Deke's Techniques 210: Creating a Dramatic Cartoon Background

In this week's free Deke's Techniques episode, Deke shows you how he used Adobe Illustrator to create the delightful yet dramatic background for his cartoon character---that grumpy bird known as the Baconator---that he introduced to you last week.

Despite the whimsical visual intricacy of the final piece, the starting point is very simple, consisting of a few geometric shapes that will be duplicated, stretched, and spun around via Illustrator's dynamic effects---all without having to draw a thing beyond a rectangle or elipse. 

These simple shapes become a dramatic cartoon background

Here's a look at how Deke transformed this collection of shapes into an eye-catching deceptively simple landscape, suitable for your game design, children's book illustration, or fugues into imaginary cartoon lands:  Read more » 

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Deke's Techniques 207: Creating a Cartoon Grumpy Bird's Body in Illustrator

Create a Grumpy Bird Cartoon Body in Illustrator

In this week's Deke's Techniques episode, Deke contemplates the creation of cartoon gaming characters in Adobe Illustrator. (This creature may or may not bear homage to a certain video game Deke might have played before he became obsessed with Fieldrunners.) 

But the point of the exercise is to explore how the highly graphical creatures that populate our modern pastimes are created from standard shapes, which are then stretched, filled, warped, duplicated, highlighted, and shaded in Illustrator. So start with this:

And end up here by the end of the video: 

I sort of love this featureless egg-like-but-with-telltale-hair creature, but there's more:  Read more » 

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Deke's Techniques 205: Creating an Antique Photo Effect

Antique photo of a castle

In this week's free Deke's Techniques episode, Deke imagines himself the king of the Irish castle we dramafied last week. And he imagines his reign took place in Ye Olde Sepia-Toned Tymes. Which is sort of hard to reconcile, given this Dunguaire Castle was built around 1520, long before the 1980s when Photoshop came along to make photos look like they came from the early 1930s. And yet, his method for antiquing a photo is useful in any age, long past the Imaginary Sepia Age of King Deke the Creative of County Clare.

Here's a before (left side) and after (right) view of Deke's halluncinatory ancestral home, replete with delightful grain and decay in the after photo: 

before and after antique castle photo

So even if your goal is not to make a photo of a 600-year-old castle look roughly like it was taken 100 years ago, this Camera Raw-based process will be useful for oldifying your own photos, giving them a carefully crafted antique look that goes way beyond your standard Instagram filter. 

Read on for the simple steps in this process:  Read more » 

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Deke's Techniques 203: Developing a Dramatic Castle in Adobe Camera Raw

Dramatic ACR developing

My dear dekeO'politans, are you in the St. Patrick's Day spirit yet? It's just our luck that Deke has decided that this week's Deke's Techniques episode features an Irish castle that we stumbled upon on our trip to the Emerald Isle. In this week's video, you'll see how Deke took that ordinary vacation photo and turned it into this dramatic image (complete with mysterious woman in red on the left.)How did Deke turn the interesting but nondescript photo shown below into the dramatic photo above? With the help and power of Adobe Camera Raw.  Here is the original inside the ACR interface, ready for its makeover:

Read on to witness the transformation of this "Oh, pull over, this looks mildly interesting" photo into the dramatic "Oh, this is why we came to Ireland" landscape: Read more » 

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Deke's Techniques 201: Op Art Experiment 2a: An Undulating Pattern in Illustrator

Deke's Techniques 201: Op Art Experiment 2a: An Undulating Pattern in Illustrator

One of my favorite things about Deke is his focus, and by that I mean he gets an idea in his brain and won't let go until he's figured it out. I have a feeling that's what happened the first time he started doing Op Art experiments with Adobe Creative Suite. He focused in on each style, using Photoshop (as in Deke's Techniques 189, known temporarily as Deke's Techniques 105: "Op Art Experiment 1a: Inflated Checkers in Photoshop) or Illustrator as needed. Eventually, he ended up with today's Illustrator technique: an Op Art inspired pattern of undulating lines and hypnotic diamonds. Ironically, as much as it represents the manifestation of Deke's mental focus, it could actually mess with your literal ability to focus your eyes.

But the visual effect is only temporary (I hope). The increase in your powers with Illustrator, however, will be permanent (I also hope). Starting with two sets of curly lines, plus an itinerant diamond shape, Deke duplicates, reflects, joins, blends, and eventually creates a pattern that yields this result. You can then fill an entire shape with your pattern and wow your friends and colleagues with your ability to create perfectly aligned visual mayhem. (You can probably use it to bend them to your will, as well.) 

Along the way, you'll become familiar with these key Illustrator tools, commands, and idiosyncrasies:  Read more » 

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