Mon, Jun 26

Vector drawing continues

Today's objectives

Illustrator tools and techniques
  • Blends
    • Double-click the Blend tool for tool preferences
    • Strokes tend to get in the way
    • Only similar types of objects can be blended
    • Find out more about clipping masks here:Blend objects
  • Clipping masks (paths)
    • The top-most item does the clipping
    • Clipping masks should be closed paths
    • Clipping masks get changed to fill and stroke of none, but can still be edited
    • Use "release mask" to rework to disable a clipping mask
    • Find out more about clipping masks here: Edit clipping masks
  • Compound paths
    • The top-most item does the clipping
    • Make sure objects overlap, and are closed paths
    • When you convert type to outlines, letters like "O" and "D" will be compound paths
    • Find out more about compound paths here: Combine objects
  • Linked files
    • If you drag a file or place a file into Illustrator, it can be either linked or embedded.
    • Linked files are not part of the Illustrator file and if you do not provide the files when sending to someone, the links will break.
    • Embed files instead. Copy and paste paths; don't drag files from the Finder into Illustrator (this will link them)
    • Use your "Links" panel (Window->Links) check if a file is linked or embedded and change from linked to embedded (or vice versa) if necessary.
    • Find out more about linked files here: Managing linked and embedded files
  • Layers
    • Illustrator layers are similar to Photoshop Layers, but each layer can have any number of objects. Find out more here:Illustrator layers
  • Artboards
    • Illustrator allows multiple "artboards" which are like pages - each can be a different size. Find out more here: Using artboards
  • Symbols
    • Symbols are Illustrator drawings that can be repeated and modified easily. Find out more here: Using Symbols
  • Alignment
    • There are many ways to align objects accurately in Illustrator. Find out more here: Aligning objects
  • Transformation
    • Transforming objects numerically (rather than using the mouse) is often more accurate: Transform objects
  • Duplicate/Transform again
    • The "Transform again" (Command+D) function in Illustrator is powerful, but a little hard to find Repeating objects


  • Download Illustrator samples - same files as last class
  • Consider using a mouse - many people find the pen tool hard to use with a trackpad

Class resources

Sample files

Illustrator samples

Sample file notes:

  • Illustrator - basic shapes
  • Firenze.Baptistry06.JPG- replicate features of the architecture using simple shapes
  • HenryMoore_RecliningFigure_1951.jpg - trace the complex curves of the outline


Technical illustration: geared toward commercial illustration. Another good page

Incredibly detailed, photo-realistic commercial illustration.

Assignment 10: Written Assignment

Write a usability review of a web site.

Note: this assignment will be done in stages:
  • Topic selection: Due Feb 24, 6PM
  • Usability test: You will schedule this yourself
  • Rough draft: March 19
  • Final draft: (Tentative date) April 3

Dates for each phase will be confirmed as the class progresses.

You will begin by defining a task - for example, buying an airline ticket to a particular destination, in a specific time frame, at lowest cost. Or signing up for an online marketplace to sell your jewelry. Or any other similar, specific, online task. The web site you use and the task you sign up for needs to be submitted and approved by me.

The web site should be one that offers more than just content. E-commerce sites, social networking sites, etc are ideal. Fill in your topic in this form before starting; I must approve each topic. Submitting an assignment without a an approved topic will result in a mark of zero.

Important: Sign up for a topic here. Failure to do so bt the topic selection deadline will result in a penalty of 10% of your mark .

Once you have an approved topic, you will be assigned a participant to work with.

  • Make sure to review the main functions of the site from the perspective of a user.
  • Think about what happens when things go wrong.
  • What's good?
  • What can be improved?
  • Find someone to act as a test subject and observe them. Give them a specific task.
  • Minimum length: 500 words.

Assignment resources

Assignment 5:

Open 60 assignment

Imagine that NSCAD is the primary sponsor of a boat in an around-the-world race. Your job is to come up with graphics for the boat to reflect NSCAD's sponsorship of it. The role of the sponsorship is to promote NSCAD. Examine how other sponsors use graphics to promote themselves before you begin.

A basic outline of the boat is provided. You will submit a side and top view, using the provided file as guide. Your design must:

  • Research how other boats have been designed.
  • Emphasize the NSCAD colours. You can use any colour you want, but the colours of the NCSAD logo must be present. You can refer to the NSCAD identity guide PDF.
  • The IMOCA Open 60 logo must be present at the top of the sail. You will need to re-create it. Use this one: IMOCA Open 60 logo for reference. The version that you create should look exactly like this.
  • Only vector images may be present.
  • You will want to use the NSCAD logo. You can access a version of the NSCAD logo online. There are multiple versions in this file. Use this version; don't create your own.
  • Include lots of detail. Think about how the design would look from close up and from far away. Some elements may be very small in your file - that's OK.
  • The outline, size and shape of the boat cannot be changed. Graphics can go on the mast, hull, boom, mainsail or other parts. The lines you see at the front of the boat (from the mast to the hull and bowsprit) are not sails and no graphics can go there. Check out images for reference.
  • The number 5163 must appear on the hull in large numbers.
  • Optional: Draw a rear view of the boat and create graphics for the stern. Use photos for a reference.

Make sure to save your file for review, if needed.

Name the file

Upload the file to the Brightspace Sun, Jul 02

Late assignment penalties

For this assignment, late submissions will be penalized at 10% of the total mark (that is, if an assignment is graded out of 10, you will lose 1 point per day, starting on the due date.)

A 1-hour grace period after the assignment due time will be given to avoid any technical issues related to internet speed resulting in late assignment penalties.

The best approach, however, is to submit work early.

A real-world version of our assignment:
Article: Camper Open 70 Design

Professional practice

Constructing good, editable files is a core skill in Illustrator. A file may be edited, updated and altered dozens, even hundreds of times. Making sure the base file is well-built is essential.

Pay attention to details - remember that a small irregularity on your screen could be a huge irregularity in a wall-sized museum display or billboard.


Illustrator Clipping Path Tutorial

How to create a basic clipping path in Illustrator.

Pen Tool Tutorial

Another pen tool tutorial. Practice, practice, practice.

Photoshop Vector Mask (clipping path)

This image, with sharp edges and smooth curves, is a good practice image for creating a vector mask in Photoshop. Right-click it (control-click on some Macs) to download it and open in Photoshop. In the "paths" panel, create a new path, draw a closed path around the airplane with the pen tool, and then turn it into a vector mask, under Layer->Vector Mask-> Current path.

Isometric Drawing in Illustrator

An isometric drawing tutorial. But watch out for an error - you need to scale by 86.602%, not 86.062%

Copy and Rotate

Using copy and rotate to create a snowflake in Illustrator. A really useful technique - even if you're never going to create a snowflake.