Xara Xtreme/Xtreme Pro - Illustrating Real World Objects - Guitar Part 1
Drawing a Real World Object -- Illustrating a guitar part 1
Any object that you want to illustrate, no matter how complex, can be broken down into smaller objects. When those objects become small enough, or simple enough, they can be represented with lines and shapes. Take the illustration of the guitar seen below, for example. The guitar has a body, a neck and a head. Besides those objects, there are several others... the pick guard, buttons and dials, screws and rivets, frets and strings, etc. All of these smaller objects can be illustrated using simple (or sometimes somewhat more complex) shapes and lines. This lesson, and those that follow, will break down the steps that can be followed to create simple, or more detailed illustrations of just about any real-world object.
|Illustration of a guitar created with Xara Xtreme Pro|
This illustration lesson was created using Xara Xtreme Pro
. You can download a free trial version from Xara, here
The Guitar Body
You can probably follow along with this lesson and draw something other than this particular guitar (and I encourage you to draw whatever comes to mind as practice...), as this lesson will cover some basic illustration techniques using Xtreme Pro. You will need a photo of whatever object you do decide to start with, though. I own a guitar like the one that I'll be drawing and I probably could have photographed it myself, but I decided that there were existing photos from the manufacturer's web site that I could "borrow" that would suffice and they would probably be more evenly lit than what I could easily produce. Because my guitar is a Fender Stratocaster (very popular blues and rock guitar (Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, etc...)), I went to Fender.com and grabbed a photo of a Stratocaster :) You can certainly follow along with any guitar photo that you have, as long as the photo was taken from straight on... We'll leave more 3-dimensional objects for a later lesson...
Once you've got Xtreme Pro installed, open the photograph you'll be using by choosing File, Open and then browsing to where you have the image stored.
NOTE: Actually, if you're going to use a photo from the Web, you can import it using File, Import from Web... Very handy!
Figure 1.1 shows the photo I started with along with the final illustration of my guitar.
To get started drawing the guitar's body, select the Zoom tool from the bottom of the Toolbar and zoom-in on the body of the guitar in the photo you're working with. You can choose to set a zoom factor from the menu near the top of the screen, or simply click-and-drag around the area that you want to zoom-in on... in this case the body of the guitar.
Select the Freehand and Brush tool (it's the second tool down in the Toolbar) and, using your mouse or a tablet and pen if you own one, draw loosely around the guitar's body. Try to be as accurate as possible, but don't sweat it if your lines are a little crooked or if they miss the mark. It will be relatively easy to correct the shape in the upcoming steps.
Try to get the starting and ending points to match up, but again, no worries because this will be easy to fix, as well.
You can see in figure 1.2, near the upper right of the line that I've drawn, that I didn't quite get the line closed when I sketched around the shape of the guitar's body. Also, note that I've turned up the transparency of the imported photo to help the line that I've drawn show up more easily. To do so with the photo you're working with select the Selector tool (the first tool in the Toolbar) and click the photo to select it. With the photo selected select the Transparency Tool (tenth tool down in the Toolbar... its icon resembles a cocktail glass) and then set the transparency level using the slider below the main menus at the top of the main window. I set the transparency level to about 70%.
If the line you've drawn does get closed when you draw the shape (you'll see a small plus sign added to the cursor if you get near the starting point as you draw, indicating that the shape will be closed if you release the mouse button), the shape will immediately fill with black. Note that the default fill is solid black and the default stroke, or outline is black, as well.
If you weren't able to close the shape as you finished up drawing the line, simply select the Shape Editor tool (the third one down in the Toolbar), and click-and-drag one of the end points along towards the other end point of that same line... again, you'll see the plus sign added to the cursor when you get close... Let the mouse button up when that plus sign shows up and you'll be good to go.
Because the shape needs to be refined, it's best to get rid of the fill for the moment to more easily see the underlying photo. To do so, left-click the small "Set no color" icon. It's at the left of the color chart along the bottom of the main window... it has small diagonal black stripes in a white square (see figure 1.3).
NOTE: Left-clicking one of the color swatches along the bottom of the screen will set the fill color of any selected objects and right-clicking one of the swatches will set the outline color for any selected objects.
With the color fill turned off it's time to get started refining the curves that make up the guitar body's shape. The goal is to have only as many points as are necessary to create a smooth shape. Points are actually used when the line needs to change direction. All of the shape editing will be done with the Shape Editor tool (again, that's the third tool down in the Toolbar).
Some of what may need to be done to correct the shape includes:
All of the above can be accomplished with the Shape Editor tool.
- moving points and line segments
- reshaping line segments (done by moving the
handles associated with any given point)
- adding points
- deleting points
I'd start out by deleting any stray points that might have come from making jerking movements with the mouse or pen. You can see in figure 1.4 that I'm deleting a point.
To do the same on your illustration simply select a point with the Shape Editor tool, right-click the point and choose Delete Points from the menu.
With the strays out of the way, continue on by moving line segments into place. To do so, click-and-drag any line segment with the Shape Editor tool. You'll see the cursor change into a small white triangle as you approach a segment (see figure 1.5). When it does, click-and-drag the segment into place.
You may notice that the segments on either side of the segment you're dragging move, as well. That's okay. We'll address that shortly by moving and modifying points.
You can also move points into place using the Shape Editor tool. When you get near a point the cross hair cursor will have directional arrows added. You can then click-and-drag that point just as you did with the line segments (see figure 1.6).
Take a close look at figure 1.6 and note the red handles attached to the selected point. Those handles can also be clicked-and-dragged to help modify the line segments.
Finally, points can have either a Smooth Join or a Cusp Join (sharp and pointed). This can be set for any active point in the Options (below the menus in the main window). All of the points for this particular guitar body will be smooth, but you may find the need for a more angled point or two if you're drawing other shapes.
Keep moving line segments and points and modifying points (working slowly and zooming in and out as needed to help you create the shape of the guitar body). At the end of all of the pushing, bending, adding and deleting, you should have something that resembles figure 1.7.
Believe it or not, the hard part of creating this illustration is over! Yep, the rest is fairly simple after this, as you will see in the lessons to follow. In the next lesson the guitar body will get some depth...
We'd like to hear from you... If there are any digital illustration techniques you'd like to see covered with Xara Xtreme/Xtreme Pro, send us an e-mail.
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