You are looking at archived content. The hot new stuff is happening at Veerle's blog 3.0. You should check it out!

May 19

Using the blend option in Illustrator CS

2005 at 02.28 am posted by Veerle Pieters

A while ago I was drawing an illustration in Adobe Illustrator CS for one of my clients. This Illustration required some time and labor because of its complexity. I thought it would be interesting to share some of my experiences on this…

Illustration created in Adobe Illustrator CS

It might not look that complex at first sight but I used more then 50 layers to keep things organized. Some illustrations (the tanks) were created in separate documents which contain again tens of layers and were just pasted as merged layers in the mayor drawing. Also important to know is that I didn’t get any real source material only some technical schemata (2D outlines). The rest was based on conversations such as draw a pipe from here to there etc. It also took a few versions till I got the right result.

Creating 3D pipes using the blend option
I had to move pipes and tanks all the time add a water purification system, make the house bigger etc. Well you get my drift here, at a certain point I couldn’t see no pipes or tanks anymore and although I really enjoyed drawing this one, I was really really glad (relieved) when it was finally finished.

What I want to share with you is how I created the 3D pipes. This was actually done very easily using the blend tool. I’ve recorded my actions and made a Flash e-Learning movie for you to watch (and learn I hope).

Want to learn more?

VECTORTUTS+ Vector Tutorials and More A good and not expensive source to learn more about Illustrator, Photoshop, or web design is by joining the Tuts+ sites. You get access to the source files for just $9 a month. So your ONE membership gives you access to members-only content for ALL the Plus sites. I've written a tutorial for the Vector Tuts section.




permalink this comment AkaXakA Thu May 19, 2005 at 03.56 am

Wow nice work!

I’ve watched the movie, but as it speeds through all the steps, I couldn’t follow all of it. (Though my illustrator nubness doesn’t help either).

So some I’m left with (probably) a quite simple question: what do you mean by selecting and moving the highlight? Just the light-blue path?



permalink this comment Simon Davies Thu May 19, 2005 at 04.08 am

Thats great stuff, a very impressive illustration! I’m just getting into Illustrator so every little helps.



permalink this comment sure Thu May 19, 2005 at 04.38 am




permalink this comment Veerle Thu May 19, 2005 at 04.52 am

@AkaXakA, yes just move the light blue line a bit up. The position of this line actually depends on where the light is coming from, in most cases we will have to move the line up a bit.

Don’t forget you can use the pause button at any time. I can imagine that things could go a bit too fast, that’s why I made sure you can pause it.



permalink this comment ekrem Thu May 19, 2005 at 05.36 am

wonderful! keep such tutorials coming! i am new into illu and every little hint is more than welcome! such vids are perfect for learning…. well..altleast for me! ;)



permalink this comment Pat Thu May 19, 2005 at 06.45 am

Thanks Veerle! I’m looking forward to seeing more Flash-based tutorials. It’s far more intuitive to follow than plain text ones. :-)



permalink this comment Kent Thu May 19, 2005 at 08.33 am

“does not look complex”—- perhaps not to some, but I see it as being very complex. As usual, excellent work and thanks very much for the ‘how-to’ video. Very helpful to see the technique in action!



permalink this comment Kim Siever Thu May 19, 2005 at 09.54 am

A suggestion for any future Flash tutorials. It would be great to scrub the timeline indicator to any point on the timeline. If I want to watch a specific part of the tutorial, for example, I may not want to watch the entire tutorial again.




permalink this comment Tom Werner Thu May 19, 2005 at 09.58 am

That’s a very impressive illustration. I really like the style you employed, and the detail. Thanks for sharing your pipe creation technique, I’m sure it’ll come in handy down the road!



permalink this comment Joe Thu May 19, 2005 at 10.01 am

What tools did you use to create the flash tutorial?  How about a tutorial about creating the tutorial? 





permalink this comment Soroush Thu May 19, 2005 at 12.09 pm

Thanks Veerle! That drawing probably took a lot of work to get finished!
I had a question: I noticed that in the video, you draw the path, and then make it thicker just by selecting a bigger size from the palette. Can you do something similar to that in Photoshop too? Cos I have trouble in creating a path and colouring the path using stroke to make it thicker. (I hope I’ve been clear in my description!)
Also, as Joe said, what program do you use to create that?
Many thanks : )



permalink this comment Ruben Thu May 19, 2005 at 12.55 pm

As always, very inspiring work!

Thank you for the video tutorial, I find it handy and easier to follow the tutorials this way, although It all went a bit fast for me… I had to play it several times to fully get it.




permalink this comment continuum2 Thu May 19, 2005 at 04.54 pm

Simple but very cool !

Learned something new in IL CS!



permalink this comment nerdcool Thu May 19, 2005 at 07.00 pm

nice work.  i never new about the blend dealy.  i’b been screwing around with the mesh tool to get similar effects.



permalink this comment Lewis Thu May 19, 2005 at 07.38 pm

Veerle:  You’re filling a void.  I liked the way you presented this Illustrator tutorial.  Not only have I enjoyed this tutorial and past tutorials, but I’ve been able to apply the methods outside of the scope of the tutorial.  That’s when I know it’s a good tutorial, damn good tutorial, and simple too!

Thank you.  I hope you help continue to free the creative mind.



permalink this comment carter Thu May 19, 2005 at 07.40 pm

Okay, I feel like a jerk, but after trying this step by step in IL CS2, I can’t make it work. After I duplicate the layer and reduce the stroke to 2, it breaks apart. Weird. The idea of this makes sense but I can’t make it work.



permalink this comment carter Thu May 19, 2005 at 07.52 pm

OOOOOOOOOPS! My fault. I did get this to work. You must have no fill. My apologies.
And, by the way, Veerle, you have a great site for so many things. Thank you.



permalink this comment Jackie Thu May 19, 2005 at 08.04 pm

Like the illustration - it must have taken a lot of planning and stuff to get all those pipes and the cut-away of the house with the tanks underground all in the right positions! Not to mention the grass and flowers, fence, etc. you added to the scene.
The Illustrator tutorial was pretty cool.  I’d really like to know how you create an animated screen shot like that in Flash - or did you do it just with Illustrator?  I know there is a way to save Illustrator files as .swf, but don’t know if that is how you automated this tutorial - anyway, it is very neat. 



permalink this comment Mike Purvis Thu May 19, 2005 at 09.30 pm

Veerle: This is a neat trick, thanks for sharing. I’ve recently had to use Illustrator for some really big posters where raster wasn’t an option, and the transition is a little confusing.

Jackie: There’s several tools out there for making Flash demos. I only have experience with the ‘official’ one, but I found it useful:



permalink this comment Keith Thu May 19, 2005 at 09.50 pm

Sup V,

Thanks for the Illustrator Tutorial. I’m always looking for tips and tricks in Illustrator. Got any tips for grunge filters or distressed backgrounds?



permalink this comment Veerle Fri May 20, 2005 at 05.54 am

Thanks for the positive comments here. It’s nice to hear my efforts are highly appreciated :-)

@Joe, Soroush and Jackie : I’ve used Sceen Snapz Pro to capture everything. It is then automatically saved as a QuickTime movie. Then I’ve used Sorenson Squeeze to export my movie to a Flash swf file. I’ve imported this swf into Flash and added the progress bar, explanation and play/pause and rewind buttons.

Might write a review of Screen Snapz Pro one day, it is a great tool.

@Keith, “Got any tips for grunge filters or distressed backgrounds?” I haven’t got any just right away but it’s a nice idea, so I’ll keep it in mind… so one day who knows :-)

@Soroush “I noticed that in the video, you draw the path, and then make it thicker just by selecting a bigger size from the palette. Can you do something similar to that in Photoshop too?”. As far as I know I don’t think you can. You have to set the size first and then draw but I don’t think you can change the size afterwards. But I have to say I’m not an expert in vector work in Photoshop, I just use Illustrator for all the vector-based elements. I use the Photoshop pen tool only for small simple things or to take something out of its background, stuff like that.

@Kim Siever, “It would be great to scrub the timeline indicator to any point on the timeline” yeah I know, it’s not prefect yet. I’ll ask my programmer to add a bit of action scripting for the next version ;-) I’m more into illustration and designing, action scripting is not my ‘thing’ and I had this just laying around ready to use.



permalink this comment Bart Van Mulders Fri May 20, 2005 at 02.54 pm

Awesome!  Thanks a lot for sharing!



permalink this comment erika Sat May 21, 2005 at 08.28 am

i love you.  thanks for learning and sharing your knowledge.  I can’t wait to get my computer back so I can start creating.




permalink this comment KevinMichael Hamm Sat May 21, 2005 at 08.49 pm

You are the BOMB!!!! (yes, that’s a good thing, slang being what it is) I adore your site, your work and your charity sharing it with all of us!



permalink this comment hiro Tue May 24, 2005 at 12.46 am

Hey Veer, geat illustration. I can imagine the tanks being a hell of a lot of work, with the see thru and wireframe effects.

Great flash tutorial as well. I’m used to photoshop myself and to know how to possibly do things like this in Illustrator is great.



permalink this comment Michael Stanton Thu Nov 3, 2005 at 11.25 am

Terrific tutorial! I’ve experienced many uses for this blend technique in the past but avoided it in favor of “workarounds.” Now, thanks to your excellent and timely tutorial, I’ve got it nailed!

Thanks BIG TIME!!!



permalink this comment Jackie Fri Mar 17, 2006 at 09.27 am

This was very helpful. I needed to know how to draw pipes for a project at work and in moments you showed me how.

Thank you so much.



permalink this comment niodrim Sat May 6, 2006 at 06.01 pm

You are lovely !!!! ((( :

Commenting is not available in this weblog entry.


buy something from my Amazon wishlist