panel, click the Effects icon and choose Transform.

In the Transform Effect options alter the Move settings to 1mm horizontally and vertically to allow the darker stroke peek out from behind the white stroke and create an inset shadow effect.

Elsewhere on the artboard draw a small circle filled with yellow. Also draw an empty square around the shape with no fill or stroke. Use the Align palette to line them up centrally along the X and Y axis.

Select the the circle and square together then drag them into the Swatches palette to create a pattern fill. The empty square will pad out the visible space between the circles when this swatch is applied as a pattern.

Apply a new fill in the Appearance panel and select this newly created swatch to have the yellow dot repeated across the element.

This dotty layer is currently overlapping the white stroke, so click and drag the item to the bottom of the stack in the Appearance panel.

Add yet another fill layer, this time with a dark blue colour. By default this will be added to the top of the stack, so once again drag it to the bottom to make the other effects visible again.

Go to Distort & Transform > Transform under the Effects menu and enter 0.1mm in both the horizontal and vertical move options, as well as 100 in the copies box on the right. Preview this to see how it creates a retro style 3D effect.

Due to the way the stroke enlarges the overall size of the text the 3D effect doesn’t line up properly. We can fix this by also applying an Offset Path effect to the blue fill.

Enter 1mm in the options to add some extra padding around this layer, or the required amount to allow the edges to line up in your own document.

Go back to the Effects menu and select Stylize > Drop Shadow. Adjust the settings to Normal, 15% opacity, 10mm X & Y Offset and 0mm blur. This will create another solid colour offset, but this time the reduced opacity is a cool long shadow effect.

The great thing about all these Appearance tweaks is they can be saved as a Graphic Style. Select the element and click the New icon in the Graphic Styles panel. This style can now be instantly applied to any element to recreate this exact effect.

Retro text effect

The final text effect is full retro awesomeness, but the coolest thing is the text can be double clicked and easily edited. I quite fancy building a full alphabet of various text styles now. Maybe I’ll share them as a set of Illustrator Graphic Styles!

Download the source file

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Vintage Etchings Texture Pack for Premium Membershttp://blog.spoongraphics.co.uk/premium/vintage-etchings-texture-pack-premium-members http://blog.spoongraphics.co.uk/premium/vintage-etchings-texture-pack-premium-members#comments Fri, 28 Mar 2014 07:00:46 +0000 http://blog.spoongraphics.co.uk/?p=4737 Access All Areas members are in for another treat this week! Expert designer Matt Borchert has kindly donated a full volume of his fantastic vintage texture packs. Vol 3 of his Vintage Texture Pack series contains 30 super high resolution textures scanned from sources dating back to the 1800s. Each one is a huge 4500x4500px […]

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Access All Areas members are in for another treat this week! Expert designer Matt Borchert has kindly donated a full volume of his fantastic vintage texture packs. Vol 3 of his Vintage Texture Pack series contains 30 super high resolution textures scanned from sources dating back to the 1800s. Each one is a huge 4500x4500px file with varied levels of detail, ranging from dark aggressive details to fine etch marks.

Vintage Texture Pack by Matt Borchert

Matt Borchert sells loads of useful design resources on his Creative Market shop. His best selling items include the Vintage Texture Pack series, each one containing 30+ 4500x4500px 300dpi texture files made from authentic sources dating back to the 1800s. Matt has kindly donated the whole Vol. 3 set for Access All Areas members to download.

Vintage Texture Pack preview

Download the source file

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Incredible Creative Fonts Bundle with Loads of Extrashttp://blog.spoongraphics.co.uk/latest_news/incredible-creative-fonts-bundle-loads-extras http://blog.spoongraphics.co.uk/latest_news/incredible-creative-fonts-bundle-loads-extras#comments Wed, 26 Mar 2014 19:00:42 +0000 http://blog.spoongraphics.co.uk/?p=4747 In the past I’ve always kept away from distressed style fonts for the basic reason that using the same letter twice within any word in your design stands out like a sore thumb as the weathered markings are identical between them. However, I’ve just come across this huge creative fonts bundle on Design Cuts that […]

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In the past I’ve always kept away from distressed style fonts for the basic reason that using the same letter twice within any word in your design stands out like a sore thumb as the weathered markings are identical between them. However, I’ve just come across this huge creative fonts bundle on Design Cuts that contains a bunch of incredible fonts that bypass this problem by including loads of additional variations with different levels of wear and tear.

Double letter ligatures

This means you can easily achieve awesome distressed effects without having to texturise your text manually. What’s more, many of these fonts also come with amazing extras, such as ornaments, ligatures, banners and borders. I’m sure you’ll be as blown away as I am with these!

Castor Handmade Letterpress Font

Castor font preview

The Castor font is supplied as the complete font family, which includes four variations each made up of 500 glyphs. Then there’s the extras; 400 catchwords, dividers and ornaments making it an all-in-one pack for creating trendy retro style badges and insignias.

Veneer Distressed Caps Font

Veneer font preview

Veneer is a great example of the multiple variations that are available for these distressed fonts. This opens up loads of options for customisation to disguise the fact that the whole effect is created using a font. Veneer is another font that also comes packed with additional graphics, this time a load of really cool weathered icons.

Sparhawk Hand Drawn Swashes Font

Sparhawk font preview

I love the style (and name!) of this Sparhawk font. Its hand drawn 3D appearance not only looks really cool, it also comes with loads of alternative glyphs so you can pick out unique ligatures and tails for that authentic hand lettered look.

The Full Creative Fonts Bundle

This huge creative fonts bundle contains 11 best selling fonts all based on a hand drawn or weathered theme. In true Design Cuts style this is once again being squashed in price by 95% for a limited time, making the $595 worth of goodies available for just $28. For this price you’re lucky to get 1-2 fonts, but 11 is mega value, especially considering all the extra elements that are combined with each one.

Creative fonts bundle preview

I’ve only been able to share preview of a few of the fonts available in this fantastic bundle, but there’s also huge font families named Altus, Oil Change, Appareo, Ride My Bike, Trend and Anodyne all with their own additions and extras, making this one attractive bundle! As if that isn’t awesome enough, this deal also comes with Web Fonts for each one and an Extended License which means you can use these fonts in designs you intend to sell.

I’d definitely recommend checking out the full details on Design Cuts, this is one offer that’s too good to pass up!

Buy the Buy the Huge Creative Font Bundle (95% off)

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How To Create a Contour Map Effect in Illustratorhttp://blog.spoongraphics.co.uk/tutorials/create-contour-map-effect-illustrator http://blog.spoongraphics.co.uk/tutorials/create-contour-map-effect-illustrator#comments Mon, 24 Mar 2014 07:00:07 +0000 http://blog.spoongraphics.co.uk/?p=4734 Contour lines are used in Geography to create topographic maps that show the elevation of a landscape. The contour lines create a series of concentric shapes which—aside from their important role in mapping—look pretty cool! In today’s Illustrator tutorial I’ll show you how to make use of the Blend tool to create a series of […]

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Contour lines are used in Geography to create topographic maps that show the elevation of a landscape. The contour lines create a series of concentric shapes which—aside from their important role in mapping—look pretty cool! In today’s Illustrator tutorial I’ll show you how to make use of the Blend tool to create a series of contour line style shapes. This tutorial not only creates a great contour map effect, it might also open up ideas for all kinds of intricate background designs based on the same process.

Vector contour map effect

Compared to real contour maps, the effect we’ll be creating isn’t exactly accurate. The landscape these lines represent would be quite crazy indeed! However, the effect does look quite recognisable as a topographic map, which makes it perfect for creating a background for any kind of outdoor themed design.

Create a new document in Adobe Illustrator and draw a rectangle across the artboard. Give it a dark blue fill to provide a coloured background for our map. Lock this element into place using the CMD+2 shortcut to avoid accidentally selecting it.

Double click the Pencil tool to edit its settings. Alter the Fidelity and Smoothness to around 3px and 8%, but tweak these settings to suit your own preference if your pencil lines aren’t being drawn as accurately or as smoothly as you would like. Two crucial options are to also select Keep Selected and Edit Selected Paths.

With these settings in place draw a random shape with the Pencil tool. Chances are your shape won’t form a closed path, unless you’re lucky or super precise. Don’t worry though, this is where those Pencil tool settings help out.

Simple re-draw the last portion of the shape with the Pencil tool. The program will adjust the path and join the two open ends to form a complete shape. Give this path a light yellow stroke colour.

Use the Pencil tool to draw a much larger shape around the original. Re-draw the open end points to join them together and fix any ugly portions of the path that don’t look right.

With both shapes selected go to Object > Blend > Make, then head back to Object > Blend > Blend Options.

Change the Spacing option to Specified Steps and alter the amount to form a series of contour lines between the two shapes.

In my example there were some slight kinks in some of the lines. Select one of the original shapes and tweak the path with the Pencil tool to smooth out any unsightly areas.

Draw two more random shapes elsewhere within the document and repeat the process to blend them together.

Head back to the Blend Options settings to alter the number of blended lines to adjust the elevation of this area of the map.

Try creating longer and thinner shapes and offset the paths to create interesting blend effects.

Begin creating blends starting with the larger shape to allow you to flow the contour lines alongside the existing shapes. Use the editing ability of the Pencil tool to create accurate paths.

Sometimes the blends will create unwanted results where the blended lines break out of the container or overlap each other. Rather then CMD+Z, simply tweak the shapes and watch the blend automatically update.

The Direct Selection tool can be used to select and move the inner or outer shapes, as well as manually adjust the points of the path. The blended lines will then update accordingly.

When most of your document space is filled with individual blend elements begin drawing lines to fill the gaps between them. Remember to draw the line roughly then tweak its shape using the Pencil tool.

Smaller areas of contour lines can also be easily created manually using the Pencil tool. This allows you to fill specific areas of the document with accurate shapes.

Manually drawn lines can be made a little more interesting without having to rely on the generated lines of the blend tool.

For areas near the edge of the document make a blend between two open paths, as opposed to complete shapes.

Adjusting the number of steps in the Blend options will determine how steep or shallow the lines appear.

Continue drawing elements to fill in the small gaps across the document until everything looks even.

Press CMD+A to Select All then head to Object > Expand. Select just the Object option then hit OK. This will convert all those blends into editable objects.

Head back to Object > Expand but this time just select the Stroke option. All the paths will now be converted into filled shapes.

Draw a rectangle with no fill or stroke across the whole document then press CMD+A to Select All. Click the Crop option from the Pathfinder tool to trim the excess from the contour lines that extend beyond the edge of the document.

The vector contour map effect is now ready to be used in your outdoors inspired artwork, but to finish it off we can take it into Photoshop to mix it with some old paper textures to create an old worn map appearance.

Copy and paste the design into a new Photoshop document then place a worn paper texture on a new layer.

Alter the blending mode to allow the contour map to show through the paper texture. Use a subtle grunge brush to paint over the contour lines using the same dark blue background colour to erase out portions of the lines to create a distressed effect.

Vector contour map effect

Topographic map contour lines are just one of the many styles that can be created using Illustrator’s handy Blend tool. Combined with some simple textures in Photoshop it creates quite a realistic map effect.

Download the source file

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The Hipster Pack: 43 Vector Graphics for Membershttp://blog.spoongraphics.co.uk/premium/hipster-pack-43-vector-graphics-members http://blog.spoongraphics.co.uk/premium/hipster-pack-43-vector-graphics-members#comments Fri, 21 Mar 2014 07:00:17 +0000 http://blog.spoongraphics.co.uk/?p=4728 Today’s treat for Access All Areas members is another set of awesome resources from Vintage Design Co. The Hipster Pack is a collection of 43 vector graphics to use to make your own vintage badges, emblems and signs. Choose from moustaches, hats, glasses and other time saving elements to create some trendy designs. Ian Barnard […]

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Today’s treat for Access All Areas members is another set of awesome resources from Vintage Design Co. The Hipster Pack is a collection of 43 vector graphics to use to make your own vintage badges, emblems and signs. Choose from moustaches, hats, glasses and other time saving elements to create some trendy designs.

The Hipster Pack

Ian Barnard is a talented logo designer & illustrator who creates and sells amazing hand crafted resources in his Vintage Design Co shop. His marketplace is packed full of logos and resources that can be quickly and easily customised to create authentic vintage style identity designs. Ian is kindly treating Access All Areas members with The Hipster Pack, a fun pack of vector elements to copy/paste into your own artwork.

The Hipster Pack Preview

Download the source file

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40 Vintage Logo Designs Inspired by the Great Outdoorshttp://blog.spoongraphics.co.uk/articles/40-vintage-logo-designs-inspired-great-outdoors http://blog.spoongraphics.co.uk/articles/40-vintage-logo-designs-inspired-great-outdoors#comments Mon, 17 Mar 2014 07:00:30 +0000 http://blog.spoongraphics.co.uk/?p=4727 Businesses from the great outdoors are a perfect match for the vintage logo trend because these were one of the cultures that initially pioneered this style of design. Companies associated with outdoor pursuits often have some kind of heritage behind them, which can be promoted in their logos and identities by using traditional design styles. […]

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Businesses from the great outdoors are a perfect match for the vintage logo trend because these were one of the cultures that initially pioneered this style of design. Companies associated with outdoor pursuits often have some kind of heritage behind them, which can be promoted in their logos and identities by using traditional design styles. This showcase of vintage outdoor logos features 40 designs all crafted using classic hand drawn techniques and feature common elements of trees, axes, mountains and animals.

Call of the Wilderness by Ian Barnard

Call of the Wilderness by Ian Barnard

9 to 5 Graveyard by Tom Grunwald

9 to 5 Graveyard by Tom Grunwald

Adventure Badges by Carl Bédard

Wildlife & Adventure Badges by Carl Bédard

The Mountains by Zachary Smith

The Mountains by Zachary Smith

Voyage Around the Americas by Roberto Ramirez

Voyage Around the Americas by Roberto Ramirez

Hunting Club Logo by Micah Thompson

Hunting Club Logo by Micah Thompson

Boulder by Steve Wolf

Boulder by Steve Wolf

Parkville.co Identity by Christine Calo

Parkville.co Identity by Christine Calo

Mutter Construction by Ian Williams

Mutter Construction by Ian Williams

Woodsman Icon Series by Guvnor

Woodsman Icon Series by Guvnor

Eddie Bauer Great Outdoor Adventure by Curtis Jinkins

Eddie Bauer Outdoor Adventure by Curtis Jinkins

Go Outdoors Live by Zachary Smith

Go Outdoors Live by Zachary Smith

Hoppy Camper Beer Brand by Jenny Chew

Hoppy Camper Beer Brand by Jenny Chew

The North Coast Trail Shirt by Bret Baker

The North Coast Trail Shirt by Bret Baker

The Polo Ralph Lauren Survival Guide by Joshua Noom

The Polo Ralph Lauren Survival Guide by Joshua Noom

Penny Lane by Kyle Anthony Miller

Penny Lane by Kyle Anthony Miller

The Adventure Begins by Zachary Smith

The Adventure Begins by Zachary Smith

Adventure Club by Justin Pervorse

Adventure Club by Justin Pervorse

Camp MailChimp by Justin Pervorse

Camp MailChimp by Justin Pervorse

Hunting Badge by Jesus

Hunting Badge by Jesus

Gnar Patrol by Meg Robichaud

Gnar Patrol by Meg Robichaud

Skogen Environmental by Quincy Harriman

Skogen Environmental Identity by Quincy Harriman

The True Standard by Jerrett Arant

The True Standard by Jerrett Arant

United Sportsmen of Wisconsin Lock-Up by Mauricio Cremer

United Sportsmen of Wisconsin by Mauricio Cremer

Outdoor Cafe Concept by Mihai Frigea

Outdoor Cafe Concept by Mihai Frigea

Hiking by Brian Simpson

Hiking by Brian Simpson

Over 50s Snowboarding by Angus Griffin

Over 50s Snowboarding by Angus Griffin

Yosemite by Jarrett Arant

Yosemite by Jarrett Arant

Buck Tales by Mike Bruner

Buck Tales by Mike Bruner

Yellowstone by Jarrett Arant

Yellowstone by Jarrett Arant

FCL Outdoor Lab by Filter017

FCL Outdoor Lab by Filter017

Finished by Jake Holzman

Finished by Jake Holzman

Tulmoon Logo Design by Keith Evans

Tulmoon Logo Design by Keith Evans

The Rock Field Co. by Jorgen Grotdal

The Rock Field Co. by Jorgen Grotdal

Pacificana by Jorgen Grotdal

Pacificana by Jorgen Grotdal

Logos from the Great Outdoors by Ian Barnard

Logos from the Great Outdoors by Ian Barnard

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