Project Two: Abstract Line Skull



To further demonstrate the basic capabilities of Adobe Illustrator CC you will create an Illustrator design of an abstract animal skull of your choice. This skull will be created through the use of highly repetitive Cross Contour Lines designed within Adobe Illustrator CC. You will focus on Line, Balance, Negative and Positive Space, Variety, Rhythm, Shape, Contrast, Transition, Contour and Unity. Your understanding of Grouping, Line Weight, layers, Grouped Layers, Titled Layers and Groups will be focused on.



Step 1: Google search for a skull (front or top view) of your favorite animal. I recommend changing your search settings to large images. The image can be in color or in grayscale. We just need a nice crisp image.


Step 2: Save the image to your desktop. Go to your class shares folder and create a folder titled: your last name skull. Inside this folder create another folder titled: image. Then place your image in the image folder. Now open illustrator and create a document that is 11” x 17” CMYK color mode. Create a new layer and title it image. 


Step 3: Go to File > Place > go to your folder and select the image of your skull. Once your image is placed you may need to scale its size by selecting it and using the Scale Tool or grabbing a corner with the image selected and dragging (to make the image fill the artboard. Make sure you have your image selected a then open your Transparency Panel by going to Window > Transparency and set the image transparency to 50%.


Step 4: Create a new layer and title it drawing. Make sure your drawing layer is above your image layer and select your Pencil Tool. Consider double clicking on the pencil tool and lowering the smoothness option. Now in your drawing layer trace over the main contours, ridges, lines, breaks, holes etc. of JUST the left side of your skull. We aren’t looking for a spot on drawing maybe just 5 to 10 lines on your artboard.


Step 5: Turn the eye off on the image layer and then select you Selection Tool, then click and drag over all of your lines to select everything drawn.


Step 6: Here comes the fun part. Go to Object (up in the Menu Bar) then down to Blend > Blend Options. A box will appear. Select Specified Steps in the Spacing area and just as a starting point put in 15 steps, leave Orientation where it is and select OK. 


Step 7:  Now, making sure that all of your drawn lines are selected. Go to Object > Blend > Make. This action then blends paths from one drawn path to the next! Now this may take a few guesses as far as a number of steps goes. Maybe 15 is to many or not enough it’s your call!


Step 8: Once you have a design that you like, that you find visually interesting, select the Selection Tool and click and drag across all of the lines drawn and go to Edit (Menu Bar) and Copy and then Paste (or Command C for Copy and Command V for Paste). Then while your Pasted lines are still selected go to Object (Menu Bar) > Transform > Reflect > Axis > Vertical then hit OK. You will then take your Selection Tool and move the reflected pasted lines over to the right side of the skull and line everything up!


Step 9: Now we will mess with this even further!! Select the Selection Tool click and select everything and copy it. Create a new layer and title it experiment. Paste your skull into that layer then shut the eye off in the drawing layer. Making sure your new experiment layer is highlighted in the layers panel go to Object (Menu Bar) > Flatten Transparency.  Preset > High Resolution and hit OK. Now you can select any single path!!! You could even select two paths and make a blend between them to add weight and variety to your design. Your design must be have a black stroke but if you want to explore adding eyes to your skull feel free to (with color). Save this document to your class shares last name skull folder. Then save it as a PDF and place it in the Skull folder in the Public folder on class shares. Lets print these too!! 


Step 10: Experiment with your design! Try drawing other elements of the skull and blending on other areas for more specific control. Try changing the stroke weight of certain paths. Try changing certain paths stroke to any shade of gray for a modeling effect etc! 



Adobe Illustrator CC, Found Image



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© 2020 Dustin M. Price