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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.
All right, I have gone ahead and done yet more work on this document and I have saved it out as Near-final gradients.ai. And you'll notice if you twirl open the backdrop layer and then twirl open the Group right there. That there is the Clipping Path with two Meshes inside of it. So one is turned on, the other is turned off currently. The one that's active is the mesh that we just got through in the previous exercise. So that one that I was able to achieve thanks to some very broad applications of the Warp and Pucker tools. And it does give us a pretty cool effect, but it's not exactly what I wanted.
So I spent some time, I kind of went backward and I spent some time massaging that gradient mesh that we saw at the outset of the previous exercise and I came up with this effect right there. Which I think is more appealing, but did require more work I should tell you. It took me about 20 minutes to create here. And I'll go ahead and select that Mesh so you can see what's going on. Now it's not exactly what I want it to be, but I want you to see some of the decisions that I made here. For example, I'll go ahead and click off the Mesh for a moment to deselect it and then I'll click right there to select that little point. And notice what I'm doing here. If I had just allowed this line to be a little bit smooth, sort of nice and gentle like it would normally if I were trying to draw a path with the Pen tool, then we would get a gentle transition between this light green and this dark red right there.
But by virtue of the fact that I create this big hump like this, I'm able to achieve a faster transition right at this location, which is what I want, because that still has some softness in it, but it creates the appearance of a brush stroke having gone by, which I quite like. And you know there are some other places I might want to do the same thing. Like right here, I would really like this paint to bunch up. So I'm going to go ahead and click on this segment in order to see its control handles and I'm going to do this number here, bring this guy over. Now you have to be careful if you are going to try these rapid transitions. Because if you go too far, like if I take it like that, you might end up seeing some just completely weird aberrant colors. I'll press Ctrl+H or Command+H on the Mac, and notice that where you have this kind of little flag of color that's waving right at that location. I don't want that. So I'll go ahead and back off a little bit. I'll press Ctrl+H or Command +H again, so that I can see my segments and handles, and then I'll drag things just a little apart from each other, maybe drag this down a little bit, and see if I can get a bit of a pucker at this location. But I don't want any kind of weird crinkle, and that looks pretty darn good. Actually that looks great.
All right, so Ctrl+H or Command+H once again to see what I'm doing. Here is another place that I think could benefit from a more rapid transition. This little band of colors that we're seeing right here from yellow to gold, to green, and if I just go ahead and move this guy closer like so, then we are going to get a more rapid transition. And I could even press the Shift key if I wanted to. Actually not with that tool though. I forgot that Shift key trick only works when you have the Mesh tool active.
So I'll go ahead and grab that Mesh tool and then I'll try to find the point, which where is the point? Oh there it is, all right. Let's grab that point right there and I'll press the Shift key as I move this line over like so. And now we are going to get a nice swift transition at this point. And I might actually back it off a little bit and bring the yellow out like so. That's pretty nice. I have got the Shift key down as I'm making these modifications. All right, experiment, try different things, see what's going to work for you in terms of the kinds of transitions that you are trying to get and then notice something else about this. If I press Ctrl+H or Command+H again, just so I can see things a little better. Notice that I have got this area of red up here and I have got this green that goes like that and then there is this green river going upward. But as I recall I had some more green in this location and then if I Ctrl-click or Command-click on the eyeball in front of the backdrop layer, I'll see that I have got this little bit of green that's just kind of going off like this.
So there is this green sort of limb going off this direction. One that's going straight up more or less, and then one that's going off at angle. All right, how do we solve that problem? I'll Ctrl -click or Command-click once again on that eyeball in order to show the gradient mesh. I'll press Ctrl+H, Command+H on the Mac, in order to again view my points and segments. And now I'll switch to the White Arrow tool by pressing the A key and I'll click and Shift-click and Shift-click on these three points, because they are going in more or less the right direction. This is not an exact match by the way.
But it's pretty darn good. Then I'll get my Eyedropper tool and then I'll go ahead and Shift-click at this location in order to add this bright vivid green going up and over to the left here. And if you wanted to flare things out a little bit, you could. You could go ahead and integrate this guy as well. So if I Ctrl-click or Command-click on this point to select it and then once again Shift-click on the screen right there, I'm going to add more green, so that it flares out ever so slightly. And if I want to make it not so slight, then I could go ahead and drag this point out like so. So that we have a more of a flare going on and let's take this upward a little and this point over a little as well. And then I'll press Ctrl+H to see the final effect. So there you have it, our final gradient mesh effect. If it's not what you want, you can keep working by all means. If you have been working along steadily inside that Mish again.ai file, more the power to you. I haven't made it easy to keep up, but after all I want you to feel free to experiment and achieve your own effect, by gum.
In the next two exercises we are going to talk about special applications of gradients. Nothing really to do with gradient mesh. It's actually all about gradients, but we are going to be sticking inside of this same sample document, join me.
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