Whimsical Tree Design in Adobe Illustrator - A Graphic Design for Lunch™ Class | Helen Bradley | Skillshare

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Whimsical Tree Design in Adobe Illustrator - A Graphic Design for Lunch™ Class

teacher avatar Helen Bradley, Graphic Design for Lunch™

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

6 Lessons (33m)
    • 1. Graphic Design for Lunch Whimsical Tree Introduction

      1:32
    • 2. Pt 1 Draw the Tree

      5:19
    • 3. Pt 2 Assemble the Tree

      7:12
    • 4. Pt 3 Make the leaves

      6:28
    • 5. Pt 4 Make the background

      11:29
    • 6. Project and wrapup

      1:04
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About This Class

Graphic Design for Lunch™ is a series of short video courses you can study in bite size pieces such as at lunchtime. In this course you'll learn to make a whimsical tree in Illustrator. This project is deceptively simple in appearance, in fact you will learn to use a range of Illustrator tools to make it.

You will use the Width tool, brush profiles, and the Twirl tool for the tree pieces. You will also use the Smooth tool and make and adjust leaves using the Symbol palette and the Symbol Sprayer. You will finish your illustration with a whimsical patterned background that you create using the Repeat and Transform tool and other transformation options. Most of these features work in all versions of Illustrator.

More in this series:

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Meet Your Teacher

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Helen Bradley

Graphic Design for Lunch™

Top Teacher

Helen teaches the popular Graphic Design for Lunch™ courses which focus on teaching Adobe® Photoshop®, Adobe® Illustrator®, Procreate®, and other graphic design and photo editing applications. Each course is short enough to take over a lunch break and is packed with useful and fun techniques. Class projects reinforce what is taught so they too can be easily completed over a lunch hour or two.

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Transcripts

1. Graphic Design for Lunch Whimsical Tree Introduction: Hello, I'm Helen Bradley. Welcome to this graphic design for lunch class, create a whimsical tree in Adobe Illustrator. Graphic design for lunch is a series of classes that teach a range of tips and techniques for creating designs and working in applications such as Illustrator, Photoshop, and Procreate. Today we're looking at creating this whimsical tree design in Illustrator. This design is deceptively simple. As you build it, you'll learn about brush profiles, the width, and 12 tools. You'll use the smooth tool and you'll see how to simplify a complex path. You will also learn to use symbols and the symbol sprayer to make the leaves. You'll learn transform tools to make the whimsical background pattern. There's a heap of learning packed into this fun in class. All the techniques that you'll learn are handy additions to your Illustrator toolkit. Now, as you're watching these videos, you're going to see a prompt which asks if you would recommend this class to others. Please, if you are enjoying the class, do two things for me. Firstly, answer yes that you would recommend this class. Secondly, write just a few words about why you're enjoying it. These recommendations help other students to say that this is the class that they too might enjoy and learn from. Now, if you'd like to leave me a comment or a question, please do so. I read and respond to all of your comments and questions, and I look at and respond to all of your class projects. If you're ready, now let's get started creating our whimsical tree design in Illustrator. 2. Pt 1 Draw the Tree: For our next project, we're going to create this whimsical tree. This project is again jammed full of lots of interesting techniques and skills. We'll start by creating a new document. I'm going to make my document 1000 by 1000 pixels in size, RGB, color mode, click "Create". Now I need to make a line, so I'm going to start off with the line segment tall. I'll click once in the document. My first line is going to be a 100 pixels in length, and we're just going to swing this around so that the angle is 90 degrees, so that's going to run up and down. I'll click OK. Now I'll increase the stroke weight so that we get some body in our line. We will also apply a profile to this line. With the line selected, click here on the profile list and choose this width profile, the one that is a sort of triangle in shape. Next we're going to twist this shape and to do that, we're going to select the toil tool here. With the twirl tool selectable, double-click on the twirl tool because we need to make some adjustments to its size. Its size needs to be double the height of the line. The width and the height both need to be twice the size of the line. The line was a 100 pixels. There are now 200. The other settings I have is intensity 50 percent, twirl right 40 percent, detail too, and simplify 50. I'll click "OK". The reason for the settings is that this allows the tall brush to sit entirely over the line and there is no part of the line poking out the bottom. Because if there were, this is what's going to happen. You're going to end up with a line that sort of looks like a sickle. Let's just undo that. Let's go back and just hover over the top of the line, covering the entire line and just press. The amount of the twirl is indirect relationship to how hard you press. Let's just undo this and let's go and do a very, very light press. I get a little bit of a twirl. Let's go and press the mouse button quite heavily, and I get quite a bit of twirl. You might need to experiment with just how hard you need to press your mouse button to get the twirl that you want. Now this is too much of a twirl for this small one. It's going to undo that and go for a little bit less, but still a reasonable amount of twirl. Let's go and make a second line. Click on the line segment tool. This one's going to be 200 pixels in length, still 90 degrees. Click "OK". Again, increase the stroke weight. Apply our brunch with profile to it. If the stroke is too wide, you can narrow it at this point or you can increase it. This is not setting in concrete. In fact, you can even widen the narrow the stroke on the shape that you've already twirled, you can see that it still responds to a different stroke weight. Let's go back to the twirl tool or double-click on it this time, I need to set the width and height to 400 so that this is going to cover the tip of this branch. Click "OK". I'm just going to move my existing twirl out of the way so we don't destroy that in the process by accident. Now I'll select line, go back to the twirl brush hover over this anchor point and give it a really good twirl because this is going to be my biggest twirled branch. At this stage I'm going to pop these two twirls out of the way. I'm going to make my tree branch. This I'm just going to draw out using a line segment tool I'll hold the Shift key and just draw out a sizable line increase, say stroke weight, apply the width profile that we've been using. This time, it's gone in the wrong direction. If that happens to you, go and get the pen tool and just click once on the anchor point that is at the fat end of this line. That just flips the line. But you'll see that your mouse pointer is actually still attached to the top of the line, so you need to press "escape" to just stop that from happening. My line painted that too much. What I'm going to do is use the width tool to make the line a bit thicker. You can also use the width tool to make these width profile. If for example, your version of Illustrator didn't have these brush widths profiles and the width tool would be able to be used to make them anyway. Let's just select either the line and we'll go to the width tool here it is. I'm going to hover over this pointy tip and just click and drag outwards. That's just going to make the top of the line a bit thicker. If I need to bring it back in again, I'm going to make sure that I find those anchor points and just make it a bit thinner. There are anchor points already in existence at the bottom of this line, you can see them if you hover over it. If you want to make the line a bit wider, you can just drag on those anchor points. You'll see that that has an effect on the stroke width. You're actually just adjusting the strokes. We've made a new brush with profile. You see it's up here in the brush width profile area. Now I have the component pieces that I made to start assembling my trace. In the next video we're going to do just that. 3. Pt 2 Assemble the Tree: to start assembling our tree. We're going to take this branch first. I've got the branch selected. I'm going to rotate it around so that it's rotated in a position where I can attach it to the tree. So just drag it into position. I want the branch to be a part off the trunk and you can see in here that it is a little bit wide at its base. I can do one of two things. I could make the trunk wider, or I could make the tree branch a little thinner or I could actually do both. Well, I'm going to start with the trunk. So let's just select the trunk and let's go to the width tool because I think I could use just a little bit of extra width on the top of the trunk anyway. So let's just do that. If I wanted to change the with off the branch here, I would just select it and just they Christ the stroke with. But I'm pretty happy with that right now. Let's go and get this one and I want to make a duplicate of this so I'll selected with the selection Tall, choose edit copy and then just edit paste. Edit Paste just puts the duplicate somewhere, not on top. Off the original. I'll hold the shift key as I just make this one a little bit larger Now, in fact, both of these are pointing in the wrong direction, so I'll just select over h of them and I want to flip thm so I'll choose object transform and then I'll choose reflect. And I just want to reflect, um, over the vertical side. Vertical selected here. I could make a duplicate of H while I was here by clicking the copy button. Since I need an extra branch, I think I might do that sort of click copy and let's go and pull apart. The pace is that we have got I need this pace for this side of the tree. I want this one for over here. I don't need this pace. All just delayed it by just selecting. Impressed the delay. K and I need this pace, so let's go on, grab this one and rotate it. This one's pretty much going to come out of the top of the tree here, so I'm going to put it pretty much in alignment, but I'm going to perfect the positioning of it in a minute and join it up to the trunk. Let's go and put this branch in place, so let's drag it down here, rotate it and just put it in position. And this one needs to be a bit smaller, so I'll hold the shift key. Is I just dragging on the corner so that we are rotating it in proportion? I think it could be even a bit smaller, rotated around. Let's send it down a little bit. It's a little bit thick, and we'll move it into position. Next up. We're going to select over all of these shapes, and we're going to convert them from lines into parts. So I'll choose, object and then expand appearance, and now we get individual pars. But each of these paths is really quite a complex object. This one isn't that Each of these curves are. It's gonna select over this one and click the direct selection toll. You can say that all of these are anchor points way more anchor points in this curve really needs to remove. Some of the anchor points will choose object path and then simplify. In this case, Illustrated's going to get rid of the anchor points that we don't need turn preview on and you can say that the original had 121 anchor points. But if we increase the curve precision to 100% and decrease the angle threshold, we can bring this down to 41 points. We click show original, you'll say the original and then the final version, and you probably want to have to say much difference at all. So click OK, so that path has been simplified that we're going to do the same thing over here. There's no necessity toe have so many parts. So again, here we go from 86 well, only to 85. That is a actually quite a simple shape. So that's just gon do that. Let's check this one. If I decrease the curve precision, I can get a little bit more value. Let's if there's any significant difference. I don't think so. Let's just click, OK, we'll do the same down here. We've got a lot off value here. We've gone from 73 points to 43 points. Looks like it's probably going to be OK. The change. I just click. OK? No, I don't think that was very good at all. Let's just go back and redo that. I just pressing control or command Z to undo. And let's just go back and make sure that we have a better result this time. So if you make a mistake, it's very easy toe under the mistake and just go back and do it again. Now, at this point, H of these lines can be attached to the trace. I'm going to select these three and the tree trunk, and I'm going to the Pathfinder. If you don't say the Pathfinder palette, choose Window and then Pathfinder and we'll just click unite. And that will just make one shape out of all of these smaller shapes. Next, we'll need to join this branch to the trunk. So let's just zoom in so we can say what's happening at the joint point. I'm going to select over the anchor points here. Now there are a couple of anchor points at the bottom of the trace on extra going to select over all of them. I'm just going to drag the middle of the path down because that's going to allow me to reshape this path a little bit. I'm just going to put it in position here, and then I'm gonna find the anchor points on this side and just drag them into position so I can sort of join it all up. Now, I may not be 100% happy with the join, but as long as it's a smooth join at this point, I'm going to select over both shapes. I'm going to do a unite because now I have a single shape. Let's zoom back in, but in a slightly larger size here so we can see what's going on. I'll select the shape because this is now I single shape. I'm going here to the smooth tall on. The smooth tool allows you to smooth out lines. So if we've got a sort of bump here that we don't like, we can just draw over it with the smooth tal and the shape will start to smooth out a little bit at that point. So you can always make minor adjustments to how things are joining by just running over it with the smoked all I've got a nicer join here for this branch. If you don't like the result, this press control or command Z to just undo it. So we're looking for a little bit off smoothness here in the connection to the main trunk. Let's just zoom back out. Control zero on the Pacey command, zero on the Mac. So there's the basis off our tree trunk. In the next video, we're going to create the lays and attach them to the tree. 4. Pt 3 Make the leaves: To make our life, we're going here to the Ellipse tool. I'm just going to select the Ellipse tool and press the left mouse button to drag out a long oval shape. I'm going to ensure that it's filled with black and it has no stroke at all. Let's just zoom in so we can see the leaf as we're creating it. We'll go to the direct selection tool because that allows me to select this point here at the very bottom of the leaf. What's actually going to be the tip of the leaf. With this point selected, I'm going to click here on convert selected anchor points to corner and that just removes the handles from this particular anchor point and it results in this teardrop shape. Next, we need to put a line through for our life. I'm going to select a color stroke so we can see what's going on. I'm just going to choose pink for now. This is going to disappear in a minute but we just want to see what's happening. I'm going to the pencil tool and I'm going to increase the stroke width a little bit and I'm going to draw a slightly curved pencil line into my leaf. They don't like it, I can undo it and try again. We just want a little bit of a shape into the leaf. With this line selected, we are going to apply a profile to it and we're going to apply this profile that we've been using. Now, I think there are these two things. I'm going to increase the stroke weight, because ultimately what I'm going to be doing is removing the pink part from the leaf itself. Again, with the selection tool, I think I want to rotate this around a little bit. I'm just looking for a good position for the little cut-out. You want to get this right because this is going to be your leaf. I'm going to call that good for now. Now, I'm going to select over this line and I need to expand it such as object Expand Appearance. Next, I'll choose both these objects and because this pink line is at the front, just going to select "Minus Front" in the Pathfinder palette that will remove the front object from the back objects. Here in the Pathfinder, here is minus front I'll click it once and we now have this shape that is the leaf with the piece missing. I'll [inaudible] over it. I'm going to just size it down, hold the Shift key just to reduce its size, Control Zero on the PC, Command Zero on the map to zoom back out. Now that I've got my leaf shape, there are a number of ways of putting the leaf into the document and we could just copy and paste it. But let's have a look at a new tool and it's called the symbol tool. I'm going to select "My Leaf" and I'm going over here to the symbol palette, but you don't see it. You can choose window and then symbols and that will give you the symbol palette. With the symbol selected, you're going to click here on new and you can call it leaf if you want to. There's no requirement to actually name it. You don't have to. Click "Okay" and now we have a symbol that is our leaf. In the symbol palette, we're going to click on the leaf and we're going here to the symbol sprayer tool and we're going to spray the leaf onto the trace. Let's double-click here, make sure of our settings. I have a diameter of 200 pixels and intensity of eight. Probably a little bit high. I'm going to make that intensity of four and a symbol set density of five. I'm not actually going to use that anyway, I'll just click "Okay". Now what I can do is to spray lays. If I just start clicking and dragging, you'll see that leaves are going everywhere. But I'm just going to undo that because I'm going to place this a little more accurately. I'm going to put the leaves where I want them to be. Now, just roughly in position. I want about five leaves on this tree. There are my symbols, my leaves as symbols. Let's just get rid of this one because it's not actually part of the symbol spray. You can say that when I hover over here, this shape is these leaves. Symbols work a little bit differently to other things in Illustrator which is why we're looking at them now because they're a little bit interesting. Now in addition to being able to spray leaves or symbols onto a document, you can also do things with the ones that you've sprayed. Let's go to the Symbol Sprayer collection here and let's use the Symbol Spinner Tool. With this, I can hover over a leaf and spin it around. I'm just going to spin this around so that they are pointing towards the tree and not the wrong direction. I'm just clicking and dragging on the individual symbols. I'm positioning them in the direction I want them to appear. Now there's a tool here called the Symbol Sizer Tool. I'm going to click on it and when I click on a symbol and press down hard with the mouse button, well it gets bigger. Let's just undo that with Control or Command Z. If you just click once on a symbol, you can increase the size in small components. If you alter option, click on it, you can reduce the size. We're going to go around here and just alter the size of some of these symbols. Now things are moving too fast for you. Double-click on the Symbolism Tool Options and just set the intensity down to a lower intensity, say two. That will mean that when you click you're going to get a smaller amount of movement and when you option-click or alt-click, again, you're going to get a smaller amount of movement in terms of the leaf reducing in size. Now there's also a move tool for the symbols, and it's called the Symbol Shifter Tool. It's going to select it and then we can just drag on the symbols to position them exactly where we want in relationship to add tree branches. Now as I said, we could have put these leaves on manually and it probably would have been a little bit quicker to do so, but we would have lost the opportunity to have a bit of a play and to learn about the Symbol Tool. It's certainly a handy tool to use when you want multiple copies of a single object in a document. 5. Pt 4 Make the background: We're now ready to go ahead and to create a background for our tree. But let's have a quick look at the layers palette. It's really important when you're working in illustrator that you keep an eye on the layers palette, just to make sure that everything is under control. This is particularly the case if you wanted to, for example, create this kind of document and sell it as stock. You're not going to be able to sell it as stock with a symbol in here. I'm going to the Symbol Set, I'm going to select it, and I'll choose object expand. Now, I don't want to expand the fill, I just want to expand this symbol objects. So I'll select object and click "Okay". This will break it out into a group and in this group are a series of leaves. Now we're in a better position with this document, because instead of having a symbol, we just have a regular set of leaves. For the background, we're going to create a whimsical background, so I'll select on the Rectangle Tool, click once in the document. I'm going to make a rectangle that is of the exact size of my art board. That's 1000 pixels by 1000 pixels, I'll click "Okay". Now it's filled with black, that's fine for right now. Let's go across here to the Align options. Again, if you don't see them, choose window and then align. I'll click the fly out menu and choose Show Options. I need to select align to art board, because I want to center this rectangle on the art board. So I'll click here on horizontal align center, and here on vertical align center. Now my shape is at the top of absolutely everything. I want to put it at the bottom, because it's going to be a background. I'll choose Object, Arrange, Send to back. Now it's behind everything else, but we can't see the everything else, because everything is black. So let's target the fill for the shape and let's go and choose a fill color. I'm going for something that is a sort of turquoise blue, but a very pale turquoise blue. Let's go for something like this. You can get a finer selection of colors by double clicking on the color swatch, that will take you to your color picker. Again, if your color picker doesn't look like mine, make sure that you have this little H button selected because every single one of these buttons changes the look up the color picker. I like to use H. That's what you're going to see on my screen. I think I'm just going to make this a little bit lighter, and perhaps a little bit more blue. Let's go with that color. I'm going to lock this layer down because I want to do something on top of this layer and it's going to be a little bit difficult to select the bits that I'm working on and not the bit that is the background, so locking it down just stops it from moving. This point I'm going to the Pencil Tool. I'm just going to select over the pencil tool, and let's draw a small circle. It's supposed to be rough edge because that's what whimsical is all about. Let's go and select it. You'll say that it has no strike and no fill, which is why it's totally disappearing. But we can always pick it up here in the layers panel. Just move the panel off to one side. I want to fill this with white. Let's target the fill and click on white. Just size this down a little bit to start off with. Now that size will be good, and just move it up to the top corner of the document. Next up, I'm going to create a pattern, but this time I'm going to create a pattern in a very different way to the way we've been doing it so far. With this selected, I'll choose Effect, Distort and Transform and then Transform. I'll turn preview on because I want to be able to see what I'm doing. I'm going to increase my copies to about 20 for now. We might need to vary that in a minute, but it will help to say what's happening here. I'll start increasing my horizontal movement, and increase my vertical movement as well, and then I'll select reflect Y. You can see that now these are slightly offset from each other. If I increase the vertical movement a little bit more, I'm going to end up with a pattern here. Now that looks really good to me. I've got a horizontal movement of 50 pixels, vertical of 40 reflect X. I've got 20 copies, but that's going to vary according to how big your document is, and how big your circle is. Preview is turned on so I can see things as I'm working. I'll just click "Okay". With this still selected, I'm going to go and do exactly the same thing, Effect, Distort and Transform, Transform. I get a message to say that this will apply another instance of this effect. If you wanted to edit the current effect, you'd have to do something different. Well, we want a new effect, so I click apply New Effect. Turn preview on so you can see what's happening and let's just increase the copies to about 10. Now let's start moving the vertical. So I'm going to start increasing the vertical value. I'm just holding the Shift key as I press the up arrow key, because that just increases the vertical value by 10s. I'm looking for a good faux pattern here. This is all looking pretty good. I just think that my number of copies is too small, so let's add a few more and click "Okay". Right now, everything is attached to this single shape, these dots don't actually exist. They're just created by a transformation, so right now all we've got is a single shape. We can prove that by selecting this single shape and go to the appearance panel, and let's turn off these transforms. Here is the dot, and it just this entire pattern is created by two transformations on this dot. Well, this is the first one, and this was the second one. To do anything with the individual dots, we have to find our individual dots. We have to get them out of here, because right now, we've only got one dot that we can work with. Well, with the objects selected, we'll choose Object and Expand Appearance. Now we have a group with lots of dots in it. I'm going to choose Object Ungroup and continue to do that until ungroup is no longer an option. It takes three goes to get everything out of the groups. Now, I've got just a whole series of white pars. I'm going to leave everything selected, so I haven't deselected anything. That's really important because you don't want to have to go through, and start selecting things again. With everything selected, I'm now going to choose Object, Transform, and then Transform H. This is a wonderful tool for you to use when you're creating whimsical patterns. Because what it does, is it allows you to do transformations that are random. Let's click Preview. Let's start by adjusting the scale of these shapes. I'm going to make these just so you can see what's going on, 25 percent and 25 percent. You can see that that's adjusted the size of every single one of these dots to exactly the same amount. But look what happens when I click Random. Now we get big dots and little dots. What Illustrator is doing, is it's still keeping the proportions of those shapes so they're still the same circular shape. If they're reduced, both the height and the width are reduced at the same amount. But they reduce to something between 25 percent and a 100 percent and this is random across the document. Now the size difference is too big for me. I prefer it to be a little bit less. I just wanted to show you what the random button is going to do for you, and it's going to do basically a lot. Let's go to about 50 and 50 and see how that looks. That's a bit better. Probably, I'll go to 75 and 75, but you can adjust this to taste. The other thing I'm going to do, is I'm going to set one of these corner points or one of these outside edges. There are nine little boxes here, and what you're doing is you're setting by selecting one of these boxes, the rotation point where everything is going to be applied from. I'm going to select something that is not the central one. I'm going to start increasing the horizontal and vertical values. That's just adjusting the spacing on these shapes. Again, we're not just moving everything 40 pixels horizontally and vertically, we're doing it in a random way. If we didn't have random on, everything's just moving and nothing's really happening. With random, everything starts looking very different. Little bit concerned about these two here, so I think I might just reduce the amount a little bit, maybe down to 30 here as well. Just looking at my pattern and saying that everything is looking good. You can just add a pixel or two here or there if you want to, to just see if you can get a slightly different result. When you are happy with what you see on the screen, just click "Okay". At this point we have a series of individual dots, all of which have been moved into position and they're all dots in the layers palette, that would be a really good idea right now, while everything is still selected to group them. Because we want them to travel together, they're our background. We don't want to have to move every single one of these dots individually. With them also selected, choose Object and then Group. Now we've got a single group here that we can move around. Just going to move it a little bit more centrally across the document. Then I'm going to grab it and move it down, so it's behind the tree. When I click away, we can see the result. We've got this whimsical background behind our tree. But we've got little bits hanging over the edges, and if you don't like that, I'm going to show you what you can do with it. Let's go back to the rectangle tool. Let's click on the document, again, make another 1000 by 1000 pixel rectangle, click "Okay" and again, we're going to center it over the document. We're going to select this rectangle and the group. We do that by selecting this rectangle holding the shift key, and then just clicking on this group. That selects both these objects. We're going to use this rectangle as a cutting guide, so we'll go back to the Pathfinder palette and click here on "Crop". What that does is it crops this group of objects, these series of dots to the shape of the rectangle that we drew. It's also pulled all these dots back up at the very top of our layers panel. Well, we know what to do with that. We can just drag it here down to the back so it's behind everything. Sometimes the Crop Tool, depending on the complexity of the object can take a little while to run. But in this case, it's really quick because these are very simple dots. So it is worth cleaning up, and creating a group of objects here that is really neatly presented on the art board. So there is our whimsical tree. It's created using a whole series of really invaluable techniques for you to learn in Illustrator. 6. Project and wrapup: Your project for this class will be to create your own whimsical tree design, create the tree and the background, and then post an image of your completed art as your class project. I hope that you've enjoyed this course and that you've learned lots of things about Illustrator of which you were previously unaware. As you were watching these videos, you will have seen a prompt which asks if you would recommend this class to others, please, if you enjoyed the class, would you do two things for me? Firstly, answer yes that you would recommend this class. Secondly, write just a few words about why you enjoyed it. These recommendations help other students to say that this is a class that they too might enjoy and learn from. If you'd like to leave me a comment or a question, please do so. I'll read read respond to all of your comments and questions. I'll look at and respond to all of your class projects. My name's Helen Bradley. Thank you so much for joining me for this episode of Graphic Design for Lunch. I look forward to seeing you in an upcoming episode soon.