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Knowing the fundamentals of drawing and reshaping paths is only part of the story. In Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Advanced, the second of the popular One-on-One series, computer graphics expert Deke McClelland covers some of Illustrator's most powerful and least understood features. He shows how to merge simple shapes to create complex ones with the Pathfinder palette, as well as align paths to create schematic illustrations. Deke explains how to paint fluid, multicolor fills with blends, and the new and improved gradient tool. He explores seamlessly repeating tile patterns, blobs and brushes, and imported images. He also dives into one of the deepest features in all of Illustrator, transparency. Exercise files accompany the tutorial.
Recommended prerequisite: Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals.
Download Deke's customized keyboard layouts and color settings for Illustrator from the Exercise Files tab.
All right, so far so good. I've gone ahead and saved my progress so far as Paddle gradients.ai, so named by the way because all of the gradients that are associated with the paddle are complete. In this exercise we're going to experiment a bit with a Radial Gradient and we're going to see how the Gradient tool works with Radial Gradients here inside of Illustrator CS4. We're going to assign a Radial Gradient to the background image, to this big green rectangle. I'll go ahead and zoom out so that we can see what I'm talking about. Right now the green rectangle has a Linear Gradient assigned to it.
We're going to add a Radial Gradient to that exact same shape and its going to include exactly the same colors, but its going to allow us to burn in the shadows that much more, so that we have a richer, darker scene at work here. So what I would like you to do is make sure that the big old rectangle is selected with the Black Arrow tool. Then switch over to the Appearance palette, and I'm going to go ahead and click on the Fill item to make sure its selected. We want to duplicate this Fill, because we want to create a copy of the very same gradient and just convert it from Linear to Radial as I say.
So go down to the Page icon and click on it to create that duplicate and then go to the Gradient palette and change it from Linear to Radial. Then the other thing that I want you to do, as long as we're here inside the Appearance palette, I want you to click on Opacity in order to bring up the Transparency palette and I want you to switch the blend mode from Normal to that mode I showed you a few exercises ago, Multiply, so that we're using one gradient to darken another. So again, Multiply is your shading agent inside of Illustrator and other Adobe applications, and we get this effect right here. Okay. Great.
Now, we need to modify that Radial Gradient and of course we could modify the settings here inside the Gradient palette. But they are so abstract, these values are. Don't you know, you really can't tell what difference the angle is making or what difference the aspect ratio is making. Whereas, if you modify the gradient using the Gradient tool, you can see everything right there inside the illustration window. So go ahead and select the Gradient tool, like so, and you'll once again get your little bar here that provides all the functionality it does with Linear Gradients and then some. Notice that we're seeing the perimeter of our gradient as long as we're inside of it. If I move outside, the perimeter goes away.
If I move inside, I can see it again. What this is telling me is from this border on we're going to have a flat color. This area right there is just a flat color, so that's where the final color in the gradient takes over and just fills in the remainder of the shape. So if we want the gradient to extend farther outward, we need to move it outward, like so. So make it nice and big like that. Then of course, you can move your cursor beyond that final color swatch right there in order to rotate the gradient. So drag to rotate it. We have gone ahead and rotated that circular gradient, which makes no difference whatsoever.
After all, if you rotate a circle, it's still a circle and it's still in exactly the same location, so what's the deal? Why did I even bother doing that? Because now I can go ahead and change the height of that gradient, which is going to squish the circle into an ellipse. So if I drag this point right here, you can see that I'm changing the shape of the gradient. This is something we couldn't do inside of Illustrator CS3 and before. Where Radial Gradients were concerned, you always had concentric circles. Now you can create concentric ellipses, which gives you a higher degree of control if nothing else.
Now I'm going to move this guy to a slightly different location. I actually don't want the ellipse to be squished quite that much. Let's say a little bit farther out to about there looks pretty good to me. I'm also going to adjust the angle little bit, move it up, like so. Oh, by the way, whether it's a diamond or a square, if you drag it you're going to change the size of the gradient right there. I want to rotate it just a little more to this position there. This looks pretty good to me and then I do want to make it bigger, because I want to make sure that the gradient is filling up the rectangular area quite nicely, which it is at this point.
Now, there is one other thing you can do when adjusting a Radial Gradient-- well, two other things actually. You can move the gradient if you want to and you do that by dragging this central circle right there. So drag the big circle and you will move the gradients around inside the shape, like so. You can of course also change the color of the color stops, if you want to, and the Midpoint Skew and all that jazz. I'm not interested in doing that. I am interested in showing you this extra circle right there. What in the world is up with this? That didn't appear when we were working with Linear Gradients.
Now it's here. What that allows you to do is move the center of the gradient without moving the perimeter. So the perimeter color stays at the exact same position, but the center color moves. So in other words, the first color in the gradient is not necessarily at the center of the gradient. It's offset, which means that we're going to get a very slow drop off this direction and a very fast drop off this direction. So this is great for creating things like Specular Highlights for example, where we have a nice flash located at some point inside of our gradient. I'm going to go ahead and move this guy up to about this location here.
Now, what you should note is if you decide later you want to take that first color in the gradient and move it back to the center of the gradient, which is about right here, that's a little problematic and I'll show you what I mean. I'm going to grab this second circle, the little circle, and I'm going to move it into the center location and notice as soon as I get close to that center location, tiny little movements start making a big difference and that's what you need to watch. So you have to be just really careful when you start moving that first color back to the center of the Radial Gradient.
My suggestion frankly to you is if you're going to move it away from the center, make sure you want to move it away. So that you don't have to later move it back, because then you're going to ruin the angle on everything. Anyway, I'm going to move it to about this location here and that looks quite good to me actually, so I'll go ahead and switch back to my Black Arrow tool, click off the shape in order to deselect it, let's go ahead and zoom back in, and this is the result of adding that additional Radial Fill right there. I'll show you the difference by turning of this eyeball. This is before.
Actually it's not before. Why is that? That's because I don't have the rectangle selected anymore. I just deselected it, so let me go back and select it and zoom back in so that we can see what in the world we're doing. I was seeing the default settings right there as opposed to the settings that are assigned to the rectangle. Now I'll go ahead and turn off the eyeball, new to Illustrator CS4 inside the Appearance palette, which is awesome. This is the original version of the background as it appeared when we first began this exercise and this is the version that we have now with more shading going on, a lot more drama I think as well, surrounding what I think we all have to acknowledge is an amazingly dramatic ping-pong paddle.
In the next exercise we are going to add a vignette that includes a translucent gradient. Stay tuned.
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