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Part: Four Color and Effects > Hog-Wild Special Effects

Chapter 19. Hog-Wild Special Effects

Every so often, someone informs me that he or she prefers Photoshop to Illustrator because, “I'm just not a vector person.” It's not that Illustrator doesn't help you create terrific artwork; it's that in Photoshop, inspiration starts with scanned images, which you can enhance using a mouth-watering collection of special effects filters. But Illustrator is so rigid. You have to draw everything from scratch. You can't just sit and play like in Photoshop. You can't just apply commands and watch the artwork take on new and exciting shapes. Right? Well, not exactly…

Clearly, Bézier curves are more labor-intensive than pixels. (Anyone who isn't trying to sell you something would admit that.) But you don't have to painstakingly draw each and every curve by hand. You can rough out primitive compositions with ellipses, stars, text characters, and the like, and then embellish these objects using Illustrator's automated functions.

If you read Chapters 7 and 9, you already have a sense of the marvels you can accomplish by combining and transforming shapes. But that's only the proverbial tip of the iceberg. In this chapter, I'll show you how to apply a wide range of bona fide special effects—functions so radical that they can mutate common shapes into extraordinary forms that would take you minutes or even hours to draw by hand. In Figure 19.1, for example, I started with nothing more than a line of type, an ellipse, and a five-pointed star. A quick distortion and two filters later, I arrived at the unqualified masterpiece that you see before you. As you can see, Illustrator lets you run roughshod over objects in the same way that Photoshop lets you use and abuse images. Both programs are equal parts finely tuned graphics applications and platforms for fortuitous experimentation.

Figure 19.1. Thanks to a few filters and distortions I was able to convert a basic ellipse, a mundane star, and some converted type into a complete illustration.


Throughout the following pages, we'll look at the special effects functions of Illustrator. We'll also look at the differences between applying commands from the Filter menu versus the Effect menu. And we'll examine how keeping commands “live” offers you greater flexibility over time. Since these features can be so wild, and there are so many of them, this chapter will be almost as much about ways to manage these powerhouses as to apply them. And just to keep you on your toes, I'm going to intersperse those parts.


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