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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, now that we have gone and made a 'mesh' of things, let's see how we modify our mesh. And in this exercise, I'm going to show you how to add row and column lines and then how to turn around and delete them as well. I have gone ahead and saved my progress as Expanded gradient.ai found inside the 16_gradient_mesh folder. Now I have purposely gone ahead and deselected my gradient mesh because I want to show you how to find it again, which is actually little more complicated than it should be. So I have got my Black Arrow tool active right now, right? And what I'm going to do is I'm going to hover around inside of my graphic and when I hover right here in the middle of this green swath of color right there, if I hover at this point, I'm going to see a black square next to my cursor at some point which it is telling me that there is something there.
And if I click on it, I'll select it. And what that something is it's a line that distinguishes one row from another inside of the gradient mesh. So I would expect to see that gradient mesh where I would click. Click, and what you see is a rectangle and that's it. You do not have access at this point to the gradient mesh itself because what you have done is you have selected the entire group as you can see here inside the Layers palette and that means that Illustrator is going to show you the path outline and nothing more, which is a big giant drag. I don't really why it wouldn't show me everything, but it doesn't. So let's see what you do instead.
If you want to really see the gradient mesh, what do you do? Click off the path in order to deselect it. Let's press the A key to get the White Arrow tool, and then move that White Arrow tool cursor right there into about the same position we moved the Black Arrow tool cursor. You should see a black square next to your cursor at some point. When you do, click and you will now select the gradient mesh. Notice here it's meatballed independently of the Clipping Path, and the Group, and so on. And if you want to see that entire word Clipping Path, which I do, I'm just going to go ahead and make my palette a little wider there.
So that's one way to do it. Let's go ahead and deselect this once again. The other thing you can do is you can just meatball the mesh item here inside the Layers palette. So if you can find the item that's called mesh, which will require you to twirl open your group. So you would have to expand the layer and expand the group, then find the mesh, meatball it, and you can see it on screen. All right, now that I'm gone ahead and selected the darn thing, now that I can see it, I'm going to go over here to my Mesh tool. Now the Mesh tool is the tool that you use to modify your mesh matrix.
So you can either add or delete columns and points to the mesh as you are about to see. So I'll go and get that Mesh tool. And the interesting thing here is that even though we have got a fair number of lines, right, we have got a total of six row lines at this point, that's not enough because of the flow of colors that we are trying to represent from the acrylic painting are all over the map. And we are going to need a fairly complicated matrix to pull this off. And if you want to get a sense of what those colors look like at the same time you are modifying the matrix, here is what you do.
Go ahead and Ctrl-click, or Command- click on the Mac, on the eyeball in front of the backdrop layer like so. So that's a Ctrl-click on the PC, a Command-click on the Mac and what that allows you to do is see through the Mesh object to this paint layer in the background that contains the acrylic painting itself. So that you can really see what in the world you are doing. And the advantage of that instead of turning the layer on and off is that you don't keep deselecting your gradient mesh over and over again. It's difficult to see where to put the columns. It's obvious that I need rows that go over like this in this direction, and so on.
But you cannot create rows in just any old direction. You have to use columns and rows deftly in order to try to sort of pull things off. But what's interesting about this, I should say, is that once you send out some rows and columns then you can move them to weird locations. So you really have lot of flexibility but you have got to set things up in sort of rectilinear matrix fashion at the beginning. So I'm going to click right here and notice when I do, that I go ahead and establish a column at this position, so I'm establishing a perpendicular line at this location along this row line.
And then I might click here to setup another one and here might be another good location. You do whatever you want. There is no wrong places to put things at this point. Just bear in mind that upfront it's very tempting to just throw a ton of rows and columns at your matrix. It's not necessarily that great of an idea to make things too complicated right upfront because you can always add things later. And it sometimes very helpful to add those rows and columns once you have a better sense of where the other colors are falling inside of your mesh.
Anyway, I'm going to go ahead and add some rows to it. I'm going to add a row here and another one perhaps there and then maybe down here I'll add a couple of rows as well. And let's say at some point you decide, well gosh, I don't want really want that. I have added too much. Why then what you do with this very same tool, the Mesh tool right here, which you can get by the way. It has a keyboard shortcut of U because it's good for you. I have no idea. U was just left over I imagine. But to get rid of one of these points here, you press the Alt key or the Option on the Mac and click.
But if you Alt-click or Option-click on a point, notice you lose both a row and a column. So we got rid of more than we wanted to in this case. So I'm going to pres Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on the Mac. If you just want to get rid of a column line then Alt or Option-click on that line, like so, that gives you more control. And then if you want to get rid of just a row line, you would Alt or Option-click on the row line like so. So you would avoid the points in other words. All right, I'm going to go ahead and undo that last deletion and I might add a column line at this point.
You may wonder, well why are you calling some of these column lines and some of these row lines? Then I'm probably doing it exactly backward. Actually if this is the angle of the gradient, then we have got lots of column lines and I was just adding rows, but whatever. At this point we really have diagonal, perpendicular lines, rows, columns, what have you. Let's go ahead and Ctrl-click or Command-click on this eyeball so we can see what in the world we have done. We have added all these weird colors at these different points. In the next exercise, I'm going to show you how to modify the colors of points from the Color, Color Guide, and Swatches palettes.
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