Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Advanced

Assigning colors with the Eyedropper tool


Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Advanced

with Deke McClelland

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Video: Assigning colors with the Eyedropper tool

In this exercise I'm going to show you how to assign colors to a gradient mesh using the Eyedropper tool, and this is one of the best uses for the Eyedropper tool in all of Illustrator. I've gone ahead and saved my progress so far as A real Notice these icons up here, by the way, you can see that my mesh is currently selected, but you can switch back and forth between the Clipping Path that contains the mesh which is the rectangle and the mesh itself using these two icons up here in the Control palette. So click on Edit Clipping Path to select the rectangle, and then to select the contents, which would be the mesh in our case, click on Edit Contents, and you'll gain access to the mesh. So another way to select the mesh here inside of Illustrator.
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  1. 28m 41s
    1. Welcome
      1m 7s
    2. Installing the dekeKeys keyboard shortcuts
      8m 59s
    3. Resetting the Function keys on a Mac
      4m 47s
    4. Installing the CS4 color settings
      4m 20s
    5. Loading the CS4 color settings in Illustrator
      6m 3s
    6. Loading the CS4 color settings in Bridge CS4
      3m 25s
  2. 1h 53m
    1. From the simple emerges the complex
    2. Introducing Pathfinder operations
      4m 17s
    3. Editing a compound shape
      4m 39s
    4. Adding to a compound shape
      3m 11s
    5. Inserting a subpath into a compound shape
      3m 56s
    6. Expanding a compound shape
      4m 53s
    7. Assembling primitives
      4m 42s
    8. Preparing a template in Photoshop
      7m 0s
    9. Uniting paths permanently
      5m 40s
    10. Minus Front vs. Minus Back
      1m 55s
    11. Working with compound paths
      6m 49s
    12. When in doubt, divide
      3m 54s
    13. Divide and Unite
      3m 2s
    14. Open path pitfalls
      5m 35s
    15. Strokes bad, fills good
      4m 38s
    16. Advanced Divide and Unite
      8m 59s
    17. Using the Crop operation
      8m 30s
    18. Expert Divide and Unite
      8m 45s
    19. "Ghosting" shapes with Fill Opacity
      6m 45s
    20. Anticipating and troubleshooting
      8m 16s
    21. Exclude and Intersect
      7m 24s
  3. 44m 59s
    1. Familiar one moment, different the next
      1m 3s
    2. Snapping to anchor points
      5m 41s
    3. Aligning a group to the artboard
      3m 34s
    4. Distributing objects on the artboard
      4m 16s
    5. Setting the key object
      4m 54s
    6. Distributing objects by space
      3m 6s
    7. Distributing objects by selections
      3m 19s
    8. Aligning point text
      6m 7s
    9. Aligning live text vs. using outlines
      4m 58s
    10. Aligning key letters
      3m 35s
    11. Aligning to key objects
      4m 26s
  4. 1h 4m
    1. CS4’s gradient renaissance
      1m 7s
    2. Applying a gradient
      6m 0s
    3. Dragging and dropping color swatches
      2m 55s
    4. Using the Gradient palette
      6m 27s
    5. Designing a shaded gradient
      5m 9s
    6. Saving a gradient swatch and adding a texture
      4m 2s
    7. Introducing the new Gradient tool
      4m 39s
    8. Editing color stops inside a shape
      3m 26s
    9. Setting multiple gradients to the same angle
      5m 0s
    10. Adding and adjusting radial gradients
      7m 20s
    11. Making a transparent gradient
      7m 6s
    12. Adding drop shadows (a kind of gradient)
      6m 28s
    13. Blends vs. blend modes
      4m 38s
  5. 1h 17m
    1. Creating freeform color flows
      1m 0s
    2. The power of CS4's transparent gradients
      10m 25s
    3. Creating a gradient mesh
      4m 30s
    4. Expanding a gradient to a gradient mesh
      7m 40s
    5. Adding and deleting rows and columns
      6m 13s
    6. Selecting and coloring points
      6m 5s
    7. Assigning colors with the Eyedropper tool
      7m 42s
    8. Cool mesh editing techniques
      3m 56s
    9. Warping and puckering a mesh
      7m 24s
    10. Applying precise finishing touches
      5m 48s
    11. Gradient strokes
      9m 45s
    12. Gradient text
      6m 50s
  6. 55m 35s
    1. The first of the dynamic functions
      1m 4s
    2. Making a blend automatically
      5m 48s
    3. Fixing problem blends
      3m 56s
    4. Making a blend with the Blend tool
      3m 6s
    5. Cloning and coloring a blended path
      4m 37s
    6. Creating a mask
      3m 53s
    7. Blending between translucent shapes
      5m 30s
    8. Blending along a curve
      4m 34s
    9. Adjusting the speed of a blend
      2m 58s
    10. Filling and stroking a mask
      4m 36s
    11. Creating a compound clipping mask
      6m 3s
    12. Nesting one clipping mask inside another
      6m 7s
    13. Ghosting nested masks and blends
      3m 23s
  7. 1h 13m
    1. Patterns that repeat forever and ever
    2. Introducing tile patterns
      6m 36s
    3. Beginning a core design
      5m 6s
    4. Building an interlocking element
      6m 25s
    5. Achieving precise radial symmetry
      4m 46s
    6. Rotating duplicates around a common center
      3m 10s
    7. Determining how a pattern repeats
      9m 54s
    8. Coloring the core objects
      5m 0s
    9. Identifying the rectangular tile
      7m 14s
    10. Saving tile patterns
      7m 19s
    11. Applying tile patterns to a shape
      3m 25s
    12. Protecting patterns from transformations
      7m 36s
    13. Moving patterns without paths
      5m 51s
  8. 1h 19m
    1. Illustrator gets natural
      1m 15s
    2. Introducing the vector painting tools
      3m 16s
    3. Calligraphic brush options
      4m 3s
    4. Pressure sensitivity
      5m 17s
    5. Editing a calligraphic brush
      5m 53s
    6. Repainting and smoothing paths
      5m 30s
    7. Making the paintbrush behave
      6m 16s
    8. Erasing stroked paths
      3m 17s
    9. Painting with the new Blob brush
      6m 24s
    10. Refining filled paths with the Eraser
      4m 14s
    11. Painting independent paths
      3m 53s
    12. The Selection Limits Merge options
      3m 20s
    13. Applying and scaling an art brush
      6m 23s
    14. Snipping a brushed path
      4m 55s
    15. Colorizing an art brush
      4m 9s
    16. Heaping a stroke on an art brush effect
      4m 32s
    17. Creating a custom art brush
      6m 51s
  9. 1h 44m
    1. The computer art world’s dynamic duo
      1m 7s
    2. Copying and pasting pixels from Photoshop
      7m 21s
    3. Linking is efficient, embedding is not
      2m 47s
    4. Editing an image in Illustrator
      7m 30s
    5. Filtering an image in Photoshop
      6m 34s
    6. Adding a filter mask in Photoshop
      6m 25s
    7. Masking a woman from the background
      3m 49s
    8. Creating a sepia effect
      6m 37s
    9. Adding a second gradient map layer
      2m 13s
    10. Achieving a graphic effect with Levels
      8m 10s
    11. Preparing an image for use in Illustrator
      5m 46s
    12. The importance of image resolution
      9m 40s
    13. Placing and linking images
      4m 43s
    14. Managing linked images
      6m 18s
    15. Integrating an image into a design
      5m 12s
    16. A better way to wrap text
      7m 28s
    17. Previewing the trim size
      4m 25s
    18. Layer comps and editable text
      8m 42s
  10. 2h 11m
    1. Transparency is safe and fun
      1m 27s
    2. Introducing the translucent composition
      4m 39s
    3. Assigning opacity to an Appearance attribute
      3m 41s
    4. Creating a knockout group
      5m 7s
    5. Defining an opacity mask
      7m 15s
    6. Using the Clip checkbox
      2m 41s
    7. Opacity mask tips and tricks
      3m 20s
    8. The Multiply blend mode
      6m 8s
    9. Adding to an existing opacity mask
      7m 53s
    10. Blending between parallel groups
      7m 27s
    11. Creating a gradient opacity mask
      4m 54s
    12. Employing an opposing gradient mask
      7m 57s
    13. Combining Multiply and Screen
      3m 49s
    14. Blend mode roundup
      5m 24s
    15. Mixing blend modes inside a single path
      3m 48s
    16. Blend mode and transparent gradient
      3m 49s
    17. Masking an entire layer
      7m 0s
    18. Combining Screen with 100K Black
      7m 43s
    19. Knocking out a drop shadow
      5m 18s
    20. But will it print?
      3m 8s
    21. Working with the Flattener preview
      8m 44s
    22. Rasterizing an illustration in Photoshop
      9m 16s
    23. Super-rich blacks and raster effects
      3m 35s
    24. Exporting TIFF artwork from Illustrator
      7m 48s
  11. 58s
    1. Until next time

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Watch the Online Video Course Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Advanced
12h 54m Intermediate Jul 09, 2009

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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.

Topics include:
  • Working with compound shapes in the Pathfinder palette
  • Ghosting shapes with Fill Opacity
  • Understanding gradients and the gradient tools
  • Cloning and coloring a blended path
  • Saving tile patterns and applying them to a shape
  • Importing and linking images from other applications
Deke McClelland

Assigning colors with the Eyedropper tool

In this exercise I'm going to show you how to assign colors to a gradient mesh using the Eyedropper tool, and this is one of the best uses for the Eyedropper tool in all of Illustrator. I've gone ahead and saved my progress so far as A real Notice these icons up here, by the way, you can see that my mesh is currently selected, but you can switch back and forth between the Clipping Path that contains the mesh which is the rectangle and the mesh itself using these two icons up here in the Control palette. So click on Edit Clipping Path to select the rectangle, and then to select the contents, which would be the mesh in our case, click on Edit Contents, and you'll gain access to the mesh. So another way to select the mesh here inside of Illustrator.

All right, I'm going to edit another row now. So I'm going to grab my Lasso tool once again and I'm going to go ahead and select this row right there like so, and now I have these points active. So how do I go about changing the color of those points using the Eyedropper? Well, there are a lot of different options available to you. For one thing, you can click on an object, just to go ahead and lift its color. For example, I could click on this frame to change all those points to brown. Of course, I don't want to do that, but I could. Now what if you want to lift the color that's already assigned inside of the Gradient Mesh? Well, you might figure that you can go ahead and click on a point or click on some other color inside of the Gradient Mesh, but you can't. Because when you click on the Gradient Mesh, Illustrator isn't just seeing one color. It's seeing a ton of colors all over the place.

So instead what you want to do is you want to press the Shift key and what the Shift key does is it isolates just that color that the Eyedropper is seeing at any given location, go ahead and Shift- click in order to assign that color to the selected points. That works not only within the gradient mesh itself, so you can lift colors from one portion of the gradient mesh and put them in a different portion of the gradient mesh, which is great. You can rob Peter to pay Paul. That's awesome. But you could also lift colors from let's say a gradient, not by clicking once again, but by Shift-clicking in order to for example, lift this color in the creature's skull here and apply it to the selected points.

Now things get a little dicer here inside of Illustrator CS4, because it's been some strange behavioral change, when you are trying to lift colors from the original background template. So I'm going to go ahead and twirl open that template for a moment and here is what we'll try. I'm going to Ctrl-click or Command-click on the eyeball from the backdrop in order to switch it to the Outline Mode so that we can see through it. What I'd like to do is, let's say, lift this red right here. But if I click on the red, notice that I just lifted sort of a pale green color and then if I Ctrl-click or Command-click on that eyeball again, sure enough I just went in and applied pale green to this row, and that's certainly not what I want.

So what in the world went wrong? Well, let's Ctrl-click or Command-click on that eyeball again. What's happening here, and incidentally I'll tell you. If you Shift-click, it doesn't get any better. So Shift- clicking, we are still getting the pale green. You can see it up here in the Color Guide palette. You can see it over here at the bottom of the toolbox as well. What Illustrator is doing is it seeing this path in the background. So it's seeing through the group to the path, so you could unlock the Paint layer, and you can turn that path off so that it's not interfering with things. Then you don't even have to Shift-click. You can just click inside of the art, and now I've gone ahead and lifted that color of red that I just clicked on there, and to confirm I'll Ctrl-click or Command- click on the eyeball and for the backdrop and you could see that I added that red color.

So that's one way to work. I'm going to Ctrl-click or Command-click again so I can see through the artwork. Here is another way to work, and it doesn't make any sense, and my apologies upfront for potentially confusing you, but I want you to know all of your options. If you want to make sure that you're still seeing this path, so you don't have to sacrifice a portion of your artwork in order to work inside of it, go ahead and turn on the eyeball for that path again, so it's visible. Then twirl open this group right here, and twirl open that group. These are the groups that contain the actual linked file, which is the imported pixel based artwork, since this was a digital photograph at one point in time. I'm going to go ahead and grab that linked file and I'm going to drag it all the way out of the group, like so.

Now the group just contains this Clipping Path. Let's go ahead and twirl the Group in the Trash. And now what you'd do is you can't click because clicking doesn't make any change at this point. Why? I have no idea. Because it just worked a moment ago when the image was inside the Clipping Path, but now it doesn't. So instead what you do is you Shift- click and you know it works, because you can keep an eye on the color that's populating the bottom of the toolbox right there. So Shift-click in order to lift a color from the painting, if you're going to work this way, if you're going to take the painting out of it's Clipping Path. Then Ctrl-click or Command-click on the eyeball once again, and you'll see that sure enough I replaced those selected colors with yellow.

Now that's not all. There is one more thing you can do. Notice that we have points, of course, that we've been modifying. We've been modifying the selected points. Well, you can also modify this interior region, which Adobe's documentation calls the Patch. A little word of warning about Adobe's documentation, which you can get by going to the Help menu and you can choose Illustrator Help and you can see the documentation. It happens to be really inaccurate were gradients are concerned. Gradient and Gradient Meshes and it doesn't really document a lot of new things.

So I'm going to tell you how it really works. They tell you something that just doesn't work frankly, and I always think it's helpful to know really what's going on. So this is other technique you can take advantage of where the Eyedropper is concerned. Notice if you press and hold the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac, the Eyedropper flips, so it's pointing the other direction and it's full instead of empty. So it switches from an Eyedropper that lifts things, when you press the Alt or Option key, to a kind of syringe that's putting color into things. So the easiest way to plop a color into a patch, which is this region right here, here is what you do. Go ahead and deselect everything by pressing Ctrl+Shift+A, Command+Shift+A on the Mac, then go to one of your palettes and select a color that you want to work with. Let's go with violet once again, since we can really see it inside of this artwork.

Then you want to go ahead and show your artwork once again. So you need to make a color active. That's a big step here and that becomes a color that the Eyedropper is going to infuse, that the syringe is going to pump out. But you have to have the artwork deselected before you select the color, because otherwise you're going to modify some portion of the artwork. So having done that, now let's go ahead and twirl open backdrop, and I'm going to twirl open group, and I'm going to meatball the mesh. The easiest way to do that. Now I'm going to go ahead and press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac.

Now Adobe's documentation will tell you that you can click in the center of this patch, you can't really. What you can do is you can either click on a point, if you want to, if you just want to infuse that point with color. Or you can Alt-click or Option-click on one of the lines, like so and that will infuse that entire line there with color, line between the two anchor points. You could Alt-click or Option-click here and then you could Alt-click or Option-click there. So it doesn't matter what the angle of the line is. You can just go ahead and associate color with it. So just remember, if you want to lift the color, click with the Eyedropper and that will change the color of the selected point. If clicking doesn't work, if it doesn't produce any results, then try Shift-clicking instead. And then if you want to use the Eyedropper as a syringe and pump color into something, and this works whether you're working with a Gradient Mesh or not. It just happens to be more useful with Gradient Mesh. Then you press the Alt or Option key and click with the Eyedropper tool.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Advanced .

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Q: In the lesson on pressure sensitivity, exactly what kind of Wacom tablet is the instructor using?
A: The instructor is using a Wacom Intuos 3 tablet
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