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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.
In this exercise, I'm going to show you how to light the entire illustration using a Translucent gradient set to a specialized brightening blend mode. I have gone ahead and save my progress as Crazy hair.ai and I'm going to zoom out here, quite a bit actually, so that we can take in the entire illustration. Actually for my purposes, 120% works quite nicely and then I'm going to switch back to the Layers palette. I am going to twirl close the hair sublayer and I'm going to turn-on the gradient? layer that's above Vectors, as you can see. And it's a layer of solid blue hence the question mark behind gradient. I mean what kind of gradient is this? It's a solid color.
Well, not really. If you twirl open the gradient layer, you will see inside a gradient object. Go ahead and meatball it in order to select that rectangular path outline and I'll press Ctrl+H or Command+H on the Mac so that we can see these little corner handles. So we can see that indeed the rectangle is selected. Then go over to the Gradient palette if you will and you'll notice that this is a gradient that goes from this shaded blue right here, 75% Cyan, 40% Magenta, 0% Yellow and 35% Black, to that exact same color over here on the right.
So we are going from one color to an identical color over the course of this gradient, which seems ridiculous, and by the way, the angle of the gradient is 71.91 degrees. Wow! Isn't that interesting? But here is the deal. Here's why I have got a gradient with two identical color stops. We are going to change one of the color stops to an opacity of 0%. So select the rightmost color stop right there and change the opacity value to 0 and then press the Enter key or the Return key on a Mac and you do indeed create a gradient that drops off to transparency. Thanks to your ability to adjust the opacity of a color stop here inside of Illustrator CS4 but that's not enough. We need to create some kind of interaction between the gradient and the underlying objects.
Now even though you can change the opacity of a color stop, you can't change the blend mode of one color stop with respect to a different color stop, so the entire gradient attribute has to have the same blend mode assigned over the course of it. So in other words, we can't do anything from the Appearance palette here that we can just as easily applied to the entire paths. So we are going to apply a blend mode to the entire path. That's what I'm saying. And we are going to do that by going to the Transparency palette and changing the blend mode from Normal to Screen. Let's go ahead and try that out.
Now this is a pretty great effect right here but my problem with Screen is we are getting something of a washed-out effect. The colors are getting a little washed out down here toward the lower left region of the gradient. By the way, if you select the Gradient tool, you will see that the gradient goes from the lower left to the upper right, so in the middle actually of the rectangle. So this is the area that's getting the majority of the screening down here and that's why we are dropping after darker colors toward the top because that area is transparent where the gradient is concerned.
All right, so I'm going to switch back to my Black Arrow tool. What do we do about that? Well, you could experiment with Color Dodge, which is going to give you this effect right here but that looks horrible because our strokes are really starting to break up. It will look better in print but not that much better. So as opposed to Screen, I'll go ahead and select it again just so that we can see the difference. This is the Screen, I'm going o switch over to Lighten, which is going to do a better job of maintaining my original colors without washing them out nearly so much and you can see that we're even getting areas of pink now inside the lower regions of this illustration and I think it looks quite nice.
So now you see the result of combining a translucent gradient along with a blend mode. In the next exercise, I'm going to show you how to assign clipping masks to entire layers at a time.
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