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In Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Advanced, author and industry expert Deke McClelland teaches how to take advantage of the wide array of dynamic features in Illustrator CS5. This course demonstrates how to apply these features to paths, groups, and editable text to create professional-quality artwork. The course covers Live Trace, Live Paint, and Live Color, as well as symbols, gradients, exporting, and integration with Photoshop. Exercise files accompany the course.
In this exercise, I am going to show you how to blend between two groups of paths inside of Illustrator. This is a very powerful feature, very little known, as well, what I'm about to show you. And then I will also show you another little known powerful feature where you can change the speed of a blend using the control handles that are associated with the path of the blend. And if this all sounds like so much gibberish, well, check it out, it's actually really, really great, what we are about to do, very simple as well. I have saved my progress as Nested clipping masks.ai and I am going to scroll down toward the bottom of the sarcophagus where I have this little fence motif set up here.
And I what I want to do is take these two posts over here on the left hand and the right hand side and blend between them to create some more posts. And I'm going to do that first of all by unlocking this low fence layer. So if you're working along with me, you need to unlock it as well. So click the lock icon in front of low fence, now I can gain access to these objects. And I will go ahead and zoom in a little more, center my zoom as well. And I will click on one of these posts. Now notice when I clicked with the Black Arrow tool, I selected both the top ball and the post itself, because they're part of a group.
So I am going to twirl open layers panel just so we can inspect these groups, and I will twirl this guy open so we can see it's a post with a ball in back of it, that's all it is. So a very simple group, you could work with more complex groups if you wanted to. And then same goes for this post over here on the left hand side. It's this group up top, and if I were to twirl it open, we've also got a post on top and a ball below it. So whenever you're blending between two different groups, you just need to make sure those groups contain similar paths inside of them.
So the same number of paths, the same construction and so on. Now I want you to see that even though this is a cartoon rendering that it does subscribe to real perspective. So if I were to grab this post over here on the right hand side and then Alt+Drag or Option+Drag it in order to create a duplicate. And I drag it all the way over to left hand side; you can see it's at the wrong angel. So I need the post in between to gradually step up so that they get straighter and straighter and straighter, that is more up and down, more vertical as we go from the right hand post over to the left hand one.
And that's something that a Blend can do. So I will Backspace that clone group, because I don't need it. And I will select the first group over here on the right hand side and I will Shift+Click on the left hand group, so that they're both selected. And notice that both of the group's are meatballed here inside the Layers panel. I am going to go ahead and twirl them closed, so that we have a little less confusion going on. And then I'll go up to the Object menu. I will choose Blend and I will choose Make or press Ctrl+Alt+B, Cmd+Option+B on the Mac, and because these two groups are formulated in the same way, they blend together beautifully.
So again, you can have as many paths inside of these groups as you want, just so long as the groups are constructed in the same way. Now, I have got a ton of posts at this point. Illustrator's seen fit to give me lots this time around, as well as the path of the blend in between, which is quite handy, because I will need it in just a moment. All right, let's change the number of posts first by double-clicking on the Blend tool to bring up the Blending Options dialog box. I will change spacing from Smooth Color, which is meaningless in this case, to specified steps. It's telling me that it went ahead and created 15 steps form me, I only want 5.
So I'll enter 5 and press the Tab Key. And things are looking pretty darn good. Except for, here is the problem, because the spacing between the posts is absolutely uniform, that defies the rules of perspective drawing. We ought to see bigger spaces over here on the left hand side and smaller spaces as the posts decline away from us. And so what we need to be able to do is change the speed of the blend, and there are no numerical options for doing that. However, there is a way by modifying the path of the blend.
You have to change the control handles, as we'll see. So I will click OK to accept the modification, and then I am going to go to my Pen tool, click and hold, to bring up the flyout menu and choose Convert Anchor Point. And now I will drag from this first anchor point inside the path of the blend in order to draw out a control handle. Now I don't want to introduce any curvature in my path, because then I'd end up getting this kind of effect here. I want to keep the path straight, but I need the control handle to determine how quickly the blend occurs. So if you have got a long control handle, it's a slow transition.
And if you have a very short control handle or no control handle at all, you have a very rapid transition. So the posts are spaced far from each other where we have the control handle. They are spaced very closely to each other where we don't have a control handle. So I am going to eventually back this guy off, but first I'm going introduce another control handle over here on the right hand side by dragging to the right, because I've established a clockwise direction in this case, I need to continue in this direction, so I will drag off to the right like so in order top peel these posts apart from each other.
Then in order to continue modifying those control handles, because the Convert Pont tool is really just useful for creating the control handles in the first place, where this particular exercise is concerned. So I will press the A key in order to get my White Arrow tool, and then I can modify those control handles that I have created. And the whole time, I am taking care to make sure that I am dragging the control handle along the path outline. So the path outline is fundamentally straight. It might have a little curvature at this point, so I might bend it down a little bit. Or, at this point it might be introducing some curvature.
I don't want that, I just want to change the speed of things. So just monkey around with those control handles until you get the speed of those posts exactly the way you want them. And then in my case, I would say I am done. So I will go head and click off that path outline in order to deselect it. Actually it's looking to me like these two guys are spaced a little too closely together. I'm having problems finding my path of the blend. There it is, all right, and I will go ahead and click on it and then go ahead and move that control handle over just a little bit more. All right, I like that. So that gives you a sense of how you can blend between two groups of shapes, two equivalent groups of shapes inside of Illustrator, as well as modify the speed of your blend using the control handles that are associated with the path of the blend.
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