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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.
In this exercise, I'm going to show you how to create another color stop in your Blended Gradient by cloning an existing shape inside of the Blend and then modifying it to taste. I have gone ahead and saved my progress so far as Blended shapes.ai and I want to take this middle object and I want to clone it. So I'll go ahead and meatball it here inside the Layers palette, you may have to go ahead and twirl open your Backdrop layer and then your objects group and then your Blend object right there in order to find this item.
Go ahead and meatball it and then notice that I can drag it to any location I want and the Blend updates on the fly, so the Blend is absolutely a live object here inside of Illustrator. Even to the extent that if I were to switch to the White Arrow tool, I'll go ahead and press the A key to get the White Arrow tool here, click off the shape then select this bottom left corner just randomly just by way of an example and I'll go ahead and drag it to a different location and you can see, not only am I changing the location of this color stop, but I'm changing the shape of the color stop is well there by changing the nature of the gradient.
So this is something you can't do standard gradients inside of Illustrator that you can do using Blends, so Blends remain, even though there an Illustrator 2 feature essentially, Illustrator 88, they remain this incredibly sophisticated powerful function. All right, so anyway I have got this really wacky shape going on here. I'll Alt-click on it or Option-click in order to select the entire thing. I'll move it up let's say and then I'll go ahead and drag it and press the Alt key or the Option key and release in order to create a clone and now I have got this messed up gradient once again where it goes down to blue, which is the next object down right there.
Then it goes up to this blue and then it goes back down to page. So I need to make some alterations, so what I did was I just messed up the stacking order once again. So all we need to do to fix that is to just drag these to different locations like I could drag this guy upward and you know what? I'm going to switch to make rotate by pressing the R key for moment and I'm going to rotate this guy to a different angle like so. So it's not such a mess and then I'll meatball this middle guy and I'll switch back to my White Arrow tool and I'll drag him down to this location.
I might get the Rotate tool once again and rotate him into a more desirable orientation and now we have got this sort of shutter problem going on and I'll explain what's up there in just a moment. But let's go ahead and name these guys, so they make a little more sense, I'll call this one middle 1 and then click OK and I'll double-click on this guy and call him middle 2 and click OK. I'll go ahead and switch back to my White Arrow tool and drag this down just to it looks even worse potentially. The reason that we have this big gap in between the two blue shapes right there is because Illustrator is confused by what we are doing. Now, it really shouldn't be confused but it is. It's going "All right, you have this deep purple and this blue here, so you will a need a lot of intermediate shapes between those two shapes in order to pull off a smooth color transition and then down here from blue to beige you will need a lot of shapes as well." And it's trying all these little micro shapes in between in order to fill in the different colors. "But between blue and blue, those are the same dark color, you don't need anything really. But they are so far away, what the heck? I'll give you a few shapes" and that's Illustrator talking to you.
It just doesn't know what to do. So you can edit this blend by double-clicking on the Blend tool icon in the toolbox and then you specify a number of steps and I'll show you how that works later. But for now another way to solve this problem is just to change the color of one of these objects and I'm going to change the color of middle 2, dial in a nice shade of green, an ugly shade of green this time. So I'll take the Magenta value right there, inside the Color palette and I'll change it from 70 to 25 and just that one change, as soon as press Tab, that fixes the problem because now we have different colors and now the Illustrator goes "Oh! I get it, I need to give you some steps in between in order to fill in the gap." All right and then I'll change Yellow to something like 80, Tab and I'll change my Black value to 0, let's just take the Black out of there, so we have a nice bright green going on and now we have a smooth gradient. Once again, all right dandy, so I'll go ahead and click off this Gradient and that's all there is to that one and if go in and zoom in, you can see it looks just great, a super smooth gradient, just as you would expect from Illustrator. In the next exercise, I'm going to show you how to take this Blend and mask it inside the rectangle.
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