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This course is the third in a four-part series devoted to mastering the premiere graphics creation application, Adobe Illustrator, version CS6. Industry pro Deke McClelland takes a project-based learning approach to the key features in Illustrator, including Recolor Artwork, transparency, masks, blend modes, strokes and fills, and dynamic effects. The course also covers techniques for creating custom gradients, designing logos, generating photorealistic neon text, and wrapping type around objects. Plus, Deke shows how to call up the most essential features by organizing your workspace and employing time-saving keyboard shortcuts, how to manage the color settings, and how to adjust a few settings to make the program work even better.
In this movie I'll show you how to blend between shapes with different levels of opacity, and as a result we'll come up with a starburst in the upper right corner of the final version of the artwork. I'll go ahead and switch over to my file in progress here. And I'll bring up the Navigator panel, just in the name of expediency, and drag over to the star, which is located in the upper right corner as I say. Now currently we're seeing this pale yellow circle in the center here, along with this kind of fuzzy star. There is another star in back of it however that's absolutely transparent and therefore invisible.
So we're going to start things off armed with the Black Arrow tool by selecting the central circle. I can't get to it however because it's on the locked layer. So I'll scroll down the list inside the Layers panel and I'll unlock the orange star layer and then I'll click on that circle again to select it. And if your Fill is active in the Color panel, you can see that it's set to 25% Yellow, and that is all; Cyan, Magenta, and Black are all set to 0. Meanwhile, the Opacity value up here in the Control panel is set to 100%. Now to get to the other shape in our upcoming blend here, I'll press Ctrl+Y or Command+Y on the Mac to switch to the Outline mode, and then I'll click on this big nine-pointed star right here.
And you can see that it has the exact same color for the Fill; 25% yellow, that's it. But the Opacity level up here in the Control panel is set to 0%, and as a result when I press Ctrl+Y or Command+Y on the Mac, the star is invisible. Now, normally you don't work with Opacity levels of 0%, because after all that turns the path outline into a nonparticipating element of your artwork. However, when working with blends, 0% Opacity turns out to be a really great thing. So with the big star selected I'll Shift+Click on the central circle, and I want you to notice something else.
These shapes could not be more different. This time around we're not blending between similar path outlines, as we have in the past; instead we've got a circle with just four anchor points connected by four curving segments. And then we've got this nine-pointed star with 18 anchor points, all of which are connected by straight segments. And yet things are going to reconcile just fine. Now that's because we're working with regular geometric forms--the star contains points that are symmetrical around a central point-- and the circle is absolutely symmetrical. If you were to try this with free form path outlines that were totally different from each other, you might not get the results you're looking for.
Anyway, I just wanted to mention that. Let's turn this thing into a blend by going up to the Object menu, choosing Blend, and then choosing the Make command. And notice that we end up getting just a single step in between, and that's because the two shapes are filled with the exact same color; 25% Yellow. The Blend function is not smart enough to see the difference between Opacity levels. However, check this out. If I press the A key in order to switch to the White Arrow tool, and then I Shift+Alt+Click or Shift+Option+Click on that central circle to deselect it, then I can change the color associated with the star by dialing in, for example, 50% for the Cyan value, and Illustrator ends up generating a super smooth blend on-the-fly. Albeit, one that changes color over the course of the blend.
So it starts an opaque pale yellow and blends to an increasingly translucent greenish blue. Now let's say you want to change the number of steps in this blend. Then you would double-click on the Blend tool icon here inside the toolbox. And then I'll switch the Spacing--this time just for the sake of demonstration, to Specified Distance--and I'll turn on the Preview checkbox. And at first that's not going to make any difference, because having four points between each one of the steps works out fine; it ends up producing a very smooth result. But let's say I take this value up to something like 30 points and press the Tab key, now we have 30 points between the most extreme portions of these path outlines.
So from this edge of the circle, for example, to this point in the step, and then this point in the step and so forth, all the way to the extreme star. But what I'm looking for is a specified number of steps, so I'll switch to Specified Steps. Notice that Illustrator has automatically come up with 127 steps. Let's say I reduce that value to a third by dialing in /3, and then I press the Tab key. So I've taken the number of steps down to 42 steps. You can now see if you look very closely, you can see that we have some stair stepping inside the star. However, if I click OK and then I press Ctrl+0 or Command+0 on the Mac in order to zoom out, press Ctrl+Shift+A or Command+Shift+A on the Mac in order to deselect the artwork, it looks super smooth, even though it's just one-third as complex.
So that's how you create blends between shapes with different levels of Opacity. In the next movie we'll up the ante in order to create this star trail here, and we'll do so by modifying the spine of the blend.
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