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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 I'll show you how to create the background for the final train track effect, which involves this grass pattern right here. And we'll create this effect using a combination of three strokes along with two fills, and I'll also introduce you to an effect known as Convert to Shape. So here I'm looking at the second artboard. I'll press Ctrl+0 or Cmd+0 on the Mac in order to zoom out so that I can take in the entire scene, and I'll click on this rectangle that's just slightly outside the confines of the larger artboard. So notice that we have this expanse of grass, followed by this stroke right here. Then we've got an inset Wood Grain stroke, another black stroke, and then finally a white fill behind all the objects on the first artboard.
That white area is exactly the same size as the smaller artboard. So let me show you how I did that. I'll go ahead and switch over to our document in progress here and I'll scroll over to the left side of the smaller artboard. Switch to the Layers panel, and I'll go ahead and click on the Tiles layer in order to select it. Then go up to the File menu and choose the Place command. And if you have access to my Exercise Files, then you'll find a file called Grass tile.psd inside the 29_apperance folder. This is another Photoshop document.
I'll go ahead and click on the Place button here. But this time we're using one of the patterns that ships with Photoshop. Once again it repeats seamlessly and I've scaled it, by the way, so it looks best at the 150% Zoom ratio. All right! We need to turn it into a tile pattern. So I'll click on the Embed button up here in the Control panel, make sure Flatten Layers is turned on, then go ahead and click OK. Then go up to the Object menu, choose Pattern, and choose Make. If you get the alert message, just click OK. You probably want to turn on the Don't Show Again checkbox, but I'm just leaving it off in solidarity with those of you who do the same.
I'll go ahead and change the name of this pattern to Grass and press the Enter or Return key, and then press the Escape key in order to return to my artwork, as well as create a new grass pattern here inside the Swatches panel. All right! Let's go ahead and zoom back out here by pressing Ctrl+0 or Cmd+0 on the Mac, and I'll click on this outermost rectangle in order to select it. Now let's switch over to the Appearance panel, and notice that we've got a 2-point stroke, no fill. I'll go ahead and click on the Fill, click on its swatch right there, and change it to Grass.
So that will be our rearmost fill in the stack. Then you want to change the stroke here to 30 points. And notice of course that goes ahead and strokes the outside of the path outline, but I want to shift that stroke in so that it exactly traces the smaller artboard. Now, I could try to achieve an effect like that by going up to the Effect menu, choosing Distort & Transform, and choosing the Transform command, but the problem with the Scale values is that they're not absolute. They're always relative. In other words, they're always measured as percentages of the size of the selection.
That's not really going to help me exactly match the size of the artboard. So I'm going to cancel out of here. I'll press Shift+0 in order to switch to the Artboard tool. You can also just go ahead and select the tool from the bottom of the toolbox. And then I'll switch from the second artboard, which is currently active, to the first artboard in order to make it active, and then I'll note the size of this artboard. The width is 648 points and the height is 432 points. And it just so happens to be exactly centered inside of the larger artboard. All right! With that in mind I'll write those values down presumably.
I'll go ahead and press the Esc key a couple of times in order to first return to the second artboard and then escape the Artboard mode. All right! With those values in mind I'll confirm that my stroke is selected, as it is here inside the Appearance panel. Then I'll go up to the Effect menu, choose Convert to Shape, and choose Rectangle, which may seem a little bit insane. First of all, why would you want to convert anything to a rectangle or a rounded rectangle or an ellipse? Even more mysterious, why would you want to convert what's already a rectangle to a rectangle? Well, let me show you.
The idea is that you can scale this rectangle. So by default it's going to be 18 points in either direction bigger than it is now, which is not what I want. I want an absolute size for starters. So I'll go ahead and select Absolute, and notice that automatically dials in a width and height value of 36 points. So there is our little rectangle now. I want it to be the size of the artboard, which is 648 points by 432 points. We end up getting this effect here.
So notice the stroke is exactly centered around the smaller artboard. All right! Now click OK and we'll go ahead and make a duplicate of this stroke by dropping down to the little Page icon and clicking on it. That way I still have the Rectangle effect applied to the new stroke, and I'll change the color of this stroke from Black to Wood Grain. Then I'll change its line weight to 24 points, which leaves three points of black exposed on either side of that new stroke. Now I'll go ahead and select this black stroke again and I'll Alt+Drag or Option+Drag it to the top of the stack in order to create a copy of it, and I'll change its line weight to just 6 points, so that I end up with this effect here.
And then finally, I'll go ahead and create a new fill by clicking on the Add New Fill icon, or I can just press Ctrl+/or Cmd+/ on the Mac. That will add yet another grass fill. That's not what I want. I want it to be white. However, I don't want it to take up the entire document like this. So I'll twirl open one of my strokes, all of which have the Rectangle effect assigned to them. I'll go ahead and click on that effect to select it and then I'll Alt+Drag or Option+Drag the Rectangle effect onto the fill in order to produce this effect here.
I'll also go ahead and switch to the first artboard by pressing Shift+Page Up and then I'll just zoom out a little bit so that we can see the result more closely, and notice that 3 points of that top 6-point stroke are exposed underneath the white fill. So we've got a consistent effect all the way around this artboard. All right! I want to do just one more thing here. I'm going to press Shift+Page Down to switch to the second artboard once again. That also of course zooms me out, as you can see. Then I'll click on this larger track shape to select it.
I'll press the I key to get my Eyedropper. And just to make sure that eyedrop the right thing, because if I eyedrop this track in this location, for example, I end up copying the attributes from the background, so that's not good. So I'll press Ctrl+Z or Cmd+Z on the Mac and I'll press Ctrl+Y or Cmd+Y on the Mac to switch to the Outline mode, and then I'll click directly on that curving line in order to lift its attributes, and I can see that I've gotten the right attributes over here inside the Appearance panel. Then I'll press Ctrl+Y or Cmd+Y on the Mac in order to take a look at the results, which seem to be terrible.
Go ahead and zoom in on this effect here, and one would think that this would have worked beautifully, however everything seems to be messed up. Well, in fact, just one of these strokes is a problem. If you turn off the top 64 point white stroke, notice that everything else about the train track is fine. So I'll go ahead and turn the stroke back on, click on the word Stroke, the culprits are my dash and gap values. So I'm going to divide up this dash value into two pieces by changing the first one to 20, and then I'll enter a second dash value of 20, and finally a second gap value of 0 in order to achieve this effect right here.
Now, you might say, "Well, gosh. This still is a problem, because we're covering up the grass with a bunch white strokes," and we will solve that problem, as well as build the final version of the train track --complete with gravel--in the next movie.
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