Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member
In this exercise and the next, I'm going to walk you through one of many possible advanced blending scenarios inside of Illustrator. My intention is to help you understand how you can exploit blending in order to achieve any effect you want. However, I'll warn you upfront, this is a little mind bending. It's a little hard to keep up with. So I'll do my best, you do yours. I have gone ahead and saved my progress as Masked layers.ai and you will notice at the top of the Layers palette is this hidden layer called Text items. Go ahead and turn it on, so that we can see its contents and then twirl the Text items layer open. Now this is live editable text. It's set in the font called Nueva Std that ships along with many skews of Creative Suite 4. If you have it, great. If you don't, don't worry too much about it, just watch what I'm doing here inside the video.
Notice that the top text is called Pied Pianist. It's just white text and a black background, no special transparency as witnessed by the fact that we have a plain white meatball. Whereas the of Samuelin text obviously has some sort of translucency going on and a drop shadow and we can confirm that we have transparency by the appearance of this volumetric meatball. All right, so go ahead and meatball Samuelin right there and if you switch over to the Transparency palette, you will see Normal, 100%. So no transparency going on whatsoever. Well that just means that I haven't done anything special to the text as a whole. However, there must be something going on.
If you ever need to do some transparency detective work inside of Illustrator, then you switch over to the Appearance palette and you will see, yes, indeed I have a black Fill set to Screen. Okay, that's weird and I'm getting white text. That doesn't even make sense and then I have a drop shadow applied. And what's just totally crazy about this is that if I click on this Fill attribute right there, and then click the Down Pointing Arrow head, and I switch from black, which by the way, when you are talking about the Screen mode which is the opposite of the Multiply mode, right? So I was telling you that Multiply will take all the colors and darken the illustration with the exception of white, which just results in a hole. So white becomes transparent.
So if Screen is indeed the opposite of Multiply, which it is, then it should use all of the colors to lighten an illustration except for black, which of course is the opposite of white which should become transparent. So why isn't our text transparent? Why is it white? And why would white of course result in white like so? Okay, that makes sense. That white set to Screen, it becomes white. It's like black set to Multiply, it becomes black because there is no lighter color than white and there is no darker color than black theoretically, but black becomes white and also all the other colors in between which should create shades in between, they create darker colors than black, like so, like red results in this red text against a darker drop shadow. So we can actually see the drop shadow through the text. This is just peculiar.
So let me show you how this is set up. First thing I'm going to do is click on our Type here and I'm going to just clear away this appearance like so, just going to choose the Clear Appearance command from the Fly-out menu right there. And once you do, you will get this plain black text that we see here, and nothing shows up inside the Appearance palette and that's because the text is selected as an object whereas the attributes are applied to the independent letters with the Type tool. So you would have to double-click on Characters in order to see those Fill and Stroke attributes. I'll tell you what, I'm going to grab that Fill and I'm going to throw it in the Trash so it becomes None, one of many ways to set a Fill or Stroke attribute to None inside of Illustrator, okay great. So now I have completely invisible Type.
All right, now I'll switch back to the Black Arrow tool and sure enough, our text is invisible and sure enough we don't see any Fill or Stroke attributes here inside the Appearance palette because nothing is applied to the text object as a whole. Then what I'm going to do is I'm going to go ahead and add a Fill and I'm going to add a new Fill by clicking on this Add New Fill icon at the bottom of the Appearance palette and that adds a black Fill, sets the Stroke to None because there has to be a corresponding Stroke assigned to the text object as a whole. And now I could go ahead and switch the color of my black Fill.
Currently, it's 0, 0, 0 for Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow, and then 100% Black. Well, let's say I want to go with a super-rich black, something that's not printable but we are not going to worry about that for a second. We are just going to change all the values to 100% like so. So Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black are all now 100%. We have this super-rich black text, which looks darker than ever, and we don't have any of those weird halos around the letters that we saw just a moment ago. And now if I were to change the Opacity that's just assigned just to the Fill, I'll go ahead and click on the word Opacity there to bring up the Transparency palette and then I'll change the blend mode from Normal to Screen. Then the text becomes transparent, which makes sense because black drops away when you change it to Screen, but that's because I have this super-rich black selected.
Now let's say I go ahead and reduce some of these other values. Now if I wanted to reveal some of the text inside the Cyan plate, I would reduce the Cyan value. Notice now we are getting white in the Cyan plate. So we can see everything that's going on in Magenta, Yellow, and Black because that's where the text is transparent. If I want to reveal some of the white inside the Magenta plate that is hide some of magenta behind the letters, then I would reduce the magenta value to lighten it up. So anytime you are adding a lightening agent to the ink, you are also helping out the Screen mode so that you are making the text lighter inside of that plate.
And if I wanted to drop away yellow behind the letters so that the text become whiter instead of yellower right there, then you could reduce the yellow value, and if you wanted to drop away some of those gray lines behind the text then you would decrease the K value like so. So the idea is that each one of these inks is screened independently inside of its corresponding plate. So if you want to reveal all the black lines in the background, you want to go with a high K value like we had just a moment ago, and if you wanted to hide all the other colors so that the letters were otherwise white, then you would reduce Yellow and Magenta and Cyan to 0% each like so.
Then I'll go ahead and bring up the Separations Preview palette so we can really, really see what's going on. And you can of course choose Separations Preview from the Window menu if you like. And then I'm going to turn on the Overprint Preview checkbox and I'll turn on an independent plate at a time. So we'll start with just Cyan on and nothing else. So in the Cyan plate, the letters are cutting a hole because we have 0%, that is white in Cyan, and if we add magenta, we are still seeing a hole because we have 0% magenta which is white in the Magenta plate, and if we turn-on yellow, we are still seeing a hole because we have 0% or white in the Yellow plate. However, go ahead and turn everybody off but black, and you will notice that black is invisible because after all, we have 100% black which is black in that plate and therefore set to Screen, it's transparent.
And that's why when we add on these other plates, we are still seeing through to the black stuff inside of the CMYK artwork. All right, I'm going to go ahead and turn-off Overprint Preview and then hide the Separations Preview palette. There you have part one of this advanced blending technique right here. We are using black and only black to create a screen effect that reveals black in the background but otherwise results in white text. Now then, how do we go about creating a drop shadow that shows up properly behind those letters which is a little bit of a trick, as we'll see in the next exercise.
Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.Become a member
Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.
Search within course videos and transcripts, and jump right to the results.
Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.
Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.
Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.