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This course is the third in a four-part series devoted to mastering the premiere graphics creation application, Adobe Illustrator, version CS6. Industry pro Deke McClelland takes a project-based learning approach to the key features in Illustrator, including Recolor Artwork, transparency, masks, blend modes, strokes and fills, and dynamic effects. The course also covers techniques for creating custom gradients, designing logos, generating photorealistic neon text, and wrapping type around objects. Plus, Deke shows how to call up the most essential features by organizing your workspace and employing time-saving keyboard shortcuts, how to manage the color settings, and how to adjust a few settings to make the program work even better.
In this movie, I will show you how to add a spine to an existing blend, and this is useful if Illustrator doesn't give you a spine by default. So, let's say for example I want to go ahead and give this bat a kind of cartoon eyebrow, so that we have a series of ridges over the eye. In that case, what I do is I'd start things off--and if you want to get the same results as me, you want to double-click on the Blend tool before you do anything. So with nothing in the artwork selected, double- click on the Blend tool and change the Spacing option to Smooth Color, and then click OK.
And that changes the default setting for future blends. Then, press the V key in order to get your Black Arrow tool, click on one eyebrow ridge-- notice that it's just an arc between two anchor points-- and then Shift+Click on the other one to select both. And then you can create the blend from the keyboard just by pressing Ctrl+Alt+B or Command+Option+B on the Mac. Now, because these path outlines aren't far enough apart from each other, Illustrator doesn't give us a spine. And we can confirm that by going over to the Layers panel, twirling-open the bat head layer, and then right at the top is this blend item, the one we just created.
Twirl it open, and then if I scroll down here, you could see I just have those two arcs, that's it, with no spines in between them. So, we need to make a custom spine, and here's how. Press the A key to switch to the White Arrow tool, and then click on the top of the eye like so, in order to select that top segment. Neither the anchor point should be selected. Then press Ctrl+C or Command+C on the Mac to copy that segment. Next, press the V key to switch back to the Black Arrow tool, and click on either of these arcs to select the entire blend, and press Ctrl+F or Command+F on a Mac, in order to paste the copy of that segment in front of the blend.
Then drag it into position like so. So you want the first anchor point to be about midway into that first arc, that is the arc over here on the right-hand side. Then, go ahead and switch to the Scale tool which you can get by pressing the S key. Click on that right-hand anchor point to set the transformation origin, and then drag from a position up into the left where you see my cursor, for example. Drag further up and to the left until the far left side of the line ends up extending to that left-hand arc at the end of the eyebrow; and then go ahead and release, because these anchor points here will end up determining the position of the extreme path outlines.
The segment is still selected as you can see. And you can also see here in the Layers panel that we have a path outline, which is selected on top of the blend. What I want you to do is drag this path and drop it on to the blend. Do not drag it and drop it into the blend because if you do that, you'll end up making it part of the blend. We don't want that, so I will press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on a Mac. Instead, let's go ahead and take that path and rename it spine, which is not necessary by the way, you don't have to do that. But, that will just help us keep track of what's going on. And then just drag it and drop it on to the word blend like so.
And that turns it into a spine for the blend and it actually changes the way that the arcs move. So, this is before, I will press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on the Mac, you can see that we end up with this very straight blend. And this is after, if I press Ctrl+Shift+Z or Command+Shift+Z, we get a very different result, and Illustrator goes ahead and gets rid of both the fill and stroke that were previously assigned to what is now the spine. All right, now I will press the A key to switch to White Arrow tool, click off the spine to deselect it, and then try to find it again by keeping track of that black square next to the white arrow cursor, then click in order to select that spine.
And now you can modify its control handles to any extent you like in order to change how the blend proceeds. Also notice, if you drag one of the anchor points--for example I will drag this left-hand anchor point--you're going to actually move the beginning path in that blend. I will press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on a Mac because I don't want to do that. Although I might go ahead and nudge this anchor point up just a little bit by dragging it like so. That looks good to me, just one more thing I want to do, which is to change the number of steps.
So, I will double-click on the Blend tool here in the toolbox, and I will change the spacing to Specified Steps, turn on the Preview checkbox, and then I will increase that value from 8 to 9; so not a big change there. By the way, you also have this orientation option, which is specifically designed to accommodate blends along a spine. And note that you can switch this setting to Align to Path, which will go ahead and reorient those extreme paths to match the angle of the spine. That's not what I want however, so I will switch back to Align to Page in order to maintain the original path orientation.
And then I will click OK in order to adjust the blend, and then I will press Ctrl+Shift+A or Command+Shift+A on the Mac, in order to deselect the spine. You can see that we end up with a kind of cartoon eyebrow created by blending a couple of arcs along a path outline that we copied from the top of the eye included with the original artwork.
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