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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.
All right friends, I'm still working inside that same Cropped universe.ai that I opened in the previous exercise. This time around we are going to be blending between two translucent objects that are set far apart from each other. And so, these objects by the way are circle and circle, those guys right there here inside of the Shoot star layer. So I'm going to go ahead and meatball the first circle right there, which has an Opacity of 30%. So it's got a white fill, no Stroke, Opacity 30%, and then if I meatball the other circle, which is this guy right there. He has got an Opacity of 0.
So otherwise the same, white fill, no Stroke, Opacity 0%. All right, so meatball one, Shift meatball the other, and we are going to blend between the shapes using that same keyboard shortcut, Ctrl+Alt+B or Command+Option+B on a Mac. Or if you don't like the shortcut you can go to the Object menu, choose Blend and choose Make. Either way it's going to do it. And you are going to create a bunch of blobs going from the first circle to the second circle right there, across the chasm of the universe, in order to create a shooting star effect, only it doesn't look. It looks bad, because we don't have enough steps, and again, Illustrator sees two wide objects, doesn't know what in the world you are trying to do. But it does see that there is a big geographical distance between them. So it gives you a handful of steps. To see how many steps and to change those steps as well, double-click on the Blend tool icon in the toolbox, and switch the Spacing option to Specified Steps and you will see that Illustrator apparently is giving us 19 steps. Let's try something more along lines of 70 steps, and that looks pretty darn good. Now, if that's still not enough, if we may need more. Let's go ahead and take it up to something like 90, let's say or 100, what the heck, why not just make it a round value of 100, and click OK. Because that way we have a very, very smooth transition going on.
Now I want you to note something, we have got these two blends, right, inside the Shoot star layer, the first blend are the blends between the two bursts, these guys right there. In which one of the burst has that Pucker, Bloat effect applied to it. And notice the Blend though just contains burst1 and burst2. That's it, all right. If we were to scroll down to this Blend, the newest one, the one that's active right now, and I were to go ahead and expand it, I would see circle and circle because there is the first circle and the second circle, but there is also a Path of the Blend. Anytime you have two objects that you are blending between that are not right on top of each other, there is some sort of distance between them, you will get a path of the blend created automatically, and you can modify the path of the blend. Check this out.
I am going to go ahead and lock down this blend right there, the top blend and I'm going to lock down the stars and I'm going to lock down the two circles like so. So everybody inside of this layer except for the Path of the blend, because it can be very difficult to get to that Path of the blend, when there's a bunch of stuff sitting on top of it. Then I want you to go to your Pen tool, extensible, we'll be sitting up here and choose the Convert Anchor Point tool right there, and that way we can modify the Path of the Blend. So it has a little bit of curvature, and I'm going to drag from this point like so, and notice that I'm drawing for the control handle. So that I'm adding some curvature to my path of the blend, and then we'll do the same thing with this guy, and I'm dragging this direction to make sure that I'm keeping things in a nice smooth curvature because if I drag inward, I would get the control handle flopping in the wrong direction like this, right? I don't want that. So I wanted to go outward like so. And we have a nice smooth blend going on right there.
So this path of the blend does in fact determine exactly the path over which the blend occurs. The thing to bear in mind though is you do not want to move the end points. If you move the end points, you are going to move the shapes as well, check this out. I'll go ahead and grab my Direct Selection tool, and I'll drag this first end point to a different location. And notice that moves the circles as well, even though it's locked down. So that doesn't even make any sense, Illustrator should not be letting us move it, but it does, and that is going to mess up our effects. So while you can go ahead and change the curvature, you can add points as well along the curve using the Pen tool if you like, but don't change the location of the end points or you will change the location of your beginning and ending objects in the blend.
All right, in the next exercise I'm going to show you how we can use these control handles to change the speed of our blend.
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