Ready to take the next few steps in our quest to simulate Lite Brite art in Illustrator?
(Can you tell I watch too much Blue's Clues and Dora the Explorer with the kids?)
When we last spoke, we had successfully used the Object Mosaic filter to convert a raster image into a grid of colored squares. However, Lite Brite uses little round pegs, not square ones, so in these steps, we’ll fix that right up.
4. Choose Select > All and then choose Object > Ungroup. This is a necessary step because we're about to apply a live effect to the squares. But if you’ve read any of my books, watched any of my videos, or have been paying attention in the past, you know that live effects are always applied to your target. And if you select the group, your group is the target. We'll need the effect to be applied to each individual square, not to the group. By ungrouping, your target will now be the individual paths.
5. In the Effect menu, there are a set of effects labeled "Convert to Shape", and I always wondered why anyone would want to convert one shape to another rather than just creating their intended shape in the first place. While this particular effect is cool when applied to text (to create backgrounds behind text for example), it will suit our needs here perfectly -- for changing all of our squares into circles. With all of the artwork still selected, choose Effect > Convert to Shape > Ellipse. Check the Preview button and specify 7pt for both the width and height in the Absolute section.
Note: If you’re like me, and you are in the habit of pressing the Tab key to jump from value to value, you’ll notice that after you enter the Height and press Tab, the Extra Width field becomes active and that also automatically activates the Relative option instead of the Absolute one. So make sure you choose the Absolute option if that happens, or just tap the Tab key two more times to go back to Absolute.
I happened to choose 7pt for the diameter of my circles because that looked right, but you should choose a value that works best for the size of the image that you’re working with.
6. Draw a rectangle with a black fill and send it to the back of the artwork stacking order. To make further editing easier, lock the rectangle as well. This simulates the sheet of black construction paper.
So now we have our Lite Brite art created. Well, almost. You see, the colors aren't correct. It turns out that the Lite Brite plastic pegs come in only eight colors. So we’ll need to correct that in our next and final segment, part three, where we'll employ the powerful Live Color feature to complete the project.