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Another Path to Deke's Heart: Illustrator Fills and Strokes

For those of you who would love to have a nice new heart shape ready for your Valentine's Day projects, here are some lavishly step-by-step instructions for making the heart from yesterday's Deke's Techniques without those annoying lovebirds poking their perfectly round heads into my tutorial. 

Because frankly, Valentine's Day can be annoying enough without those smug, bald, fashion-challenged, yet otherwise expressionless creatures interfering. (Those two hand-holding automatons might be the universal symbol for Everything I Find to Be Wrong with Valentine's Day.) No, here are the results of my delightfully people-free expression of symmetry: 

Once again, there are no drawing skills required, so for those of you who feel about the pen tool the way I feel about Valentine's Day---i.e. something best avoided (which come to think of it is how I feel about the pen tool as well)---this is for you. Read on to see how it's done: Read more » 

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Getting Behind It: Deke and the Photoshop Curves Command

For those of you who've seen Deke's awesome live-action video explaining the Photoshop Curves command, check out the short video above from our good friend Mordy Golding, in which Mordy captures some of the green screen magic behind-the-scenes in the recording studio. 

If you haven't seen Deke's video, go watch it! Deke actually climbs inside a Photoshop feature. It's like his dream is coming true, and you reap the benefits of a very illustrative explanation of a very complex Photoshop feature: Curves.  

The Photoshop Curves command is the most complex of the luminance controls in Photoshop, meaning---if you can brave it---you'll get fine control over shadows, highlights, midtones, quarter-tones, three-eighth tones, (you get the picture tones) in your image. But using Curves takes some foreknowledge, which is why Deke made the first four movies of the Curves chapter (aka Chapter 26) in his lynda.com Photoshop CS6 One-on-One course free to all. (The folk at lynda.com actually unlock 10 percent of every course, and we asked them to spend a concentrated amount of that 10 percent on "unlocking" the Curves feature.)

When should you intrepidly wander into the land of Curves? Basically, when the job at hand is too much for Brightness/Contrast or the Levels command. Read on to see what I mean:  Read more » 

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Turning Universal Woman into Universal Martini, or Happy Hour Courtesy of Illustrator's Transform Effect

My dear dekeOphiles, it's Friday. And to celebrate a week of posts dedicated to creating universal symbols in Illustrator, I've decided to turn Wednesday's Universal Woman into a Universal Martini (which happens to be the universal symbol for finding a place to spend Happy Hour). Just as we created a woman from a man, so too will we create a martini from a woman. It's the circle of life. 

At this point, if you've followed this week's other tutorials (or watched this week's Deke's Techniques episodes), you have an inkling of how powerful, and frankly--entertaining---Illustrator's Transform Effect can be for creating these pared-down symbols of importance. I actually came up with this project as I was writing the Universal Woman tutorial. Or, at least, as I was thinking about writing it while on a plane. Which may have something to do with my thinking of cocktails at the time. Which---in turn---may have something to do with why I was only thinking about writing, and not actually writing it. 

But the point, if I have one, is that spending a week doing hands-on projects with the Transform Effect has not only made me uncharacteristically confident with Illustrator (or at least one feature of Illustrator), but it's also awakened that part of my brain that sees things with a creative, open mind. That may be even more important than actually having handy universal symbols for anything.

So, for both your Happy Hour and your Creative Spirit needs, here are the steps: Read more » 

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Creating a Universal Woman Symbol in Adobe Illustrator without Drawing At All

Me, again. I know, I was just re-inaugurated as Empress of dekeOtopia on Monday and I'm already back again. I really wanted to call this post Cherchez La Femme, but alas, I have just enough tenuous SEO knowledge to understand that's too clever by half. Nonetheless, I promised to show you how to make the Woman version of the Universal This Is the Restroom You Need symbol. The Universal Man we created in Monday's post is lonely. And more importantly the ladies room in dekeOpolis remains unmarked. Could be awkward.

Illustrator to the rescue, as we apply a series of transformed stroke effects to our initial line segment, and create this badly needed universal woman symbol (without having to draw a thing, not even a skirt).

To create our Universal Chick, we'll begin with the attributes that we applied to create the Universal Dude in Monday's tutorial. For those of you (uh, slackers) who didn't follow Monday's tutorial, there's a sample file you can start from at the end of this post. Or you can apply the stroke attributes and transformation effects shown in the graphics below to a standard perpendicular 266-point line you draw yourself with the Line Segment tool. You'll just have to create new strokes to apply the effects shown. You're smart, if lazy; you can handle it. For the rest of us hardworking folk, here are the steps:  Read more » 

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Creating a Universal Male Symbol in Adobe Illustrator (No Drawing or Tracing Required)

You've seen them everywhere: those recognizable shapes that tell you which restroom to use. Even here in devil-may-care dekeOpolis we like to know which door is which. The average mortal might try to draw them in Illustrator by tracing one of the ubiquitous images on the web or building them up with shapes. But leave it to our own man Deke to figure out how to create this universal Gent (and on Wednesday, his Lady) using nothing but carefully engineered strokes applied to a single line segment.Yep, no drawing required here, the only real skill you'll need is the ability to enter numbers into the Transform Effect dialog box. Well, actually, about 13 Transform Effect dialog boxes. But the result will turn a simple unassuming line segment into a universally recognizable man. Read on to see how it's done: Read more » 

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