Is there an easier way to distress graphics in illustrator?


Recently I've been getting a lot of work with T-shirts and they ask me to distress t-shirts. This is a simple matter if the graphic is only one color, but occasionally I will get a graphic that's 4 or more colors and layered on top of each other. I will then have to apply a distressed texture to each separate shape. This can get tedious and time consuming. Not to mention the texture file is huge because it's distressed and creates a lot of points.

Do you guys know of a way that I can place a distressed texture on top of a vector graphic with multiple colors and shapes and just punch through or knockout all the way to the back of the stack? I hope that makes sense.

Here is an example.


There is white around the letters and the filled in areas on the face are white as well. I want the distressed graphic to punch through all the way, but when I use the minus front, it ends up only punching through some shapes or it all fuses together as one big mess.

If it helps the t-shirts will be screen printed.

Edit - Thanks for the answer, it works. Here is a rundown of how I created it this

Copied the graphic, and fused everything together as one solid shape. Placed distressed graphic over solid shape graphic. Create clipping mask of that. Place that over the original with the option clip checked.

3/10/2017 9:42:00 AM

Accepted Answer

I think Opacity Masks are the easiest here.

set up


They are essentially a one-click method which is non-destructive. If you use 100% solid vector objects for the mask, then there's no concern about half toning either and the mask is just as infinitely scalable as the artwork under it. In addition, this method allows the mask artwork to be scaled, rotated, or changed separately from the underlying artwork. Being non-destructive, there's never a need to "start over". You can always adjust the texture or the artwork without a problem.

Masked artwork needs to be one object (group) for best results.

In many cases this method can increase the work speed in Illustrator compared to using Minus Front on each and every object. In addition, the mask tends to be faster with screen redraw as opposed to all the tiny objects Minus Front creates.

You could always expand and flatten the artwork after applying the mask to "bake in" the distressing (which is what Minus Front does).

1/28/2015 1:28:00 AM