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Deke's Techniques is a collection of short Photoshop and Illustrator projects and creative effects that can be completed in ten minutes or less. The series is taught by computer graphics guru Deke McClelland, and presented in his signature step-by-step style. The intent is to reveal how various Photoshop and Illustrator features can be combined and leveraged in real-world examples so that they can be applied to creative projects right away.
In the previous movie, I showed you how to use blending inside of Adobe Illustrator in order to achieve what amount to custom gradients in the form of the shooting-star effect. In this movie, I'm going to show you an alternate use for blending in which we fill in details between two extreme path outlines. For example, I'll go ahead and zoom in on this bat up here at the top of the sarcophagus, and notice that we have these kinds of ribs that are showing up inside of the wings, but we're missing some lines in between, and that's because I'm going to fill in those lines using blending.
Let me demonstrate. I'll go ahead and click on this top path outline over here on the left wing and then Shift+Click on this path outline, and they represent two extremes that we're going to blend between. And by the way, I'm clicking and Shift+Clicking with the Black Arrow tool. Then I'll go up to the Object menu, I'll choose Blend, and I'll choose the Make command, and we're going to be taking advantage of this command a lot. So from here on out, I'll be taking advantage of the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Alt+B or Command+Option+B on the Mac, and then Illustrator goes ahead and fills in the lines in between.
All right, now go up to the Object menu, choose Blend, and choose Blend Options because after all, we have too many lines in between here. I want them regularly spaced. So I'm going to go ahead and make sure Specified Steps is selected, as it is for me, and I'm going to change that Steps value to 3, turn on the Preview check box, just to confirm that it works-- It does--and I'll click OK. All right, let's try that same thing with these two path outlines. So I'll click on one, Shift+Click on the other with the Black Arrow tool, and I'll go ahead and apply that command once again, that Make Blend command, by pressing the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Alt+B, Command+Option+B on the Mac, and it goes totally wonky.
And the reason is that Illustrator is getting confused about how it should blend between the paths. It seeing the paths drawn in different directions, for whatever reason. All right, if that happens to you, you press Ctrl+Z, or Command+Z on the Mac, to undo that operation, and then you switch to the Blend tool. In the single-column toolbox, it's located here underneath the Eyedropper tool, and it has a keyboard shortcut of W, for whatever that's worth, and what you do is you go ahead and click on the points that are aligned with each other. In this case, the easiest points to click on are the other left-hand points.
So I'll click on one, then click on the other. You don't do a Shift+Click or anything like that; just click, and this time Illustrator gets it right. Now, we need to change the number of steps. Another way to get to the that Blend Options command is the just double-click on the Blend tool icon here inside the toolbox, and then I will change the Specified Steps value to 3, as I did before, and click OK. All right, so that's one way to blend between the outlines. I'm going to try the same thing out in order to create a bunch of ribs here along the front of this tombstone. And in order to do that, I'm going to have to unlock this layer. The name of the layer is shield & ribs, and so I'll click on the lock icon to turn it off.
And then I'll grab my Black Arrow tool, and I'll click on one of the path outlines, and I've ended up selecting what's known as a clipping mask inside of Illustrator. So in order to enter that clipping mask, I'll double-click, and that sends me into this Exclusion mode, so just the items inside the clipping mask are available. I'll go ahead and click on the path outline again. Again, I find myself selecting a clipping mask, so I have one clipping mask nested inside of another. I'll double-click once again to isolate that clipping mask, and now I have access to these actual path outlines.
So I'll click on one, Shift+Click on the other, and then I'll press that keyboard shortcut, Ctrl+Alt+B, Command+ Option+B on the Mac. It ends up working out just fine--not enough steps, however. So double-click on the Blend tool to bring up the Blending Options dialog box, and I'm going to change that Specified Steps value to 15 this time around and click OK. All right, let's try the same thing again by pressing the V key to get to the Black Arrow tool-- V being a kind of upside down arrow, after all--and then I'll click on one of the path outline, Shift+Click on the other over here in the right-hand side, Press Ctrl+Alt+B, Command+Option+B on the Mac, in order to create the Blend.
It works out fine. Not enough steps, however. Double-click on the Blend tool, change the Specified Steps value to 15 once again, click OK, and I now have created all the rib lines that I need. All right, I'll switch back to the Black Arrow tool, click off the path outlines so we can see what we're doing, and we have all this dimmed stuff going on that we can't access. In order to escape this Isolation mode, you press the Escape key, and that will take you all the way back out so that you can modify any path outline inside this artwork. All right, now let's try something a little bit more interesting.
Let's say that we want to create a series of posts along the bottom of this sarcophagus, and I've created two extreme posts, one over here on the left-hand side, one on the right-hand side, and I want to blend between them. Well, they are actually a combination of path outlines and you can see them, if you twirl open this low fence layer that's right below the bat head layer, and I'll go ahead and scroll down the list. And notice there is post 1 and top 1-- those of the path outlines over here on the left-hand post--and then we have post 2 and top 2, and those are the two path outlines over here on the right.
In order to blend between these two posts, I need to group each post together because you can blend between groups inside of Illustrator, and here is how it works. With the Black Arrow tool, I'll select the top of that left-hand post, and then I'll Shift+Click on the post itself, and then I'll go up to the Object menu and choose the Group command. Notice it has a keyboard shortcut of Ctrl+G, Command+G on the Mac, and now I'll do the same thing for this right-hand post. Select the top, then select the post itself, and press Ctrl+G, or Command+G on the Mac, to group it. And now notice over here in the Layers panel that we have two groups.
Well, with one of them selected, I'm going to go ahead and Shift+Click on the circular meatball for that second group, for the top one, so they're both selected, and now I'll blend between them by taking advantage of that keyboard shortcut, Ctrl+Alt+B, or Command+Option+B on the Mac. Now Illustrator has decided to give me five posts, for whatever reason. It may give you more. I'm going to add a bunch of posts here by double-clicking on the Blend Tool icon in the toolbox, and I'm going to take that value let's say up to 15 posts, and I'll go ahead and press the Tab key so I can see that preview in the background and click OK.
Now here's what I want you to notice. These posts are not really truly in perspective. Each one is spaced equidistant from its neighbor, where if we did have a little perspective in our scene, we would see bigger gaps on the left-hand side than we do on the right-hand side. And if we wanted to achieve that same effect inside this illustration, we need to modify that path of the blend, that straight line right there. So I'll go ahead and twirl the Blend open here inside the Layers panel, and I'm going to lock down each one of those post by clicking in the lock column for each of them, and that will leave just the path of the Blend selected.
I'll go ahead and rename that item POB for Path of Blend. And now we're going to add some control handles by going over to the Pen tool, click and hold in order to bring up the flyout menu, choose that Convert Anchor Point tool, and I'm going to go ahead and drag from this left-hand anchor point over to the right like so. But as opposed to adding curvature, as you normally would, I'm going to drag exactly along that path outline to keep it nice and straight, and what that control handle will do is determine the speed of the blend. So notice that it starts off fairly slowly and then becomes more rapid at the end.
All right, we don't want the posts clustered up like that on the right-hand side, so I'll go ahead and drag to the right from that right-hand point to about here in order to spread them out a little bit, like so. And as a result, we have in the fact that's more closely approximating a true perspective effect. Now it's not exactly right, but also bear in mind that we have too many posts at this point. So I'm going to double-click on the Blend tool icon here in the toolbox, and I'll reduce that Specified Steps value back to 5, and click OK, so these guys are spread out a little bit more.
Then I'll switch to my White Arrow tool, which I can get by pressing the A key, and I'll drag this control handle, the right-hand one, just a little bit farther over to the left in order to space out those posts. And I might go ahead and adjust this left control handle a little bit as well, until I get an effect that looks just right. All right, now I'll click off the path to deselect it, and that is how you use blending in order to achieve intermediate path outlines here inside Illustrator.
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