Today I am introducing the first tutorial devoted to work with WidthScribe. This new plugin has a number of unique features that vector editors ever never previously offered. Now we are able to change the width of a selection of paths, applying the Width Gradient Tool to them or affect one or more paths locally using the Width Brush Tool. WidthScribe has a number of useful features for work with variable width strokes, and we will learn about some of them in this tutorial.
Begin our tutorial by creating a silhouette of the mountain. Create its shape out of straight-line segments using the InkScribe Tool (DrawScribe plugin) or Pen Tool (P).
Now give the silhouette a more realistic look. To do this, edit the path with the help of the Dynamic Sketch Tool (DrawScribe plugin) while having the editing paths mode on.
Choose black color for the fill of a newly created object.
Start creating the illuminated areas of the mountain that will add volume to it. Highlights will be represented by hatching, like in any engraving. The easiest way to create it in Adobe Illustrator is when you use the Blend Tool (W). Let’s see how this can be done. Create two curved segments at a certain distance one from each other.
Select them and go to Object > Blend > Make or use the shortcut Cmd / Ctrl + Opt / Alt + B.
Double click on the Blend Tool icon on the toolbar that will open the Blend Options dialog box. Select the “Specified Distance” and pick the amount in order to achieve the desired density.
To achieve the desired effect, you can also change the position of curved segments and their points using the Direct Selection Tool (A), change the width of paths and apply the appropriate profile in the Stroke panel.
Convert the blend object into the group of paths. To do this, go to Object > Blend > Expand. Choose white color for the stroke.
Now we need to limit the shape of the light spot. To do this, create a closed path, the shape of which will correspond with the shape of the light spot.
To represent the light spot better, select the group with the strokes and the closed path, then go to Object > Clipping Mask > Make (Cmd / Ctrl + 7).
Now, nothing prevents us from fine-tuning its profile. If you need to edit it, simply move a point in the Clipping Path with the Direct Selection Tool (A). You can also add new points to it, for example, using the Pen Tool (P).
Once we achieve the desired result, go to Object > Clipping Mask > Release. Set an arbitrary color for a closed path that served as a Clipping path in the previous step, and lock it in the Layers panel.
Take the Scissors Tool (C) and cut the hatching lines at the point of its intersection with the shape of the light spot. Alternatively, a very quick way of achieving this is to use the Dynamic Sketch tool’s gesture trimming function (click here to see it in action). In DrawScribe v1.1 or higher, simply hold down Shift whilst in the Dynamic Sketch tool and strike through the parts of the path you wish to trim back.
Select and delete the parts of the hatching that extend beyond the red outline. Now delete the shape of the outline of the light spot, it is no longer needed.
Light distribution created with the help of the strokes looks too uniform. To create a more artistic effect, use the Width Gradient Tool, which is one of the tools found in the new WidthScribe plugin. To open its panel, go to Window > WidthScribe > Width Gradient panel.
Now we are able to apply a linear or radial gradient to the selected group of paths. This gradient does not change colors of the paths, but changes their widths. This unique single-operation technique has appeared for the first time in the history of Adobe Illustrator and all other vector editors. Let’s see how it works…
Select the type of the gradient (1), the range of the change of the path width (2) in the Width Gradient panel.
Select a group of paths, take the Width Gradient Tool and apply a radial gradient to the lines using a Click and Drag method.
Until you release the mouse button, you have the opportunity to watch how the width of the paths is changing while applying the gradient.
You can move the starting point of the gradient, to do this, hold the Space key.
In addition, you can set the non-linear distribution of the width along the line of the gradient application, changing the shape of the graph in the Width Gradient panel.
These wonderful options allow you to achieve any conceived effect in seconds.
Using the technique of creating hatching and the Width Gradient Tool, I created a light spot on the entire surface of the mountain.
The farther strokes are from the light source, the darker they are supposed to be.
This consistency will allow you to increase the sense of depth and volume.
Create the shape of waves smiting at the bottom of the mountain. This complex shape is created by combining simple ellipses and objects created with the Pen Tool (P). Objects were combined with help of the Unite command in the Pathfinder panel.
To create the wave crests, use the technique of creating a group of strokes, which was described at the beginning of this tutorial.
Now it’s time for us to learn about the following tool of the WidthScribe plug-in, named the Width Brush Tool. To open the dialog box with its configurations double click on its icon on the toolbox or press the Enter key if the tool is already selected.
In the Width Brush Tool Options dialog box you can set the size of the brush and its hardness. As with any brush, you can determine the resultant effect from a number of parameters, such as pressure on the stylus of the graphic tablet, and the brush hardness value.
Please note that the “Adjust Width by…” values can be applied both positively and negatively — the latter possible when holding down the Shift key when brushing. When positive (default), the impact of the Width Brush Tool is to increase the width of the paths; negative ones will reduce the width of the paths.
The image below shows the trajectory of the brush and the impact that it had on the group of paths.
To change brush diameter, use keys “]” – to increase and “[” – to decrease.
The WidthScribe plugin has commands that allow you to dynamically change the appearance of all the selected variable width strokes. Let’s see how it works on the example of creating the sea spray foam. I created a few uniform paths with the help of the Dynamic Sketch Tool, as shown in the image below.
Now select all the paths and go to Object > Path > Vary Width Markers….
By controlling the sliders in the dialog box, I quickly got the desired effect.
To create smaller foam artefacts, I used Dotted patterns, which can be found in the library of patterns. Go to Open Swatches Library > Patterns > Basic Graphics > Basic Graphics Textures in fly-out menu of the Swatches panel.
Finally, to create splashes, you can create a Scatter Brush out of an object of arbitrary shape and assign random value to it.
Please note that only a selection of the tools, functions and possible applications within WidthScribe are described in this tutorial. In the next tutorial you will learn about other tools and new features of this unique plugin.