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Illustrator Insider Training: Rethinking the Essentials is the first installment in a series of courses designed to show experienced Illustrator users to how master core features and build art more efficiently. Adobe Illustrator has evolved dramatically over the years, and many creative professionals may be missing out on features that have been added to the latest versions. This course takes a fresh approach to core concepts, such as paths, attributes, object hierarchy, groups, and layers. Advanced techniques such as combining multiple effects and customizing textures are also included. Exercise files and a free worksheet are included with the course.
In some styles of illustration, you will see some kind of texture applied to artwork. For example, you may see designers adding some kind of texture by creating like gradated grainy types of appearances. Let's see how we can actually do that here inside of Illustrator, because I know that really, the majority of people probably do that kind of work inside of Photoshop. But not only is it easy to do inside of Illustrator, it also means you can easily update your artwork later on as well. Let's take a look at this green rectangle right here on the upper right-hand corner. I am going to select it here. And if I take a look at some of the effects, you'll notice here that where it says Photoshop effects, there is something called Pixelate and then Mezzotint.
And this kind of creates this kind of dot pattern here with the artwork itself. Now, to be honest with you, I am not really looking for this effect. I don't want to actually take this odd color and make it appear in some kind of a grainy way. But I do want to add some more kind of a grainy texture and I want to do it in a gradated fashion. So, I am going to use an additional fill to make that happen. So now I am going to press Command+Z to undo this--that would be Ctrl+Z on Windows--and I will start first by adding a new fill. Now, I am going to change the color of this new fill from green to this gradient that I have right here called Black Fade.
It's a regular, plain gradient. If I go to my Gradient panel here, you will see it goes from black to completely transparent. So, I now have a single object that has two fills applied to it: a nice bright green color and a black-to- transparent gradient sitting on top of it. Now with this gradient fill currently targeted, I am now going to choose to apply that Mezzotint. Remember now that the Mezzotint I am going to apply is only being applied to that gradient fill. So, I am going to choose Pixelate > Mezzotint. I am going to choose the Fine Dots option, but you will also notice here, by the way, you can use Short Lines. Or you can use Short Strokes if you would like for different types of effects.
But for here, I am going to choose Fine Dots, and I will click OK. Now I am starting to get closer to the effect that I'm looking for, but it's a little too strong for my tastes. So I'll click on the twirl-down now for this fill. By the way, you can see here that the Mezzotint is being applied only to this fill, not to the one beneath it. And I am going to click on the Opacity here, and I'll bring the Opacity down to maybe around 10%. I will also change the blend mode to Multiply. So now I am really starting to see a little bit of green. Notice, by the way, the green kind of fades out, so I am really getting that look I am trying to achieve here.
And to add a final touch, I am simply going to rotate the gradient about 45 degrees, and that's going to allow the gradient to kind of start at the upper right-hand corner and then kind of go down in this direction. So, I will deselect this, so we can see what it looks like. I have now successfully added a little bit of texture to this flat artwork. Now I may decide that I want to apply the same texture to this green background as well. Well, I'll just use the Eyedropper tool to make that happen. I am going to select this green background. Remember that before we actually changed the settings of our Eyedropper tool to also pick up appearance.
That means it's going to pick up the full complex appearance of the object that I am trying to copy from. So, now with this object currently selected, I will use the Eyedropper tool to click on this shape, and that will be copied here. Maybe I want the gradient to go in the exact opposite direction, so in the Gradient panel, I will simply go ahead now to choose to reverse the gradient. I'll switch back to my Selection tool. Let's go ahead and deselect this artwork. And now I am really starting to see that I'm picking up a nice texture and a nice feel to this illustration. Now I wanted this something a little bit different for the blue flowers.
Instead of adding texture to the background, let's add some texture to the leaves themselves of the flower. Now remember, we learned before about this concept called Isolation mode. Right now, basically, I have a background here, but I also have a flower, but the flower has being grouped together. There's actually two groups. There is one group that contains the white leaves, and then there is one group that contains these little black elements in the center. I only want to apply texture to the white leaves themselves, so I want to isolate just that one group. So I am going to double-click on any of the white leaves here.
I am using my regular Selection tool, not the Direct Selection tool, and I am going to double-click on one of these leaves to now isolate it. So now you can see, by the way, that I'm in Isolation mode and I have selected this group. Now, I don't want to have to worry about adding texture to each of these leaves at once, so instead, I am now going to simply add the texture to the group itself. This way, if down the line I decide to make modifications--maybe add a new leaf or delete one of them or make some other adjustments--I won't have to redo the texture effect again; it will simply update as I edit it.
So, what I will do here is I will come to my Appearance panel. Notice that right now my group is the target. So I am going to add a fill to the group. Now by default, Illustrator applies a black color to the fill, but I am going to change it once again to that gradient. This gradient now goes from black to none. But I really want the texture kind of come out from the center. So instead of using a linear gradient, I am going to come down to the Gradient panel here and turn the gradient into a radial gradient. Notice here, it kind of starts now white in the center--or I should say none in the center--and then kind of comes to black all the way in the edge.
Now, with that gradient fill still targeted, because I want to apply now Mezzotint effect just to that one fill, I will come down here to where it says effect, I will choose Pixelate, and I apply that Mezzotint again. Once again, I will use the Fine Dots option, and I will click OK. Now, remember, this is, again, a very strong effect. So, I'll twirl down the fill here so I can reveal the Opacity setting. Let me click on the word Opacity to bring up the Transparency panel, and I'll change the blend mode to Multiply again, and let's do an Opacity of 10%.
Click OK, and now I will double -click to see how that looks. It's starting to look really nice, but maybe there's still too much texture in there, and maybe I want it to fade out a little bit more in an accelerated fashion. So once again, I am going to double- click to isolate it and then click to make sure that the group itself is now targeted. Remember now, I am working with this gradient fill right here, which is also targeted. And I come down to the Gradient panel and I will simply move this slider in, so that the middle part of the flower really is going to have nothing in it whatsoever. So now you can see the texture really is only kind of appearing on the outside of the leaves, and not anywhere near the center.
And if I really want to soften this just a little bit more, I can go now and actually select the black part and change the Opacity of that slider to maybe around 70%. So now I'll double-click to exit Isolation mode, and now I am really happy with that type of an effect. Take a look at this gorgeous texture here. Now, it starts kind of grainy towards the edge of the leaves, but then that grain kind of fades away as it gets towards the center. So I have two very different effects now: I have here an effect that was applied to the background, but here I have some kind of effect that was applied to the leaf itself. Now, if you remember, we also learned that we can use graphic styles to save or capture these types of appearances and easily apply them to other parts of my artwork.
So instead of using the Eyedropper tool, let's use a technique of actually using a graphic style. So, I will start up by double-clicking so I can isolate the group that has the style that I want to apply to it--or I should say the appearance that I want-- and I'll click on the group now to select it. Let's open up our Graphic Styles panel and let's take the icon right here from the group, which is the appearance of the group itself. That's the additional gradient fill with the Mezzotint and all the transparency settings that we apply to it. And I'll take that thumbnail and drag it into the Graphic Styles panel. I can actually double-click on it to give it a name, and let's call this one mezzo fade.
Click OK and now I'll double- click to exit Isolation mode. Now if I want to apply that same effect now to this flower, I'll double-click to isolate this one. Click again to select that entire group. And remember now, because my group is my target, if I now click to add a graphic style, that graphic style gets added to the group. So with one click now, I've added that wonderful texture. I'll double-click to exit Isolation mode, and now I've completed a great illustration, where before I started out with some flat graphics, and now I have some really nice texture going on all using appearances and the Mezzotint effect.
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