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Subject: Noob Illustrator/Photoshop question rss

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Simon Lundström
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Not really rule design, but I am trying to do some graphical work on a game board, and I am next to a total noob when it comes to Illustrator or Photoshop.

Shortly, I'm just placing rings and lines and symbols on a map. I could do it all in InDesign, that I master quite well by know (been working with it for years) but I would like to do something that looks better than just plain, stark coloured rings.

In Photoshop there is a "brush" tool that gives you a line with smooth edges; if you do a thick stroke, you have a strong colour in the middle of the line, but gradually fading as you reach the edges of the line. I'd like to do rings with that kind of smooth line. But when I do circles in Photoshop, I can only get filled circles, not rings…

In Illustrator (I generally prefer to work in Illustrator, Photoshop doesn't like me) I can do unfilled rings, but I can't find this brush effekt.

Another thing I'd like to do is similar; a smooth, fading outline for text. I'd like the text to be black (or brown), but have a yellow (or whatever) outline, but I want the outline's colour to sort of gradually fade into the background, a bit like the shining, white outline of the "Agricola" text in this image:
but not quite as faded, though.

When I experimented with circles in Illustrator, I found this Radiance tool that does about what I would want to achieve, but it was a bit too exaggerated.

So, to sum up, if someone could explain how to

1) draw (thick) lines and rings and have the colour "fade out" at the edges.
2) Get a "fading" outline on text

in Illustrator, preferrably?

(Of course, I could just do the lot in InDesign, but I'd really like something that looks a bit better… this smooth line thing probably isn't possible in InDesign.)
 
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Chris Funk
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I'm not much with Illustrator, but I would consider myself an advanced novice on Photoshop. I was able to do something similar by using a drop shadow on the text layer. I set the drop shadow, distance 0, set the color for the effect, and then played with the settings until it looked similar. There are probably other ways to do this, but this looks good in a pinch.
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Chris Funk
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That's one of my favorite series. Heheh.


"It's cold here every day..."
 
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Simon Lundström
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Hm… I'm sure there must be some easier way to do it…

Anyway, is there ANY way to get Illustrator/Photoshop NOT to place every single object I create in a separate layer? I want to do all the rings in the same layer. Of course, I can group all the "ring"-objects into the same layer, but why does every single object have to have a separate sub-layer?
 
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Chris Funk
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It is so that you can manipulate every piece of a project independently of another. Trust me, the more you use PS, the more layers are a very, very good thing.

You can make changes to mulitple objects by linking the layers you want to change or by CTRL+clicking to select the layers you want to permanently fuse together and then right-click on one fo the selected layers and you should see an option for "Merge layers". This should also be under the Layer menu if you're using a Mac as I'm not familiar with the Mac shortcuts.

Another way to do it, if you're doing multiple identical rings, would be to get one ring where you want it and then duplicate the layer for the rest of your rings. If the rings are linked, arrange them how you want them, merge those layers together and then apply your layer effect for the drop shadow or other effects/filters.

If you want to send me an example of what you're having trouble with and a description of what you're looking to do with it, I can probably get you through it.
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James Hébert
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A couple of things here....

Spend some time online looking up the "Appearance" palette in Illustrator. Few people know that you can add multiple outlines (called strokes) to an object, in effect "building up" outlines of different color and thickness. Also from this palette, can you select each stroke and give it different color and opacity settings, or effects, even re-organize their order. It's a very powerful panel.

I'd especially suggest you check out Mordy Golding's blog, http://rwillustrator.blogspot.com, and his book "Real World Illustrator." Mordy is a former Adobe Illustrator project manager, and a very good writer. He understands and explains Illustrator like no one else. I've learned more from his blog and book than anywhere else.

Also, have you also tried out the Effect menu, such as "outer glow" and even "drop shadow" (a drop shadow set to Screen mode, with the color white or pale yellow, is a very effective "glow" around the outside of objects).

This being an Adobe product, there are always 12 ways to do something! Another approach to a glow that fits an object is to duplicate the base object, place it on a layer "behind" the main object, scale it larger, change it to white or pale yellow, then use the Blur effect to "feather it out" and finally set its opacity very low to make it appear as a ghostly glow behind the original object. Nice thing here is that the glow follows the outline of the original object nicely, appearing to "belong" to it as if part of it.

One last item... Illustrator typically defaults to low-res drop shadows and effects, so if you plan to print this, double-check the Document Raster Effects Settings on the "Effect" menu (I'm in CS3, it may be elsewhere if your version differs). It's usually set to 72. You'll want 150 or 300 for smoother blends. Adobe sets this low so that the program is more responsive while you are working, but it's very important to the smoothness and size of transparent blends. It's worth a look as you wrap up for output.

James

Edit for typos, edit for "oh! one more thing"
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Marco Bing
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Here's another way round the fading edged circle. This method allows you keep your base model circle and then add effects to continue changing it's appearance.

Photoshop:

Start by creating a new file. Create a canvas say 800 x 800 pixels (we'll stick to low res 72 dpi and use white background).

Now "add a new layer". Work on the new layer.

Now select the Elliptical Marquee tool (top left of the toolbox).

Place your cursor anywhere around the top left hand corner of your file and with the shift key pressed drag towards the bottom right hand corner (don't go edge to edge - stay about 50-100 pixels from the canvas edges).

Now you have a circle with marching ants. From the upper menu go:
Select / Modify / Border...

Put a figure of say 20 pixels.

From the upper menu now go:
Select / Feather

Put a figure of 5 pixels

Now "Fill" (shift + F5)

The ring will fill with your desired colour and have nice faded edges. The fading works better here than in ilustrator.

The fact you have the ring on it's own layer you can now add further effects, drag it to another PSD file, or save it as a PSD file and dump it in Illustrator.


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Steve Sisk
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Zimeon wrote:
2) Get a "fading" outline on text

This effect (you see it on a *ton* of games coming out now) is done with a layer blending effect in Photoshop called outer glow. Select your layer with the logotype (text or rasterized) and turn on blending options. Select outer glow and play with the settings until you get the desired result.

The default color is the yellowish glow you see on Agricola, but you can change the color to black (like they used for Zooloretto and Blue Moon City) or any other color.

One little secret of the world of board game graphic design is that a vast number of layout effects and tricks are all off the shelf Photoshop blending options used in clever (or not so clever) ways.
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Wim van Gruisen
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SiskNY wrote:
Zimeon wrote:
2) Get a "fading" outline on text

This effect (you see it on a *ton* of games coming out now) is done with a layer blending effect in Photoshop called outer glow. Select your layer with the logotype (text or rasterized) and turn on blending options. Select outer glow and play with the settings until you get the desired result.

That, or you can use "Gaussian Blur".
Take the object(s) for which you want to have such a glow effect and copy them to a new layer. Put this new layer under the layer with the original objects.
Give the copied objects another colour - the colour that you want for the glow. Then apply "Gaussian Blur". Play with it to find the right effect.
If you want a stronger blur, copy the copied object, with blur. The glow becomes twice as strong.

Try "Radial Blur" for a somewhat different effect.

If you want a 3d effect on your letters, follow the above steps with Gaussian Blur, with a small value for the blur. Then take the original layer and move it a bit upwards and to the left; the blur will look like the edges under and to the right of the original objects.
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Simon Lundström
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Thanks for all the hints! Got a lot of help from them.
 
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Simon Lundström
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I have another question…

So I have a background that's about 4500 x 6500 pixels. Imported into Illustrator. Onto this background I've places circles and lines and stuff that (if I understand correctly) can have about any resolution I choose when I export it. Also, onto the background I've pasted scans of cards and symbols, and what their resolution is I don't have a single clue, but it's pretty rough.

Anyway, it seems Illustrator is of the opinion that this image is about 150 x 220 centimeters big (60 x 85 inches), which is a tad too big. Counted from the background resolution, I'd get about 75 dpi, which would also look pretty rough. I'd like the SIZE of the picture to be half in both directions (making it 75 x 110 centimeters), but without changing the resolution in the background picture.

Is this doable? If I have to start from scratch again it doesn't matter much, placing the circles and so there isn't much job now that I know how to do it. I thought perhaps there's a way to import the 4500 x 6500 pixels thingie but have Illustrator understand that it's actually just 75 x 110 big… anyone knows?
 
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Matthew Kloth
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Zimeon wrote:
I have another question…

So I have a background that's about 4500 x 6500 pixels. Imported into Illustrator. Onto this background I've places circles and lines and stuff that (if I understand correctly) can have about any resolution I choose when I export it. Also, onto the background I've pasted scans of cards and symbols, and what their resolution is I don't have a single clue, but it's pretty rough.

Anyway, it seems Illustrator is of the opinion that this image is about 150 x 220 centimeters big (60 x 85 inches), which is a tad too big. Counted from the background resolution, I'd get about 75 dpi, which would also look pretty rough. I'd like the SIZE of the picture to be half in both directions (making it 75 x 110 centimeters), but without changing the resolution in the background picture.

Is this doable? If I have to start from scratch again it doesn't matter much, placing the circles and so there isn't much job now that I know how to do it. I thought perhaps there's a way to import the 4500 x 6500 pixels thingie but have Illustrator understand that it's actually just 75 x 110 big… anyone knows?

Illustrator is kinda odd with dpi. The ruler in illustrator will always be 72dpi. This doesn't actually mean anything though. When you save or export the image you can specify the dpi. Illustrator only cares about the physical dimensions (cm or inches) while you're working in it.

In your case you want a 75x110cm image in illustrator. Your background image is 4500x6500 pixels. In Photoshop you need to save the background image as 60 pixels per centimeter. It should say the image is 75x110cm. Then when you import it into illustrator it will be 75x110cm (and the ruler will lie to you and say it's only ~2000x~3000 something pixels). When you're done monkeying around with it you can export/rasterize it at the correct dpi (in this case 60 pixels per centimeter). If you save it as a 60 pixels per centimeter jpg it will end up being 4500x6500 pixels big.
 
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Simon Lundström
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Yep, did that. Thanks for the help.

However, if I ever redo it, I'm probably doing it in Indesign… the fading effect and the glow effects weren't worth the immense power it took to work with it.

Pity I couldn't ge Photoshop to do some simple rings…
 
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Chris Funk
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Zimeon wrote:
Yep, did that. Thanks for the help.

However, if I ever redo it, I'm probably doing it in Indesign… the fading effect and the glow effects weren't worth the immense power it took to work with it.

Pity I couldn't ge Photoshop to do some simple rings…


A little practice and more familiarity with the tools and PS will be your new best friend.
 
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Marco Bing
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Zimeon wrote:
Pity I couldn't ge Photoshop to do some simple rings…


Try creating the raw ring in a separate illustator file and open it in Photoshop.

Better still, just "copy" the ring from illustrator and "paste" it into photoshop. Then apply your desired effects by double clicking the Photoshop layer listed in the "layers" window.

This really is NOT complex, even if you don't master Photoshop! Just spend a few extra minutes of 'experimental work' and you'll soon see the powerful (and simple) abilities of photoshop.

(P.S. as a rule of thumb you should always work in high resolution first, downsampling only when your work is final. This means if ever you want your work to go to print you won't have to spend time recreating it in a higher resolution)
 
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Chris Funk
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MarcoBing69 wrote:
Zimeon wrote:
Pity I couldn't ge Photoshop to do some simple rings…


Try creating the raw ring in a separate illustator file and open it in Photoshop.

Better still, just "copy" the ring from illustrator and "paste" it into photoshop. Then apply your desired effects by double clicking the Photoshop layer listed in the "layers" window.

This really is NOT complex, even if you don't master Photoshop! Just spend a few extra minutes of 'experimental work' and you'll soon see the powerful (and simple) abilities of photoshop.

(P.S. as a rule of thumb you should always work in high resolution first, downsampling only when your work is final. This means if ever you want your work to go to print you won't have to spend time recreating it in a higher resolution)


This. Aim for 300dpi for print quality.
 
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