journal Illustrator

CS4 Quicktip: Pathfinder

November 09, 2008

While the Pathfinder functions themselves have not changed inside of Illustrator CS4, what has changed is their default behavior… and this might cause some confusion. In previous versions of Illustrator you could select two shapes and click a Pathfinder button to create a compound shape…


However if you perform the same steps in Illustrator CS4, you won’t get a compound, but an already expanded shape. In order to create compound shapes, just hold down the option (alt) key and click the respective button in the Pathfinder panel. Voilà…

Flag Button Devkit

In many cases you have to provide different options or features for different nationalities. I guess the most popular example is Apple's iTunes Store, where you click a small flag button to access the store of your country. Here is a development kit to create such buttons.

How to…

Once again it’s bascially a Photoshop file with placeholders. To create a new button, just duplicate a layer group and paste the new flag into the respective layer. It’s as simple as that. Enjoy.

Download the Flag Button Development Kit

Get involved

By the way I thought it would be nice if we could create a complete set of flags so that people can simply download a ZIP and reuse the buttons on their websites. So if you create new buttons just let me know and I’ll add them to the Devkit.


Alright guys - just added an Illustrator file to the ZIP. So just in case you’ve already downloaded it, make sure that you grab the most recent version.

Update 2

First of all thanks to Cezary for pointing out that I did not use the correct colors for the flags. I changed that. And secondly I created a ZIP including all the flags I received so far. Btw if you plan to do further flags I’d kindly ask you to send it as transparent PNG (216x216px) and I will add it to the ZIP. Thanks for participating!

Update 3

Thanks to Matthias Slovig who just contributed a complete European set to the collection. Amazing!

Shopping Cart Icon

October 21, 2006

The other day I was working on an icon for an online shop. However at the end it turned out that we don't need it. So I thought it would be a good idea to share it with you guys, instead of leaving it getting dusty somewhere in a folder.

Download Shopping Cart Icon

So if you are ever in the situation that you need an icon for your online shop, feel free to use it. Most likely just need the PNG versions, however I also included icon resources for Mac, Windows and Linux. You never know :)

The Shopping Cart Icon in several sizes

Optimizing strokes

When creating artwork and especially icons with Adobe Illustrator you may have already faced the problem that your rasterized icon looks a bit blurry. Most of the time this is the result of poor scaling or because of the wrong use of strokes.

Illustrator CS2 IconTherefore many colleagues argue that it’s better just to use shapes rather than a combination of shapes and strokes for creating your artwork. Shapes tend to be easier to handle and you can play with additional effects, apply gradients etc. Well I partly agree. However there are a bunch of advantages if you use strokes such as that you get much crisper edges when scaling your icons. By default Illustrator aligns the stroke to the center, which is the main reason for those blurry edges.

In older versions of Illustrator you either had to play with the order of the several appearances in the respective palette or you had to use even numbers for your stroke’s weight to achieve crisp edges. Since Illustrator CS2 you may easily change the alignment via the three options in the “Stroke” palette. Spot the difference.

The difference between the three border alignments

Creating graphs, Part 2

In the first part of the tutorial I showed you how to create three dimensional charts using Adobe Illustrator CS2. In the second part we will focus on how to visually enhance those charts.

Now that we’ve learned how to create basic charts using Illustrator’s 3D functionality we will enhance them by applying some reflections and subtle gradients. After creating your chart it will probably look similar to the one show in the screenshot on the left.

In a first step select the chart and duplicate it by pressing Cmd+C and Cmd+F. This will create a copy of the selected object and paste it in front of the initial object. In order to better distinguish between the two objects move the new one a few pixel to the top. Personally I prefer to use the arrow keys (Shift+Up) since it’s easier to move the object back to its initial position afterwards.

Now that we have duplicated the graph we need to expand the graph. This is necessary because it’s not possible to edit smart objects such as graphs etc. So select the object and choose “Object — Expand…” from the main menu. The result should look similar to the screenshot on the left.

Now we ungroup the object using the shortcut Cmd+Shift+G twice. After that we can modify each part of the graph. In a next step select all slices via Shift+Click and make sure that the pathfinder palette is being displayed. If that’s not the case you can display it via the “Window” menu or by pressing Shift+F8.

Now with the slices selected first click the “Add to shape area” button (1) and afterwards the “Expand” button (2). We have just combined the different slices to one ellipse.

Now fill the shape with white color, duplicate it and move it up two or three pixels. Now with both shapes selected first click the “Subtract from shape area” button and afterwards the “Expand” button in the pathfinder palette.

In a next step we apply an opacity mask to the new shape. So make sure that the shape is still selected and choose “Make opacity mask” from the transparency palette. Now switch to the mask mode by clicking the black rectangle in the transparency palette and draw a white rectangle as shown in the screenshot.

Select the gradient tool from the tools palette on the left and fill the rectangle with a radial gradient (white to black). The result should look similar to the screenshot on the elft. You may now exit the mask mode by clicking the white rectangle in the transparency palette.

You have just created the main reflection for our chart. Next we will create the subtle reflection on the lower left part of the chart. Select the lower part of the graph, right click and select “Release Clipping Mask” from the context menu. Then click “Add to shape area” and afterwards the “Expand” button in the pathfinder palette. Now you have a single shape we can fill with white color.

In a next step apply an opacity mask on the newly created shape, draw a rectangle and fill it with a linear gradient so that the result looks similar to the screenshot below.

Now move both shapes down to their initial position. Then select the lower shape, head over to the trasparency palette, change its layer style to “overlay” and its opacity to about 40%.

Basically you’re finished. Now it’s up to you whether you additionally apply a dropshadow, some further reflections, gradients etc. Enjoy.

Creating graphs

Every now and then you may come into the situation that you have to present some sort of statistical data to your client. Of course you may use Excel’s graph tool to easily create a bunch of charts — but let’s face it, more or less all of those predefined designs suck. So you have to look for another option.

This tutorial will show you how to create visually appealing charts using Adobe Illustrator’s graph tool. Before we start, let us take a look at the potential outcome of this tutorial. In my case the graph shows the browser usage of Bartelme Design in January 2006.

the outcome of this tutorial

select the graph toolIn a first step open Illustrator and create a new document. Afterwards select the “pie graph tool” from the “tools” palette on the left. Note that by default only the “column graph tool” is visible. In this case just click on the respective icon for some seconds to unveil the other tools.

With the pie graph tool selected click somewhere on your working area. Illustrator prompts you to define the size of the chart — 200x200px should be fine. Now Illustrator will display a grid where you can enter your data. If you want to create a legend you just have to enter the respective label into the first row of the grid. In our case though we won’t make use of the automatically generated legend, so just enter the actual data. Click the “apply” button in the upper right corner to update the graph. You may now close the grid

the data grid

By default Illustrator displays the different slices in shades of grey. But personally I prefer colored graphs — so we gonna apply some color: Select the “direct selection tool” from the tool palette on the left (Shortcut: A), click on a slice and select the desired color from the color palette. Note: If the color palette is not visible you may display it via “Window — Color” or by hitting the F6 key.

colored pie chart

If you prefer flat graphs then you’re basically finished. In our case though we wanna make use of Illustrator’s 3D effects. Select the graph and open the “Extrude and Bevel” dialog via “Effects — 3D — Extrude and Bevel“. Choose ”Isometric Top“ from the dropdown menu, set the ”Extrude Depth” to about 25pt and confirm by clicking the OK button.

extrude and bevel dialog

the outcome of this tutorialAfterwards your graph should look similar to the one on the screenshot on the left. Since you have just applied the effect rather than modified the object you may still change the graph’s data as well as the 3D settings.

Basically we are finished. Finally you may enhance your graph by adding a title, a legend or other descriptive elements respectively by adding some visual effects such as a drop shadow or something similar. Enjoy.

the outcome of this tutorial

Feed icon template

December 29, 2005

I really appreciate Microsoft’s decision to adopt Firefox’s feed icon. So you might guess that I was even more excited when I heard of Matt Brett’s “Feed Icons” project.

The project I’m talking about is actually a web site, dedicated to the new standardized feed icon. There you can download the icon in a bunch of different sizes and formats. You may even download an Adobe Illustrator file, so you can customize the icon to fit your site’s color scheme.

I’ve already downloaded the package and since it’s not yet possible to upload customized versions to the web site, I thought it would be a good idea to publish them on my own site. Beside the PNG resources (16px to 128px) the package also includes an Illustrator file, so you may adapt the icon’s appearance or size. Hope you enjoy.

Bartelme’s Feed Icon

Design your PillBoy

December 08, 2005

Just a quick note for all you graphics enthusiasts out there. Gavin Strange from JamFactory has started a great vector illustration project that you may be interested in.


The project I’m talking about is called “PillBoy” and is all about one neat, little monster that needs to be customized. Huh? Well Gavin created the illustration a while ago and enjoyed playing around with different color schemes and subtle modifications. So he put up a flickr gallery displaying all the custom PillBoy’s from everyone that designs one.

David Lanham’s PillBoy

So if you wanna take part, just head over to the gallery, download the template, create your own PillBoy and send it to gav|| Have fun :)

David Lanham’s PillBoy

Creating organic desktops

The following tutorial shows how to create organic desktops using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop.

Before we start let’s have a look on the outcome of this tutorial: A clean and organic desktop, similar to the latest release of the “Blue Crystal” desktop collection.

Most of the people think that these desktops can only be created in 3D rendering applications such as 3D-Studio or Cinema 4D. Well I will show you how to create such a desktop using Adobe Illustrator’s gradient mesh tool.


In a first step we draw a rectangle in the intended size — probably about 2560x1600px so that it can also be used on Apple’s 30” Cinema Display. Use Illustrator’s “Transform” panel in order to control the exact size of the rectangle.

A rectangle drawn in Illustrator

Afterwards we fill the rectangle with the intended color. In this case I’ve chosen a generic blue, as it is used in the Blue Crystal collection. In a next step we select the rectangle, select the gradient mesh tool from the tool panel on the left and add a single point (anchor) by clicking the left mouse button.

The first point is created using the gradient mesh tool

In a next step we create two further anchors and assign them slightly different colors using the eyedropper tool.

Two additional point are created

Now we can select all three anchors via the lasso tool and move the selection in the intended direction.

The three point are moved down

Now that we have created the basic shape we can either optimze it or add additional forms until we get the intended result.

Fine tuned version

In order to get the 3D style we have to select the bottom anchor via the direct selection tool (1) and drag its bottom handle (2) to the top.

The selected handle

The result should look similar to the screen below. At this point we have finished the work in Illustrator — let’s move on to Photoshop…

The final version


Now we can copy the artwork to Photoshop. Duplicate the layer and set the blending mode of the new layer to “Overlay”. Now select the “High Pass” filter from the “Filter” menu, choose a radius of about 10px and confirm. After the filter has been applied you may set the layer’s opacity to about 70% if the High Pass effect should be too intense.

Fine tuned version

If you are using a TFT display you may recognize that the gradients of our desktop are not that smooth. The reason for this effect is that TFTs normally can display less colors than CRT monitors. In order to optimize our desktop for TFT we have to add some grain.

Fine tuned version

In order to achieve this effect we create an additional layer, fill it with black color using the paint bucket tool and apply the grain filter, that can be found under “Filter/Texture/Grain”. Afterwards we desaturate the layer (Image/Adjustment/Desaturate), set its blending mode to “Overlay” and once again reduce its opacity to about 5 or 10%. You will recognize that the gradients are now much smoother.

The final desktop

Blue Crystal 7 Desktops

In the last months I got a bunch of emails from people, asking me when the next release of the Blue Crystal desktop collection will be released. Well I am proud to announce that the 7th edition is now available for download.

The 7th edition of the blue crystal desktop collection is inspired by the amazing default desktops included in Apple’s Mac OS 10.4 Tiger and contains three high resolution (2560x1600) desktops — Aqua, Aqua light and Graphit. The whole package can be downloaded in the showroom of Bartelme Design.

Download Blue Crystal 7


Because of the high resolution of the desktops, the ZIP file is quite big — about 4MB. If you want to take a look at the desktops first, check out this preview. As always I am looking forward to getting feedback from you guys, in order to make sure that also the 8th edition meets your expectations.

Aqua-Style mit Illustrator

Bartelme:Design zeigt Ihnen in dem folgenden Tutorial, wie Sie mit Adobe Illustrator in ein paar einfachen Schritten ein Aqua-Symbol erstellen.

Apple mit Aqua-Style

Seitdem Apple sein neues Betriebssystem „MacOS X“ im Aqua-Style herausgebracht hat, ist dieser in aller Munde. Viele sind von dem neuen Style fasziniert und versuchen diesen nachzubauen. Bartelme Design zeigt Ihnen in dem folgenden Tutorial, wie Sie mit Adobe Illustrator in ein paar einfachen Schritten ein Aqua-Symbol erstellen.

Im Prinzip bestet der Aqua-Style nur aus ein paar Verläufen, die in der richtigen Art und Weise kombiniert werden. Die Kugel ist eine jener Körper, die am einfachsten mit diesem Style versehen werden können. Aus diesem Grund wird sie für dieses Tutorial verwendet.

1. Schritt

Öffnen Sie Illustrator und zeichen Sie einen einfachen Kreis, und füllen Sie ihn mit einem Verlauf (kreisförmig).

In diesem Fall habe ich folgende Farben für den Verlauf bzw. für die Kontur verwendet.

Farbtabelle RGB

Um einen realistischeren Effekt zu erzielen, klicken Sie mit dem Verlaufs-Werkzeug ein wenig unterhalb der Mitte. Das Ergebnis sollte in etwa so aussehen.

2. Schritt

Als nächsten Schritt zeichen Sie einen weiteren Kreis und platzieren ihn, wie auf dem Bild unterhalb zu sehen.

Nachdem Sie die Deckkraft auf ca. 40% gesetzt haben, dürfte die Illustration in etwa so aussehen.

3. Schritt

Um den Effekt noch zu verstärken, verwenden wir die Funktion „Deckkraftmaske“. Wählen Sie den kleinen Kreis aus, klicken Sie in der Palette „Transparenz“ auf den kleinen Pfeil rechts oben, und wählen Sie den Punkt „Deckkraftmaske erstellen“ aus.

Erstellung der

Klicken Sie auf die schwarze Fläche — Sie befinden sich jetzt im Maskierungsmodus (der Kreis dürfte nun nicht mehr sichtbar sein). Zeichnen Sie nun über der Stelle, wo sich der Kreis befunden hat ein Rechteck — der Kreis erscheint wieder. Nun nutzen wir das Prinzip der Masken (dunklere Farben erhöhen die Transparenz und umgekehrt), um einen Verlauf ins Transparente zu erstellen. Dies sollte in etwa so aussehen.

4. Schritt

Wechseln Sie nun wieder in den normalen Modus zurück, und fügen Sie der Kugel einen leichten Schlagschatten hinzu — fertig.

Beispiele und Tutorials

Aufgrund der häufigen Anfragen bezüglich Aqua-Style habe ich drei kleine Beispiel-Dateien im Illustrator-Format zum Download bereitgestellt.


Hier ein Auszug jener Symbole, die unter der Verwendung des Aqua-Styles erstellt wurden.

Symbole mit Aqua-Style