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Adding a custom spine to any blend

From: Illustrator CS6 One-on-One: Advanced

Video: Adding a custom spine to any blend

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.

Adding a custom spine to any blend

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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This video is part of

Image for Illustrator CS6 One-on-One: Advanced
Illustrator CS6 One-on-One: Advanced

118 video lessons · 14373 viewers

Deke McClelland
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 43m 9s
    1. Welcome to One-on-One
      2m 9s
    2. Introducing my custom keyboard shortcuts
      6m 52s
    3. Installing my dekeKeys shortcuts on Windows
      4m 46s
    4. Installing my dekeKeys shortcuts on the Mac
      4m 18s
    5. Remapping your Macintosh OS shortcuts
      3m 10s
    6. Adjusting a few key Preferences settings
      8m 13s
    7. Understanding the color-managed workflow
      6m 51s
    8. Establishing the optimal Color Settings
      6m 50s
  2. 1h 11m
    1. Illustrator's oldest dynamic functions
      1m 28s
    2. Creating a multicolor blend
      7m 12s
    3. Establishing a clipping mask
      5m 40s
    4. Reinstating the colors of a clipping path
      8m 1s
    5. Editing individual blended paths
      4m 44s
    6. Adjusting the number of steps in a blend
      7m 15s
    7. Fixing problems with the Blend tool
      4m 2s
    8. Blending different levels of opacity
      4m 45s
    9. Editing the spine of a blend
      5m 3s
    10. Adding a custom spine to any blend
      5m 5s
    11. Advanced blending and masking techniques
      6m 18s
    12. Blending between entire groups
      3m 2s
    13. Adjusting the speed of a blend
      3m 21s
    14. Rotating objects in 3D space
      5m 36s
  3. 1h 0m
    1. Illustrator's logo-making features
      1m 8s
    2. Customizing a single character of type
      5m 25s
    3. Combining a letterform with a path outline
      7m 48s
    4. Creating logo type along an open path
      5m 3s
    5. Creating logo type around a closed circle
      3m 57s
    6. Vertical alignment, orientation, and spacing
      4m 55s
    7. Warping logo type around a circle
      6m 56s
    8. Creating a classic neon type effect
      5m 39s
    9. Adding random neon brightness fluctuations
      5m 19s
    10. Creating neon "block outs" between letters
      7m 44s
    11. Adding neon blur and bokeh in Photoshop
      6m 16s
  4. 46m 19s
    1. Generating colors using harmony rules
      1m 31s
    2. Introducing the Color Guide panel
      5m 16s
    3. The 23 color harmony rules, diagrammed
      8m 16s
    4. Mixing and matching color harmonies
      5m 59s
    5. Color groups and custom harmony rules
      6m 18s
    6. Working in the Edit Colors dialog box
      7m 4s
    7. Expanding on an existing harmony rule
      6m 51s
    8. Constraining colors to a predefined library
      5m 4s
  5. 32m 44s
    1. Changing lots of colors all at once
      1m 2s
    2. Introducing the Recolor Artwork command
      4m 58s
    3. Recoloring with the help of swatch groups
      4m 35s
    4. Changing the color-assignment order
      6m 44s
    5. Reducing the number of colors in your art
      5m 7s
    6. Applying tints and shades of a single swatch
      5m 37s
    7. Recoloring artwork that contains gradients
      4m 41s
  6. 1h 15m
    1. Painting with path outlines
      1m 24s
    2. Introducing the Brushes panel
      4m 25s
    3. Applying and editing a calligraphic brush
      7m 34s
    4. Applying and scaling an art brush
      6m 12s
    5. Applying and editing a scatter brush
      5m 31s
    6. Formatting and scaling brushed text
      5m 45s
    7. Designing a custom art brush
      7m 35s
    8. Creating (or replacing) an art brush
      6m 42s
    9. Refining a brush to fit ends and corners
      4m 11s
    10. Expanding, filling, and stroking a brush
      7m 4s
    11. Type on a path vs. text as an art brush
      7m 3s
    12. Distorting text with the Width tool
      8m 49s
    13. Infusing your artwork with a tile pattern
      3m 13s
  7. 58m 24s
    1. The many forms of transparency
      1m 38s
    2. Creating translucency with the Opacity value
      4m 21s
    3. Darken, Multiply, and Color Burn
      6m 15s
    4. Lighten, Screen, and Color Dodge
      5m 8s
    5. Overlay, Soft Light, Hard Light, Difference, and Exclusion
      4m 59s
    6. Hue, Saturation, Color, and Luminosity
      5m 12s
    7. Combining the effects of multiple blend modes
      6m 42s
    8. Isolating blending and Knockout Group
      7m 37s
    9. Combining blend modes with dynamic effects
      7m 25s
    10. Exporting transparency from Illustrator
      9m 7s
  8. 1h 39m
    1. The Layers panel for dynamic attributes
      1m 4s
    2. Applying attributes in the Appearance panel
      6m 15s
    3. Creating depth using translucent strokes
      5m 37s
    4. Adding, layering, and offsetting strokes
      6m 12s
    5. Duplicating entire groups of attributes
      7m 55s
    6. Turning stacked strokes into editable paths
      5m 43s
    7. Simplifying a multi-stroke effect
      6m 31s
    8. Applying the Convert to Shape effect
      7m 47s
    9. Adding aligned patterns and shadows
      8m 16s
    10. Drawing with arrowheads and angled strokes
      8m 49s
    11. Employing overlapping gradient strokes
      8m 25s
    12. Drawing circular stroke elements
      10m 13s
    13. Outlining an entire multi-stroke effect
      8m 39s
    14. Creating seamless wood grain in Photoshop
      8m 11s
  9. 1h 12m
    1. The best features in Illustrator
      1m 38s
    2. Repeating a series of transformations
      6m 18s
    3. Adjusting and updating a dynamic effect
      6m 37s
    4. Applying a stroke to an entire layer
      6m 24s
    5. Improving the performance of drop shadows
      5m 40s
    6. Applying a single effect multiple times
      6m 10s
    7. Creating an intricate Spirograph pattern
      7m 10s
    8. Adding scalloped edges with Pucker & Bloat
      4m 40s
    9. Applying a dynamic Pathfinder to a layer
      3m 56s
    10. Creating beveled ornaments
      6m 50s
    11. Creating a sculptural type effect
      5m 59s
    12. Subtracting editable text from a path
      7m 6s
    13. Editing text inside a dynamic effect
      4m 25s
  10. 27m 40s
    1. Never remember anything again, ever
      1m 41s
    2. The pixel-based Effect Gallery
      3m 53s
    3. Copying effects from one layer to another
      4m 44s
    4. Introducing the Graphic Styles panel
      4m 11s
    5. Correcting previews in the Effect Gallery
      4m 36s
    6. Adjusting the resolution of your effects
      4m 0s
    7. Combining and saving graphic styles
      4m 35s
  11. 1h 13m
    1. Two powerful graphics programs combine forces
      1m 5s
    2. Creating a perfectly centered star shape
      6m 52s
    3. Precisely scaling concentric circles
      7m 47s
    4. Adding reflective highlights with the Flare tool
      6m 23s
    5. Two ways to rasterize vector art for Photoshop
      7m 37s
    6. Importing vector art as a Smart Object
      6m 47s
    7. Creating a lens flare effect in Photoshop
      7m 56s
    8. Photographic texture and brushed highlights
      6m 26s
    9. Modifying a vector Smart Object in Illustrator
      6m 33s
    10. Converting Illustrator paths to shape layers
      6m 27s
    11. Assign layer effects to native shape layers
      5m 55s
    12. Completing a work of photorealistic art
      3m 46s
  12. 1m 5s
    1. Until next time
      1m 5s

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