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This course is the third in a four-part series devoted to mastering the premiere graphics creation application, Adobe Illustrator, version CS6. Industry pro Deke McClelland takes a project-based learning approach to the key features in Illustrator, including Recolor Artwork, transparency, masks, blend modes, strokes and fills, and dynamic effects. The course also covers techniques for creating custom gradients, designing logos, generating photorealistic neon text, and wrapping type around objects. Plus, Deke shows how to call up the most essential features by organizing your workspace and employing time-saving keyboard shortcuts, how to manage the color settings, and how to adjust a few settings to make the program work even better.
In this movie, we will take a fairly flat looking neon effect so far and we'll make it sizzle by adding those super-hot random brightness fluctuations that characterize real neon. I am going to go ahead and zoom in on this version of the illustration here, so you can see these white strokes that are flowing through the P as well as the E. Notice for one thing that they're sharply defined, so that we have these crystal-clear specular highlights, which is what we want. And also they begin very hot and they end very hot, but they become a little dimmer toward the middle.
And that's something that you see in real neon, but you don't see conveyed in neon art very often. We are going to achieve this effect using a variable width stroke. Now I don't want to change the width of each and every one of these strokes independently, so I'm going to create a variable width profile in advance. So I'll go ahead and switch over to my illustration in progress. If you're working along with me, twirl open the neon layer here inside the Layers panel. Right at the top here, you will see this item called width; go ahead and turn it on, that is make it visible.
You will see this straight line in the upper left-hand corner of the artwork. Go ahead and select it with the Black Arrow tool and as you can see it's nothing more than a horizontal line, but it does have some width information and you can find out what that width info is by selecting the Width tool, which you can also get by pressing Shift+W. You can see here, all together I have got four width points: two at either end and then two toward the center. At either end, if you double-click on one of these, I have set the Total Width value to 16 points; go ahead and cancel out because the work is done in advance.
And toward the center, if you double-click on either of those, you will see that the Total Width value is half as much, that is 8 points. I will cancel out of there too. Having gone ahead and created this width profile, I will now save it off by pressing the V Key to switch back to my Black Arrow tool; and then I'll go up to this middle option here in the Control panel, click on it and then click on the little hard drive icon; and I'll go ahead and save this off as neon stroke, and then click OK. All right! We don't need this line anymore.
So I'll turn off the width item here inside the neon panel. Now I want to bring back another copy of my letters. You may still have a copy of the letters in your clipboard, in which case you can just press Ctrl+F or Command+F on the Mac. But in the case you don't, here's what you do. Go ahead and twirl open that letters blend right there, which is the blend we created in the previous movie, and then let's make a copy of the topmost item in the blend by clicking on it here inside the Layers panel. You don't have to meatball it. And then press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac, and drag it up and out of the letters blend, and drop it into place like so.
Now I'll go ahead and twirl close my blend and I'll rename this guy something like bright, just so that I know what its contribution is going to be; and now let's change the color of the Stroke from Yellow, which is the top stroke in the blend, to White. The Line Weight should be 4 points incidentally. And now we want to change the width profile, so go to that Item that currently reads Uniform, up here in the Control panel; click on it, scroll down the list and then select the item you just created, which in my case is neon stroke. If I press Ctrl+Shift+A or Command+Shift+A in a Mac, you can see that we now have those hot spectral highlights, right at the beginning and the end of each one of the neon letter tubes.
All right! Now for the random brightness variations, go ahead and scroll up the Layers panel and you'll see another hidden item called shines; go ahead and turn it on. All it is, is a series of four rectangles that I created in front of the letters. They're all different widths by the way, but they're all sufficiently tall so they extend well outside the border around the letters. The next thing you want to do is select all of these rectangles. I have already grouped them together in advance. So all you need to do is click on the outline of any one of the rectangles to select all four.
Next, go up to the Effect menu, choose Blur, and choose Gaussian Blu. And you want to enter a very high value. I went ahead and cranked my Radius up to 50 pixels. And then turn on the Preview checkbox to see what happens. And note that you create these kinds of gradient patterns really inside of the illustration. But ultimately what we're doing is blurring each and every one of the rectangle. Notice that the blurs occurred not only horizontally, but vertically as well, which is why it's so important that the rectangles are much taller than either the text or the neon border around the text.
Then go ahead and click OK in order to blur those rectangles. And finally, click on the word Opacity up here in the Control panel, and change the Blend mode, which by default is Normal. Go ahead and click on the word Normal and change that Blend mode to Overlay, in order to achieve this effect here. And it's almost as if the rectangles entirely disappear, but if you take a careful look you'll see that we have increased brightness and even heat if you will, inside of each of the blurred rectangles. All right! So now you can press Ctrl+Shift+A or Command+ Shift+A on the Mac to deselect the artwork.
And that, friends, is how you use white strokes and fills to enhance the credibility of otherwise flat neon art.
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