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2.1 Create Your File and Fur Brush

Before we start creating fur, learn how to set up your document and create the versatile fur brush for rendering.

2.1 Create Your File and Fur Brush

Hey all, welcome back to Vector Pet Portraits Cats. My name is Sharon Milne. And in this lesson, I'm going to show you how to set up your file and how to create the art brush I'm going to be using in this cat portrait project. Open up Adobe Illustrator, and let's create a new document by going to File and then New. As I like to print the majority of my pet portraits out, I'm going to be using the Print A Full Profile. However, if you're just going to be displaying your cat vector online, then I'd suggest using Web Profile, then click on OK. I'll be working from a stock image for this project. I won't be following it 100% as a lot of the fur I find fun to just freestyle, but you may need a photograph as a guide. So go up to File and then Place. Locate your image and then click on Place. Then with the Free Transform Tool, I'm going to move and resize the image to my art board. At this stage I like to work with different sizes and see what crop I prefer, using the art board boundary as my guide. In this course I'm going to focus primarily on the face. This is because there's a large range of fur lens and shadows, and it keeps focus on the striking cat eyes. I then double click on the layer and the layer's panel, and we name the layer to reference. I then lock it in place so I can't move the stock image. Now create a new layer and rename it BG. Usually within this layer I place a white filled rectangle set to opacity 50%. I often get asked why I do this instead of dimming the original stock image. The reason being is that I like to turn the dimming of the image on and off by simply clicking on the eyeball icon on the left of the layer. As I said, I usually use white rectangle in this layer. And this is because I can see the darker strokes I draw much more clearly against the white dim on the stock image. However, there's a problem with this when you're using a light, or even white strokes, against a white rectangle on a white reference image. In order to work around this, I use a T layer or a color which isn't common in the image, which is darker than the stock image underneath. This is so I can see the almost white stokes on top of it. This is then reduced to opacity 50% so I can see the stock image. The side jaw is going to need to have its own base layer. As the portrait takes up the entire composition, I just need to draw a shape to cover this layer. So first, create a new layer and rename it to furBG. I then create a new layer and rename it fur, which is for, well, fur. You don't get a gold star for guessing that one, I'm afraid. With the eye dropper tool, I take a sample of the fur color from the photograph. This color is going to be used throughout the process. Then create a rectangle with this fill in the furBG layer and lock it in place. It's time to create our fur brush. If you've seen my courses before, you'll recognize this process and this exact brush. Feel free to skip this and go on to the next lesson if you know how to create the tapered art brush. For those who haven't, first unhide the BG and the furBG layers so you can get a clear view of the portrait. First let's change the filter black and then enable the Ellipse Tool. I'm going to zoom into the stock image so I can see the fur. Although, I'm not going to create a brush that tiny. However, I do want to make a brush which 100% could create realistic strands of fur. So, a comparison is required. Then, holding Alt+Shift, I draw an even circle. I then zoom into the circle further and use the Free Transform tool to stretch out the shape. With Direct Selection tool, I select one of the points at the side and click on Convert Anchor Point To Corner in the Control Panel. I then select the opposite point and do the same. This will give the tapered brush shape. In the brushes panel I'm going to go into the Drill Down menu and go to Select All Unused and then delete to remove the brushes in the panel which I won't be using. Then with the shape selected, I go to Add New Brush then add our brush. In the Art Brush Options window, I name the brush and then change the colorization method as tint. This is so whatever color my stroke is, it will take on this color for the first strokes I draw. Then click on OK and this will be added to your brushes panel. Some general housekeeping now, I'm going to repeat the select all unused in the other panels. So in the Graphic Styles Swatches and Symbols panel. This is so it reduces the size of the file. I then delete the shape which I've drawn for the fur brush as this won't be required anymore. Finally, I go to File and then Save, and use the default settings available. Then we're ready for our next lesson. Next time on Vector Pet Portraits Cat, I'm going to show you the basics of rendering fur. Thanks for listening.

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