Vector Illustration: Playing with Texture | Hayden Aube | Skillshare

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Vector Illustration: Playing with Texture

teacher avatar Hayden Aube, Illustrator & Designer

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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

    • 1.



    • 2.

      The Technique


    • 3.

      Shapes Exercise


    • 4.

      Working with Illustrations


    • 5.

      Next Steps


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About This Class

There are many different ways to add texture to vector artwork. Many involve purchasing brushes, using texture overlays or rasterizing your work. Find out how to add texture to your work that can be done all inside of Adobe Illustrator and be scaled to any size you like—just like the rest of your vector art!

Meet Your Teacher

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Hayden Aube

Illustrator & Designer


Hayden here and I am an illustrator, designer and most importantly to you, teacher!

I am constantly hunting for the actions that will have me producing my best work possible--I assure you it's no easy feat. That's why my primary goal in all of these classes isn't to give you just any information, but only the information that's going to make the biggest difference in your work. Think of it as optimizing your artistic development ;)

So if you're looking to level up your skills in design and illustration, consider checking out my classes. I've gone to great lengths to keep them short and to the point so you can get the information quickly and jump to creating.

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1. Introduction: Hello, my name is Hayden Obey. I'm a graphic designer and illustrator and I specialize in vector art. One of the most common questions that people ask me is, how to add texture to illustrations in Adobe Illustrator? While there are many different techniques out there to do this, many involved bringing your illustration into Photoshop, routine brushes or textures, or even working with rasterized images. But if you're like me and you love the idea of everything being housed inside Adobe Illustrator, then this class is for you. The technique I'm going to show you, is entirely a vector-based brush free. You can always edit them and it offers plenty of control and give you just the amount of texture that you look for. Together we'll walk through a few exercises to understands how the technique is done, and then go over how it is applied to an illustration by going from something like this to something like this. This class, is for anyone who wants to take their illustrations to the next level without compromising on what makes working with vector so great. I look forward to seeing you in class. 2. The Technique: To create textures for our illustrations, we're going to be using a combination of gradients, grain, and blend modes. There are many different techniques out there for adding texture, this is just one of them. But what I find good about this technique is that it is all housed within Adobe Illustrator. There's many techniques involved going into Photoshop or pulling in different textures. It's all vector-based, which is great because that means it's scalable and it's always live. Which means that at any point throughout your illustration, you're going to be able to change the amount of grain, change the color of it, as well as how the range of the actual gradient itself you're going to be able to change on the fly, which is quite helpful. That being said, one of the drawbacks for this technique is that it's a lot better with shadows than it is with highlights. You can still do highlights with it, but it is a little bit trickier. To give you a better sense of how the technique works, I've put together this little document here that shows you the different blend modes that we could be using. If you're unfamiliar with blend modes, they are used in a lot of different Adobe products, Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign. What they do is they decide how the two different layers are going to be bled together, two layers that are laying on top of each other. If you look here at all these different squares, there's actually two squares there, those flat color behind. Then there's the textured layer on top, which will be at one of these different blend modes. As you can see, different blend modes tend to work in different situations. Personally, I really like how overlaid it works, but a lot of the time it doesn't produce the shadow that I need. For that I'll go to multiply or darken. Likewise, I usually use screen enlightened when I'm trying to do highlights. But sometimes you can get some interesting effects with color touch. Personally, I just recommend that you play around with these different blend modes, even the ones that I haven't listed here. Find out how they work and how you can incorporate them into your own work. Now I'm going to show you how the technique is done. I have a square here that I want to apply a grain texture on top of. What I'm going to do is I'm going to duplicate this square by pressing command C to copy, and then I'm going to press Command F to paste it in place, which really just pastes another square on top of it. Like I said, you need two layers for this technique. You have the flat color underneath, and then you have the texture layer on top, which gets the blend mode and then creates the texture. On this top layer here, I'm going to go to Gradient. If you don't have the gradient window open, you can find it under Window here. It's seems to be Command F9. Then I'm just going to apply a linear gradient with both of the stops here. I want it to be black. I want one of those stops to be zero percent opacity. You get something like this. From here, I'm going to go to Appearance. Once again, if you don't have it open, you can find it under window. I'm going to go to Effects here, New effect. I'm going to scroll down to Texture and Grain. This is where we apply the actual grain effect. You could do your settings just like this, how I have them, or you can experiment. I recommend definitely playing around with the intensity as that really gives you how much grain you're going to be using. I like a lot of grain side, keep it usually around 20. But depending on what I'm doing, I might put it all the way up just to get little bits. Then for the grain type, I typically stick with sprinkles, but feel free to experiment with them. I find contrast. If you move it from 58 tends to mess things up a bit. Do be careful with that. But either way, I'm happy with this, I'll press "Okay" and the effect takes place. It's important now that under appearance you make sure that the grain effect right here is inside the fill, also I'm going to drag in part in there. If you don't put it inside the fill when you change the blend mode, it doesn't work properly. Now that it's in there, I'm going to click on "Opacity" and I'm going to put it to, like I said, I like how overlay works. In this case, I think it actually works quite nice. That's going to give me the effect. If I wanted this to be a highlight, I could just click on the "Opacity" and I could change it to screen and I can also highlight instead. What I mentioned is really nice about this technique is that now that I've made this, I can continue to play around with it. Just like I just switched from a shadow to highlight, I can put it back to its shadow, I can go into the actual gradient here, and I can move it around and change it. I could even change these colors. It actually even changes to red on both sides and then maybe make it darken. Now I have this deep red shadow. It's really helpful. It remains a vector and its slide can change it all the time. It's also worth noting that the size of your document dictates how much grain that you have. If you're creating a file that's quite small, you may want your document size to be much larger just so that you can get a lot more grain. 3. Shapes Exercise: Now that you've seen how the technique works, I want to show you how to apply it in many different ways. To do that, I put together this little exercise document that you can download from the class,, and I encourage you to follow along with me, or just watch me do it and then go do it yourself. Then even more, I would encourage you to post this to your personal project here on the class just to show us how you're doing. What I'm going to do is start out with, is I'm just going to go to these two rectangles here, and first off, I'm going to do exactly as we did before, I'm just going to make a linear gradient on this red rectangle. Once again, I'm going to copy which is Command C, and then paste in place, which is Command F, to create another shape on top. I'm going to apply a linear gradient, and I'm going to make it go from dark to light, from bottom to top, and then just as before, I'm going to set these to black and make one of them zero opacity. Then, just as we did before under appearance, I'm going to go to effects, texture, grain. I like it at 20 intensity, so I'm going to stick with that, and then I am going to put the grain into the fill. I'm going to try overlay, but it's not working too well, so I'm going go to multiply. Great, so that's exactly what we did before. Super simple, and then I'll start to change things up a bit. For the blue rectangle, we're going to do a different gradient, just to show you what's possible. Just as before, I'm going to copy and paste another one in place, and I'm going to apply the gradient. But this time, I'm actually going to take my 100 Pasi black stop, and I'm going to put that right in the middle of this gradient, and I'm going to create another one of these zero opacity stops and put them on each side. I get something like this. Let's say that this was a cylinder and we wanted to add some shadow right down the middle here so that you get a sense of that, so that's when I might use a gradient like this. Just as before now, I'm going to go to texture, grain, and then put the grain in the fill and change the blend mode and opacity. I'm going to try overlay. Now, do the multiply. You can see that you can do different gradients. I think for this, I'm actually just going to lower the opacity, maybe just like 70. That was too strong. Moving on in the exercise, we're going to create a sphere from a circle. Just as before, I'm going to copy it and duplicate it in place, and this time I'm going to be adding a radial gradient, so you can change it from linear to radial just up here, and I'm going to be using from a 100 percent to zero, just as we originally did. Only I'm going to have it go reversed like this, and so what I'm trying to do is imagine that the light is coming from the top left here, it's going to be lighter up here and darker down here. I found a great way to do that is to use the gradient tool here by pressing G or clicking here and the toolbars, and just growing this out and moving it to get something like that. Already that it looks much more 3D. I'm actually just going to up the light takeover a bit more. Now I'm going to do exactly what we've been doing before, and applying the grain texture and giving it a blend mode that works. See, our multiply works fine. In addition to the shadows on this one, I also want to add a highlight. What I'm going to do is actually going to create another ellipse. I'm going to put that just up here where the light will be hitting, I'm going to reverse it, it starts darker in the middle and goes out. Although it looks like a shadow right now, once we apply the grain effect, we can add a blend mode to it that makes it look like a highlight, so I'm going to do just that. Texture grain, okay, and let's try screen. It's quite subtle. I want to make that a bit stronger I think, so I'm just going to go in this and maybe I can see what lighten would do. No, not lighting. Color dodge. That's cool, but I'm going to stick with screen. Sometimes if the effect isn't as strong as I want it to be, I'll just paste another one on top of it like that. I'm not going to do that for this, I'm just going to leave it like that. Next up we're going to add a glow to the outside of the circle. We're going to once again copy it, Command C, Command F, and under appearance affects, I'm going to add a outer glow. I'm going to do something just like this. Depends on the size that you're working at, but this is what I'm going to create. Then just as before, I'm going to add grain, sometimes if these aren't ordered right, it doesn't work properly. It seems like you might need to keep grain outside of the fill for this to multiply. This is one way just to get a glow here, and just as the grain is live, so is that effect. The outer glow, I can decide that I want to be bigger, maybe 80 pixels, and I can make it bigger. Maybe I decide that I actually want it to be red, I can make it a red. It doesn't just work with the gradient tool, there's also at their effects that work as well. Then the final exercise we're going to do is another one of those effects, this time we're going to do an inner glow. If you have a more oblong looking shaped like this, you can't really create user radio gradient or linear gradient to really capture the form, so sometimes it's helpful to use Inner glow. Just as I did, copy and paste in front, and then under effects, I will add the integra. I'm going to do something. Start with black for now. Yes, something like that. Then once again, the grain looks good. Then I find for this one, some blending modes worked better than others. When I use multiply, the grain goes through the whole thing, but I don't really want that. Whereas darken, it only gets it around the edges and which is exactly what I want. I can do something just like that. I encourage you to download this demo file. I'll include the versions that I've done here and it just so that you can reference. But like I said, I encourage you to do them yourself, and then once you've done that, upload it to your project so that we can see. 4. Working with Illustrations: Now that we've gone through the technique, and some of the different uses we can use it for, I'm going to show you how I apply it to an entire illustration. So rather than go through the hour that it took for me to do this, I've sped it up, and I'm going to try and highlight some key points that I've done often with shading here with the gradient, but also using standard gradients I'll leave a fine line here to cut down on the bottom of the head, because normally, when there's a shadow there is going to be a fine light. A good way to do that is to use the offset path option under offset path. You'll notice for the head, the eyes I'm doing now, as well as some of those little balls on the end of his hat, I'll be using similar techniques that we did to the spheres or the sphere exercise that we did. If there's anything you see here that you don't understand how I did it, just put a message in the discussion below, and I'll add it as a note here on skillshare. My own advice that I didn't take when I was making this, is I was making it a bit too small of a size, and it's not too big a deal, because in the end I was able to just expand, just blow it up to a bigger size, but you'll notice as I'm making it here, that the gradient isn't super fine, especially, once I start working on the mouth, right here, you'll see that the gradient doesn't look super nice, it's quite chunky, but at the very end when I enlarge it, it looks much better. Here I'm using inner clow just like we did in the exercise. You'll also notice over in my swatches panel, I've taken the solid colors that I had, the purple, and the pink. I've made just a few shades of it, because I find that, that helps often with highlights, and shadows. Instead of using the really strong black, I'll use maybe the dark purple. I can use it right here just to make it a little softer. Actually, here on the hat too, you'll notice that I'm continuing to duplicate the same layer on top of it, and change the gradient around. So oftentimes if I have more complex shadows, it'll just be several gradient layers overlaid on the base. I think here I was playing around quite a bit with jumping between inner clow, outer clow, seeing what worked best, and I believe in the end I just settled on actually doing a radial gradient, just to show the shadow from where his neck would be going into his induced clothing. You'll also notice something that I do right here on the body is actually, that was one big piece by I split it up so that I could apply different kinds of shadows to it, and from different angles without affecting how the shadows looked on the pants as opposed to the shirt. Also, when it comes to highlights like right here, I actually discovered going through this illustration that I can make the highlight a lot better if I tweaked the gradient to be a lot higher than lower. In the exercise I showed you that sometimes I'll keep the gradient at 20 when I'm doing shadows, and it gives me a lot, but now I found if I actually set it the reverse closer to the other side of the spectrum like 80 when I'm doing highlights, it gives me a lot more gradient. Once again, here I'm using offset path to make that arm a bit smaller, so that I have that thin light before the shadow. It adds a nice extra bit of reflection. Illustrator crashed here, so, I had to do this. Probably, the good thing is that I was working at a bit of a smaller size, because I might have crushed it more often with all that gradient. So I just had to redo this arm and that was it. I don't think I have to tell you guys that, so often, because that happens. For this arm here, I'm using a regal gradient, that really matched the curve of the arm, so, I can get a shadow that's very similar to the straight line on the other arm. The hand here, I think I was playing around with it quite a bit, trying to add shadows, and highlights to individual fingers, but in the end, I believe I settled on one shadow. Sometimes if the shadows of reflection is going to be really small, sometimes it doesn't make sense to me to include it. Sometimes in terms of composition, if you have one piece that has a lot of detail, and then the rest of it doesn't have as much, it does look a little off balance, and I don't want everybody's attention to go to this hand with tons of different highlights, and shadows on it. Now once you have the legs, it is the same thing as the arms. Also, something that's good to know for speed sake, if you keep on applying the same gradient at the same settings, you could actually just go up to affect at the very top of the fact it will say apply gradient, and then pretty much it will just apply it again. There's also a shortcut for it as well. I'm just playing around with a couple different options for the background circle. Let's settle mainly on the gradient in the background there. There it is. I now encourage you to take one of your own illustrations, and apply some texture to it using the techniques that we've gone over. If you don't have an illustration of your own, I'm going to upload the flat color illustration of the clown here, and you can give it a go yourself. Just as before, all the work that you do, you can go, and upload it to your project here on skillshare. 5. Next Steps: What's great about learning these techniques is that there's a lot of room to play around, to experiment, and to really make it your own. You could see what happens if I use different effects. So we tried outer glow, tried to inner glow, I believe we've touched the other one's. What about if you use different blending modes? If there's anything exciting that you find, come back here and share with us. I truly appreciate you taking the class and if there's anything that I can do to better help you, just like me know, and if you ever quests for future class topics, definitely send them my way. If you want to learn more, you can check out my other class where I walk you through from start to finish, how I make Vector illustration. So I hope you enjoyed the class, and learned a lot and you now have a new weapon and your Illustration or so.