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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.
Over the next few exercises, we are going to immerse ourselves in the world of blend modes inside of Illustrator. I have gone ahead and saved my progress as Opposing gradients.ai, so called because we have opposing gradient opacity masks assigned to the piano and bench layers here. I am going to go ahead and zoom in on Sammy's face and recall that we are not really seeing the imported image at its full resolution here, so don't worry about some of the choppy transitions. I'm going to zoom in until I can get a good look at his eyes, and then I'm going to turn on this sublayer right here inside the Layers palette, the eyes sublayer, in order to add both the makeup and the highlights inside of the eyes. Both of which by the way, need to interact with the underlying imported image.
I will go ahead and twirl open the eye sublayer there and notice these two Paths right here called Compound Path. They represent the sort of brownish makeup paths. And what we are seeing is if I click on either one of them, you will see that there is an outer path that traces the makeup and then there is an inner path that's the doughnut hole that traces around the eye. Hence, the two Compound Paths. So meatball one, Shift meatball the other to select both of them. Then go to the Transparency palette and then change the blend mode from Normal to one of the darkening modes because after all, we want to go ahead and burn this makeup in.
Now that may be an unfortunate metaphor, but we want to get that inking effect or if you prefer a tattooing effect, also is something you can achieve with these darkening modes. So you might want to try Darken at first just to see what it looks like, looks pretty good actually. And then switch over to Multiply and see what kind of effect you get there, and notice you get a more uniform darkening effect. It's also slightly darker with the application of Multiply. And then finally, you can try out Color Burn. That's very unlikely to work for you. I find Color Burn and for that matter, Color Dodge not to be all that useful inside of Illustrator but you can give them a try. Anyway, I'm going to switch this guy to Multiply, and then I'm going to reduce the Opacity value to 70% to get this effect here.
All right, great. Now, what we want to do is meatball eye right and eye left. These two lower paths inside of the eyes sublayer. Currently, they look like strange glowing holes inside Sammy's head. That's no good. Instead what we want to achieve is the effect of sort of these blue bouncing highlights, as if I'm shining a blue light into his eyes. And I'm going to achieve that effect using one of the Lightening modes right here. So again, you can try them all out. Lighten is going to create this slight lightening effect by comparison to the other ones and it's also noticed that the transitions aren't all that great. I'll press Ctrl+H or Command+H on the Mac and zoom farther in, so we can see what I'm talking about. Notice there is some strange colors in there including some magentas, for example.
Let's go ahead and compare that to Screen, which by the way, every one of these is the opposite of one of the darkening modes. So Lighten is the opposite of Darken, Screen is the opposite of Multiply, and Color Dodge is the opposite of Color Burn. So let's try Screen. A much more uniform effect, also a nice amount of bounce associated with this blend mode. And then I'll go ahead and switch over to Color Dodge, which creates a higher contrast effect. Again, we have more aberrant colors and so on. So of the group, I'm going to go with Screen. And the Screen mode is analogous to shining a highlight into whatever aspect of your illustration you are applying the effect to. In this case, of course these eyes.
Now the amazing thing I have to say is that we are creating an interaction, not just of various vector objects, but of vector objects and an imported pixel based image here inside Illustrator, which is just an amazing thing. In the next exercise, we are going to create an even more complex interaction where blend modes are working inside of a single object. Stay tuned.
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