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In Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Mastery, the third and final part of the comprehensive Illustrator One-on-One series, author and industry expert Deke McClelland shows how to take advantage of the wide array of dynamic effects in Illustrator CS5. Deke explores Illustrator’s powerful Gradient Mesh feature, great for creating photorealistic airbrushing effects. He also covers graphic styles, the liquify tools, envelope-style distortions, the new Bristle Brushes, 3D text, and perspective drawing. Exercise files accompany the course.
I've saved my progress as Red delicious peppers.ai and in this exercise we're going to take on that stem. Now, bear in mind that Gradient Mesh is really best suited to objects that are approximately as wide as they are tall and they are as round as possible. For example, Gradient Mesh is wicked easy where circles is concerned, but it gets more challenging once we start having lumps and other special forms. When we're working on a shape that's very skinny and wrapping around on itself, it's quite challenging indeed, as you'll see.
So what I'd like you to do, if you're working along with me, go to the Layers panel, twirl open that mesh peppers layer, and unlock that second Path right there, which is the stem, and then scroll down and lock down the two circles, just so that we've isolated the stem over here on the left side of the illustration. Now I'm going to click on it with the Black Arrow tool to make it active and we're going to create some custom Mesh Lines using the Mesh tool. But you may run into a few issues as you do so here. So I'm going to zoom in, just so that the stem more or less fills the screen.
And I'm going to click along the bottom here and then just a little bit over, like so, and then midway into the shape. Altogether we're going to create, I believe, a series of seven lines here. So this would be the fourth line at about this location. I'll move over to about here for the fifth line, here for the sixth line, and I'll be lucky if I can create the seventh line. I managed to, but it's not in the right location. So you know what, I'm going to wait on that one, because instead, let's just back up here. Let's go ahead, before we add that seventh column line, let's add some row lines so we have something to attach to.
And you might figure that you'd go ahead and click on this path, let's say, one that's got the busy control handle just launching out into space there. But if you try to click on it, you're not really going to get anything because Illustrator is thinking, "Oh, I bet you want to modify that control handle." Even though your cursor is nine miles away from the tip, but still. What you want to pay attention to here is whether you're seeing a plus sign or not next to the cursor. I am, so it should work if I click there. It did work. But another way, if you're finding yourself frustrated, because Gradient Mesh, I have to tell you, can be an extremely frustrating feature at times.
I'll go ahead and press Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on the Mac. Just move over to a different line, one that doesn't have a control handle associated with it because it's not active. So move over to a different mesh line and click on it instead and then you should be fine. And now I've got a control handle launching off at this line. So I'll move over to a different line and click here in order to create a new row at that location. Now let's see if I can create that final column, because it just needs to be dinky little column right there, that's tucking in on this side of the stem, but notice then it trails all the way up the stem and wraps into some of the other lines, which means we're going to have some creases in our gradient.
And I'll show you what that looks like when we get to it. All right, a few other, gosh, I guess they are row lines that we want to create at this point. Up here at the top I'm going to click and then I'm going to click in the middle of that top edge of the stem there and then I'm going to click at the bottom edge of the stem. But I don't want to go too far down. That looks too far down to me, so I'm going to undo and click right about there instead. And we're getting some pretty sort of jagged transitions going on there, but we can work on those and I'm going to do that actually using the White Arrow tool.
So I'll grab that White Arrow tool by pressing the A key if I want to and then I'm just going to modify a few control handles. And I might drag these guys up, but if I decide to move these lines up, I should probably do that using the Mesh tool. So I'll press the U key to get to the Mesh tool, drag this point up as I'm pressing the Shift key. So I'm dragging the row point along the column line and I think I'll do the same over here as well. So in other words, all of this stuff requires some additional finessing. Right there, with the White Arrow tool, this time I press the A key to switch to the White Arrow tool, and I'm now dragging some of these points and handles around a little bit.
And now I'm going to press the U key to switch back to the Mesh tool and drag this row line up while pressing the Shift key to constrain it to the column line. And I might take these guys up a little bit as well. You need to watch yourself though. Like this little area right there will need some adjustment to the control handles. I'll come back to that in a moment. Drag that guy up or at least Shift+Drag it that is to say. Press the A key to switch to the White Arrow tool, click on that little transition, and drag the control handles around until I get the appearance I'm looking for.
And then we've got to rerun some of this stuff for this last line. Press the U key in order to switch to the Mesh tool once again. Drag this point while pressing the Shift key, drag this guy while pressing the Shift key. And I'm trying to keep things a little bit symmetrical as well inside this top portion of the stem. And then I'll drag this guy down. All of these manipulations I'm doing while pressing the Shift key incidentally. Might take these guys down along the left side of the shape as well. And that I think is going to do it for the Mesh tool. I'm going to press the A key to switch back to the Arrow tool.
I'll go ahead and drag this guy down a little bit, that is this control handle over to the left a little bit, and I'll click here and drag this control handle up. All right! Now, I am ready, I believe, to start adding some colors to the various locations here. So I'm going to press the A key and I'm going to Shift+Click on a few of these points in order to select them. I want this area to be shaded, going down to, well, to about here looks actually pretty good. And then I want these points to be shaded as well. So I'm going to click on one, Shift+Click on the others.
And these guys want to be in the shadow. So I'll go ahead and Shift+Click on all of them. And then I'll press Ctrl+Y, Command+Y on a Mac, in order to switch to the Outline mode. Press the I key in order to grab my Eyedropper and Shift+Click in one of the Shadow regions that you'll see there in order to lift a stroke. I've got a stroke active again, darn it. I'll click on my fill and I'll Shift+ Click inside of that color once again, inside that shadow region. And then I'll press Ctrl+Y or Command+Y on a Mac in order to switch back to the Preview mode.
And Illustrator has seen fit to switch me to the RGB sliders, so I'll go ahead and manually switch it back to HSB. And I'm going to darken up those colors pretty much, as you can see there. We'll add some of the saturation, make sure we have some rich, nice, beautiful shadows. All right! Now I'm going to press the A key in order to get my White Arrow tool, go ahead and click and Shift+Click on a few of these points. So basically the points along the far left side at the base, the points that are nearly all the way to the right, so the second to last column line, in order to select them.
You might as well grab that guy as well. And then I'm going to select some of these top points here. These are all going to serve as points of highlight don't you know. And then this time I think I'm just going to make some manual adjustments. I'll increase the Brightness. I'll take the Saturation value down quite a bit, so we don't oversaturate those bright colors. And then I'm going to stick with my White Arrow tool here. I'm going to select this point and then Shift+Click on these two, like so, in order to make them active. And I'm going to darken up those points, so that we have some shaded area down here at the base of the stem.
And I'll increase the saturation a little as well in order to deepen those colors, maybe take the brightness even farther down. Now let's see what we've managed to accomplish. Actually, you know what, first thing I want to do is grab my Black Arrow tool, just so I can gauge the shape properly. Click on the entire shape to select it, go to the Appearance panel and add a new stroke, by clicking on that bottom left icon or pressing Ctrl+Alt+Slash, Command+Option+Slash on the Mac. All right! Let's go ahead and zoom in, press Ctrl +H or Command+H in order to hide the selection edges, and notice the big problem we have here. We've got a very harsh transition between the darks and the lightss.
And the reason that's happening, if I press Ctrl+H or Command+H again, the reason that's happening is, you can see these lines are folding up underneath each other, and that's what happens. That's the unfortunate repercussion of working with these slender shapes that are folding in on each other. I'll show you how to solve that problem by adjusting the control handles. We've got some pretty big adjustments in front of us, in the next exercise.
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