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Wavy Flag Effect in Illustrator (2 Parts)

Posted on 21st September 2018
For this project, we will use the image or vector for our flag design.

1 - In Illustrator, create a “New Document”. Make sure “Smart Guides” are on by going to View > Smart Guides or clicking Command/Control + U.

2 - Select the “Rectangle Tool” (M), click on your Canvas and input a 25 cm “Width” and a 15 cm “Height”. Fill it with a Light Grey (we used 10% Black from the “Swatches Panel”).

3 - Select the “Mesh Tool” (U) and click inside your Rectangle at about 2 to 3 cm from the Top and Left. With that “Point” still selected, go to the “Swatches Panel” and choose a Lighter Grey or White as “Fill” color.

4 - Click in another spot about half a centimeter under the first one (same “X” value, different “Y” value) and fill this “Point” with a Medium Grey (30% Black). Add another couple of “Point” at about the same distance under and fill them with White and Grey (50% Black) respectively.

5 - Keep adding “Points” in different positions throughout the “Vertical” axis and alternating the “Fill” color between White and different shades of Grey to create the idea of “Light” and “Shade”. Make some of them just a few millimeters down and others more far apart.

6 - Add another “Point” on top (same “Horizontal” position), but place it at the center of the rectangle and change the “Fill” color to White. Now, select some of the intersecting “Points” and change the fill color to create contrast. Keep using White and different shades of Grey.

7 - Finally, add a third “Point” close to the Top-Right corner (always keeping the same “Horizontal” line) and change the “Fill” colors too. You can skip some “Points” if you want.

8 - Select the “Warp Tool” (Shift + R), use a 5mm value for both “Width” and “Height” and click “OK”. Move your brush up and down the rectangle to apply the Effect and make it look like waving fabric. Keep going until you are pleased with the result.

9 - Double-click on top of the “Warp Tool”, reduce the brush size to about 3mm and add some more detail.

10 - Open the image you wish to use on your “Flag” (we used a Checkered Black & White image). If it’s not a vector, select it and click on the “Image Trace” button on the Top Menu.

11 - Depending on your image use the “Trace Mode” that suits your needs. Then, click “Trace” and “Expand” to turn your image into vectors.

12 - Right-click on top of your design and choose “Ungroup”, delete any unwanted portion and “Group” it together again (Command/Control + G).

13 - Make a “Copy” (Command/Control + C) and “Paste” it (Command/Control + V) into your original “Document”. Place it on top of your “Mesh”, right click on top and choose Arrange > Send to Back.

14 - Resize the design if needed, select both the “Mesh” and “Design” and make a “Copy”. Click on the “Create New Layer” button at the bottom of the “Layers Panel” and making sure the New Layer is selected “Paste in Front” (Command/Control + F). Hide the original Layer for now by clicking on the small eye icon to its left in the “Layers Panel”.

15 - Right-click on top of the design and choose “Ungroup”. Select one of the Black squares and go to Select > Same > Appearance to select the other black squares, then “Group” them together. Do the same with the White squares, but delete them instead.

16 - Select both the “Mesh” and “Design”, go to the “Transparency Panel” and click the “Make Mask” button. Turn On the visibility of the other Layer.

17 - Select all the Black squares, delete them and “Group” the White ones. Select the “Mesh” and change its “Blending Mode” to “Multiply” in the “Transparency Panel”.

18 - With the “Mesh” still selected, click on the “Recolor Artwork” button on the Top Menu, choose the “Greys Color Group” and CMYK from the small menu on the bottom left. Move the levers slightly to give your “Mesh” a bit more contrast and check the “Recolor Art” box. We increased the “Temperature” to 30% and decreased the “Luminosity” to -45%. Once you are happy, click “OK”.

19 - Go to the “Appearance Panel”, click on the “Effects Menu”, navigate to Stylize > Drop Shadow… and apply the following values.

20 - Back in the “Appearance Panel”, click on the “Add New Stroke” button on the bottom-left and add a 2 Point, Dark Grey “Stroke”, click on the “Opacity” option to bring out the dialog and change the “Blending Mode” to “Hard Light”. In the “Stroke Panel”, change the “Cap” and “Corner” to “Round”.

21 - Your Flag should be similar to this.

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