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In this installment of Illustrator Insider Training, Mordy Golding shows experienced Illustrator users how to create transparency effects and ensure reliable printing results. This course reviews the history of vector transparency and covers features such as knockout groups, opacity masks, and transparency flattening. Mordy also shows how to establish a safe workflow when placing Illustrator graphics containing transparency in PostScript, PDF, and InDesign files. A free worksheet is included with the course.
One of the nicer things that Adobe has done with regard to gradients is that as of Illustrator CS4, you have the ability to assign opacity values to individual stops or color stops that appear on a gradient and now also inside of Illustrator CS5 we also have the ability now to apply transparency or opacity values to individual mesh points in a gradient mesh. Let's see how that works here inside of a document. I have this file opened up. It's called flowerpot.ai.
Let's start by looking over here at the bottom of the file where I kind of have this black area that would kind of act as some kind of a reflection or some other kind of a cast shadow maybe of the flowerpot itself. Now I could normally fill this with a gradient, a regular black to white gradient, but if this were on some kind of a background, or I wanted to place this on a pattern, or on top of another image, I would really want a way for me to have the gradient go from some kind of color to transparent. So let's see how to do that. I'm actually going to click now on this object itself right here to select it and I'm going to go over here to my Gradient panel here inside of Illustrator.
I'm going to click on the thumbnail here to apply just a regular plain black to white gradient. Now right now the gradient is traveling in the wrong direction. I want it to start with black on top. So I could change the value here of the angle to 90 degrees and hit the Tab key and now I start to see the gradient that starts at black and then it goes down to white. But instead of going to white, what I'm going to do is I'm going to double-click now on the Gradient slider itself, this little icon right here, and that's going to bring up this panel which now has an Opacity value on it. So what I'm doing now is I'm actually changing the Opacity value of this individual color stop in the gradient.
So if I change the Opacity here to 0, then what that means is that my gradient actually now goes from black to completely transparent. I'm going to go ahead now and just click over here to get rid of that little pop-up and I can see over here that the gradient actually goes to transparent. I see that little checkerboard pattern here in the background. Additionally, you'll notice if you take a little closer look now at the icon itself of the color stop, it has like an additional part on the bottom. That indicates that this color stop has an opacity value applied to do it. Notice that you do not have that setting here on the black one.
Again, this just allows me as a designer to quickly take a look at my gradient and see where opacity might have been applied. Now, obviously in the gradient you may have multiple color stops. In fact let's close the Gradient panel here and let's take a look at this object. I'm going to use my Direct Selection tool to select just this object right here. Because I want to edit its gradients I'm actually going to go ahead now and click on the Gradient tool to activate this in-context editor. It's called the Gradient Annotator. If you're not seeing it on your screen, then you want to make sure that you go to the View menu and you want to choose over here Show Gradient Annotator.
Mine is set to Hide because it's currently visible. So this allows me to edit my gradient in context. As I move my mouse over it I can see that it kind of highlights and lets me see the different color stops, the actual slider itself, and I can make adjustments here to the gradient itself in context of my design. I don't have to go and kind of move my focus off to another panel just to adjust the gradient here. Now if I wanted to modify the opacity value of one of these color stops, for example this one right here, I would simply double-click on it. That brings up that same little pop-up here and I can choose the Opacity value.
I am going to make it to say right now 50% and hit the Tab key, and you can see over here now if I hit Escape, that just turns off this little pop-up right here. I now see that this color stop has that little extra rectangle that appears beneath it that indicates that this color stop has some kind of an opacity value applied to it. Now, as I said before, this is functionality that Adobe added and we've been able to do since Illustrator CS4, but now in CS5 we also have the ability to modify opacity values to individual mesh points in a gradient mesh.
So let's see how that works. I'm actually going to go ahead now and take my Direct Selection tool and select this little circle right here on the flower, and maybe I want to use a gradient mesh to create some kind of a nicer highlight maybe on that particular shape right there. In fact, I'm going to zoom in just a little bit more on this shape, just about right like that. Now I'm going to take my Mesh tool right here, select it, and I'm going to click just right about over here to add a mesh point to this object. This does two things. It first converts it to a gradient mesh object and now it also goes ahead now and adds a mesh point at that spot that I clicked on.
Because that mesh point right now is still active, I can go just right to my regular opacity slider right here and change it to maybe 50%. And notice now that right now I can kind of see through that object to the purple object that appears beneath it. In fact, if I change the opacity to completely 0, making it completely transparent, I can see directly through that object. So I'm also able to, as you can see here, apply opacity values to individual mesh points on a gradient mesh object. So these are several ways that you can actually apply opacity values to a variety of different kinds of gradient objects inside of your illustrations.
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