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Pretty new to illustrator, need an answer to a probably easy fix

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Bur Ci
Pretty new to illustrator, need an answer to a probably easy fix
on May 28, 2014 at 9:15:00 pm


So I'm getting my feet wet in Illustrator. So here's the question. If you take a look at the image I am trying to create a mask using a portion of the images arm. I tried using the pen tool to outline and cut it out from the rest of the body but I haven't made much progress. Only a mess. Ultimately, I plan to take that outline mask it in After Affects so that a video will play within the arm.

Any nudge in the right direction will be greatly appreciated.

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Steve Crook Jr
Re: Pretty new to illustrator, need an answer to a probably easy fix
on May 29, 2014 at 2:50:46 pm

Hm. I wrote a quick step-by-step and in review I realized I might have missed something: Whether your original artwork is vector or raster. I wrote my instructions for the raster (silly me), so I've added a section for vector. Use which method you need.

Vector (Illustrator)
1) Copy the path that has the arm and paste it into a new layer.
2) Hide everything but the newly created path.
3) Draw and adjust a box around the arm (very like the one in your sample image) until it is "just perfect". (Note: stroke and fill are unimportant - I usually use a high contrast stroke and no fill.)
4) Window > Pathfinder
5) In the "Shape Modes" area click "Intersect" (Now for me, most of the modes rarely work right {clearly operator error, but it is what it is} so I usually just click "Divide" in the "Pathfinders" area and delete what I don't want, but this time "Intersect" worked fine.)

Raster - Photoshop:
1) Zoom into the area to to work. *I* use the mouse wheel and ALT and CTRL, but the magnifying glass or other method is just fine.
2) Select the Magnetic Lasso Tool. {Long click the lasso until the menu appears and choose the icon with the magnet in it, press L until the magnet icon appears in the lasso spot.)
3) Turn CAPS LOCK on (to enable the precision cursor) and enter 5px in the Width box in the tool options area. (The default 10% contrast and 57 frequency are fine for this task.)
4) Start a little to the left of the area on the upper arm that you think you want to use for the "video window" and click and release. The Magnetic Lasso Tool is now "armed" and functioning: start dragging to the right, following the contour of the arm. Let the Magnetic Lasso Tool make its own anchors when it is following the edge properly, but when the selection area starts to diverge from what you want, move the mouse back onto the edge and single click; that will force an anchor. Then continue to trace.
5) Continue around the arm clockwise until you get to the area under where you started, then just leave the path into the upper arm, clicking a couple of times to force an anchor. Close the selection by moving the cursor over the starting point (the cursor will change to notify you that you are there) and clicking. Ta Da, you should have a fairly accurate selection in Photoshop for the video window you want. But it isn't a path. Yet. (You can turn CAPS LOCK off now.)
6) The easiest way to get to the paths panel is to go to Window > Paths. Wherever your paths panel shows up, click the drop down in the upper right corner and choose "Make Work Path"; put 0.5 in the box and ok. NOW we have a real path.
7) Copy it (Edit > Copy, CTRL-C for us Windows folks but I seem to remember your screenshot was a Mac so CMD?-C).
8) Bring up Illustrator and Edit > Paste In Front For me, the path appeared exactly in the right spot on the arm, so somehow Photoshop told Illustrator where to put it (most likely having to do with the dimensions of the original image).
9) Tweak the path as necessary. Zoom in. Adjust anchors. Drag lines. Have fun! :)

Both Methods:
Now you have the video window that you can import into AE; since I don't have it installed on this computer, I can't walk through it, so I can't walk you through it, but there are plenty of tutorials on the Internet.

Let me know if anything doesn't work and I'll try to help.

Steve Crook, Jr.

I am a simple creative professional that can get my Adobe suite and a few other creative tools to do what I want. Barely. :)

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Bur Ci
Re: Pretty new to illustrator, need an answer to a probably easy fix
on Jun 2, 2014 at 2:50:27 am


Thanks for the instructions. I went along with the illustrator instructions and I'm sure getting a better grip on this now. If I run into any hiccups I will certainly post further questions.

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