The Plutark

Carter

Vector Grunge Tutorial

Carter

This tutorial is a quick and dirty way to make a graphic appear, well, quick and dirty. It was inspired by the one I found on BioRust. The only problem is that his tutorial was for Photoshop, therefore the image he makes will be rasterized. That may be great for looking at it on the screen, but if the image needs to be printed, you want to build it as a vector graphic.

The Final Image

The Final Image

This is the final image that we want to create. Since it's going to be printed on a T-Shirt, I needed a way to create it in Illustrator. Obviously, I could have created the shapes I wanted by hand, but where's the quick and dirty and that?

Quick lesson in Vector Vs. Raster Vector image: A visual representation of a mathematical formula. Basically, it can be blown up as much as you want without ever pixellating because it's not a map of bits (bitmap), rather it is numbers. Numbers never change, no matter how big they get. Best used for text and logos. Rasterized Image: Made out of pixels. Great for photographs because of the wide range of color and depth, but if you blow it up too much you start to see "jaggies." If you try and print a bitmap at too low of a resolution, it looks blurred and pixelated.

Getting Started

This is the basic design that I started with. It's a callback to the 10 Steps to an Infection Free Mind by our very own Retrac Diagoras. This was created in Illustrator using the Type Tool. All I've done is create my text.

Starting graphic

Starting graphic

In order to grunge this thing up, I'm going to use a photograph of an old shipping building, taken in Burlington, Vermont. You'll notice that there are lots of vertical shapes in it, as well as high contrast. These are necessary elements to getting the proper look.

Grunge texture

Grunge texture

Drag and drop your photograph into your Illustrator document. While it's still selected, apply a Live Trace. (Object --> Live Trace --> Tracing Options...)

You can leave the default options, but I wanted you to know about this dialogue box. The dropdown box that says "Black and White" can be set to color, which will be useful in future tutorials. Click Trace.

Correct Black and White tracing options

Correct Black and White tracing options

Your black and white traced image

Your black and white traced image

After it has been "vectorized," expand it. (Object --> Expand...) Leave the default options and click OK.

Cool, right? Your object is now a group of paths that resemble, to some degree, your original image. Double click the object to open its group. Select any one of the black shapes, then choose Select --> Similar --> Fill. This selects all the black in the object, but leaves the white shapes alone. Press delete.

The image, after Tracing

The image, after Tracing/Deleting the black shapes

Double click in an empty spot in your document to leave the object group. It looks like your object is gone, but it's not. Drag a bounding box where your object used to be and you'll see the outlines appear. Drag this shape over your graphic. The white parts have created negative space, creating the illusion of deconstruction.

Your image, over your graphic

Your image, over your graphic

I chose to duplicate my knockout shape, rotate it and resize it. I also reduced the opacity of the knockout shape to 90%. I then double clicked the shape to enter the Group mode and changed the opacity of individual shapes to different levels. Some of them are 30%, some are 90%, some are 10%. This makes the deconstruction effect look more natural. These are extra steps and are entirely up to you.

The Final Image

The Final Image

Liked this tutorial? Share it with a friend. And read some of the others.

Oh! And don't forget the comic. It's... it's worthwhile.