ill-ocano” — An Adobe Illustrator Warmup

I’ve been doing some exper­i­men­ta­tion with Adobe Edge this past week since it’s pre­view release on Mon­day. I fig­ure to have a break, and do some exer­cis­es with Adobe Illus­tra­tor. Hence, the above: “ill-ocano”.

The Ilo­cano or Ilokano peo­ple are the third largest Fil­ipino eth­no­lin­guis­tic group. Aside from being referred to as Ilo­canos, from “i”-from, and “looc”-bay, they also refer to them­selves as Sam­toy, from the Ilo­cano phrase “sao mi ditoy”, mean­ing ‘our lan­guage here.’ The word “Ilo­cano” came from the word “Ilo­co” or “Ylo­co.“1

Yes, it looks like the spelling is off, but the expla­na­tion of why it is so and the exer­cise is right after the jump.

So while tak­ing a break and read­ing some news feeds (Google Read­er and Twit­ter), I came upon some sim­ple black and white logos with nice typog­ra­phy. For some rea­son, I had my grand­pa in my head (who is part­ly Ilo­cano) and the lifestyle brand, Illest.2

Got to give it up to that cur­sive, its sexy. Which seems it got its roots3 via one of Golf’s renowned brands, Titleist.

Mean­while, I then linked the two (Ilo­cano x “illest”) and derived some word­play, “ill ocano”. So first thing is first, we need to have a vec­tor ver­sion of the “illest” logo­type since that will take care some of the let­ters in “illo­cano”.

After some google-ing and stick­ing with an image that is clean and with high-con­trast (like the above), we pow­er up Illus­tra­tor and open up the image file to derive a vec­tor­ized ver­sion to play with. If you are stuck on what to google, here’s an idea.

We then select our image in Illus­tra­tor, and use the “Live Trace” tool. You can do this by doing the fol­low­ing selec­tions on the main menu:

Object > Live Trace > Tracing Options

You’ll have “Trac­ing Options” win­dow open for more tweak­ing like the image below (click to zoom in on the win­dow):

Since this is a sim­ple black and white logo, we just pick the pre­set with the same name. You can tweak the set­tings of the Live Trace but I just accept­ed the pre­sets for this quick warmup. After click­ing on the “Trace” but­ton, we then do the fol­low­ing to give us a vec­tor object:

Object > Live Trace > Expand

You’ll prob­a­bly need to clean it up a bit to get the “illest” part by itself and a flip in col­ors.4 We’ll have some­thing like the pre­vi­ous image above in vec­tor form.

So we have “ill” of “illo­cano”. How do we get the “ocano”? There are dif­fer­ent ways to do so, the two fea­si­ble ones are: first, either to check to see if there’s a font that was used for the design or some­thing close to it; sec­ond, sketch it on paper. Since I did­n’t have a lot of time, I just went with the pos­si­ble dig­i­tal solu­tion and tried to see if I had some­thing sim­i­lar in my font library. If you can’t come up any­thing in your machine, you can either google some key­words, or use font-recog­ni­tion tools. One of the pop­u­lar ones is MyFonts’ “WhatThe­Font”.5

In using WhatThe­Font, you can either sub­mit the URL of the image file or upload it. In our case, since this is a script with let­ters adjoin­ing, it might be best to: cut each let­ter; save in their own respec­tive image file; and upload to the WhatThe­Font engine (till you get a good match). After doing so, it seems that the near­est font match is “Plain­Pensle Extra­Bold Ital­ic”.

Amongst oth­er ways, after we have installed the font in our sys­tem (and prob­a­bly a restart of Illus­tra­tor), we’ll need to obtain the “ocano” in vec­tor form. Type it in Illus­tra­tor and select it via Selec­tion Tool (or press “V”). Then we’ll get its out­line or trans­form it to vec­tor. Either press “Con­trol + Shift + O” or “Com­mand + Shift + O”, or:

Type > Create Outlines

We’ll also would want to make our new­ly made vec­tor “scal­able”, which sounds weird for it being a vec­tor already. But from expe­ri­ence, I usu­al­ly do a “Flat­ten Trans­paren­cy” on the object. I guess its habit from get­ting things ready for the print­ers.

Object > Flatten Transparency

You’ll be pre­sent­ed by some options for more tweak­ing but you can read on that if you like lat­er on. Mov­ing on, we’ll have some­thing like the fol­low­ing vec­tor objects to play around with:

If you notice in the image above, I did some tweaks in order to get the lines smoother and have a nat­ur­al curve. Oth­er than the Selec­tion and Direct Selec­tion tool, the tools I used to do so were less than a hand­ful: Pen Tool (or press “P”); and the Unite (Shape Mode) and Divide (Pathfind­ers) actions under the Pathfind­er win­dow. If the Pathfind­er win­dow is not vis­i­ble, you may enable it via “Con­trol + Shift + F9” or “Com­mand + Shift + F9”, or:

Window > Pathfinders

I then did a bit more clean­ing up in terms of delib­er­ate­ly mak­ing the “ill” stand­out. If you are not famil­iar with the lin­go of why I did so, check here. If you are, then word! “Pop! Pop!” Some Mag­ni­tude action for you.

Any­ways, back on track. Here’s a quick snap­shot of the Unite-ing and Divide-ing I did below:

From that, you can see that I tweaked the tail of “ill” as I want­ed it above in group order of “ocano”.6 Doing so would give some kind of dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion and make it stand­out to the effect of an intend­ed pur­pose, and not the act of being illit­er­ate. See what I did there? =)7

I also did some tweaks on the “i”. At most times, the Live Trace prod­uct needs to be tweaked if its ori­gin involves some com­plex curves. Luck­i­ly, in this case, it was min­i­mal; but still had to be done cause it bugged me. Here’s a snap­shot of what I did to the “i” below:

After doing the above, I then placed and aligned the tweaked “ill” with “ocano”. Then added a stroke on the “ill” group. If the Stroke win­dow is not vis­i­ble, you may enable it via “Con­trol + F10” or “Com­mand + F10”, or:

Window > Stroke

In case you run into some jagged stroke-lines (as I have below), you will want to zoom in as much as you can and use the Pen tool to remove some anchor(s). This will be in a case-by-case basis depend­ing on the vec­tor you are work­ing with.

After you are con­tent with your vec­tor objec­t’s tidi­ness and smooth­ness, use the Selec­tion tool to select the “ill” and “ocano” and Group them up via “Con­trol + G” or “Com­mand + G”, or:

Object > Group

From here, you can either Flat­ten Trans­paren­cy or leave as-is:

Then, save your file… and you are done.

If you have found this to be use­ful and edu­ca­tion­al, and would like to donate—please send dona­tions to Red Cross Japan here, and/or Red Cross Philip­pines here.

Thanks for your time. I hope that helps with your Adobe Illus­tra­tor warmup. Cheers!

  1. Source via Wikipedia []
  2. []
  3. Since “Every­thing is a Remix.” []
  4. In case you for­got, the short­cut to the default col­ors of black (fill, or fore­ground) and white (stroke, or back­ground) is “D”, and the short­cut to invert the fill/stroke col­ors is “Shift + X”. []
  5. WTF == =) []
  6. Object > Arrange > … []
  7. il·lit·er·ate » ill·it·er·ate []

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