JesterArts Micro-Tutorial: Realistic Models Built of Lego Bricks 3d Designs in Blender 3d Using Leocad

In browsing the net, I’ve seen some fascinating 3d models of Lego-like vehicles. I grew up on these toys and I’m a huge fan of them. I’ve always wondered how people are able to create such perfectly accurate and realistic 3d models resembling them. These little objects are also complicated little things to model! I found out people are simply generating them in simple software and rendering them out in their 3d suites! If you are a Blender 3d user, this tutorial will show you the trick.

In this tutorial you will learn a simple way of how to create realistic building block designs using free open source program Blender 3d and a free program called Leocad (no relation). This is a simple resource/how-to tutorial. It assumes you already are familiar with Blender 3d.

First, download Blender 3d at

Then download Leocad:

1. Leocad is really easy to use. Simply select your blocks and create a model. I made this quickie transporter bot below:

Rover Transporter Bot

2. Once you’ve created your model export it as a 3ds.  (If you use other 3d packages, the other file types you are able to export might be helpful).


3. Open Blender 3d and import the 3ds file into your scene.


4. Then simply set your materials and scene lighting up so that it renders realistically. Here is the vehicle I created in the .blend file if you want to see my scene/material settings:

Done in Blender 3d Using Leocad
Done in Blender 3d Using Leocad

Click on the above picture to obtain .blend file.

Note: The 3ds geometry tends to have a lot of triangle faces, taking away some model/render quality.

If your trying to perfect your abilities in lighting and materials, this is a great way to go because the models themselves are realistically built, easy to generate, and you can just focus on the other scene attributes. In this scene, I let ambient occlusion do all the work with a basic lamp to the upper right. The plane is set to “shadow only” and the background sky was set to white, giving a nice isolated effect.

I grew up on these little toys and my children (even as toddlers) enjoy them immensely. It might just be the coolest toy the universe. Thanks to 3d, I can still play with them :D.

This is for educational purposes/fun only.  Graphic artists take note: LEGO® is a trademark of the LEGO Group of companies which does not sponsor, authorize or endorse this site.

Orange Man Color Changes — Tutorial in Adobe Illustrator

A little known fact is that Orange Men are like little chameleons — they can change color according to your design needs!

…they just need a little help.

Thank goodness for the Adobe Illustrator Magic Wand and Eyedropper tool, which this tutorial will teach you how to use!

First, why don't you swipe this little picture goodie below: A color pallet of the default design mascot color variations. A tutorial on how to change orange men to other colors follows below.

This is an easy tutorial. It uses pictures!

Step 1: Have a vector orange man ready. If you don't have any, you can find them at

Step 2.
Look at picture below. It shows where our essential tools for this operation are located.


Click on the picture if you need to see closer. It works on all the pictures. Be sure to use back button afterward on your browser!

Step 3: Add the color pallet you swiped onto your Adobe Illustrator work area.  Picture Below:


Step 4:
Change the settings on your magic wand tool from default  number to 0. This is done by double-clicking the icon on the tool tray. Pic below. (After this I'm going to stop saying picture below, ok?)


Step 5: Use the Lasso Tool to draw a selection line around the area you want to operate on…which is usually the orange man/woman. Sometimes the orange men have props and objects separate from them. We do not want these to be affected, so we will lock them in the next steps.


Step 6: Lock inverse. Start by going to the menue items Select/Inverse. When you've selected inverse, then go to object/lock, thus locking all that other stuff you don't want to touch in this operation.



Step 7: Magic Wand tool, selecting colors. Click the magic wand tool on the tool tray or push "Y" on your keyboard. Then click the shadow/dark oranges of the orange person you are working on.


Step 8: Eyedropper color change: Having done that, now click the eyedropper tool on the tool pallet push "i" on your keyboard to bring up the eyedropper tool. The darks of the orange person should still be selected as shown above. Now click the dark blue on the color pallet to switch the color from dark orange to dark blue.


Step 9: Deselect by clicking somewhere on the empty workspace, and then repeat the steps previous on the mid-tone of the orange person. Magic wand, eyedropper, sample. Same with the highlight.


Step 10: With your design mascot completed, unlock the rest of the objects on the canvas to free up the illustration for further editing/access.


Of course, you do not have to use the color pallet. You can, if you wish, just magic-wand color areas then bring up the color options menues to switch them to whatever you wish. I don't mind!

Learn Actions

If your a designer that intends to use A LOT of orange people, then something else you may wish to learn is how to use ACTIONS. That will GREATLY reduce the clicking involved in this operation. I would not be able to generate so many color variation orange men without them. A simple search online: "Adobe Illustrator Actions Tutorial" should get you started.

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JesterArts Micro-Tutorial: Superior Character Lighting and Shading Via Actions and Color Balance.

4_CharacterI tend to march to the beat of a different drummer when it comes to illustration–especially in the area of color. In this tutorial we will be shading this little drummer character. Download him here:

Vector work can be tedious. A lot of pointy-clickety and detail stuff…it can drive you crazy. “Actions” are like the medication built into Illustrator to stop you from going crazy (or at least crazier).

Achieving proper lighting and color in a character illustration is important. Duh. A proper use of Actions will make your color changes for lighting both easier and accurate.

I have an entire workflow built around this concept so I can crank out characters as fast as possible. See below screenshot:

When having to produce a lot of illustrations, actions will speed things up greatly.

When having to produce a lot of illustrations, proper use of actions will speed things up and reduce tedious vector work.

Follow the steps below:

1. Create a new CMYK document.


2. Create your character complete with flat colors. (Or simply use the one I included here).


3. Open up your Actions window (just to have it ready). Window/Actions.


4. Once that window is open you will see all of your Action defaults pre-organized in little sets. You should create a new set for this one. At the bottom of the window you can see some options. Click the little icon that looks like a folder to create a new set…


4. You will be prompted to name the set. Name it something close to your heart, such as the name of your hamster, “JesterArts Rocks”, or something. In this case, I’ve called the set “Shading: Light and Dark” because I lack imagination and hamsters. In this folder we will soon be creating our shading and lightening action.


5. Now lets take a little detour and do some actual vector editing in preparation for these magical new color tricks. Working in vector, many people have different ways of altering objects for color changes. I choose to cut out parts with other shapes since this seems to be the cleanest way of working. However you wish to do it, define an area that will be shaded. For this illustration, I’ve created a circle over the head which will “cut out” an area to be darkened. I call this empty path used for cutting “the cutting path”, strangely enough.


6a. Open up your “Pathfinder” window by selecting Window/Pathfinder. You will see this little pallet here:


6b. Now select the shapes you wish to cut along with the ingeniously termed “cutting path”. It’s the typical “shift click click” operation in selecting multiple things. When you’ve selected all of your objects/paths to be used, click the “divide” option in your pathfinder pallet.

6c. By this, your objects will become sliced and you will be able to select the newly created regions to be colored. See below:


7. Back to the Actions part. With your new areas selected, we are going to create a new action used in creating shaded/darkened areas. Go to your Actions pallet and click “Create New Action” as pictured below. Be sure the right “set” folder is selected!


8. Here’s the important part. You are now creating a new action. Duh. Call it something relevant, not having anything to do with hamsters. In this situation I’ve called it “Darker”.Once you click “Record” you will not be surprised to know that your actions are being recorded. At this time, I’d avoid doing anything embarrassing that you do not want posted to YouTube. I’m just kidding…its only recording your actions in Illustrator :D.


9. Now that you know you are being recorded (I know, it feels funny) go to Edit/Edit Colors/Adjust Color Balance.


10. A window will come up called, appropriately enough, “Adjust Colors“. Click the “Preview” button and adjust the sliders in such a way that shading/darkening occurs to the desired amount. In this case, I’ve kept all the sliders at ZERO and have simply added Black (13 percent).


11. Remember, you are still recording! Now that you’ve happy with that and have pressed “OK” that will have been recorded. For this action, that is all you will have to record, so you can push the “stop” button at the bottom of your actions window. That will, surprisingly enough, stop you from recording. Stop_Record_Play The Circle can be pushed if you wish to start recording again, and the Triangle to the right is the “Play” button.

11a. Experimentally, select an object that you may want darker besides the one we just altered. With the object selected, press the “play” button and watch the object become darker (regardless of its color). (If nothing happens be sure your objects colors are not Grayscale or RGB.)

12. Now cut out an area (refer to step 6) that you will want lighter. Then create a new action as previously shown. This time we will move our sliders in the opposite direction, creating lighter areas.



With that done, here is the effect:


10. Now you have two actions: A lightening and darkening action. When you select multiple areas (even of different colors or gradients) playing the action on them will always uniformly darken or lighten the areas for a professional look. Go through your illustration and mess around with it. I did this one quickly and here was the result:


(yeah, I added some eyes. Isn’t he cute!)

Here are some more examples of characters created using this method:

Human Factor Chinese Man Saimin Color-01Human Factor Graphic Accessory Coi-01Do not underestimate the power of actions. Used in the right way, they can speed up and improve your work! I’ve set up my actions to produce LOTS of color versions of certain illustrations within minutes. See here:

This has been another JesterArts Micro-Tutorial. If you want to see more Tutorials, join me on Twitter or Facebook! For more of my work, see JesterArts Illustrations.

JesterArts Tutorial: What the Government Doesn’t Want You to Know–How to Model a UFO Model in Blender 3d.

Put on your tin foil hats and stock up on canned foods — Its time to learn Blender 3d and create a convincing and scary UFO hoax.

So your passion of creating arcane designs in corn fields is not as lucrative as you had thought? When a very pissed off Farmer Brown is chasing you with his pitch fork, it’s definitely time to think of a career change. Why don’t you add Blender 3d to arsenal of foolery and then you can send wonder into the minds of a much greater gullible audience via the internet, and not merely the local hicks. (disclaimer — please do not take these opening lines seriously).

First, Obtain Blender 3d. Go over the basics of function/navigation here:

In this tutorial we are going to model a UFO from a simple primitive shape, since the classic UFO design is very basic.

Part One: Model Your UFO Shape.

1. Open blender 3d and right click/delete the little annoying cube that is there by default. Then hover over the viewport area and push Number Pad 1 to go into frontal view. Below should be what you see, roughly — Empty viewport space.


2. Now, hover over the viewport and push your space bar. Then choose Add/Mesh/UV Sphere. When the options window for the UV Sphere comes up, input the values shown below.




3. The sphere should be highlighted as shown above with a pink outline. This simply means its selected. Push TAB so you may enter edit mode for this object. All of the vertices should be selected, but if they are not push A once or twice until they all turn yellow. You will see that pushing A (Select All) simply selects/deselects all vertices.


4. Scaling. We now must “scrunch” it a bit to a more UFO-like shape. We are going to do this by Scaling it on the Z Axis. Push S for “Scale” then immediately push ZZ Axis” and then imput the value .35 (amount to be scaled) then press enter or click. You should end up with this shape:


5. Widening the Sphere. Now hold down Alt and Right Click one of the vertices across the horizontal center vertice loop. That will “loop select” your vertices. You may have to try a few times until it selects the entire horizontal loop. (Sometimes it will select a vertice path of vertices).


6. Now we are going to mess with a little thing called proportional editing. This allows your editing to effect unselected vertices depending on where they exist in your field area of editing. Click this button off to an ON state like here: on. This is found just below your viewport window since you are in edit mode. If you cannot find it, see picture below:


7. Proportional Editing Field: Hopefully your vertice loop is still selected. Now push S and with your mouse wheel adjust the radius of influence downward until it’s boundary is just barely below the mesh. Right click again to cancel the action. Although you’ve canceled scaling, you’ve set the size of the circle before making changes to the mesh. Examples below:



8. Creating the Saucer Shape: Again push S and immediately after push 1.4 on the number pad then click or press enter. This will scale the loop selected to this size shown below:

11_Scale_1.49. Subsurf. Cute, but still too angular. UFO’s are smooth and sleek. Go to your buttons in edit mode (F8 if you are not already there) and select from the menue “Subsurf“. Watch as your mesh smooths out with a subdivided surface (hence the word SubSurf). The mesh you are editing now appears as a cage which the subsurfed shape now follows.




10. Define the Dome. Pay attention to how Subsurf interacts with your base mesh. We are going to define the entire dome now in step ten. This will involve a few operations, so pay close attention. First push A to deselect all vertices. Now push B (Box) and drag a down from the top of the UFO selecting vertices about a quarter down the aircraft as shown below:


10a. Now we are going to extrude the dome upward. But before we do that, lets explain some things ahead of time. Extruding simply creates new geometry and elevates to desired lengths/directions. Since we are using subsurf, we must extrude in such a way that we keep the UFO properly defined. So follow the following directions very closely.

10b. Extrude Upward: Press E and select “region” then drag the mouse UP and type on the keypad .02 then click. (Don’t forget decimal points).



10c. Extrude Upward Again: Press E and select “region” then drag the mouse UP and type on the keypad .05 then click. That will elevate it a bit higher. (Do you really need another screenshot?) It should be higher.

10d. Select a Ring of Faces. Push down the “face select button” Vertice,_Edge,_Face which can be found just below the viewport above the editing buttons.Now Alt Click that tiny loop you had created by extruding upward .02 blender units then click. Screenshot below.

18_Face_Loop_Select10e. Scale Inward, Move Upward. To properly define the dome and the flow of our craft’s shell, we will do a few more operations here: Push S and move the mouse toward the craft and type in .98 on the keypad and click. After that you will find the area has shrunk a bit. Then push G (Grab) and move your mouse upward then type in .01 on the keypad. Click or press enter. Results shown below.



…now if you push TAB you will toggle in and out of edit mode. You can see the overall shape such as shown below:


Having Come This Far…Now that you are familiar with some basic functions such as extruding, scaling, etc, I will not be providing a screenshot for every step, but I will go through a number of operations and simply provide a screenshot to verify that you are on the right track. I know it seems hard, but UFO hoaxes must be created by intelligent people which no doubt you are!

11. Begin Creating Plasma Core. Yes, thats right, I called it a plasma core because its geekish and sounds cool. Enter back into edit mode by pushing TAB (do I really have to tell you?) and now choose “face select” and push down the “occlude background geometry” button. Shown here: Occlude_Geometry Now on the keypad push “2” a few times while your mouse is over the viewport thus allowing you to see other angles of the craft. Select the center-most faces and delete them. When you push delete a window will pop up. You must select “faces” to be deleted.


12. Once those faces are gone (creating a hole in the bottom of the craft) we want to select the edges only (push edges button) Edge_Select and then Alt Click an inner edge defining the hole thus allowing you to loop select the hole edges. Then push E (extrude) then push Z (Z axis) move the mouse UP and type in .1 on numpad then click.Try it a few times till it matches below screenshot:


13. TAB out of edit mode and in your edit buttons and select “Set Smooth” in your edit buttons, allowing the craft to become…you guessed it…smoother!


This should be what your resulting UFO craft should look like:


Now you have a completed UFO! Well, sort of. Typical UFO’s are just what they are traditionally called: Flying Saucers. We have the saucer shape, but who can be satisfied with just that! This is year 1009 man! We’ll call this tutorial complete for you, but I’ll add some things so you can download and play with a more developed UFO in our next tutorial.

JesterArts Bookmark Pack! Tutorial on Uploading Batch Bookmarks with Tags to and Firefox Auto Tagging

Uploading Bookmark Batches with Keyword Rich Tags on

This tutorial serves two purposes:

  1. Provide those who use JesterArts Illustrations and ClipArt with a way to quickly locate their desired illustrations via bookmarking.
  2. Show general users how to upload batch quantities of  bookmarks with keyword rich tags to
  3. If you are just looking  for auto-tagging, see the bottom of this post.

If you would like to have quick access to JesterArts most popular illustrations through your bookmarks, download this file here: JAIbookmarks. This will be the file you are uploading.

If you are looking at this tutorial strictly for uploading your own bookmarks, follow these steps (firefox users 3.6.3).

  1. Go to Bookmarks/Organize Bookmarks.
  2. Choose Import and Backup/Backup.
  3. It will prompt you to save it. Choose JSON file type, as it will suggest. (This saves it in a version that will retain your tags).

Uploading Firefox Tagged Bookmarks to

  1. Have ready either The JAIbookmarks file (for you fans) or your own bookmark file created from the above steps.
  2. Go to
  3. Go to settings. (See below screenshot, click to enlarge)
  4. Then go to Import/Upload Bookmarks. (See Screenshot)
  5. Then choose Manual Import, which is tucked away toward the bottom. (Screenshot)
  6. Then choose the file, either theJAIbookmarks file provided or the one you created in the above steps.
  7. Choose whether or not you want them public. If you choose to keep them public, the bookmark/keyword diversity will bring more people to your bookmark collection, if that is what you are after. (And the exposure certainly benefits us too!). If you keep them private, thats cool too.

Once your all done that, push the big green “IMPORT NOW” button, and your all set!

Auto Tagging, Firefox

If you are doing this operation for your own tags, and you are not the best keyworder, try this auto-tagging add-on for firefox: Auto-Tagging 2.6. Go to the page you want bookmarked/tagged, push CTRL D or SHFT CTRL L (whichever works) and the bookmark dialogue will come up. The rest is explained in the autotagging page.

Please let me know if you found this tutorial helpful!  — Leo.



Supervisor Team Leader Checking Lists

A supervisor wth a clipboard maintaining social networks.

Social networking supervisor.

Managing and supervising social networks.

Web Crawler

My latest creation, #2 of the "Bots" series.


Its a web crawler, such as is used by search engines to spider websites and to collect information. There is a tutorial coming up, but I'm trying to find a bot that will be simple enough to make a tutorial that will not span 80 steps.


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Creating Hydraulic or Pneumatic Tubes in Blender 3d Tutorial

Creating Hydraulic or Pneumatic Tubes in Blender 3d Tutorial

By "hooking" points of paths to "empty" objects in blender 3d you can create tubes that move with the objects they are connected to via parenting – in this case, a pneumatic piston used for a robot arm.

This tutorial assumes you are familiar with basic modelling in blender. So I won't go into great detail with basic functions like how to move and rotate objects, parent/child objects, etc.

So how bout some pictures to see the effect at work!

Piston level with tubes:









Piston rotated counter-clockwise:









Piston rotated clockwise:










Looking at the above examples, you can see that regardless of which way the piston is rotated, the tube sticks in place to where its connected. Its a very useful effect for many purposes, and not hard to impliment at all. For this project the piston will be used to move a robot's arm, and to make it realistic, I wanted the tubes running through the mechanical work of the robot, flexing and bowing naturally.

1: So first, in the usual manner, add a UV sphere. That is [spacebar, add, mesh, UVsphere]. See screenshot below.














2: After you've created your UVsphere and hit [tab] to get into object mode, add a path over the same spot. [space, add, curve, path]. I suppose you could use a bezier curve or something, but I use paths because they are less restrictive.  














3: Now you end up with this millipede looking thing. Thats a path. All those things comprising the millipede's legs are actually arrows showing which way the path is pointing.  












4: Move the path [g] left, so that the tip of the path is somewhere around the middle of the sphere or near its left side. It doesn't matter for this example really, we're just making a rough example to learn from.













5: To make your path into an actual tube type in the values you see here. Make sure you are in edit mode and you will see the little window here holding the values listed below. Change them to what you see in the little screenshot below. If you do it right, you will see it go from a basic path to a tube. Notice as you move points on the path that the tube conforms around it.








Please note I moved the path over a bit so you could see the example better.













6: Here is where the really cool trick comes in. Click on the path and [tab] into edit mode if you are not already there. Click [right mouse button] the last point on the path. Then push [ctrl H] which will bring up this "hooks" window. Select the "add new empty" option to add an empty object.  

An "empty object" is simply a placeholder, or an invisible object, which is handy for situations like this. They don't render, but are objects nonetheless. It'll make sence in a few steps.












7: See those arrows pointing in line with the X,Y,Z axis? That is an empty object. True to its name, its empty! Nothing but an invisible place holder. Thankfully we have this handy XYZ arrow thing so we don't lose it. Notice if you move the "empty" the path will always point to it. One more step left! 












8: If you didn't already anticipate it, we're going to make the Empty a child of the UVsphere. Do this by selecting the two of them and pushing [ctrl P] where it will ask "make parent" and you select "OK". Now the Empty is a child of the UVsphere object, and wherever you move the UVsphere the tube will go to. Now all sorts of possibilities are running through your mind — like vacuum hoses, exposed arteries on mutant beasts, cables…!

See the screenshots below to see the effect at work:
























This ends my simple tubes tutorial. Check back for more how-tos on Illustrator and Blender 3d!

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Clip Art Illustration of orange man rss feed Royalty Free

Clip Art Illustration of orange man rss feed Royalty Free

Clip Art Illustration of orange man rss feed Royalty Free —Get the Royalty Free Image by Leo Blanchette

Gradient Mesh Editing Tutorial (Adobe Illustrator CS2) – Complete With Humor

TUTORIAL: Gradient Mesh Editing and Effects, Using Adobe Illustrator (CS2)

I wanted to create a tutorial on Gradient Meshes. In working with them, I've found that with a few simple tricks, the complexity of the subject almost completely disappears (Although sometimes you can't escape the tediousness.) Prolonged exposure to gradient meshes in the Adobe Illustrator workspace will also prepare your mind to understanding the workings of space-time and dimensional travel. Ok, the last statement I can't promise…but the following tutorial I can!

We will be re-creating this image:


So…where to start. The beginning, I guess! I've noticed that many people avoid the use of gradient meshes for a few reasons. The biggest of which seem to be complexity and time.

When I first got accepted onto Istockphoto, I searched a lot of Gradient Mesh based vector images, and I was simply amazed at some of the stuff people were doing with the gradient mesh tool. The skill, at first glance, would almost seem un-attainable! And they are amazing images! I'm sure it would be exciting to many of you out there who use Adobe Illustrator to know that it is quite within your ability to do this sort of work.

What I've found is that the complexity is not as bad as it seems. And time? If you strike the right chord, an image that took an amount of time can be very successful (please keep in mind that this tutorial was originally created for stock photographers and illustrators). And believe it or not, you can create simple gradient mesh images in about the same time it would take to make a nice clean basic vector image, or a simple hyperdrive circuit for a UFO. 

Gradient meshes open new horizons in your creative flow. The drawbacks to using them are quite minimal (such as compatibility with other editing software).  

So, I've planned out this highly unprofessional, mispelled, but informative nonetheless…tutorial… Bear with me. Try to fill in the blanks with educated assumptions and caffeine. No doubt this is common knowledge to a few of you out there. Also note that many different artists have many different techniques, and of course you will find a lot of standard practices in the official textbooks. This tutorial just happens to be what helps me produce good images easily, and gets me profitable attention as an illustrator under the guise of being generous with my techniques.

Ok, moving on…

1: I set up a sophisticated photography environment in which to shoot the image I'd be working from – the hood of my car, in front of my house, on a piece of printer paper. Behind the car there are some local hillbillies staging a UFO hoax by dangling a hubcap from the powerlines you see there in the backgound. Who needs photoshop? If you plan to work along with this tutorial, the photograph I used can be found here from my wife's photobucket account (Didn't I say unprofessional?): We're going to be making the Red Crayon to the same general appearance of the blue one you see here. Since this tutorial does some tricks using the RGB (red, blue, green) filter, a red, green, and blue crayon work pretty well!

2:3: As you can see below, the actual structure of the mesh is not very complicated. Even on the photorealistic vectors that some people around here on earth do, the meshes do not get much more complicated than this!


4: First, make a rectangle roughly the size of the red crayon. Then, with it selected, go to Object/Create Gradient Mesh. A window will pop up with some options, such as rows, columns, and some other stuff I don't remember. Whats important is that you type a "1" into the rows and columns. This will give you a blank rectangle, not much unlike the original one you started with, but the difference is it has a nicer personality, and its has a fill color. Its also a gradient mesh in disguise. The idea here is that starting with *NO* inner lines (rows/columns) gives you much greater control over how the mesh is formed. You'll see as we continue.


5. Now, go to your transparency pallet (I know transparencies are scary things, but you can trust me on this one) and bring the opacity all the way down to zero. Now, not only is it a gradient mesh in disguise, but its also invisible. This will help you see through to the object below as you start recontructing the basic form of the object. (In case you're not familar with the transparency pallet, simply go to Window/Transparency to open it.


6. A very important step: Go get something caffinated and turn on some music that you like. I find this very helpful in getting through boring tutorials.

7: The reason why we didn't start the mesh with any lines is this: The beginning stages of creating the mesh are most crucial. By taking your time on the most important, beginning vectors, you will find that the lines you add will fall properly with minimal need for modification on your part. So, below you can see that the mesh has been modified to fit the general perspective of the crayon. Take note that the rectangle falls short of the curved end of the crayon. You'll see the reason for this.


Now I'd like to note a few things. First, the tutorial will get a little less reading-intense about third into it! Right now is actually where the foundation for most of the main facts are laid. Hence the coffee.

Note: As you modify the mesh with the direct selection tool (which hopefully you use most of the time in your basic vector work) you will see that the mesh does not want to deform in an angular manner. You actually have to manipulate the handles like with curved vectors. The question might come to you: Why can't I just make a basic vector rectangle, fit it to the crayon, and then do the "Create Gradient Mesh" option. I've tried this, and in doing so, I noticed that the mesh derived from that particular method is a bit harder to work with in its controlability.

That having been said, by taking a little time to fit the mesh properly, you will find that the ending steps are greatly simplified for you. So try to keep the straight lines straight as possible. While you will be modifying the angle of the vector handles, the lengths should remain as unchanged as possible in this step. (If you are experienced manipulating basic vector shapes, you will quickly see what I'm talking about).

8: Here is where you get to venture back into familiar territory! The back of the crayon has to be fitted to the curve using your well-established vector skills. By falling short of the back-end-curve of the crayon, you made it easier to fit the curve overall, but also avoided having to "scrunch back" the rectangle to create it. Believe it or not, that action would have had slightly negative influences over adding future lines to the mesh.

So, fit the back-end curve as closely as possible, keeping the opposing vector handles somewhat equal in length. Then, on your Tools pallet select the gradient mesh button (thats the little wavy grid-like button, not too much unlike a mathematical depiction of space-time) and click the edge of the mesh object right at the bottom of the black band at the front of the crayon. Fit the curve as well as you can. This step is the last of those "most important" steps I've been refering to, since you've now layed the "governing lines" of the mesh. I've coined this term on the spot. It almost sounds intelligent! You will not find it in text books – yet! Basically they set the "rythm" of how your future lines will fall. You'll see exactly what I'm talking about in the next step.


9: Ok, I just took a break to feed the baby, so let me figure out what I was saying before I lost my train of thought…

Oh, I remember now.

I believe this will be the last "Long explaination" step, so that should be exciting.

Like in the picture below your going to add some more lines on the sides of the black bands, which you see. Now you can see all that mumbo-jumbo I was talking about come together. If you lay the lines on the side of the mesh like you see below, you will find that the lines generally follow the contours of the bands without modification. If they do not *perfectly* match the crayon below, thats ok. The image your producing has to be as accurate as possible relative to itself. If you manually fit every curve to the bands in the image your copying, your going to sacrifice the accuracy that comes from having set those "governing lines" and letting the computer do the rest of the work.

If your finding that the lines are not falling anywhere close to accurate, you may have to *ctrl Z* your way back to when you were laying those curves in step 8.

This might seem a little excessive, but it is very helpful in meshes bodies. Let the computer do the work!

10. Using the same method above, add some more lines to the outer contours of the outer contours. Yes, that is the best way I could find to frame that instruction. Thank goodness for pictures! What we see here, where I obvously fall grievously short in the verbal aspect, is that these lines are placed a little outside the lines that are meant to frame the black. These are going to control how far the color (black) spreads out into the mesh. I'll explain more later.


11. Finally, short explanations! Add a line to the top of the conical part of the crayon tip. Again, thank goodness for pictures.


12: Back into familiar territory again! Edit the vectors to encompass the crayon tip. The only thing you should note is that while with basic vectors you can get away with leaving your vector handles at somewhat randomn lengths (as this often does not harm the shape) with Gradient Meshes it will effect your color placements. So keep them equal, consistent, and obedient to your vector authority. You'll see this make more sense when colors are being placed.


13. You know this vector editing stuff…I'm just including the pictures for fun.


 14: Oh…here's something important. I've added another line. Ok, continue…


15: I said you could trust me! Go back to your transparency pallet and bring the opacity back up to 100! (If you don't get the joke here, transparencies tend to get vector artists in trouble a lot because they cause many, many glitches, especially in printing! Come to think of it, I think a lot of designers share a dread for transparencies.) So if you havent done so already, find a red you like. Preferably a mid-tone close to the color of the crayon.


16: Now it gets fun! With your direct selection tool, click right smack in the middle of a band area on the crayon, and then push the "I" key. "I" stands for "Eye" Dropper. It will bring up your "I-dropper" tool. Or you can push the button on your tools pallet that has a little eye-dropper. Sample a black band of the blue crayon with it. You will probobly notice that it samples the color from the exact area you've chosen. Try to sample a mid-tone, since your darkening/lightening operations in future steps will bring this value up and down.

Once you sample this, the area you selected will turn the same color that you chose with the eye-dropper.


17: Do this for all the bands, and then select the area that will end up being the wax top of the crayon. Like the picture, it should be somewhat darker. Also note that I've moved the crayon from over the original image. I think different artists have different styles in doing derivative work. Some always work with the base image directly below. I tend to use the base image mostly as a guide for form, and then as a visual guide color-wise. From this point, my accuracy level diminishes greatly, giving a lot of room for "artistic licence". Boy, thats a dangerous term. But thats just my style. In no time you'll be finding things that work better for you.


Just a quick note: If you zoom in close to the bands, you'll see how the color works with a gradient mesh. The outer lines you placed are setting a limit to how the far the gradation extends. I'd encourage you to manipulate them a bit, to see how they effect the color flow, and CTRL Z (undo) your experiments. Try direct-selecting a fill point and deleting it, and you'll see the gradient extend all the way to the next line.

18: There's a few things to this step.

Take note of where the dark area is on the crayon. Place a line in these areas:

1. The middle of the lightest point on top.

2. Below that, place a line where the dark tone has become the darkest.

3. Slightly above the lighter point on the bottom.

…or just copy what I did in the picture. You will see in a few seconds whats going to happen here.

If you look closely at the picture, you will see which anchor points I've selected. If you use a graphic tablet or your an pro with the mouse, I'd suggest using the lassoe tool to select them (towards the top of your tools pallet). It saves TONS of clicking. Once you've selected the the rows 1 and 2 from the bottom,

Next, go to Filters/Adjust Colors. I've found this to be THE most instrumental tool in creating gradient mesh lighting effects.


19. In the window that pops up, you will see a little drop down pallet (color mode). Make sure it says "RGB". Skip the blue text below if you already know some fundamentals in RGB. I'm only going to say whats relevant here. Set the values on the RGB sliders to: -28, -37, -48.


In using this method, you save yourself lots of clicking and problem solving with colors. They will all be adjusted on equal levels.

Most vector design is done in CMYK, which is used in printing. I use RGB since most of my work is created for web design. But its an important fact to remember that both vector imaging and CMYK color are complimentary sciences in design because vector work is resolution independent, and therefor will "rasterize" (or become pixel based) to any desired DPI (dots per inch), where a high DPI is needed for printing. CMYK (cyan, yellow, magenta, black) are colors used in printing. 

RGB stands for Red, Blue, Green, and is capable of a much wider color spectrum. For more technical info on this, see: The thing we need to cover here is what modifying the sliders will do for you. Believe it or not, HUGE color advantages come with a small understanding of manipulating the RGB values of the points you selected. As you can see, they all start at zero. You can bring their values negative or positive.

Most importantly: If you bring all three values up equally (Positive numbers) you will notice that it lightens the area you selected. If you bring them all down equally (negative) it darkens the selected area.

Secondarily: If, say, you bring red and green down to a negative value, and leave the blue, the image will darken, with the blue remaining, changing the color slightly. The same will happen if you leave the R and G values at zero and move the Blue value up. A LOT could be mentioned on the how to obtain different colors, but by simply playing around with the sliders, you can learn through a little experience how the relative values of RGB work.

20. Using the lassoe tool, I've selected the line in the middle of the crayon's highlight, the one just below the top edge of the crayon.


21. As meshes start getting more complex, the lines and points can start getting in your way. If you need to hide them before doing a color change, simply select the points you are going to change, then go to View/Hide Edges and they will disapear, leaving only a box around your selected object. Now you can make your color changes more accurate without having to stare through a mess of lines and dots.


22. Now its starting to look good! I've brought the RGB values of the selected points to 33, 26, and 32. Thats just me though. You might find values that work better artistically or truer-to-life.


23. Now that all of the basics have been covered, I'm going to speed it up a bit, since now the directions are more visual, than needing explanation. Here, I'm adding mesh lines to the tip of the maker, adding the detail of the flat tip. I've sampled the lighter color into the new area created. You can also note that one line is placed to hold the color, another one is placed to govern how far it extends.


24: Here I've selected the bottom edge of the mesh/crayon and did an RGB change to darken it. I merely brought all three sliders very low until it looked good. They are all in the -60-70 range. That formed the bottom shadow.


25: Here I added a mesh line just barely above the one we modified the color on. You are probobly noticing by now that my creative licence should probobly be suspended or revoked. Not everything I'm doing on this mesh is based on the original! May the vector derivative authorities have mercy on me! I'm just doing what "looks good" but I'm sure you're already getting ideas of your own. This is going to be a highlight.


26. Then I selected the points of that line and moved the RGB values back up, making this little highlight.


27. Just for the fun of it, I placed the directions in the image this time. Actually, I think I did that as a note more to myself when I was working, so I didn't forget what I did on these steps…








More mesh lines were added where edge tip of crayon wrap occurs. Once Then the middle line was selected, and the RGB values were raised, giving the look you see there. Note too, that if the color isn't "flowing" over the points quite the way you want, you can select those points and sample (CTRL I) any color higher or lower on the transition, and it will increase or decrease it to the amount you find suites you.

31. Here, I've done a similar set of modifications, bringing out the edge of the paper. I've also inset the outer edges of the mesh, making a more pronounced separate between the wax and the paper. That was a simple "Pulling in" of the vector points.


Here you can see the lines I added in this step:


Wherever definition and distinction were needed, I merely added more "columns." Usually the pattern is, one line (and resulting set of control points) to hold the colors, two to dictate how far they will extend. Thats just a re-itteration of what we've been seeing all along.


And that finishes the red crayon!

32. The green crayon is made almost completely similar to the red. The only difference is the black circle on the crayon utilizes some slightly more careful mesh line work. I'm going to be making a separate tutorial dedicated to easier mesh deformations.


 The image shown simply has some shadow effects added (shown below) and a background gradient, simply for depth.

The shadow was loosely added simply by selecting a few points and dimming them down a bit.


Similar here: 





And that completes the image. Quite honestly, the verbage is far more complicated than the actual work. After a few images of this nature, you will take to it quite fast! A sort of "logic" and "instinct" develop around the principles the more you use them, and you'll start to employ them naturally.

Once I started really getting into the gradient mesh aspect of vector work, and it started coming a little more easily, I tacked the below project:


Its all gadient meshes, with the exception of the wings which use some basic vectors and gradients. I'll be making a separate tutorial that outline the mesh deformation techniques used to get more complicated forms like this duplicated easily. Special thanks to arlindo71 for giving me the legal clearance to use one of his un-submitted images as a base image for this project!!!

If you want some inspiration on really cool Gradient Meshes, check out this lightbox!

To navigate your way to some more of my gradient mesh work, visit, there you will find all of my vector work plus the plans to create a working antigravity UFO using sciences based on the mathematics of gradient mesh deformation. Well, not really, but you'll have a similar amount of fun in discovery of your new skills! 

Here are some I've done:

Classic Pen Writing Binary Code











TAGS and Abstract Concept

ConceptColored Tags


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Here I am!

And here I am!

Well, I just moved into Vox. This is a big step for me because I've never blogged before! I'm generally not a person that likes to waste my time, or yours for that matter! :) 

However, its certainly not a waste of time if I happen to share something beneficial or useful, right?

Well, I have written an extensive tutorial on how to work with Gradient Meshes in Illustrator. To see what exactly an image composed of gradient meshes can look like in Illustrator, see the example to the right.

See the tuturial here:

My hope is to add a tutorial here now and then, which will keep this blog nice and useful for both of us! Besides that, check out my illustrations. If you have any of your own, please message me, I'd love to see them!

 - Leo


Photoreal Vectors and Gradient Meshes
Photoreal Vectors and Gradient Meshes

the Orange Factor
the Orange Factor


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JesterArts Micro-tutorial: Easy Duplication in Adobe Illustrator. ALT DRAG, CTRL C, CTRL V, CTRL F, CTRL D

Hotkeys are a subtle yet huge advantage to designers.Saving effort and time is necessary. Here is a tutorial that shows you how to duplicate objects in illustrator FAST. There are pictorial examples below each step.

Copying and Pasting:

1. Before you can paste an object, you must first select and copy it. First select the object you wish to copy with the Direct Selection tool (V key). In this case, I’ve selected the orange man taped to the artboard.


2. Hold down CTRL key and push C. You’ve just copied it!

3. Hold down CTRL key and push V. As you can see, you’ve just pasted it! Example below.


OR while working in Adobe Illustrator you may wish to paste something directly above your object (CTRL F) or directly below your object (CTRL B). That is often necessary for making face-to-face duplictions in your workflow.


Sometimes you may just want to have an instant duplicate that you are dragging to a separate location on your workspace. Simply hold down the ALT key and click/drag the object. How easy is that? I’m almost embarassed to call this a tutorial! Picture below for mental stimulation.


ALT + Click/Drag (In Action)


ALT + Click/Drag (Completed)

If you want to duplicate at exact horizontal, parallel, or 45 degree angles, hold down SHIFT. That is, ALT, CLICK/DRAG SHIFT. Hey, you wanted a challenge.

But if your at a party with your fellow computer design geeks, thats not going to impress them. If you want to be a real magician, push CTRL D afterward and watch the action you just performed become duplicated directly in line with your last duplicate!


Have fun duplicating! While your at it, duplicate yourself so you can take on multiple projects at once!

This has been another JesterArts Micro-Tutorial. If you want to see more Tutorials, join me on Twitter or Facebook! For more of my work, see JesterArts Illustrations.