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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 this movie, we're going to take these four circles, and we're going to transform them into this classic Op Art effect, and we'll be doing so in Illustrator, by the way. So, I'll start things off with these circles, as you can see here. I started by drawing a really big circle, and then I transformed it a couple of times to 50% its previous size, and then I finally created one that's 15% of the size of this guy. And then I ended up moving him around into locations that end up looking good for the final effect.
Now, the first thing you need to do is take these two inner circles here and copy them. So, go ahead and select them with the Black Arrow tool, then press Ctrl+C or Command+C on the Mac to make copies. And then I want you to marquee these two shapes right here if you're working along with me. Then go up to the Object menu, choose Blend, and choose Make. And notice we have a keyboard shortcut of Ctrl+Alt+B, or Command+Option+B on the Mac, which I'll be taking advantage of in the future. That will give you one blended circle, as you can see here.
That's obviously not enough. The easiest way to modify a blend is to go to the Blend tool toward the bottom of the Toolbox and double-click on it, and then I'm going to turn on the Preview check box, switch Spacing to Specified Steps. I'm going to increase this value to 9, and we end up with this effect here. Then click OK. Now, you want to press the V key to switch back to the Black Arrow tool, and go ahead and select this circle right there. And then go up to the Edit menu and choose Paste in Back, or press Ctrl+B or Command+B on the Mac in order to paste the copies of these two circles right here in back of the final blend that we'll be creating.
Now we want to blend these shapes by pressing Ctrl+Alt+B, or Command+Option+B on the Mac. Again, we get one blended circle. In order to add some more, double-click on the Blend tool to bring up the Blend Options dialog box. Turn on the Preview check box, change Spacing to Specified Steps, and press the Up Arrow key in order to increase the number of steps to 5, as you see here. Then click OK. Finally, switch back to the Black Arrow tool, click off the shapes to deselect them, click on this guy, which is the unblended version of this inner circle, and then Shift-click on the tiny circle to select it, and once again, press Ctrl+Alt+B or Command+Option+B on the Mac to blend between them.
Then double-click on the Blend tool icon in order to bring up the Blend Options dialog box. Turn on the Preview check box, change the Spacing to Specified Steps, and this time-- I just happened to figure this out through trial and error--we need an even number of steps. So, I'm going to take this value up to 8 in order to produce this effect here. Then you want to go ahead and click OK. Now, the next step is to break up the blends and to assign an alternate color scheme. And anytime you're thinking of busting up a blend, it's always a good idea to make copies of the originals.
Press Ctrl+Shift+A or Command+Shift+A on the Mac in order to deselect the artwork, and then I'll go to the Layers Panel flyout menu and choose Duplicate Blends in order to make a copy of this layer. I'll turn off the original so I don't make a mess of it, then I'll double-click on this new layer in order to bring up the Layer Options dialog box. I'll go ahead and name this layer Expanded and change the Color to Gold. Of course, you can go your own way here, but these are my settings. Now, click OK in order to accept that change.
And now what we need to do is press the V key to switch back to the Black Arrow tool. Go ahead and press Ctrl+A at this point, Command+A on the Mac to select all of your artwork. And you may recall that we've got duplicates of this circle and this circle. So, what I'm going to do to identify them is press the M key in order to switch to my Rectangle tool. Then I'm going to drag from here to here like so, just to identify the circle at the left side and the right side of this rectangle as having duplicates.
That will help me in a minute. Now I'll go ahead and grab my Black Arrow tool and marquee all of the circles like so. I don't want to select the rectangle. Then I'll go up to the Object menu and choose the Expand command. That will bring up a dialog box that you can safely ignore. We want to expand everything. So just go ahead and click OK in order to do so. Now that ends up resulting in a group. We need to get rid of it. So, go up to the Object menu and choose the Ungroup command, or you can press Ctrl+Shift+G or Command+Shift+G on the Mac. Now let's get rid of those duplicate circles.
Press Ctrl+Shift+A, or Command+Shift+A on the Mac in order to deselect the artwork. Click on this circle on the right side of the rectangle, Shift-click on the circle on the left side of the rectangle, Shift-click on the rectangle as well because we only needed it for identification purposes. Then press the Backspace key or the Delete key on the Mac to get rid of the duplicates. Now press Ctrl+A or Command+A on the Mac to select all of the artwork. Notice that we have no fill and we've got a stroke. Let's reverse that by pressing Shift+X, so now everybody is filled with black.
We want every other circle filled with white, however. This is the tedious step. We want to deselect all the circles that should remain black. So, press the Shift key, and then click on this circle, and this guy and so forth. So you want to hold the Shift key down throughout this deselection experience. As you can see here, I am clicking on every other one of the concentric circles. You should end up with the innermost circle still selected. Now, go up to your Control Panel, click on the very first swatch, and change the color to White in order to produce this effect here.
And we now have our central piece of dimensional Op Art. So, it looks as if this region of the circle is rising, and then it's sinking back in toward the center. Now, we want to create some distorted lines around the outside of the art. So, go ahead and back out a couple of clicks there. I'm going to create a new layer by clicking on my blends layer and then pressing Ctrl+Alt+L or Command+Option+L on the Mac, which will create a new layer in back of the old one and allow me to name it too.
And I'm going to leave the Color set to Green, and I'm going to call this one Lines and then click OK. Now you want to go ahead and grab your Rectangle tool once again. Go up to the View Menu and make sure that Smart Guides are turned on. In my case, they aren't. So, I'll go ahead and choose the command. And then you want to drag a rectangle that's the entire width of the artwork and 10 points high. And I've ended up creating a bar that's 10.1 points high, and it's not exactly what I want. So, I'm going to go ahead and zoom in a little bit here.
Press the Backspace key or the Delete key on the Mac to get rid of that guy. And instead of dragging, I'll just click in this upper-left corner of the artboard. The Width should be 612 points, that's fine, but the Height needs to be exactly 10 points if we want the black and white lines to be the same width. And now I'll go ahead and click OK in order to create that bar, and it should be filled with black. So, I'll go ahead and change the fill color up here in the Control Panel to Black like so. I'll press the V key to switch to my Black Arrow tool.
By the way, this is going to work best if you've got the Bounding Box turned off. So, if you go to the View Menu and you see Hide Bounding Box, please go ahead and choose it. Then drag this guy by its bottom-left point all the way down, I'm pressing the Shift and Alt keys as I drag, that's Shift+Option on the Mac. And that way, I constrain my drag with the Shift key, and of course Alt or Option goes ahead and makes a copy of that rectangle like so. Now, Shift-click on the top rectangle, so both of them are selected.
And once again, press Ctrl+Alt+B or Command+Option+B on the Mac in order to blend between them. What we're seeing here is a series of blended bars that are adjacent to each other, that's why we now have a black background. That's not what we want. So go ahead and double-click on the Blend tool. Turn on the Preview check box, change Spacing to Specified Steps, and the number of steps we're looking for is 23. And that's because the height of the artboard is 500 points, and so we want gaps of 10 points in between.
So, if you do the math, you want to keep those two original copies. All together, we want 25 bars. But we just need 23 in between. Go ahead and click OK in order to accept that change. Now, to warp the bars, go up to the Effect Menu, and choose Warp, and then choose Squeeze. You want to max out your Bend value to 100% and switch from Horizontal to Vertical. Then if you turn on the Preview check box, you'll end up with this effect here.
Now, go ahead and click OK. Now, the bars no longer fit the artboard, so we're going to have to scale them. And the easiest way to do that is to return to the Effect Menu, choose Distort & Transform, and choose the Transform command. The values that work best are 200% for both the Horizontal and Vertical Scale values. And if I turn on the Preview check box, you can see what ends up happening there. Now, I'll go ahead and click OK in order to accept the effect. I'll also press Ctrl+Shift+A, or Command+Shift+A on the Mac in order to deselect my artwork, and I'll go ahead and zoom in as well.
And that's how you create a classic piece of Op Art that includes concentric black and white rings here inside Illustrator.
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