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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.
In this exercise, we're going to infuse our illustration with still more depth by adding yet another kind of gradient that's available to us inside of Illustrator, and that's Drop Shadows. So drop shadows are gradients that go from either opaque or translucent to absolute transparency behind a selected object. Let me show you how that works. I've gone ahead and saved my progress as All gradients.ai, so-called by the way because we're done making standard gradients, but you'll see that we still have some work ahead of us. If I switch over to the Final gradient effect.ai file, there is a drop shadow behind the ping pong ball, as well as a little bit of shading right there on the lower right ridge. We have a drop shadow behind the paddle and then we have some shadows behind this weird logo effect right there.
All right, so I'm going to switch back to All gradients.ai and I'm going to click on the upper left segment that's associated with this ping pong ball. That way we're going to select the entire circle. Because if I click down here, I might end up selecting one of the shapes that we're going to use to establish the depth in the next exercise. We don't want that yet, so I'm going to go ahead and click on the upper left segment to get the entire ball. Now, go up to the Effect menu and choose Stylize. Now the Effect menu is filled with live dynamic effects that you can assign to your objects here inside of Illustrator. We'll be seeing how to just melt those effects like crazy in an entire chapter we spend on this menu, in the Mastery portion of this series, because there is all kinds of stuff you can do. So this is just the tip of the iceberg, folks.
I'm going to go ahead and choose, however, Drop Shadow, because it's one of the easiest ones to understand. Now, notice the mode is automatically set to Multiply because we're adding shading. So anytime you're adding shading or shadows or what have you, Multiply is your Blend mode of choice. Leave it set to that. Don't change it. Turn on the Preview checkbox so we can see what we're doing and you'll see a drop shadow manifest right there on the fly. These happen to be the settings that I want to apply. I don't know if you're going to see those same settings, but here's what you want to do, you want to change the Opacity to 75%, the Darkness to 50%, the X and Y Offset to 6 points a piece and the Blur to 5 points. This looks standee, ignore this silly warning right here, because it doesn't apply to us and click on the OK button in order to assign that drop shadow.
Now I want you to click on this shape here, the outer rim of the paddle. Go back up to the Effect menu once again, choose Stylize, choose Drop Shadow or by the way, you can go up to the Effect menu and you can choose this command, Drop Shadow... Not Apply Drop Shadow because that will repeat the last drop shadow we assigned, but Drop Shadow... which will bring up the Drop Shadow dialog box. You've got a keyboard shortcut for that. That's Ctrl+Shift+Alt+A or Command+Shift+Option+E on the Mac. That repeats the last effect, of course.
That's why it's E and now this time I want you to change a few settings. We're going to leave the Mode set to Multiply, Opacity is still 75%, Darkness is still 50%. I want you, however, to change the X and Y Offset both to 8 points apiece and then change the Blur value to 6 points. If you want to see what you're doing, you'll turn on the Preview checkbox, you have to turn that on over and over again. It's not sticky, and then you click OK in order to apply the effect. Yet another way to work, I'm going to go ahead and twirl-open the Logo layer right there and I'm going to click on the meatball for this first path, the crescent right there, and then I'm going to Shift-click on each of these meatballs so that these four paths are selected. We don't want the two filled paths, we just want the stroked paths, these guys right there. You should see them selected there inside the illustration window. I'm going press Ctrl+H or Command+H on the Mac in order to hide those selection handles and so on. Then I'm going to show you a different way to work.
We could go to the Effect menu and choose Drop Shadow once again. That's the easiest thing to do. But here's something harder, but still worth knowing. Go over to the Appearance palette, and then you would click on this fx icon, and you have access to that exact same Effect menu. Then choose Stylize and then choose Drop Shadow. It brings up the Drop Shadow dialog box along with your last applied settings. What I want you to do is reduce the Opacity value to 50%, like so, and then I want you to change the X Offset to 3 points, I might as well turn on Preview, so that we can see these modifications happening on the fly. Then change the Y Offset value to 3 points as well. Then change the Blur to 3 points, so that we have a tighter drop shadow like we're seeing right there, a Darkness value of 50% is a-okay. Click OK in order to accept those modifications and we now have a series of drop shadows that we've applied so easily to our various objects inside of this illustration.
Now, if at some point in the future you decide you want to change one of these drop shadows, like let's say you want to make the drop shadow darker behind the ping pong ball. Then go ahead and select that ball shape. I'm not seeing my selection handles, because I hid them. So I'll press Ctrl+H or Command+H on the Mac to make sure that I have the right object selected, which I do. You don't want to go up to the Effect menu and choose the Drop Shadow command again, because Illustrator will warn you, incidentally. It will tell you that you're about to apply a second drop shadow to this selection. So if you're used to working with drop shadows inside of Photoshop, where you can only have one drop shadow per layer, well, welcome to Illustrator where you can assign seven or eight drop shadows to a single object if you want to, and just 100s of drop shadows within a single layer. But that's not what we want to do. So cancel out.
If you want to edit an existing drop shadow, you go over to the Appearance palette and you will see the word Drop Shadow right there. Click on it. That will bring up the Drop Shadow dialog box. After turning on the Preview checkbox, make your modifications. For example, I could change the Opacity value to 100%, and if I really wanted a dark drop shadow, I could increase that Darkness value to 100%, like so, and then click OK. Now, if I click OK, I'll accept the effect. I don't want it though, so I'll press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on the Mac to undo that modification. So that's how you create drop shadows inside of Illustrator. We'll explore those more when we take a look at dynamic effects in the Mastery portion of this series.
In the next exercise, I'll introduce you to the difference between blending, which is yet another way to create gradients inside of Illustrator, and Blend modes, which are a way of blending multiple objects together.
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