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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.
In this exercise, I'm going to show you how to create what's known as the sliding graph design, so that we can achieve this effect here with these various hummingbirds in flight. Now, notice that each one of the hummingbirds is similarly scaled, so they're all the same size. And they have these gradients, all of which are fading from a solid color to transparency regardless of the length of the gradient. And that's because they are so much scaled as stretched, at a very specific location. Well, let me show you how that works. I'm going to switch over to my progress file, which is called Whole mess of birds.ai, found inside the 27_graphs folder.
I was telling you that the problem with the graph the way it is right now is that it's fairly hard to read these repeating bird patterns. It'd be better if there was at least some sort of filled rectangle in the background. If you want to hand-fill your rectangles, you can do this on the fly if you like. You'd go ahead and grab your Group Selection tool like usual and then click at the point at which it looks like the birds are getting cut off, like there, for example. Then I want you to Shift+Click at the top of the other green birds, so we're just grabbing all the green shapes, and click at the top of this one, too.
So you don't want to grab the birds themselves; you just want to get those rectangular shapes, which are ultimately clipping masks that are at work inside the deepest darkest recesses. I'm going to the Layers panel, and showing you that we're still working inside of this Graph element here. But there inside the graph are some clipping paths, which I've now selected. My fill happens to be active, so I'll go to the Swatches panel, and just click on that light green, like so. Then I'll go ahead and click at the top of the repeating orange birds like so, Shift+Click here and here in order to select those rectangles, and fill them with the lighter orange.
Then I'll click right there where that blue tail is getting cut off, and Shift+Click at this location, and then Shift+Click at the top of that cut wing. And then I'll go ahead and fill that area with the light blue. So, you do have some options available to you, as usual. As soon as you start applying some parametric changes--that is, any automated changes from Illustrator--this will all fall apart of course. But that's okay, because this is not our final goal. I do want you to see that the custom scaling that I applied to the little birds over here in the legend using the Transform command, that's totally fallen away.
So we'll have to reapply that later. But that's no surprise. I don't know why I did in the first place. I must've seen that one coming. All right! I want to show you how to create a scaling design, and here is how it works. What you need is to create yourself some sort of design element that's going to be at the top of your sliding design. In our case, it's going to be one of the bird silhouettes. Then I went ahead and created this object here that's filled with the gradient, and let me show you what the gradient looks like. If I switch over to the Gradient panel, I'll go ahead and double-click on the final color stop in a Gradient, and you can see that it's C 35, M 0, Y 65, K 0, 100% opacity.
All right! Now I'll go ahead and double-click on that first color stop, the exact same CMYK values at work, however 0% opacity. So it's fading to transparency. If we were to check out how it's fading the transparency using the Gradient tool, I'll go ahead and select the Gradient tool here inside the toolbox, you'll see that the gradient is going from absolute transparency down here at the bottom of the shape to absolute opacity right here below the hummingbird feathers. Notice that above that point at which the path becomes 100% opaque, I've got a black line.
This black line has no fill. It just has a stroke right now. Here is what you got to do. We'll have to do it three times because we have three different designs to create. But you go ahead and grab your Group Selection tool. Why not? It works just fine for this purpose. Click on that line to select it. So you just draw a line at the point where the bird should get stretched. So you're saying right here, that's the area that's going to get stretched as far as needed, so that we still have the nice tapering end of the gradient, and we have this solid colored area, and we don't end up stretching any of the bird, including its tail feathers. And so we just stretch this location here, and it's going to look absolutely dynamite.
However, we've got to explain this to Illustrator in a very strange, arcane way. So you go ahead and draw your line. Then you go to the View menu, choose Guides, and choose the Make Guides command. Or press Ctrl+5, Command+5 on the Mac, and that converts that line to a guide. Now, it's very important. Go to the View menu again, choose Guides, and make sure that Lock Guides is turned off. So if it's got a check mark in front of it, you go ahead and choose a command that turn it off, or you can press Ctrl+Alt+Semicolon, Command+Option+Semicolon on a Mac. The reason is because now what you've got to do is you've got to take that line that's now a guide-- I'll click off it, so you can see it's a guideline, I'll click on it again to select it again--and then you right-click, and you choose Arrange, and you choose Send to Back. Or press Ctrl+Shift+Left Bracket, Command+Shift+Left Bracket on a Mac.
It's got to be at the bottom of the stack is the thing. Now go ahead and marquee these objects like so, and then you go up to the Object menu and choose Group. I know this is a lot to remember, which is why we're going to do it more than once. So you choose the Group command. Press Ctrl+G, Command+G on a Mac. Now, it's ready to go. Now, you go up to the Object menu, you choose Graph, and then you choose Design. Let's go ahead and call this one-- I'll click New Design of course, and then click Rename, because that's what you always have to do-- I'll call this slider 1 green, and I'll click OK, click OK.
Now we need to repeat the steps for these guys, so go ahead and click on this black line and Shift+Click on the other one--might as well make them both guides at once. Go to the View menu, choose Guides and choose Make Guides, or press Ctrl+5. Go ahead and send them the back by right-clicking and choosing Arrange, and choosing Send to Back, or pressing Ctrl+Shift+Left Bracket. And then I'm going to go ahead and marquee these objects here, go up to the Object menu, choose the Group command Ctrl+G, then go to the Object menu, choose Graph, and choose Design. No keyboard shortcut whatsoever.
Click on New Design, click Rename. Let's call this one slider 2 orange, and then click OK. Click OK. Grab the next group of objects, like so, marquee them using the Group Selection tool, go up to the Object menu, choose Group command--very important. Then go to the Object menu, choose Graph, and choose Design, and we'll create our final design by clicking on New Design and renaming it, and I'll call it "slider 3 blue" this time. Click OK, click OK. Now, let's try applying those guys to our existing graph.
I'll go back to the artboard, and I'm going to click as many times as it takes to select everything,= but this little legend item. So I clicked too many times. So I'll click off again, click, click, click. That's enough. So I guess its three clicks on the rectangular outline to the screen column. Then I'll go up to the Object menu, I'll choose Graph, I'll choose Column, and this time I'm going to apply, I'll go ahead and scroll to the end of list, and I'll choose slider 1 green. And instead of repeating it, I'm going to say I want a sliding design, and that's all I need.
I don't want Rotate Legend Design on. I just want to set Column Type to Sliding. That's it. Click OK, cross fingers, and hope for the best, and actually that worked out brilliantly. You can see these little guide elements. Notice that horizontal guideline there and there and there, and that is where the design is ultimately stretching. All right! I'm next going to go ahead and grab these orange birds. So click, click, click, and that goes ahead, three click ends up selecting all of these orange bird columns. Go up to the Object menu, choose Graph, and then choose Column.
Now, I'll scroll to the bottom of the list, select slider 2 orange, change Column Type from Repeating to Sliding, click OK. We get that effect there, and then click off in order to deselect. Click on that column once, twice, and then three times in order to select all three blue columns. Go to the Object menu, choose Graph, and then choose Column once again. Then I'm going to scroll to the bottom of the list, select slider 3 blue, change Column Type from Repeating to Sliding, and click OK.
I end up getting this effect there, and that actually looks pretty darn good. Now, I think I might want to end up scaling my birds, and I definitely want to scale the birds inside the legend. But of course, I want to do that after I've made sure that I'm done with all of the parametric modifications. I'm done with the Type command. I'm done with the Design command. I'm done with the Column command. I'm done with the Data command. I don't want to ever see any of those commands where this chart is concerned again, and that's exactly the way things are going to be when we insert this graph into its final illustration in the next exercise.
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