Create a Dandelion in Adobe Illustrator Using Two Custom Brushes

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating
In this screencast, you'll learn how to create two different types of custom brushes, and use those to quickly draw a dandelion silhouette.

Fractal Art: An Introduction to Apophysis

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating
With this tutorial you will find an introduction to the flame fractal program, Apophysis, and along the way you will learn how to create your first fractal. Apophysis can make a plethora of wonderful images, and your imagination is truly the only limit.
Before we actually make a fractal, it would be good to understand what we are getting into. defines a fractal as: A geometric pattern that is repeated (iterated) at ever smaller (or larger) scales to produce (self similar) irregular shapes and surfaces that cannot be represented by classical (Euclidian) geometry. Fractals are used especially in computer modeling of irregular patterns and structures found in nature.

Nautilus Shells
Scientists and mathematicians have discovered how to use fractals to numerically describe coastlines, the shape of trees, our vascular system and much more.
Notice some everyday examples of fractals: the nautilus shell, romanesco broccoli, snowflakes, and the pineapple. As you look at each of these images, take note of the self-similarity and patterns.

Romanesco Broccoli

Brain Rattler - By Stan Ragets
Interstellar Overdrive - By Stan Ragets
In simple terms, fractal art is the graphical representation of a mathematical equation. Fractal art is infinitely diverse in form, color, lighting, and level of detail. Due to their mathematical foundation, fractals can have infinite detail: you can zoom in and out without limit (in theory). According to the definition above, fractals are also self-similar, but not identical, with regions of the fractal looking similar to other regions.

Frost on the Tip of Your Nose - By Stan Ragets
Many different types of fractal art can be created by means of different formulas. This series of tutorials will focus on the Apophysis program,  which uses iterated function systems or IFS. You can learn more about IFS in this Wikipedia article.

Silencer - by Stan Ragets

This can be a tricky subject, due to the many variations of the program currently available. Some of them work quite well, but are antiquated or do not support certain commonly used formulas (known as variations). To simplify matters, please use the Apophysis 7x16 version found at SourceForge.
Lets get started by opening Apophysis. On the first load you will be greeted with a randomly generated fractal. The interface may appear daunting at first, but we will explore the different options and settings progressively. The goal is to make the fractal you see at the beginning of this article.
Let’s begin by choosing a basic color palette so that the fractal will be visible while we work on it. Open the Gradient Selector (third button to the right of the quality text box, red square around it in the image below), and we'll begin by choosing a color palette. I generally will select a basic palette to work with and then adjust or completely change it as I work on a fractal. If you would like to reproduce the above fractal exactly, select gradient 498_beautiful.

Opening the gradient editor
Gradient Editor Selection

Open the Editor. This is the small fx button in the toolbar as shown in the image below. The editor is where all of the heavy lifting is done inside Apophysis. You will notice an array of tools across the toolbar at the top of the editor. To get your feet wet we will be using a few of these in this tutorial.

Opening the editor window

Clear the randomly-generated flame to start with a blank canvas. Click the first button on the left of the toolbar to clear the editor and start with a new fractal flame. This creates a single transform, as indicated by the red triangle, with the linear variation (formula) applied to it. We'll look at variations in greater detail in upcoming tutorials.

Clearing the editor for a blank flame

Navigation is easy inside the editor. Right-clicking and dragging allows you to move around the editor. Use your mouse scroll button or the plus and minus keys to zoom in and out. Learn these simple navigation tools now and they will serve you well in your fractal adventures!
Now the stage has been set to design our first fractal. We have chosen a base color scheme, cleared the editor, and have a single transform ready to be modified.
Our first step is to change the size of the red triangle known inside Apophysis as Transform 1. On the right side of the editor there are several tabs and tools that allow us to apply changes to the transform. At the top you can always see which transform you are working with and switch easily to others by using the dropdown box.
The default tab is called Triangle. This tab allows us to modify the shape and positioning of the triangle. Click the smaller triangle on the left side of the 125 to make Transform 1 125% smaller. Now change this box to say 110 and click the small triangle again. We've shrunk the transform twice.

Shrinking the transform

The next step is to duplicate the transform. This will transfer all properties of our current transform to a brand new one. Click the Duplicate Transform button at the top of the toolbar in the editor, the third button from the left. You will now see a yellow triangle representing Transform 2. These two transforms will make up the fractal.

Using the dropdown box on the right side of the editor, select Transform 1. Still inside the Triangle tab, locate the triangle movement controls that consist of four arrows and a 0.1 in the middle. The number in the middle indicates how many units to move the triangle, and these correspond with the grid in the editor. Change the 0.1 to 1 and click the Move to the Left arrow once. This moves Transform 1 one unit to the left.

Moving a transform

Next we need to rotate Transform 1 90 degrees. The most efficient way to accomplish this is to click the left pointing arrow in the Rotation Controls (located just above the move controls in the previous step). This will rotate our triangle 90 degrees counter-clockwise. You'll also notice at this point that you now have something to look at in the preview window.

Rotating a transform

Now that we have the basics of moving and rotating, let's apply these to Transform 2. Select Transform 2 from the dropdown menu. Move it to the right by 1 unit. Rotate the transform by 90 degrees clockwise. You will now see a large rectangle in the preview window.
Moving and rotating a transform
The next step is to introduce some color into the fractal. This process is highly dependent upon the gradient that we selected at the outset of the tutorial. Inside the editor, switch to the Colors tab. Click on the slider underneath the orange color and drag it around. As you drag this slider, notice in the preview window the effect it has on the coloring of the fractal. When you are finished exploring, drag the slider to the far right side, or simply enter 1.0 in the Transform Color box.

Editing the fractals colors

Up to this point, Apophysis is giving the same amount of priority to each transform. This is indicated by the 0.5 in the Weight box below each transform in the editor. When you create a blank flame, the default weight of a transform is 0.5. This is true for any new transforms you create as well. When you duplicate a transform, its weight is also duplicated. To clear up any misconception, if you set all transforms to a weight of 1, it would be the exact same thing as all of the transforms having a weight of 0.5. Either way they are all equal to each other.
Now we will direct Apophysis to give more priority to Transform 2 by changing the Weight to 1. Notice the change in appearance in the preview window. The details are now clearer.

Adjusting the weight of the fractal

At this point the colors on your fractal might appear slightly dull. This can be easily remedied. Close the editor window, as we will not need this any further. Click the Adjustment button, which is located between the Editor (fx) and Gradient buttons we used previously.
Inside this window, navigate to the Rendering tab with the purple gear. First change the Brightness setting (defaults to 4) to a 10. Sometimes modifying this one setting can make a drastic change in the appearance of your fractal. Be careful, however, because increasing this setting too much will lead to blowing out the levels and causing hot spots in your fractal, which can hurt people’s eyes!
While we are inside this window, change the Gamma setting to some different numbers. The best way to learn what this setting does is to experiment. You might liken it to the depth/amount of pixels that appear on the fractal; the higher the setting, the greater the pixels. Each fractal will benefit from you exploring this setting. When you are finished exploring, set the Gamma to 3.5.

Adjustment tab for changing color settings

The next step is to remove the obnoxious large black box that is currently around the outside of the fractal. We will use both the Move and Zoom tools in the main window to accomplish this. These tools are found on the right side of the toolbar in the main fractal window and look like a mouse (move tool) and magnifying glasses with a plus and minus for zooming in and out.
First, select the Zoom Tool (magnifying glass with the plus sign) to zoom in. Left-click and drag from the upper left-hand corner of the fractal down to the bottom right-hand corner. You might not be able to capture the entire fractal within the four corners of the window, so do your best to get as much of the fractal as possible and select what you think looks nicest.
Finally, select the Move Tool (mouse pointer) and use it to re-position the fractal so that none of the black sides are showing in the window. To do this, simply click and drag in the window. It may take a few tries to get the hang of it, and you may also need to switch back to the Zoom Tools. You should end up with something similar to the image below.

Repositioning the fractal on the screen

The last step is to render the fractal. Rendering is the process of having the computer run the formulas you have set up and output a high-quality final image. Click the Render button, which looks like a small purple gear in the main window toolbar, right after the open and save buttons.
In this window you can choose where to save the fractal and name it by clicking the Folder button on the top right-hand side of the window. You may want to change the file format from a png to a jpg unless you plan on editing the fractal in another image editing program.
The quality settings will greatly affect the final appearance of your fractal. Choose a Density setting of 10,000. Set the Filter Radius to 0.8 and Oversample to 2. Click Start to begin the rendering process. After several minutes your fractal will have rendered completely and be finished. Congratulations! You've created your first fractal.

The Render Window
The finished rendered fractal
Now, feel free to experiment more with the settings inside Apophysis. There are so many things you can create with just those few transforms. You can see a few examples of my own below.

Ortho - fractal art by Stan Ragets
Korky - Fractal Art by Stan Ragets
Mobius Puzzle - Fractal art by Stan Ragets

Mind the Gaps: Creating Convincing Crowd Scenes

Shooting convincing crowd scenes is difficult when you only have a few background actors to help. This tutorial shows how using a long lens can make things a lot easier: long lenses narrow the angle of view and make a space appear to be crowded.
We’ll also look a stacking your actors in layers, so that a large room can appear to be fully populated by the smallest crowd. This works well when combined with camera motion.
 Finally we’ll show how you can creatively fill gaps, or stage wide scenes and cut rapidly, so that a small number of extras appear to fill a large space.

The 5 Best Features of iOS 8

Apple's recent release of iOS 8 brings a wealth of new features to the table. It's no wonder that they already have a tremendous adoption rate. In this tutorial I'll show you the top five features, and how to get the most out of them.
I will teach you how to:
  • Quick-reply to text messages
  • Install and use custom keyboards
  • Setup custom widgets in the notification center
  • Send an audio recording over SMS
  • Leave or mute a group message
Receiving a text message whilst working in another application can be quite annoying.
Having to close the current application, open Messages, reply to the message and then return to the original task is even worse.
Quick reply in the new iOS 8
Quick reply in the new iOS 8
The new quick-reply feature of iOS 8 removes this problem entirely. Now when someone sends you a text message simply pull down on the notification itself and a reply field will appear. Type a response and hit Send. The reply is sent without having to leave the current application.
iOS users have long envied the Google Android's ability to add custom keyboards.  With the release of IOS 8 they envy no longer.
To install a custom keyboard, launch the App Store and download a favorite new keyboard. Once the keyboard application has been downloaded and installed, run it one time to let it initialize.
Go to Settings, then General. Scroll down and tap Keyboards. Then tap Add New Keyboard. Find the name of the keyboard you just installed and tap it to add it to the list of available keyboards.
Adding a newly downloaded keyboard in iOS 8
Adding a newly downloaded keyboard in iOS 8
From now on, whenever you have the keyboard open, tap the Globe icon in the lower left to toggle between the available keyboards.
Customizing the notification center is another great feature of iOS 8. You can add interactive weather, to-do lists, stock portfolios and so much more. It's pretty incredible.
Many popular iOS applications have already released updates that include these new interactive widgets. Dropbox, Amazon Kindle, LinkedIn, and Evernote are just a few examples.
Use your thumb to swipe down from the top part of the phone near the earpiece. When the notification center drops in, make sure the Today tab is chosen. Scroll to the bottom and tap the Edit button.
Adding a custom widget to the Notification Center
Adding a custom widget to the Notification Center
Use the list of available widgets to customize the Notification Menu. The green plus icons will add a menu item. The red delete icons will remove a menu item. The three bar icon on the right will adjust the sort order. When you have everything set, press Done on the top right.
NOTE: This will only work when sending audio to iOS devices with iMessaging turned on.
Sometimes plain text messages don't send the inflection, emotion, or general tone of what you're trying to convey. In these situations, sending a recording of your voice is a much better solution.
From the messages screen, choose compose new message or tap on an existing conversation. Hold your thumb over the microphone icon in the bottom right to start recording.
Sending audio over iMessages
Sending audio over iMessages
To send the recording slide your thumb upwards over the arrow then release it. The message will automatically be sent with no further action required.
If you would like to review the message before you send it just lift up your thumb directly from the mic. Don't swipe in any direction. The recording will be shown in the message box. Tap play to review it before tapping send.
While recording if you make a mistake or would like to start over, slide your thumb to the left. Doing so will quickly discard the recording and allow you to start over.
There are few things in this world more annoying than being added to a group chat without your permission. To make matters worse, prior to iOS 8, it was very difficult to leave or mute these conversations. The constant barrage of notifications was enough to drive anyone insane.
To mute or leave these annoying conversations, launch Messages and choose the conversation you would like to modify. Click details on the top right, tap Do Not Disturb to stop all notifications relating to this particular group chat. Or feel free to leave the conversation altogether.
Setting a single group chat to Do Not Disturb
Setting a single group chat to Do Not Disturb
In this tutorial I showed you some of my favorite new features in iOS 8. Adding custom keyboards and using them to reply to text messages without having to leave the program you're using is great. My personal favorite is the ability to leave those obnoxious group chats or, at very least, set them to Do Not Disturb. And they have topped all that off with custom widgets and easy audio in iMessages.
Upgrade your phone to the latest and greatest operating system from Apple and tell me what your favorite new feature is in the comments below.

How to Create a Seamless Vintage Nautical Life Pattern in Adobe Illustrator

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating
It's summertime—the time to hit the beach or take a sail. What better time to decorate with a nautical pattern that'll repeat perfectly?
In this tutorial, you will learn to create marine life wallpaper in a vintage style, using Adobe Illustrator. You will use the Pencil Tool to draw different elements, and learn to make the wallpaper seamless. You can follow these steps precisely to make the nautical pattern pictured above, or you can use the steps this tutorials shows to make a pattern with any objects you'd like that repeats perfectly.
Press Control-N button to create a new document at size 600 px in the width and height. Select the Pencil Tool (N) and on the Stroke panel, select Round Cap. Then adjust the Pencil Tool (N) options: double-click on it on the Tools panel (Window > Tools) and in the new dialogue window, make Tolerances Fidelity 3 pixels and Smoothness 40%. Check Fill New Pencil Strokes and then press Okay.
Let's draw a seagull as in the image below. To close the path, you need to hold the Alt button as you finish the path. For the feather decoration on the wing, make the pencil stroke slightly thicker and for the legs, very thick.
bird drawing
Select the wing and legs, and expand them (Object > Expand). Also you need to expant the beak.
bird wings
Now remove the strokes and add the fill colors as in the image below.
Let's draw another element—the anchor. Using the Pencil Tool (N), draw two circles. While keeping them selected, on the Pathfinder panel, press Exclude button. Then draw bottom part. Now, draw the left arrow. Don't forget to hold the Alt button when as you finish the path. Make sure that the left part of the anchor (arrow) is selected and right-click your mouse. Select Transform > Reflect. Check Vertical axis of reflection and Angle 90 degrees, then press Okay. Shift the right arrow to the right. Select the whole anchor, delete the stroke and make the fill color orange (R=214 G=84 B=59). Keep the whole anchor selected, and on the Pathfinder panel press the Unite button.
make anchor
Now, let’s draw the lifesaver buoy. Draw two circles again and press the Exclude button on the Pathfinder panel. Make the fill color R=232 G=229 B=209. Then make very thick stroke on the Stroke panel (stroke color R=178 G=31 B=41) and draw stripes using the Pencil Tool (N) as in the image below. When you are finished, select red stripes and expand them (Object > Expand).
Now, make one more copy of light gray circle (Control-C) and send it to the front (Control-X, Control-F). You now have two copies of light gray circles. Keep the upper copy selected and while holding the Shift key, select the red stripes. Then press the Crop button on the Pathfinder panel.
Let’s draw the helm—the steering wheel. Using the Pencil Tool (N), draw the helm with thick strokes. Be sure to select the Round Cap button on the Stroke panel. When you are finished, select the whole thing and expand it (Object > Expand). Set the fill color to R=188 G=166 B=109.
We now have all the elements we need to create the seamless wallpaper! As you can see in the image below, I added one more anchor with the same fill color as a body of the seagull. To easily use the same fill color, you first need to select the new anchor, then take the Eyedropper Tool (I) and click on the body of seagull.
all elements
Let’s draw a large square by using the Rectangle Tool (M). Click on your artboard and in the new dialogue window, make the following rectangle options: Width 600 px and Height 600 px. Set the fill color to R=61 G=66 B=73. Send this square to the back (Control-X, Control-B). Randomly scatter all elements (seagull, two anchors, helm, lifesaver buoy) all over the square.
artboard with scattered elements
Pick the Selection Tool (V) and select all the marine life elements, without the background. Group them together (right-click > Group). Press the Enter key and Move window should pop up. Enter in Horizontal Position 600 px, Vertical Position 0 px, Distance 600 px and set the Angle b 0 degrees. Now, press the Copy button.
copied elements
Select all the elements inside the artboard again and press the Enter key. In the Move window, make Horizontal Position -600 px, Vertical Position 0 px, Distance 600 px and Angle 0 degrees. Press the Copy button.
copy again
Select all the elements inside the artboard once again and press the Enter key. In the Move window, make Horizontal Position 0 px, Vertical Position 600 px, Distance 600 px and the Angle 90 degrees. Press the Copy button.
final copy
Select all the elements inside the artboard for the last time and press the Enter key. In the Move window, make Horizontal Position 0 px, Vertical Position -600 px, Distance 600 px and the Angle -90 degrees. Press the Copy button.
completed scattershot
Now, you need to ungroup everything. Select all the elements (Control-A) and ungroup them (right-click > Ungroup). You need to delete all the marine life elements that do not cross the background.
Important point—if you want to move, for example the seagull on the top of the wallpaper, you need to select the corresponding seagull on the bottom of the wallpaper at the same time. Or you need to move the helm from the left side of the wallpaper, you need to move the same corresponding helm from the right side of the wallpaper.
Your result should look like the image below:
Group all the marine life elements without the background. For this, you can select everything (Control-A) and while holding down the Shift key, then uncheck the background. Now that you have selected just seagulls, anchors, helms and lifesaver buoys, group them together (right-click > Group). Make another copy of the background (Control-C, Control-F) and send it to the front (Control-X, Control-F). Keeping the new copy of the background selected, hold down the Shift key and select the grouped marine life elements. Go to Pathfinder panel and press the Crop button.
And last but not least: keep the cropped wallpaper selected, and go to Object > Path > Clean up, then Okay. You need this to delete the paths without the fill and stroke.
all paths
You should now have something like the image below:
You did it! Now your summer vintage marine life wallpaper is done! You can drag the whole pattern to the Swatches panel and use it for printing, set as a background, fill the shapes that you created in AI, and more.
completed pattern
Congrats, you got your seamless pattern created, and it looks beautiful! Now, go find a unique way to put it to use, or make another seamless pattern using other elements you've made.finished artboard


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