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Meshing Boxing Gloves and Composing an Event Poster

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In this Plus tutorial, I'll explain how to create realistic looking boxing gloves with the Mesh Tool and how to setup and design an event poster with them. This is an in depth explanation and you should already have a good understanding of the Mesh Tool.

You can find the Source files in the directory labeled 'source' that came in the files that you downloaded. You may wish to look through them briefly before we begin.

Step 1

Before every design, I sit down and do some brainstorming. I love browsing the web and collecting ideas. I also write down key words which help to come up with even more ideas. Once I have some ideas collected, I'll sit down and start thumb nailing. I'll draw little boxes and quickly sketch out my ideas. This helps not to forget any and narrows down designs. I usually draw about a page full of thumbnails. Then I'll have a look at them and pick the one that looks most promising.

After that, I'll start creating a semi-comprehensive layout sketch. It's a little bit more detailed and helps to wrap up the layout ideas. Now I have a good understanding how I want my design to look. It helps me focus and I'll have a reference to look at when designing.

Step 2

Since I picked a pair of boxing gloves that I had since my childhood, I started taking some pictures of them in all sorts of angles. After some Photoshop picking, I chose a photo to base the gloves on. Now let's start up Adobe Illustrator and place the photo into the new document. I chose a standard poster size of 19 inches by 24 inches. Of course you can create your own poster as big as you like. These things always depend on client's wishes, budgets, and reproduction limits.

Step 3

Place the photo on its own layer and lock it. I also dimmed the image by 50% via the Layers Option. Then create another layer and call it "outline." Start tracing the gloves with the Pen Tool (P) and set the Stroke to 1pt black and no fill. I started with tracing along the right glove.

Don't worry about accuracy. I try to stay as close to the shape as possible, but as an artist, you have the freedom and choice to put your own interpretation into it. It makes it your own creation instead of pure reproduction. Once you traced the right glove, move ahead with the left glove and also trace it. We will need these shapes again and again. They will serve as base shapes for the mesh objects and shadows we will create later on.

Step 4

I usually decide on a color scheme before hand. Since I like the red of the gloves, I decided to stick with that color and picked a nice color scheme that includes red and orange shades, a nice dark brown, some highlight colors and a bump black.

A bump black is a black CMYK color. It consists of 10% CMY and 100% K. The bump black is usually used for printing where there is quite an amount of black color. It gives the black a rich bold look. 100% K for a four color print is not rich enough and can make a design look dull.

Step 5

Once the tracing is done, we can fill the shapes with a deep red that I picked. Make a duplicate of the shapes and place them onto a new layer. Lock the first layer.

Step 6

We need to create the separate parts of the gloves. Set the fill of the glove shapes to none. We need only the Stroke for now. Make sure you hide the other layers so you can see the photo.
Start tracing along the yellow part of the gloves. We need the yellow parts, the glove front, the thumb and the bottom of the glove. These shapes will help us with our meshes.

Step 7

Start drawing around the parts of the glove. To get an even shape corresponding with the outline, let the Lines overlap the outline shape, then select the Lines and hit the Divide Button in the Pathfinder Palette.

Step 8

Once you created all your shapes, fill them with the colors you'd like. I chose a red and a yellow from my original swatches that I set up.

Step 9

Now comes the fun part with the Mesh Tool (U). This is not an easy and fast way to create shapes that look realistic, but believe me, once you practiced a bit, you will get a good hang of it and things will flow easier.

I usually hide and reveal the photo when I work with the Mesh Tool (U). Study the photo well. We need to pay attention to the highlights, shadows, folds, and creases. Start placing Mesh Lines by clicking on the outline. I placed Mesh Lines like a grid pattern.

Step 10

Place Mesh Lines near shadows and highlights. I place a Mesh Line almost on top of a shadow part and on each side another Mesh Line. This is important to keep the colors that I will apply from spreading too much.

Step 11

I always start with a lighter color as the base color. Once I have placed enough Mesh Lines, I'll add color to the Mesh Points. You can do this by selecting the Direct Selection Tool (A) and clicking (highlighting) a Mesh point and then applying a color from the Swatches Palette. Of course, darker reds go with the shadows, lighter reds with the highlights.

Step 12

When creating a crease like shadow, it's best to go in a light dark pattern. One Mesh Line for dark, one for light etc. Once you started to add colors, you'll see where and to place highlights or shadows. I never really follow the photo exactly, so don't put any pressure onto yourself. Let your imagination go wild.

Step 13

Here you can see how it works by placing on each second Mesh point a darker red. It gives the illusion of a fold.

Step 14

Just a quick look without any paths selected. Slowly but surely the mesh is coming to life.

Step 15

I added many more Mesh Lines and placed them in a grid like pattern. Pay attention to highlights and area sizes. Sometimes you'll need to add many more Mesh Lines, sometimes only a few. I don't like to go overboard, but some artists create super realistic Illustrations that way. But remember the more mesh the more work. :)

Step 16

To create a small fold, I added one Mesh Line for the shadow and two on each side to constrain it. I also placed a perpendicular Mesh Lines to keep it from spreading too much.

Step 17

Sometimes you want to extend a color or move it around so it's placed differently. You can easily move Mesh Points with the Direct Selection Tool (A) and also drag the Mesh Point Handle.

Step 18

Again, have a look at the photo and compare it to your mesh drawing. Here you can see a deep fold I am working to achieve.

Step 19

Make sure you select the most outer points of the shape and fill them with a dark red. This will add depth.

Step 20

Sometimes the Mesh Lines in a large shape don't give the desired result I want to achieve. Nothing stops you from placing a much smaller piece on top and adding a few Mesh Lines. This will do the trick.

Step 21

Here is a look at the Outline Mode (Command +Y) of the Mesh Objects. The tighter the meshes the more detailed it gets.

Step 22

Here is a first glance at the right glove. Not bad at all. Don't forget to take a break when you feel like you are stuck. Sometimes a change of scenery can give you a fresh mind.

Step 23

I traced the yellow earlier. It needs to be place under the thumb shape.

Step 24

I created a smaller yellow shape on top of the other shape. To this part I will add Mesh Lines and basically repeat the previous steps. There is no secret to meshes. Just a good eye and a sense where to place the points. As long as you follow the rules of light and shadow, you should have no problem.

Step 25

Have a look at the right glove. The thumb has an extra piece of a small mesh to create the front highlight. The yellow has some mesh applied, but is still in the early stage. The outer part of the gloves looks pretty good.

Step 26

Look at these gloves. I completed the mesh work on the gloves following similar steps as outlined above. Quite some work goes into mesh objects, but I usually am pleased with the end results. I added some stitching, which I created with a dashed line in a darker yellow. But this small detail gives the glove a breath of fresh air. Sometimes just one little Stroke or added detail can make a big difference.

Step 27

Onto the poster elements. First, I created a rectangle background in black (bump black) and put it on its own layer below everything else.

Step 28

I want to create a window frame, so I created another smaller rectangle on top and centered it vertically to the background.

Step 29

Then I selected both shapes and added a Compound Path (Command + 8).

Step 30

I created another shape that is the same size as the poster and filled it with a gray to beige linear gradient.

Step 31

I place the gradient shape behind the frame shape and added the mesh gloves on top. I place them into the middle towards the bottom. Letting them overlap the frame. This gives a sense of them coming out of the poster.

Step 32

I had the idea of adding a crowd in the background. Nothing fancy, just some sort of outline. Here is how I started. I created an ellipse with the Ellipse Tool (L).

Step 33

I duplicated it and made several copies. I placed them higher and lower and just a little off so it didn't look too linear.

Step 34

I duplicated the head shape ellipses until they filled the whole width of the poster.

Step 35

I placed a rectangle approximately the same width underneath, letting it overlap with the heads. Then I selected the heads and the rectangle and clicked Add to Shape Area in the Pathfinder Palette.

Step 36

I added a black to beige linear gradient with the black being on top. This is my crowd. But wait something is missing. What could it be?

Step 37

Of course. We need some cheering hands. I really drew some horrendous hands here. But since they are in the background, they'll do. Of course you could go more into detail and draw some awesome rocker hands.

Step 38

Next thing I could think of a good addition to a poster was a start burst. Popular still and always adds some dynamic design interest. I drew a simple triangle shape and filled it with red.

Step 39

Then I rotated and duplicated it. To do this select the shape and choose the Rotate Tool (R). Then click once in the bottom of the triangle, hold down Command + Alt, and drag clockwise. Finally, let go of the mouse key.

Step 40

The fun part of duplicating is the Command + D shortcut. Easy and painless click Command + D several time and here we have our start burst.

Step 41

With a boxing theme, we need some ring ropes. Create two long rectangle that together will fill the width of the poster. One should be red, the other should be beige.

Step 42

Add a linear gradient to the red part to give it a bevel look.

Step 43

Add some Mesh Lines to the beige shape and select one or two Mesh points and apply a darker beige color.

Step 44

I made three more duplicates of the rope and place them in a non linear pattern on to the poster underneath the gloves.

Step 45

Next we need some punchy poster font. I picked Pilsen Plakat from Dafont.com. It is important to pick a good font for a poster. Take some time to do research. It can make or break your design.

Step 46

I had the idea to make it look worn or scribbled. What better way to apply one of the fantastic effects Illustrator has to offer. Go to Effect > Stylize > Scribble. Apply the settings you see in the image below. Pay attention that the effect is applied to both the Fill and the Stroke.

Step 47

I make a duplicate of the text and placed it underneath. I changed the Stroke to red and set the size to 20pt. Then I applied the same scribble effect.

Step 48

Have a look. This is a neat effect. It makes a kind of stitched looking text. I also added some stars and more text.

Step 49

I created more stylized scribble text and placed it at the top of the poster.


This is the final dynamic and effective poster. Keep in mind, a poster should capture your attention and communicate easily with you. If there is too much information, you might loose the reader's attention.

When creating a poster, I always try to follow some simple rules: The K.I.S.S Keep it simple and stupid) rule, the C.R.A.P. (Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, and Proximity) rule and the Z rule (from top left to right to bottom left to right). But most important thing is to have fun - never forget that!

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