Reduce File Size Bloat
Textures in Illustrator are a wonderful thing, but converting complex textures into vectors can be taxing and can unnecessarily bloat your file size. In comes bitmap textures to save the day. Bitmap in Illustrator? Trust me, it's better than it sounds. Let's take a look.
The first step is to grab a good texture, and open it in Photoshop. There are plenty of great textures offered here at MediaLoot and around the web. For my texture below, I begin by changing the color mode to Grayscale. Image | Mode | Grayscale
Then I make a Levels adjustment to remove a lot of the grays and mid tones. Image | Adjust | Levels
Next, I convert the texture to a bitmap. Image | Mode | Bitmap. Under Method, select Diffusion Dither for Use. Note: Be sure to play with these settings. You can also get nice halftones and other effects out of your textures when converting to a bitmap.
Now save the texture as a Tiff file using the same settings below. If you'd like… You can download my texture file here.
In Adobe Illustrator, open some vector artwork. Here's a look at my artwork (pre-textured).
Now place the texture into your Illustrator document using File | Place. You'll immediately notice that the texture is transparent. All of the white has been removed. Pretty cool, huh? You can select the texture and scale it and rotate it to fit your artwork.
Here's where the magic happens. Select the texture and use the color picker to choose a color other than black. Wah… huh? That's right, you can change the color of the texture just like you would any other vector element.
You might be asking about the quality. It looks jagged in Illustrator. But if you export a JPEG or print the file, you'll see that the quality of the original texture is still there. Pretty incredible, right?
Bitmap textures are essential for t-shirt designers. They are incredibly powerful and versatile. And the file size is small and clean. I hope this new found knowledge will open up some creative doors for you in your work flow!
Did you follow along? Share your results in the comments.