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Distressed effects

Sideshow art was a genre unique to American culture up until the early 50s. These large, brazen banners were as colourful and intriguing as the attractions themselves. They promised the extraordinary and the incredible, and it didn't seem to matter whether the exhibits were real or orchestrated, just as long as they drew in the crowds. Today, any surviving banners of that era would show the adverse effects of exposure to the elements as well as the general wear and tear of life with a travelling sideshow.

In this tutorial you'll master some great methods to distress an otherwise pristine piece of vector artwork and give it an authentic, aged appearance using nothing more than some scans of a couple of well-used baking trays. You'll use a combination of Illustrator's Live Trace tool and its Pathfinder commands. Both of these powerful features will save you time when trying to re-create this effect in your artwork. The Live Trace function enables you to easily convert imported images into vectors, and the Pathfinder commands enable you to quickly perform complex path functions on multiple objects. So, let's get the show on the road€¦

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