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Contour lines and opacity masks

From: Draw Better and Faster with Illustrator CC

Video: Contour lines and opacity masks

In this movie, I'll show you how to create these And that, folks, is how you create

Contour lines and opacity masks

In this movie, I'll show you how to create these multiline highlights over on the left hand of the ampersand. Which are interesting in that they require more complex applications of the tools that we've seen so far. So I'll go ahead and switch over to my document in progress here. And then, I'll grab my pen tool. Which I can get of course by pressing the p key. And I'm going to go ahead and establish some default attributes by changing the Fill up here in the control panel to None. And I'll change the Stroke to White.

And I'll reduce my Line Weight value to 0.5 points. And I'll click on the word Stroke and assign both a Round Cap and a Round Joint. All right, next what you want to do if you are working along with me is click with the pen tool in order to set an anchor point right about there. Should work nicely. And then, I'll set another corner point right at this location. And another corner point right there. So we have a total of three corner points in all that are describing a kind of elbowed path outline in the upper left corner of this lower bowl.

Now press the a key to switch to the White Arrow Tool and click on this central anchor point. Which will cause Illustrator to display a round corner control. And go ahead and drag that little circle as far as you can down and to the right. In order to produce a path outline that looks like this one here. All right, now we'll go ahead and switch to the Width tool. Which, once again, you can get by pressing Shift+w. And go ahead and double-click in the very first anchor point, the lower left one. In order to bring up the Width Point Edit dialogue box and change the total width value to eight points.

And then when you press the tab key, you'll see this effect right there. And then go ahead and click OK. All right, now I'm going to press the v key to switch back to my black arrow tool. And I'll click on this path outline to make sure the entire thing is selected. And I'll go ahead and nudge it down a little bit by pressing the down arrow key a couple of times in a row. All right, now we want to create some dynamic duplicates. And you do that, of course, by going up to the Effect>Distort and Transform>Transform. And I'm going to apply this Transform Effect. And I found that the best way to apply this Transform Effect was to start things off by selecting the right hand point.

Right there in this little tiny reference point matrix. Now I'll turn on the Preview check box and at this point we just want to kind of imagine what the next path down should look like. So, I'm going to reduce the horizontal value to 86%. Might as well just cut to the chase here. And I'll take the vertical value down to 91%. Obviously, I came up with these values through trial and error. And now, I'll also reduce the horizontal value to negative ten points by pressing Shift+down arrow. And I'll increase the vertical value to positive ten points by pressing Shift+up arrow.

So in other words, we're moving this path ten points to the left and down, thanks to these values. And now, I'll go ahead and increase the angle value to a total of 11 degrees. And that moves this guy down to this location here. Now, we're beginning to see the bottom left edge of the stroke. So we need to change these move values ever so slightly. So I'm going to nudge the horizontal value down to negative 12. And I am going to take the vertical value up to positive 12.

And so basically, what we are trying to do is just kind of feel our way through this effect. And now click in the Copies field. And I'll press the up arrow key several times in a row until I achieve a total of seven copies. And if for some reason your copies aren't aligning properly, then just try adjusting these various values by nudging them. So for example you might try nudging the horizontal value upward. Which in my case is a bad idea. Or you might try at this point nudging the vertical value downward.

Which turns out to be a good idea. So, I'm now getting half way decent effect. It doesn't turn out to be the optimal effect however, so I'm going to restore that horizontal scale value of 86% and that vertical scale value of 91%. But I just want to show you how to problem solve. In case you run into troubles. That's one way to problem solve. But there's times when you just can't get these strokes to line up inside of the bowl correctly at all. And let me show you what that might look like. I'll go ahead and press the p key to switch back to my Pen tool.

And I'll click up here. And then click at this location like so. And then click right about there. In order to create a new path outline, might as well start from scratch. And I'll press the a key to switch to the White Arrow Tool. I'll click in the central anchor point to select it and I'll drag it's circular round corner control as far as I can down into the right. In order to produce this effect. I'll right now press the v key to switch to the black arrow tool. I'll click on the tiny little path outline to select it. And now, let's say I want to lift the attributes from the previous effect right here.

Then I would switch to the Eyedropper, which I could get by pressing the i key. And I'm also going to double-click on that tool. By default, the Appearance check box is turned off. What you want to do is turn it on over here in the Eyedropper Picks Up column. So that you're just seeing a total of three check boxes. And they're all turned on. Then go ahead and click OK. And now click on this little path outline down here in order to lift all of its attributes including the Variable Width Stroke. All right, so that ends up looking pretty darn good, at least as a start.

Now, I'm going to click on the Appearance tab in order to switch to that panel. And I'm going to click on Transform. In order to bring up the Transform Effect dialog box, complete with my last applied settings as you can see. All right now, I'm just going to enter the values that I came up with. They don't work exactly right, but they are 88% for the Horizontal Scale value, 94 for Vertical Scale. And then I set the Horizontal Move Value to negative 17 and the Vertical Move Value to plus 14.

And then I set the Rotate value to an angle of ten degrees. I also took the copies value down to six and now I'll turn on the Preview check box, and you can see that doesn't really reconcile properly. But that was about as good of an effect I could come up with. Because after all, I do want to fill this region with the multiline effect that we're seeing right here. So I'll go ahead and click OK, and now I'll press the down arrow key and the right arrow key to nudge things into a slightly better location. What do you do when your effect doesn't fill the space properly? Well, the best solution is an opacity mask.

And here's how that works, in case you've never seen one before. Go ahead and click on Layers to once again switch to the Layers panel. And then you want to go up to the Window menu and scroll down here, in my case, because I can't see the final commands. And I will choose Transparency to bring up the Transparency panel. And then, I'll click on this double-arrow icon next to the word transparency. In order to expand the panel, so that I can see this little Make Mask button. Now what you want to do again, if you are working along with me is click, Make Mask.

And at this point the Click check box should be on and the Invert Mask check box should be off. Which is going to go ahead and hide all of your lines, which is just fine. Now what you want to do is click on that Opacity Mask. We've added this little black mask right there. Go ahead and click on it to make it active. And you'll know that things are active because you'll see Layers, and in parentheses, Opacity Mask, here inside the Layers panel. Now, go ahead and select the Ellipse Tool from the Shape Tool flyout menu.

And I'm going to go ahead and drag around this region in order to create a shape that looks roughly like this one here. That should work out pretty well, actually. Now the problem with it is that it's stroked and it's not filled. And that's the opposite of what I want. So, I'll press Shift+x, in order to fill the shape with white and set the stroke to none. So, that's very important, by the way. We want to white fill and no stroke. And as a result, wherever we have a white shape inside the Opacity Mask we're seeing our lines, which is a great thing.

So, in other words, we're seeing our lines inside of the ellipse and we're not seeing them outside of the ellipse. And as a result the lines fill the bowl quite nicely. Now, if things aren't aligning quite right for you. What you want to do is switch to the Rotate Tool. And then you can just go ahead and drag the shape a little bit in order to rotate it. And then you might nudge it upward like so, by pressing the up arrow key a couple of times. And that way you'll get a little bit of a better match as we're seeing right here. Then, when you're done, just go ahead and click on this white thumbnail to the left of the Opacity Mask, in order to return to the layer composition.

And you'll know you're back because you'll see all of your layers here inside the Layers panel. And then press Ctrl+Shift+a, or Cmd+Shift+a on a Mac, in order to deselect your artwork. And that, folks, is how you create these curving multiline effects inside of the bowl. Using a combination of round corners, variable width strokes, a dynamic effect, the eyedropper. And if necessary, an Opacity Mask here inside Illustrator CC.

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Draw Better and Faster with Illustrator CC

20 video lessons · 8850 viewers

Deke McClelland
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