Hack Attack: Graphic Styles

Using the Graphic Styles in Adobe Illustrator can add so much more depth and life to your design and illustration work. I tend to use this tool to add a little bit of texture to my illustrations when I am looking to add a sense of depth and light. It’s a quick way to take flat vector designs and give them a little bit more life.

1. Create Some Swatches
First we need to create one gradient swatch and one red swatch. I find that the red tones work best with this effect.

Using the square marquee tool draw a square. Then in the color panel adjust the color to 100% Magenta and 100% Yellow.

With the red square selected select the new swatch button in the lower right corner of your Swatch Menu and add the color.

With the red square still selected, click on the gradient square in the Gradient Menu to create a simple black and white gradient. Then in the Gradient Menu select double click on the black tab, which will open up a swatch menu. Select the red color we just created.

In the swatches panel, add this Red Gradient to your swatches menu.

Create a green swatch color following the same steps we followed to create the red swatch color.

Now here is where the fun starts.

2. Appearance Menu Duplicate Fill
Within your Appearance Menu panel within the Fill section select duplicate the Green Fill.

3. FX Grain
Highlight the green fill on the top and change the fill color to our Red Gradient swatch. Then select the FX button on the bottom part of the panel. Scroll down to Texture and click Grain.

In the Grain menu that appears I have my Intensity set to 50, Contrast set to 100 and my Grain Type set to Stippled. Select okay.

4. Set Opacity and Multiply
In the Appearance menu under the new Grain FX you just added, select the Opacity link and set your layer to Multiply at 15%.

5. Add to Graphic Styles
Now within your Graphic Styles panel and with your new graphic texture selected, click the New Style button in the bottom right of the menu panel. You’ve created a new Graphic Style Swatch that can easily be used throughout your designs.

In the spirit of Christmas, I’m providing an example of a Christmas tree, with and without the grain applied. You can see how this simple effect can really add value to your design work and illustrations.

–Tim