Bitmap-Tiff Miracles

Workin with Illustrator is fun and important you can scale your work without loosing quality. But vector files can become a pain in the rear when it comes to textures. Every anchor point has a lot of coordination informations and this is the reason why your system might crash. But there´s an easy way to solve that problem: bitmap-tiff textures!

This is the perfect solution to distress designs for textile printing!
The texture will give the printed design a nice ‘n’ smooth touch and by thinking of direct to garment printing it saves real money! Less design = less ink = less money.


How to work with bitmap-tiff textures in Adobe Illustrator:

1. Bring it to your artwork:
– drag & drop from Finder to Illustrator file
– or shortcut: Shift+Command+P on macOS, Shift+Ctrl+P on Windows (file > place)


2. Re-color texture like you´re used to it in Illustrator. There are different ways to do that:
Fill, eyepropper tool, swatch panel, appearance panel, color panel

tiff Textures

3a. Bring texture to a specific shape if needed
Works best for me by applying a clipping mask on top of the actual shape.
– Select object and hit Command+C on macOS or Ctrl+C on Windows (edit > copy)
– Place your texture and re-color it
– Paste object from clipboard in front: Command+F on macOS or Ctrl+F on Windows (edit > paste in front)
– Select object in front and hold shift and click on texture (select both)
– Right click, select make “clipping mask” or hit Command+7 on macOS or Ctrl+7 on Windows (object > clipping mask > make)

paste in front
make clipping mask

3b. Knockout Texture
Use black & white jpg:
– Place texture in front of your object and leave it black
– Select both object & texture
– Go to Transparancy Panel and select “Make Mask”

You can use a bitmap-tiff for this, too, but that´s inverted – check out, which you like more, depends on design and texture 😉 You need to check “Invert Mask” in the Transparancy Panel.

paste in front
make clipping mask

But anyway as a sign maker I want to tell you this is awesome but maybe not the best solution for everything.
For example:
As soon as you need to create a banner that´s gonna be printed in a huge size like 10 sqaure feet or more, think about your needs and options. Maybe you should drink a coffee or two and wait for you computer to scale a complex vector texture. As long as a bitmap-tiff is not created in real size of the printed banner it´s gonna loose quality from a certain point.

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