Mixing Illustrator and Photoshop with the BeltBot

Sun, 25 Jul 2010

I use Adobe illustrator for designing my models, it if fast, powerful and flexible. Illustrator is a vector illustration program meaning that it draws using lines and blocks of colour. The plus side of this is that the files produced are small, great for sending over the internet, and the lines remain crisp and sharp even at high magnifications. the downside is that it is hard to add texture to pictures. And textures are what give pictures depth and life. I could work using a bit map program such as PhotoShop but this means that shapes are harder to draw and edit, and the files are larger. So, time to compromise.

With the BeltBot model I have mixed Illustrator for the lines and shapes with PhotoShop for the texture.

I've not tried this before so I may well develop a different process over time but for now here is what I did.

I created an Illustrator file in two layers, On the right is the top layer, the solid outline and the dotted lines for creases. To the left is the bottom layer showing the outline of the the design and the basic flat colours.

I copied the colours from Illustrator and pasted them into Photoshop.

I've then used the magic wand tool to select areas of the picture and copy them into new layers. In the above picture I've created a new layer called rivets containing the top and bottom row of rivets.

I work my way through the main image dividing it into layers. I finish up with layers for rivets, pins, brass, leather, wood and the background

I can then go through the layers adding effects. To make the rivets look 3D I added a bevel effect as well as a drop shadow and outer glow.

To create a wood grain effect I added noise to the wood layer.

The noise is a little fine grained so I coarsened it with the pixelate tool…

…then stretched it out into a grain effect with the motion blur tool. 

The end result has a lot more depth than the starting image.

I then saved out the image as a jpeg and dropped it back into Illustrator on a layer behind the cut lines and crease lines. The result is a file, not as large as a full page jpeg with sharp easily editable lines but with all the texture I was aiming for.

I hope you like it!