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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 Chat.ai, 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.
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