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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.
I've gone ahead and save my progress so far as Where are my legs.ai so named by the way, because we can see through to Sammy's incomplete legs. Now I could solve this problem with the legs just kind of cut off too early, by grabbing my White Arrow tool, and then I could click on the legs in order to make him active, and then grab one of these corner points for example, and move it over so it's more or less aligned to the keyboard, or if I wanted to make sure it's exactly aligned, then I'll go ahead and undo that operation by pressing Ctrl+Z or Command+Z and I'll press Ctrl+U or Command+U, that's Ctrl+U on a PC, Command+U on a Mac, to invoke my smart guides. And you can also choose if you prefer the Smart Guides command from the View menu. And then you would go ahead and grab this anchor point and drag it until it snaps into alignment with the white keys, this path that represents the white keys. That is to say and then I could drag this anchor point until it snaps into alignment with the white keys as well, and then that solve that problem, all right.
But here is the problem with that solution. What if I decide to later make my white keys translucent as I plan to do? We are going to create this cool gradient effect, this Gradient Translucency effect that is to say and then we are still going to see Sammy's abruptly ending legs in a background there. So let's just go ahead and undo those modifications to that leg path, by pressing Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on the Mac, a couple of times in a row, and then I'm going to press Ctrl+U or Command+U to hide those smart guides, just because they tend to clutter up the interface as we're working along here inside the video.
So what's the actual real solution? Well, it's this. I'm going to press the V key to get my Black Arrow tool. I'm going to click on this keyboard outline right there, the blue keyboard outline that's currently set to Multiply. I am going to go ahead and copy it by going to the Edit menu, and choosing the Copy command, Ctrl+C, Command+C on a Mac of course, just showing you what I'm up to there, and then I'm going to go to the jacket layer. So I'm going to meatball this jacket sublayer. Go ahead and expand the Transparency palette, so I can see the opacity mask. Click on the opacity mask thumbnail in order to make it active. You'll see Sammy's little black head right there that's cutting a hole through the jacket elements. And now what you're going to do is you're going to go up to the Edit menu, and you're going to choose good old Paste in Front, or Ctrl+F, Command+F on the Mac in order to paste that keyboard in front of the other objects inside the opacity mask.
So I'm going to go ahead and twirl open this opacity mask element here inside the Layers palette, and you'll see that we have Sammy's head right there, which you can name if you want to, I'll just go ahead and double-click on it, name it head, and then I'll double-click on this one, and name it piano, like so, then I'll click OK. Now the problem with the piano object is that it's blue, and blue doesn't really serve a specific function, no color does, when you're working inside of an opacity mask. Opacity masks need black to represent transparency and white to represent opacity, and other gray values to represent incremental levels of translucency in between, but blue doesn't really mean in anything. So we need to change this Color value up here.
So right now notice, here inside the Color palette, my stroke is selected and it's set to black. I don't want the stroke to be cutting a hole, so I'm just going to set it to transparent by pressing the Slash key which turns the stroke to None, of course as you may recall for many applications of that keyboard shortcut now. Then I'm going to press the X key to switch to the Fill. If you know anything about how opacity masking works? I mean if you sort of wrap your mind around the theory here, if black is transparent and white is opaque, and the values in between or levels of translucency in between, then you might think Illustrator calculates things on an ink by ink basis. In other words 100% Cyan is going to wipe out all the Cyans inside of the illustration. 60% of the Magentas leave the other 40% behind, and Y and K values of 0 are going to wipe out no yellow, and no black, but that's just not the way it works.
So having gone down confusion lane with you there, that's not what's happening. All Illustrator does is it just sort of figures out what gray that sort of massive colors are, and that's how much translucency you get across all of the inks. You can actually investigate that on your own, if you have a mind to check my work, by bringing up the Separations Preview palette right here, and playing with these various inks after turning on Overprint Preview of course to see exactly what's going on. I am inviting you to do that, I'm not going to do in front of you, because it's dull, but anyway I'm going to turn that back off, hide the palette, and what you want to do because we want all of the objects behind this keyboard, at least where the jacket is concerned, they turn transparent. I want you to just go ahead and make that Fill black by clicking on little black Swatch there in that Spectrum bar, and as a result, notice the legs go totally away. So 100% black is all it takes. Just at the risk of ruining you entirely here.
Alternatively, what you could do is you could set the Cyan and Magenta and Yellow values each to 100% and leave K set to 0%. You'll get exactly the same effect where you completely making those legs transparent because in that so far as Illustrator is concerned, where the opacity mask is concerned, that's close enough to black for the sake of complete transparency. So that's another way to do it. Why you would? I don't know, but I just want you to know. All right, let's switch it back to 100% black. Leave it at that. Now then let's go out of the opacity mask, why don't we? By clicking on the thumbnail for the little jacket there inside the Transparency palette, then I'm going to click off the jacket in order to deselect it.
You look at your illustration, and you say gosh, this is great that the piano is cutting through the jacket objects, and the trousers, and all that stuff. But what? The bench really shows up in the background? I mean that's kind of an interesting effect, but should it really be that way? Well let's say you decide no, it shouldn't be that way, and you want the bench to be constrained by the opacity mask that's affecting the jacket layer as well, then you'd twirl open that jacket sublayer, you would grab that bench layer, here inside the Layers palette. Then go ahead and drag that bench layer and drop it. Notice when you see these bars underneath the suit group, that's when you want to drop it into the jacket sublayer. So you're going to have a bench as soon as you drop it.
You have a bench sublayer inside of a jacket sublayer which itself is inside of this Vectors layer right there, if I were to choose scroll up the list. But in any case now bench is subject to the same opacity mask that's affecting jacket because it's inside the jacket layer, and now you can see that the keyboard cuts through the bench. Now you might also say well, there was that head too that was inside that opacity mask that's affecting the jacket sublayer there. So wouldn't the head be coming through the bench as well? Yes it would if the head were anywhere near the bench. Right now the head is way up here, but if you want to confirm you would go ahead and target that jacket sublayer, you would click on the opacity mask thumbnail right there. You would make the head active like so by targeting it, and then you'd drag set head down here to this location, you can see it not only cuts through the jacket, but it also cuts through the bench. Oh my goodness! All right, so hopefully that made modicum of sense, even though we investigated every single option having to do with this whatsoever. I'm going to go ahead and press Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on a Mac. Let's go and click on this item right there the jacket with the bench altogether.
In order to make it active, I'm going to press Ctrl+Shift+A or Command+Shift+A on the Mac to deselect all of the objects in the illustration. So far so good. We are going to take a brief respite from transparency for a moment, inside of Illustrator. And I'm going to show you something that has nothing to do with transparency and everything you do with Blends, I'm going to show you how to blend between groups in order to create the keyboard, coming right up.
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