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In Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Mastery, the third and final part of the comprehensive Illustrator One-on-One series, author and industry expert Deke McClelland shows how to take advantage of the wide array of dynamic effects in Illustrator CS5. Deke explores Illustrator’s powerful Gradient Mesh feature, great for creating photorealistic airbrushing effects. He also covers graphic styles, the liquify tools, envelope-style distortions, the new Bristle Brushes, 3D text, and perspective drawing. Exercise files accompany the course.
In this final exercise, we are going to blend this horse with its background, so we get some nice rich blacks going, and we are going to do that using a blend mode and an opacity mask from the Transparency panel. I have saved my changes as Horse inside a mesh.ai. It's found, as always, inside the 25_ liquify_envelope folder, and I want you to make sure that your entire mesh object is selected, because as you may recall, in my case, I just have a point somewhere selected in the mesh. And if I go to the Transparency panel, my blend mode is not available, because you can't apply blend modes on a point-by-point basis. And where an envelope-style mesh is concerned, you can't apply opacity values either; you have to do so to the entire object.
So here inside the Layers panel, I am going to go ahead and meatball my envelope item there inside of the horse layer, and now both my opacity and my blend mode light up inside the Transparency panel, and I'm going to change my mode from Normal to Multiply yet again, in order to burn that horse into the background. And you can see we get some much nicer blacks going this time. However, what I don't like about this effect is his hooves are covering up the letters in Knight Flyer. Now if I had constructed this illustration differently, I might be able to move the letters on top of the hooves and then change their opacity or what have you, if I wanted a little bit of interaction.
However, I can't do that, because the letters are located on this background layer in the background, so behind the horse, of course. If I were to take this envelope item that contains both the text and the grassy hill, if I were to take them and move them in front of the horse, then the hill would be in front of the horse as well. So that's not a solution. Instead, I'm going to take advantage of an opacity mask. So I will go ahead and twirl close that background layer once again, and then I'll expand the Transparency panel by clicking on this double-arrow icon a couple of times in a row. And I will bring up my flyout menu, and then I'll choose Make Opacity Mask. And by default, at least for me, the clip check box is on.
So I am going to turn it off, so that I have a white mask and I can see my horse once again. If you've been working along with me from the previous exercise, then you still have the contents of the clipboard intact. That's what I'm hoping. That is to say, I will go ahead and twirl open background again. Remember that we went ahead and copied this trim size object. If you've lost your clipboard, then you can go ahead and unlock the background and meatball the trim size and copy it, but mine is right ready to go. So I will go ahead and twirl that to close again. I will click in the Opacity Mask thumbnail, here in the Transparency panel, to make it active, and I'll press Ctrl+F, or Command+F on a Mac, to go ahead and paste that object into place.
Now it has no fill and it has no stroke, so it's not doing anything so far. I'm going to add a gradient to it by clicking on gradient, by switching over to the Gradient panel and clicking in that little strip, in order to assign a gradient to that object. And now we have a gradient fade going; it just doesn't happen to be the right fade. So I've got white on one side of the gradient, that's great; I have got black on the other side, that's the problem. So I am going to click on the black swatch, and my color panel is up on screen. So I will just go head and change k value to 50%, so that we have a little less of a fade, as you see here.
Now the gradient is going in the wrong direction; it's going from left to right. I need it to go from bottom to top or top to bottom, I don't know which. But I am going to grab my Gradient tool, and I can get it by pressing the G key, and I want the translucency to be at the bottom of the horse and the Opacity to be up at the top. So my gradient starts white, so I guess I need to drag from about here down, and I'm pressing the Shift key as I drag in order to constrain the angle of my gradient to exactly vertical. And then I will release and I get this effect here, and that's exactly what I wanted.
So you can see that the top portion of the horse continues to blend and grade with the background. You can even see parts of the starbursts through the wings, which I think is awesome, and then we're fading the hooves into the letters, so that the letters remain entirely legible. All right, now I am going to switch out of my opacity mask by going back to my Transparency panel and clicking on the illustration thumbnail. And that takes me back, as you can see here, to my envelope mesh. I am going to press Ctrl+Shift+A, or Command+ Shift+A on a Mac, to deselect the document. I am going to press the V key to switch back to the Black Arrow tool, and I'm impressed the F key a couple of times in order to fill my screen with this illustration.
This is the final version of the illustration, thanks to the amazing distortion capabilities of Liquify and Envelope here inside Illustrator CS 5.
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