Winter Scene #4: Putting Things Together In Illustrator


Previous Part Of This Tutorial

Winter Scene #3: From AutoCAD To Illustrator
Illustrator lets you combine your drawings with images and other visual material in a much more visual way than AutoCAD. There are several ways to import your drawings from AutoCAD to Illustrator, each with its own advantages.

Working With Illustrator

This tutorial is a workflow-based, and assumes you have a basic working knowledge of Adobe Illustrator. If that is not the case, please check other Illustrator tutorials on this website.

Don’t Forget Your Sketches!

After we have finished the following tasks:

we can go ahead and finish the poster now. But first, let’s remember the sketch and the elements we want to add to this poster

  1. Exterior rendering
  2. Section
  3. Floor plan
  4. A photo of a model (physical model)

Create New Illustrator File

This is very straightforward, just make sure you enter the correct units and size!

Place Rendering Image Into Your Poster

Another straightforward action:

What I also did in this video is created a dark rectangle below the image.
Note how I used Eyedropper Tool to pick a dark color from the image for the fill color of the rectangle, this helps keeping the color palette focused.

Pro Tip: When you need to move stuff accurately, always use View > Smart Guides.
Check back the Illustrator tutorials if you forgot how to use them.

Add Drawings To Your Poster

This is another easy step, and it’s the same whether you used Method #1 or Method #2 of exporting from AutoCAD to Illustrator:

Change The Scale Of  The Drawings

Ok, looks like drawings are too big for the design we want to achieve, so let’s scale them down from 1:50 to 1:100. This means that they should be 50% of their current size.
Here’s how to do it, using Object Menu > Transform > Scale, which will let us write down the exact value (50%):

Group Stuff So You Could Easily Move It Around

Right now we have thousands of objects that comprise 3 drawings: one section and two plans. Selecting objects and moving around would be easier if we created 3 groups, one for each “drawing”.
So let’s group objects (Object Menu > Group) into: section, lower floor plan, and upper floor plan. This will make it much easier to manipulate the drawings:

Invert Drawing Colors (Create Negative)

Now the obvious problem with our drawing is that it was made for white background, containing mostly black lines, so it’s not visible against our dark background.

Luckily, we can invert colors using just one simple command: Edit Menu > Edit Colors > Invert Colors

However, if you imported the drawing from AutoCAD using method #1, you will get an error (like I did in the video). To fix this error and be able to invert colors,  you need to delete the colors in your palette that were imported from AutoCAD. To do this:

Now you will be able to invert colors.

See this video for details:

Bonus: Changing Colors Of The Drawing

If you used Method #1 to import from AutoCAD, there is a simple trick that lets you quickly modify the colors of the entire drawing, giving you much more control over the visuals of the poster.

Warning: If you want to do this, do not do the previous step of this tutorial (don’t delete color swatches!).


When you do this, all the objects that share this color will be updated.

Photoshop: Prepare Physical Model Photos

We’ll make a quick trip to Photoshop, to prepare the photo.
In this tutorial, I obviously didn’t create the actual physical model, so I used a photo I downloaded from internet.

Most important thing we want to do is set the photo’s print size, and make sure the photo is big enough in pixels so that it can be printed at that size (at least 150DPI).

Turn off the “Resample” because we just want to change print size, not actual pixels.
Now we see that the resolution changed to some 237DPI which is more than good enough.

Bonus: After I set the print size, I also used levels (Image > Adjustments > Levels) to darken the image (this step is optional).
In fact, see how I clicked on the “black eyedropper” icon in Levels interface and then selected the color on the photo that I want to become black.
This made the contrast perfect, and made perfectly black background (not necessary, but it will come in handy in the next step).

Place Model Photo Into Your Poster

We will again use the “File > Place” command to put the model photo into our poster.
See how I manually moved the photo so that it aligns visually with the edge of the building in our rendering.

Pro tip: I changed blending mode for this photo to “Screen” so that it brightens the background (while black pixels make no effect). This is the reason I wanted a perfectly black background. See Photoshop tutorial #3 to learn more about blending modes-  they work the same way in Illustrator.

Add Text

You already know how to do this. See how I used Eyedropper Tool to pick a text color from the image, keeping the color palette super tight:

Next Tutorial Part

Winter Scene # 5: Save Your Work For Print And Web
This short tutorial and final tutorial of the Presentation series will review two ways to save your file - one suitable for print, and another for web publishing. Please pay attention to these methods here because failing to save and share your work in proper file format may render everything you've done completely useless.


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