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Create a Night Landscape Using Vector Texture

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In this tutorial we will learn how to create different types of textures, using pencil sketches and paper of different qualities. Turns out, vector texture can be created by simply using office paper. These created textures will be used to create a moody composition.

It seems simple working with textures, but it turns out to be quite time-consuming. The ability to create and apply texture is one of the fundamental steps of building a vector artist's skills.


Step 1

Create the background and moon lighting. Take the Rectangle Tool (M) and create a rectangle. Fill it with a radial gradient from gray-blue (C= 33, M= 11, Y= 16 and K= 0) to a dark color (C= 75, M= 67, Y= 66 and K= 87).



Step 2

Create a moon shape. Take the Ellipse Tool (L) and create a circle. Fill the circle with a radial gradient, using the same colors as in the step 1.



Step 3

Now create the moon texture. Take art paper and draw a circle with a pencil and hatch it so it looked like a radial gradient. Paper has a prominent structure, try to apply hatching so that the graphite pencil was applied only on the bumps of the relief, while the low spots remained untouched. The relief of the paper has a finite size, so the size of the elements of the obtained texture depends on the size of our drawing.




Step 4

Scan the image with a resolution higher than 300 ppi. Launch Photoshop and open the document within this application. Now go to Image > Adjustments > Threshold… and set the Threshold level equal to 150.



Step 5

Go to Image > Mode > Bitmap and set the Resolution Output equal to 300.


Now save our image as Tiff-file without compression.



Step 6

Get down to the Adobe Illustrator and paste the image in the document margins (File > Place).


Now let's get down to automatic tracing of this object, go to Object > Live Trace > Tracing Options, set the parameters as shown in the figure below, and hit the Trace button in the same dialogue box.


Tracing parameters depends on several factors: quality of the original material, its size, image resolution, and pre-processing. You will have to experiment quite a lot in order to get the desired result. Sometimes unexpected and great results can be achieved all of a sudden. So be patient while working on textures. Hit the Expand key on the upper panel in order to turn our image into a vector object.



Step 7

Increase the sizes of the texture and place it over the moon surface as shown in the figure below. Fill the texture with a radial gradient, the same one as the moon surface, adjust this gradient to achieve the contrast between the texture and the moon surface.


Hide the elements of the texture that go beyond the moon surface. Copy the shape of the moon and paste it in front, place the copy over the texture, moving the underlayer up in the Layers palette.


Select the texture and top shape of the moon, now go to Object > Clipping Mask > Make.



Step 8

Let's get down to creating our landscape. Take the Pen Tool (P) and create four shapes. The first shape is filled with a linear gradient consisting of three colors: color one (C= 49, M= 29, Y= 33 and K= 80); color two (C= 45, M= 29, Y= 33 and K= 62) and color three (C= 75, M= 67, Y= 66 and K= 87).


The central color of the gradient corresponds to the maximum illumination of the moon landscape. We have created the most remote view of the landscape surface, the lightest one. Now let us create the middle distance and foreground of the landscape. The second shape is filled with a linear gradient consisting of two colors: one (C= 49, M= 29, Y= 33 and K= 77) and two (C= 75, M= 67, Y= 66 and K= 87).


All the following shapes are filled with the same gradient; their contrast with the preceding shapes are achieved through shifting the Gradient Slider to the left.


The objects located further from the viewer seem lighter because of the phenomenon known as aerial perspective. As the distance between an object and a viewer increases, the contrast between the object and its background decreases.

The colors of the background also become less saturated (color loses its saturation, reducing contrast also reduces clarity), thus, the depth seems lighter than the foreground.

Did you notice that the upper part of the landscape seems darker than the lower one, though these shapes are filled with horizontal linear gradients? This optical illusion is caused by color contrast of the neighboring objects. Such a phenomenon can be observed in nature too.


Step 9

Now create the texture of the landscape. To do this we will need a sheet of clean office paper. Scan it. Scanning parameters depend on the printer model. I scanned the sheet in color mode with 300 ppi resolution.


Open the scanned object in Photoshop and go to Image > Mode > Grayscale. Now go to Image > Adjustments > Threshold and set the Threshold level equal to 140.



Step 10

Take the Crop Tool and cut out the part you like for the prospective texture. It is desirable if the texture is not too smooth.


Go to Image > Mode > Bitmap… and set the Resolution equal to 300.


Now save our texture as a Tiff-file. Proceed to Adobe Illustrator and paste the image into the documents margins (File > Place). Proceed to the automatic tracing of this object, go to Object > Live Trace > Tracing Options, and set the parameters as shown in the figure below, and hit the Trace button in the same dialogue box.


Press on the expand button from the upper panel in order to convert our image into a vector object. Create two more duplicates of the texture (Command + C, Command +F twice). Well, we have three textures; the landscape shape (remote from the viewer) will stay without texture. Overlap the textures on the corresponding landscape shapes, and using the technique described in step 7, we come to the view shown in the picture below.



Step 11

Create the foreground of the composition. Draw a cross and ground next to it on the sheet of the art paper. The foreground will be also created using the texture. I made two designs of a cross. Neither one was satisfying after they were traced. The reason is that of the small size of the image, and the result of the large grain texture, that is obtained when tracing. Also the front of the cross looks too smooth after these designs were traced.


Now we will have to draw another variant taking into consideration the failed experiment.




Step 12

Paste the object into the document's margins and proceed to tracing. Tracing parameters are shown in the figures below.


Place the foreground at the necessary spot of the composition and scale to the needed value.


Now take the Pencil Tool (N) and create the closed path behind the texture of the foreground. This path cannot cross the edges of the texture.



Step 13

Fill the created shape with a radial gradient consisting of three colors: one (C= 44, M= 23, Y= 27 and K= 0); two (C= 74, M= 68, Y= 65 and K= 84); three (C= 49, M= 29, Y= 33 and K= 77).


Fill the texture with solid color (C= 74, M= 68, Y= 65 and K= 84).



Step 14

Create a pencil drawing of a crow. Scan it and place it in the document's margins.


Take the Pen Tool (P) and outline the crow.


The basic light source is located behind the crow, which is why it is illuminated only on the edges of the silhouette. Using the Pen Tool (P) create the shapes of the illuminated spots of the crow.


Copy the shape of crows and paste it in front. Select the shape of crow and the form of a light surface, hit the Intersect button from the Pathfinder palette.


Using this technique create all the illuminated spots on the crow's body.



Step 15

The crow's body will also be illuminated from other objects. These spots will be illuminated with less intensity. Create them using the Pen Tool (P) and fill them with another color for illustrative purposes.



Step 16

Outline the eyes using three ellipses and the Pen Tool (P).


Create the line of the upper eyelid. Now select this line and all the ellipses, click on the Divide from the Pathfinder palette.


Delete the extra pieces of the ellipses. Group up all the elements of the crow body.



Step 17

Outline the claws using the Pen Tool (P), group up all the elements of the claws.



Step 18

Adjust the crow's sizes to the needed ones and place the crow on the cross.


Just to let you know that crow's claws should lie in the underlayer on top of the cross, while the crow's body should lie in the one below the cross.


Step 19

Fill the illuminated spots of the crow with radial and linear gradients consisting of two colors: one (C= 74, M= 68, Y= 65 and K= 84) and two (C= 49, M= 29, Y= 33 and K= 42).


Fill the spots with less illumination and with linear gradients consisting of two colors: one (C= 74, M= 68, Y= 65 and K= 84) and two (C= 77, M= 67, Y= 61 and K= 72).


The gradient direction should correspond to the direction outbound from the light source.



Step 20

Create the final composition hiding unnecessary elements. Take the Rectangle Tool (M) and create the rectangle that will limit our composition.


Select all the elements of the composition (Command + A) and go to Object > Clipping Mask > Make.



Conclusion

I believe after you study and complete this tutorial, you will treat texture works with care. Hopefully, you were patient enough to create your own composition. I will be glad to help you if you have any further questions.