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Covering a wide range of topics, from advanced masking to chart creation, Illustrator CS4 Beyond the Basics reveals a whole new level of power, creativity, and efficiency with Illustrator. Instructor Mordy Golding explores how to work with Live Paint groups, get the most out of the Live Trace feature, and take advantage of Illustrator’s wide range of effects. He also discusses advanced transformation techniques, powerful 3D functionality, and important color concepts. Exercise files accompany the course.
Now I know the artwork in this file is not the most exciting thing to look at, but it really will illustrate well, the next point that I want to make about blends. Till now, we have been discussing, creating a blend by using a command in the Object menu, called Blend, and then Make. However, there is another way to make a blend inside of Illustrator, and that's to use the Specific Blend tool, which you can find here inside of the Tools panel. So I'm actually going to select the Blend tool, the keyboard shortcut for that is just the W key. So what we have been doing so far is we have been selecting two objects, and telling Illustrator to automatically blend between them. Now in reality, when you work with objects that have the same number of anchor points, Illustrator is really trying to convert those anchor points and create the steps of that blend, using those particular anchor points.
However, when we use the Blend tool, we could tell Illustrator specifically which anchor points to blend into other anchor points. For example, let's take this object, right over here, I have a stroke over here, and a stroke over here, two separate objects, they both have the same attributes. They have a 1 point weight, and they are set to black. I don't have to have anything selected by the way; the Blend tool just allows me to click on objects as I want to. Notice that if you look at the icon right now, it has a little hollow box there, but as I mouse over an object that has an anchor point, you can see that right there's a little X and a little black square. It kind of takes over the cursor that's over there. That indicates that I can actually click on that area to define a step for a blend.
So by using the Blend tool itself, I have the ability to tell Illustrator specifically, what I want to use as the start point, or the first key object, and the end point or the second key object in my blend, and I can do so on an anchor point basis, not necessarily on an object basis. So this gives us lot of control, and I'll explain to you, why. If I start on this particular anchor point, and I click over here to define, this is my start point and I'm going to move my cursor over and identify the second points or the second key objects in my blend to have Illustrator create a blend. If I choose this anchor point, over here on this top of the path, Illustrator will now basically create a blend across all these. Choose Object, I'm going to choose Blend > Blend Options, and we could actually change that from Smooth Color to Specified Steps. In fact, let's cancel out of that completely. I'm going to press Undo and these are my regular Selection tools.
Just click on any blank area. I have nothing selected anymore. I can now go to the Object menu and I can choose Blend > Blend Options, even though I have no object selected. So now, the settings that I define now will take effect for all new blends that I create inside of Illustrator. You can think of this as me setting to default for what the properties of the Blend tool will now take into account. So I'm going to click on the Blend Options setting here, instead of choosing Smooth Color, which is Illustrator's default, I'm going to use Specified Steps, and I'll type in a value, like maybe, I don't know 15 steps for now, click OK. Notice by the way the Preview checkbox is turned off, because I have no object selected right now, so I'm going to click OK. What this means is that now, whenever I create a blend, the Illustrator is automatically going to use the Specified Steps setting, with a value of 15. So now I'm actually going to go back to my Blend tool, I'll type the W key on my keyboard. I'll click on this anchor point over here, and then click on this one, so you can see the blend that was created. That's what we have kind of seen until now.
I am going to press Undo though. I'm going to start off by clicking on this anchor point right here. That's my first point. Now I'm going to come down to the anchor point on the bottom of the path. So what I'm basically telling Illustrator to do is not to blend my object from this anchor point to this anchor point, which has given me the straight lines over here. But by going from this anchor point to this one down over here, and now I'll click on this one, Illustrator blends it two by combining these two anchor points. In order for Illustrator to get from this anchor point to this one, it has to flip that path over again, so I'm kind of getting this path, twisting its ways, and its blend to this one, which is actually pretty cool. In fact, you can create tons of special effects this way. We know that blends are live. I can still modify these shapes. So for example, let's go ahead and adjust the number of steps in this blend, maybe you want a few more steps here. I'm going to switch to my regular Selection tool, select the entire blend, go to the Object menu, and I can choose Blend, again Blend Options here, and I can change my Specified Steps around, we'll just try 30 steps. Now we have that many more lines that appear in between these two key objects.
So now I'm going to actually go back to my regular Direct Selection tool here. I'm simply going to deselect my artwork. I'm going to click just on one anchor point right over here, and adjust this anchor point to be something this like this. Now you can see the blend that's taking place over here, remember if I would have had just a regular plain blend, I would have kind of gotten straight lines. But you can clearly see that Illustrator here is blending this by actually flipping the path, as it goes across the spine of that particular blend. In fact, you can get some really cool effects, by just simply modifying the blends here in this way. So I get kind of this loopy kind of effect, really, really cool, and get some really cool 3D or perspective type of grids here, again all working with the blends, but by blending by the anchor points instead of the objects in general.
Let me show you, you can actually apply this to whole objects as well. So I'm going to take this artwork here, and let's go ahead, and just delete that for now. Let's take a look at these two stars, again they are two identical stars, have the same number of anchor points. But I can again tell Illustrator, exactly how I want that particular blend to be created, by using the Blend tool. I will type the W key to select my Blend tool. I'll click on the top anchor point of this star, and the top anchor point of this star to see, how that actually gets created. And now I'm going to click on the Undo button, Command+Z, or Ctrl+Z on Windows, and I'll click on the top anchor point of this star, and now I'll click on this anchor point over here. And you can see that in the process, Illustrator kind of rotates the star, and almost puts a little bit of an arc, to make it appear as if that star is rotating as it's creating the blend steps.
So now we can see that, we really have a lot more control of our blends, we can control the number of steps inside of our blend, and by using the Blend tool specifically, we can also adjust exactly how those steps are created between the two key objects. One of the thing to note also with the Blend tool is that you can always simply go over to any particular anchor point, and hold down the Option or the Alt key, and then double -click. Doing so brings up the Blend Options dialog box for that particular blend.
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