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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.
Hey, gang, this is Deke McClelland. Welcome to Deke's Techniques. This week, really exciting stuff. I am going to show you how to create this pattern of size-changing, color-changing inset circles inside Illustrator, and we will be doing so by blending groups, whole groups of circles. And then we will group those blends and then we will turn around and blend those groups of blended groups, which I know sounds like so much nonsense, but it's totally possible and really powerful as well. Now, if you're a member of the lynda.com online training library--and by the way, if you're not, how come? Because you can get 7 days free right now by going to lynda.com/deke.
But if you are, then you have access to an exercise file that contains a single circle, but it got me thinking, why not show you how to create that file for yourself, if you want to? So all you got to do is create an artboard that measures 612 points wide by 420 points tall, and then you want to create this little circle here, that's 43 & 1/3 points in both directions and then set its center point, which you can do from the Transform panel to X:44, Y:42 also in points. And once you've done that, you can follow along with me here.
Let me show you exactly how it works. All right, here is that pattern of size changing circles, just so you can see it on screen. I am going to switch over to this document which contains one and only one circle, the base circle for the design, and I will go ahead and click on it with a Black Arrow tool to select it. Notice that my Fill is active here inside the Color panel, so every color I apply will affect the Fill. I am going to switch over to the Swatches panel by going to the Window menu and choosing the Swatches command, and then I'll apply one of the default swatches which is C=20, M=0, Y=100, K=0, which colors the circle a kind of chartreuse.
Now I'll double-click at the Scale tool in order to bring up the Scale dialog box. Set the Uniform value to 90% and then click on the Copy button in order to create a smaller copy of the circle, and let's go ahead and fill that guy with white. Then double-click on the Scale tool again-- or because it's selected, you can just press the Enter key on a PC or the Return key on the Mac and dial in a Uniform value of 68% and click on the Copy button. Let's go ahead and fill that guy with that same shade of chartreuse that we applied earlier.
Now I am going to switch back to the Black Arrow tool, which you can get by pressing the V key, and I am going to click on the outermost circle to select it. Now I ended up experimenting with exactly where to put this next circle inside the document, but now that we know, we are just going to dial in an exact value by double-clicking on the Black Arrow tool at the top of the Toolbox and dialing in a Horizontal value of 524 points and then change the Vertical value to zero points. And if you turn on the Preview check box, you will see that that moves the circle over to this location here.
Next, click the Copy button to create a copy of this shape, and let's fill this one with this next shade of green which is C=50, M=0, Y=100, K=0, which as you can see, is definitely giving us more of a grass green. Now let's switch back to the Scale tool, double- click on it to bring up the Scale dialog box, and I will go ahead and move it over so that we can see what we are doing, change the Uniform value to 50%, and then click on the Copy button, and go ahead and fill that circle with white and then double-click on the Scale tool again to bring up the Scale dialog box and dial in a Uniform value of 62% and click on the Copy button and go ahead and fill that one with that same shade of green we applied a moment ago.
Now I am going to press the V key to switch to my Black Arrow tool, I will click on the outermost circle to select it, and I will go ahead and press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac in order to bring up the Move dialog box, change the Horizontal value to zero points this time around and dial in a Vertical value of 336 points, and that will move the circle down to the lower right corner. Then go ahead and click on the Copy button to create a copy of it, and let's fill this guy with this shade of green, the next one over, C=75, M=0, Y=100, K=0 in order to assign a kind of emerald green.
Then double-click on the Scale tool, because we need to create a couple more copies here and dial in a Uniform value of 20% this time. We are going for a very small circle and then click the Copy button. Go ahead and fill that guy with white, then double-click on the Scale tool again, dial in a Uniform value of 36%, and click Copy and go ahead and fill this guy with that darker shade of green like so. Now we need to create a shape in the bottom left corner, and it's going to be that same shape that you see in the top right corner.
Press the V key to go ahead and select the Black Arrow tool, marquee the shapes, and then go up to the Object menu and choose the Group command to group them together, and with the Black Arrow tool selected, press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac and dial in a Horizontal value of -524 points this time, leave the Vertical value set to 336 points, and you'll move that shape into alignment with the circles above it and to the right. Now click on the Copy button in order to make that final set of circles.
Now we need to group these other guys. So go ahead and marquee these shapes, press Ctrl+G or Command+G on the Mac to group them and marquee these shapes as well, and press Ctrl+G or Command+G on the Mac to group them as well. Now it's time to blend the shapes. We will start by blending in rows. So I will go ahead and marquee these two groups at the top of the document and then go to the Object menu, choose Blend, and choose Make. Notice you also have this keyboard shortcut of Ctrl+Alt+B or Command+Option+B on the Mac and that goes ahead and blends between the two groups like so.
Now the circles are a little tight. We will take care of that in a moment. Now what you want to do is select the bottom two shapes, and really the easiest way to do that is to go up to the Select menu and just choose Inverse, and that will reverse the selection so the guys at the bottom are now active, and all I used is that keyboard shortcut, Ctrl+Alt+B or Command+Option+B on the Mac to create a blend between those two shapes. Now press Ctrl+A or Command+A on the Mac in order to select all the shapes, and the easiest way to edit a blend is to double-click on the Blend tool which is located toward the bottom of the Toolbox, and that will bring up the Blend options dialog box.
Go ahead and turn on the Preview check box and change Spacing to Specified Steps. You will probably see a default value of 11. Go ahead and select that value and press the Down arrow key to reduce it to 10, and that gives us better spaced circles, then click OK. Now what I'd like to be able to do at this point is blend between the two blends by going up to the Object menu, choosing Blend, and then choosing Make. But if you do that, you are just going to connect the upper right group of circles to the lower left group and you are going to end up with this pattern of circles in a shape of a Z.
We don't want those, so I will press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on the Mac to undo that change. What we need to do instead is break up the blends. We don't really want to lose these blends long-term, necessarily. You might want to come back to them. You might want to go ahead and make a copy of this circles layer, just by going to the Layers Panel fly-out menu and choosing Duplicate Circles in order to make a copy there. And now I will double-click on an empty portion of that layer to bring up the Layer Options dialog box and I'll call this one final blend, and then I'll change its Color to Gold and then I'll click OK.
And now you want to turn off your bottom circles layers so you don't make a mess of it, and then with all the objects on this final blend layer selected, go up to be Object menu and choose the Expand command, and that will bring up this dialog box. Both Object and Fill should be selected. Assuming they are, go ahead and click OK, and what you now have is two groups of circles that you can blend between, and all you do to create that blend is once again press the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Alt+B or Command+Option+B on the Mac.
Then finally, we want to loosen up the vertical circles a little bit, so double-click on the Blend tool icon in the Toolbox to bring up the Blend Options dialog box, turn on the Preview check box, change Spacing to Specified Steps. This time Illustrator has automatically selected 7 steps. I'll go ahead and click inside that value and press the Down Arrow key to reduce the number of steps to 6, at which point we get much better spaced circles, and now I'll click OK to accept that change and I will press Ctrl+Shift+A or Command+Shift+A on the Mac to deselect the artwork.
And that's how you create a simple but elegant pattern of size- and color-changing circles here inside Illustrator. If you are a member of the lynda.com online training library, then I have a follow-up movie in which I show you how to take our pattern of green circles and warm them up like so. Now this isn't just a matter of modifying the colors and allowing the blends to update automatically, because after all, we have this region of static green circles in the middle, and I will show you exactly how it works.
If you're waiting for next week's free movies, why then, we are going to take another look at op-art, this time inside of Illustrator. I will show you how to create this effect here, which is going to drive the editors nuts, because it's going to create all kinds of compression problems, because I refuse to stop moving the page. I will also show you how great this awesome effect. Deke's Techniques each and every week, keep watching!
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