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Assigning a gradient to a stroke


Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Advanced

with Deke McClelland

Video: Assigning a gradient to a stroke

In this exercise, I'm going to show you how to assign a Gradient to a Stroke, which I will tell you upfront is not possible in Illustrator. The one thing that Strokes don't accommodate, even though they've gotten so immensely powerful inside of CS5, they do not accommodate Gradient. So what we're going to have to do is take these whiskers, which I propose that we fill with a Gradient, and we're going to convert them to filled path outlines, and then we're going to assign the Gradient to the Fill, but it gets even more complicated than that as you're about to see, because somehow we need to reconcile the fact that these whiskers are wiggled using the Zig Zag Effect.
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  1. 38m 35s
    1. Welcome
      1m 48s
    2. Linking AI and EPS files to Illustrator
      6m 48s
    3. Installing the dekeKeys keyboard shortcuts
      7m 43s
    4. Remapping Mac OS shortcuts
      6m 56s
    5. Installing the Best Workflow color settings
      4m 54s
    6. The color settings explained
      7m 4s
    7. Preserve Numbers vs. embedded profiles
      3m 22s
  2. 1h 40m
    1. Converting pixels to vectors
      1m 2s
    2. Tracing an imported image
      6m 17s
    3. Other ways to trace
      3m 17s
    4. Raster and vector previews
      7m 2s
    5. Threshold, Min Area, and Max Colors
      5m 27s
    6. Tracing options: The raster functions
      8m 2s
    7. Using the Ignore White option
      5m 3s
    8. Tracing options: The vector functions
      6m 40s
    9. Expanding traced artwork
      5m 6s
    10. Sketching and drawing for Illustrator
      6m 24s
    11. Editing scanned line art
      9m 23s
    12. Adding contrast and color
      10m 32s
    13. Live Trace and resolution
      9m 8s
    14. Expanding and separating paths
      8m 43s
    15. Scaling and editing traced art
      8m 4s
  3. 1h 8m
    1. Gradients are good
      1m 15s
    2. Assigning a gradient fill
      6m 9s
    3. Using the gradient annotator
      7m 31s
    4. Editing multiple gradients
      4m 37s
    5. Establishing symmetrical gradients
      5m 28s
    6. Creating a radial gradient
      5m 46s
    7. Adjusting the midpoint skew
      3m 23s
    8. Mixing gradients with blend modes
      6m 11s
    9. Making a transparent gradient
      6m 42s
    10. Drop shadows and dynamic effects
      5m 58s
    11. Assigning a gradient to editable text
      5m 42s
    12. Editing text that includes dynamic effects
      2m 56s
    13. Assigning a gradient to a stroke
      6m 46s
  4. 1h 37m
    1. The earliest dynamic functions
      1m 10s
    2. The gradient-intensive illustration
      5m 26s
    3. Creating a multi-color blend
      7m 39s
    4. Establishing a clipping mask
      3m 34s
    5. Reinstating the mask colors
      9m 7s
    6. Editing blended paths
      6m 50s
    7. Adjusting the number of blended steps
      6m 49s
    8. Using the Blend tool
      4m 33s
    9. Blending between levels of opacity
      7m 32s
    10. Editing the path of the blend
      6m 22s
    11. Adding a custom path of the blend
      5m 4s
    12. Placing one mask inside another
      8m 33s
    13. Blending groups and adjusting the speed
      6m 1s
    14. Rotating objects in 3D space
      10m 21s
    15. Creating custom perspective guides
      8m 31s
  5. 1h 37m
    1. What was old is new again
    2. Introducing tile patterns
      6m 11s
    3. Determining the points of intersection
      6m 51s
    4. Extending paths from the intersections
      5m 40s
    5. Crafting symmetrical subpaths
      5m 38s
    6. The final flawed subpaths
      5m 52s
    7. Reconciling misaligned paths
      5m 34s
    8. Completing the core path outline
      6m 14s
    9. Making a symmetrical modification
      6m 47s
    10. Adjusting the interior elements
      8m 26s
    11. Coloring paths and testing the interlock
      9m 29s
    12. Establishing a rectangular tile
      6m 22s
    13. Defining a tile pattern
      3m 43s
    14. Creating a few color variations
      8m 50s
    15. Protecting patterns from transformations
      6m 9s
    16. Transforming patterns without paths
      5m 30s
  6. 1h 12m
    1. Filling and stroking virtual areas
    2. Introducing Live Paint
      7m 57s
    3. Stroking with the Live Paint Bucket tool
      5m 30s
    4. Using the Live Paint Selection tool
      7m 18s
    5. Adding a path to a Live Paint group
      4m 33s
    6. Building a classic Celtic knot
      8m 28s
    7. Constructing the base objects
      5m 31s
    8. Weaving one object into another
      6m 13s
    9. Creating a path that overlaps itself
      7m 15s
    10. Painting a path that overlaps itself
      5m 34s
    11. Creating knots inside knots
      5m 2s
    12. Adding gradients and depth
      8m 22s
  7. 1h 4m
    1. Dynamic effects and OpenType
      1m 12s
    2. Applying a dynamic effect to type
      5m 43s
    3. Creating a basic bevel effect
      4m 12s
    4. Building up a multi-stroke effect
      4m 49s
    5. Best practices for 3D type
      6m 34s
    6. Applying a "path wiggler" to type
      6m 14s
    7. Drop shadows and Raster Effects settings
      4m 52s
    8. Duplicating attributes and effects
      7m 8s
    9. Editing type with dynamic effects
      7m 27s
    10. Ligatures, swashes, ordinals, and fractions
      5m 45s
    11. Small caps and the Glyphs panel
      4m 25s
    12. Warping text and increasing resolution
      6m 9s
  8. 1h 44m
    1. A world of colors at your beck and call
      1m 32s
    2. Customizing a letterform to make a logo
      8m 37s
    3. Creating a custom drop shadow effect
      6m 26s
    4. Introducing the Color Guide panel
      9m 3s
    5. Harmonies and Color Guide settings
      5m 39s
    6. Lifting harmony rules from color groups
      7m 21s
    7. Harmony layouts and the Lab color wheel
      8m 15s
    8. Working inside the Edit Color dialog box
      6m 36s
    9. Limiting a color group to spot colors
      5m 47s
    10. Recoloring selected artwork
      5m 50s
    11. Recoloring with custom color groups
      6m 1s
    12. Swapping colors with the Color Bars feature
      5m 18s
    13. Using the options in the Assign panel
      8m 41s
    14. Moving color groups between documents
      7m 17s
    15. Distilling your artwork to one spot-color ink
      7m 45s
    16. Recoloring artwork that contains gradients
      4m 17s
  9. 1h 21m
    1. How symbols work
      1m 2s
    2. The power of symbols
      5m 1s
    3. Creating new symbols
      6m 0s
    4. Enabling the new 9-slice scaling
      4m 24s
    5. Adjusting your 9-slice scaling guides
      6m 54s
    6. Previewing and acquiring symbols
      4m 12s
    7. Finding a symbol and creating an instance
      4m 13s
    8. Duplicating and replacing instances
      4m 19s
    9. Breaking a symbol link and envelope fidelity
      5m 26s
    10. Distorting and expanding a symbol
      4m 54s
    11. Updating an existing symbol definition
      3m 40s
    12. Recoloring a symbol definition
      4m 13s
    13. Applying a basic "local" color adjustment
      5m 20s
    14. Applying a more elaborate local color adjustment
      5m 4s
    15. Laying down a random symbol set
      5m 35s
    16. The eight symbolism tools
      6m 55s
    17. Editing selected instances
      4m 11s
  10. 1h 32m
    1. Illustrator needs Photoshop
      1m 1s
    2. Two ways to place a pixel-based image
      6m 6s
    3. Working with linked images
      6m 6s
    4. Linking versus embedding
      9m 38s
    5. Stroking and blending an image
      6m 16s
    6. Adding a clipping mask and page curl
      6m 51s
    7. Creating a blended border effect
      7m 10s
    8. Rasterizing your artwork in Photoshop
      8m 0s
    9. Saving a flat raster file from Photoshop
      4m 58s
    10. Restoring cropped border elements
      5m 39s
    11. Copying and pasting into Photoshop
      6m 27s
    12. Working with Photoshop Smart Objects
      5m 26s
    13. Adding a pixel-based layer effect
      4m 12s
    14. Editing a Vector Smart Object in Illustrator
      7m 20s
    15. Creating and placing a transparent image
      7m 1s
  11. 1h 15m
    1. The many forms of transparency
      1m 29s
    2. Real-world blending modes
      7m 57s
    3. Exporting transparency from Illustrator
      6m 24s
    4. Opacity and blending modes
      6m 18s
    5. The Darken and Lighten modes
      7m 17s
    6. The Contrast, Inversion, and HSL modes
      6m 12s
    7. Blending modes in action
      5m 11s
    8. Creating a knockout group
      6m 14s
    9. Confirming the viability of your artwork
      6m 8s
    10. Introducing the opacity mask
      4m 6s
    11. Making an opacity mask
      5m 25s
    12. Drawing inside an opacity mask
      3m 34s
    13. Creating a gradient opacity mask
      5m 29s
    14. Adding an opacity mask to a single object
      3m 22s
  12. 1m 13s
    1. Until next time
      1m 13s

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Watch the Online Video Course Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Advanced
14h 53m Intermediate Nov 30, 2010

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Advanced, author and industry expert Deke McClelland teaches how to take advantage of the wide array of dynamic features in Illustrator CS5. This course demonstrates how to apply these features to paths, groups, and editable text to create professional-quality artwork. The course covers Live Trace, Live Paint, and Live Color, as well as symbols, gradients, exporting, and integration with Photoshop. Exercise files accompany the course.

Topics include:
  • Tracing a pixel-based image
  • Sketching and drawing for Illustrator
  • Creating and editing gradients
  • Creating multi-colored blends
  • Creating seamlessly repeating tile patterns
  • Creating interlocking artwork with Live Paint
  • Designing advanced type effects
  • Recoloring artwork with color harmonies
  • Making the most of symbols
  • Integrating Illustrator with Photoshop
  • Using transparency, blend modes, and opacity masks
Deke McClelland

Assigning a gradient to a stroke

In this exercise, I'm going to show you how to assign a Gradient to a Stroke, which I will tell you upfront is not possible in Illustrator. The one thing that Strokes don't accommodate, even though they've gotten so immensely powerful inside of CS5, they do not accommodate Gradient. So what we're going to have to do is take these whiskers, which I propose that we fill with a Gradient, and we're going to convert them to filled path outlines, and then we're going to assign the Gradient to the Fill, but it gets even more complicated than that as you're about to see, because somehow we need to reconcile the fact that these whiskers are wiggled using the Zig Zag Effect.

I've saved my progress as Black Cat, and I'm going to start things off by clicking on these whiskers in order to select them. They're all grouped together, so just click on any one to select them all. And you have to watch out for that little square next to the arrow cursor, because that tells you where the path outline really is, since it's pretending to wiggle back and forth, but you have to click right on the path outline to get it. So anyway, go ahead and select all the whiskers, and then let's just experiment with assigning a Gradient Stroke. I'll switch to the Stroke attribute here inside the Color panel, and I'll click on a Gradient here inside the Gradient panel, and that goes ahead and assigns the Gradient to the Fill.

So Illustrator is effectively saying, you can't assign a Gradient to a Stroke you silly person, I know what you want to do. You want to assign it to a Fill. Well, obviously that's not what we want to do. So I'll press Ctrl+Z or Cmd+Z on the Mac to undo that modification. Anytime you're trying to do something to a Stroke that Illustrator refuses to do, the solution is to go up to the Object menu, choose the Path command, and then choose Outline Stroke. Or if you loaded dekeKeys, you can press that keyboard shortcut of Ctrl+Backslash, Cmd+Backslash on the Mac.

But that really wrecks things, as you can see here, and the reason is that Illustrator went ahead and outlined the actual Strokes, and then it's applying Zig Zag on top of that. So it didn't outline the Zig Zag Strokes, in other words. So we need to first expand Zig Zag and then outline it. So I'll press Ctrl+Z, Cmd+Z on the Mac in order to undo that modification. And if I were to expand the effect right now, if I were to go up to the Object menu and choose Expand Appearance, what would happen is Illustrator is going to expand the Zig Zag Effect, so we have paths that are really zigzagging back and forth, but it's also going to expand the Drop Shadow Effect to a pixel-based image, which means we lose our Drop Shadow control.

So what would be nice is if you could just turn Drop Shadow off and then keep it. So just expand what's visible, don't expand what's invisible, but instead what happens is you go up to the Object menu, you choose Expand Appearance, that does go ahead and expand out the path outlines just the way we want them, however, it throws away the Drop Shadow. So unless you want a pixel-based image, this is the way to go, but we're going to have to reassign the Drop Shadow later. The other thing I hate about this, and this is just me griping. I'll go over to the layers panel. I'll twirl open the black cat layer, and let's scroll down to the bottom here, which is where the whiskers Group is.

If I twirl it open, I've got a bunch of Groups inside that Group now, instead of individual path outlines, which is fairly ridiculous, because each one of the Groups only contains one path and that's it. So we don't need these Groups of Groups. So I'm going to press Ctrl+Shift+G or Cmd+Shift+G on the Mac twice in a row in order to completely ungroup these whiskers all the way. And then I'll press Ctrl+G or Cmd+ G on the Mac in order to reinstate the Group of whiskers, and I'll go ahead and double-click on that Group and rename it whiskers.

And then, having done that, I now have the properly wiggling paths. I'll go up to the Object menu. I'll choose the Path command, and then I'll choose Outline Stroke or press that dekeKeys shortcut, Ctrl+Backslash, Cmd+Backslash on the Mac, and now I have path outlines that are not Stroked, but are rather Filled with white. The Fill is active, that doesn't really matter, because as soon as I click on Gradient, it's going to assign the Gradient to the Fill anyway. So I'll click on that Gradient swatch. I now have Gradients inside of my whiskers. You know what, I'm going to press Ctrl+ H or Cmd+H on the Mac so that I hide those selection edges and I can actually see what I'm doing.

You'll notice that we have two Linear Gradients essentially that are applied to these whiskers, and they begin on the left side and end on the right side of each whisker, so there's actually eight different Linear Gradients going on. Let's go ahead and switch them out with Radial Gradients, which will begin in the center of each one of the whiskers and extend out to the ends, and that's not what I want either, but I'll take care of that in a second. Let's go ahead and change this final Gradient color by double-clicking on it, in order to bring up the Color panel. I'll switch over to my CMYK sliders, and I'm going to switch this color to a rich black once again.

I guess I could have lifted it from one of the other Gradients, but I chose this route instead, so 50, 50, 50 for Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow, and then 100% for Black. The Gradients still aren't looking right, so I'll switch to my Gradient tool by pressing the G key or clicking on it, and lo and behold, where is my annotator? I can't see the darn thing. And it's not because my path outlines are hidden, it's because the Group is active, and the Gradient isn't actually assigned to the Group, it's assigned to the independent whiskers. So I need to switch over to the Appearance panel and double-click on Contents, and as soon as I do, then I see all of my Gradient annotators, just FYI.

All right, I don't want any of these guys though. In other words, I don't want to manipulate each and every one of them independently. So I'm going to start from a new location right there at the center of the muzzle, and I'm going to drag out like so, and I'm going to press the Shift key as I do to constrain the angle of my drag to exactly horizontal, until my cursor is above the upper right corner of the H down here. So I want it to align just to that location, just for aesthetic purposes, and I end up getting this effect here, and all is well. Yea! Now I'm going to switch back to my Black Arrow tool, and then I need to double-click on Group once again, because I've got to reinstate that Drop Shadow, so I'll double-click on Group, which is telling me No Appearance, so there's no Drop Shadow there anymore.

Double-click on it, make the Group active, then I'll go back up to the Effect menu, choose Stylize, and choose the Drop Shadow command, or press that dekeKeys shortcut, which is Ctrl+Alt+E, Cmd+Option+E on the Mac. And with any luck, I'll see the last Drop Shadow I applied, which in my case is true. So these are the right settings. Mode's set to Multiply, Opacity 100, X Offset 0, Y Offset 3, and Blur 3 as well. Color's turned on, and it's set to Black. I could Preview the effect if I want to, but I know it's right, so I'll just click OK in order to assign that Drop Shadow, and we end up with the final version of our artwork.

And that, my friends, is how you apply and manipulate Gradients using the Gradient panel, the Gradient tool, and the Gradient annotator here inside Illustrator.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Advanced .

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Q: The instructions for installing the dekeKeys don't work on my computer (which is running Mac OS X Lion). Is there an update to these?
A: The dekeKeys distributed with this course will still work for Lion. You just need to add them to a slightly different folder than in previous versions of OS X.

Open a new Finder window and choose Go > Go to Folder. Type the following file path exactly as written below. Copying and pasting may result in an error.

~/Library/Preferences/Adobe Illustrator CS5 Settings/en_US

Move and/or copy/paste the dekeKeys to this folder and follow the rest of the instructions as outlined in the video, "Installing the dekeKeys keyboard shortcuts."
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