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In Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Advanced, author and industry expert Deke McClelland teaches how to take advantage of the wide array of dynamic features in Illustrator CS5. This course demonstrates how to apply these features to paths, groups, and editable text to create professional-quality artwork. The course covers Live Trace, Live Paint, and Live Color, as well as symbols, gradients, exporting, and integration with Photoshop. Exercise files accompany the course.
In this exercise I am going to show you how to draw in your own path of a blend if the Illustrator doesn't provide one for you. I have saved my progress as Shooting star.ai, and I am going to go ahead and zoom in on this bat's eyebrow right there by Ctrl+Spacebar-dragging or Cmd+Spacebar-dragging on a Mac. Notice that I've got this kind of lump over here on left side of the eye and another one, a ridge I guess, over here on the right side of the eye. Let's say I want to create a bunch of ridges in between that follow the contour of the eye. Why then, I will go ahead and click on one of the path outlines with my Black Arrow tool and Shift+Click on the other so that they are both selected.
Go up to the Object menu initiate the Blend as you always do by choosing the Blend command, then choosing Make or pressing Ctrl+Alt+B, Cmd+Option+B on Mac, and Illustrator creates this. Now obviously that's not quite what we want. I am glad it gave me this many steps because the two path outlines are fairly geographically different from each other. However, they are not far apart enough that we get a path of the blend. I can't see a path of the blend here inside the illustration window. Then if I go ahead and twirl open bat head, that is bat head layer, and then I twirl open the Blend, which is right on top there, I have got two extreme paths in the blend, but I don't have any path of the blend in between.
So I need to draw it in, and here's how. Go ahead and grab your Pen tool, and you may need to select it from that Convert Point flyout menu, or you can press the P key of course. You can draw your path in either direction. However, you are going to get different results. If I draw it from the left-hand side to the right-hand side, then I am going to reverse this blend, I am going to actually turn it upside down, and you would only know that through trial and error. I don't want you to have to go through that experience, because the only solution is to undo and do it again. So we might as well do it right in the first place. I'm going to go ahead and start my path over here on right-hand side and to make sure that I don't add any points to my existing paths, I am going to press Ctrl+Shift+A or Cmd+Shift+ A on a Mac to deselect them.
If I don't want my extreme paths to move, because the beginning and the end of the path of the blend determine the beginning and the end of the blend as we will soon see, if you want those extreme paths to stay exactly where they are, then you want to go ahead and start and end your path outline at those paths, like so. So I dragged out a control handle from this anchor point and I am going to drag from here to the left, because I have already established the direction of my path is counterclockwise in this case. So I need to continue in that direction and I will end up creating this path outline, like so.
That's good enough, just a starting point is what we want and now what you do is you grab that new path that you just created and you drag it here inside the Layers panel. You just drag it on to the blend and drop and Illustrator is that smart. Instead of adding it to the blend, it goes ahead and makes it the path of the blend. I will press Ctrl+Z Cmd+Z on a Mac in order to undo that move. If you wanted it to blend between these various path outlines and add that as another blended object, then you would move it between the two like so and then you are going to create a crazy blend like this one, which of course is a disaster.
So I will press Ctrl+Z, Cmd+Z on a Mac to undo. If you want it to be a path of the blend, then just drop it on top like so and you will get a path of the blend. Beautiful, and it's in the right direction, because I already knew was going to be wrong otherwise. Now I will get my White Arrow tool and I will click off the path for a moment and then click back on it, because I want to edit the anchor points independently of each other. If I drag this left hand anchor point over, notice that I increase the size of the blend as well. So the position of the endpoints determines the size of the blend. Anyway I don't want that. So I will press Ctrl+Z, Cmd+Z on a Mac.
I might lift this guy's eyebrow a little bit to give him a little bit of an arch. So he is a more evil. He is not so much evil. He is just kind of menacing. Then I will move this control handle down a little bit and now I want to change the number of steps inside of my blend. So I will double-click on the Blend tool while the path outline is selected. Any portion of the blend can be selected. I will double-click on the Blend tool. It brings at the Blending Options dialog box. I will switch the Spacing option from Smooth Color to Specified Steps. I can see that Illustrator has given me eight steps. Let's say I take it up to 15 for a moment and press the Tab key. And the reason I'm doing this is I want to show you the difference between these two orientation options.
They specifically control the orientation of the blended steps along the path of the blend. So you have to have a path of the blend for these guys to do anything. By default, we are seeing all of the path steps upright with respect to the path of the blend. If we want them to sort of flay outward like a fan, then you click the second option to Align to the Path and you end up getting this effect instead. Now that may or may not be what you're looking for; in our case it's not. So I will switch back to Align to Page, like so, and then I'm going to change the Spacing Value to 9, because that's what I want for this effect, and then I will click OK in order to accept that modification.
Switch back to Black Arrow tool, click off the path outline, zoom out a little bit. And you can see that we have this kind of cartoon ridge above the bat's eye, created using a collection of arcs represented as a blend that traces the contours of a path outlined that we created using the Pen tool.
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