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Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Mastery
Illustration by John Hersey

Converting a radial gradient to a mesh


From:

Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Mastery

with Deke McClelland

Video: Converting a radial gradient to a mesh

I have saved my progress as Distant table top.ai. In this exercise, we are going to take those two radial gradients, both of which are sitting inside of ellipses below the peppers, and we are going to convert them into gradient meshes, and that will allow us to reshape those gradients, so that they better fit their peppers. So they look like more realistic shadows. So first thing I'm going to do just because I decided what I want is the appearance of the light source being directly on back of the two peppers, so that it's casting the shadow from the right pepper to the right and from the left pepper to the left.
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  1. 37m 22s
    1. Welcome
      45s
    2. Linking AI and EPS files to Illustrator
      6m 34s
    3. Installing the dekeKeys keyboard shortcuts
      7m 43s
    4. Remapping Mac OS shortcuts
      6m 56s
    5. Installing the Best Workflow color settings
      4m 56s
    6. The color settings explained
      7m 4s
    7. Preserve Numbers vs. embedded profiles
      3m 24s
  2. 1h 35m
    1. My favorite features in all of Illustrator
      1m 21s
    2. Introducing the Transform effect
      5m 30s
    3. Repeating the last effect you applied
      4m 52s
    4. Applying multiple passes of a single effect
      5m 21s
    5. The wonders of editing dynamic artwork
      7m 13s
    6. Applying effects inside effects
      5m 11s
    7. Assigning an effect to an entire layer
      5m 42s
    8. Building a complex bevel effect
      5m 44s
    9. Placing artwork as a Photoshop Smart Object
      4m 55s
    10. Editing that Smart Object in Illustrator
      4m 21s
    11. Rotating continuously overlapping objects
      5m 34s
    12. Adjusting a dynamic transformation origin
      6m 22s
    13. Vector vs. raster effects
      5m 46s
    14. Introducing the Scribble effect
      5m 23s
    15. Copying effects between layers
      4m 20s
    16. Introducing Graphic Styles
      6m 50s
    17. Controlling the Filter Gallery preview
      2m 28s
    18. Document Raster Effects Settings
      4m 31s
    19. Combining and saving styles
      4m 32s
  3. 1h 25m
    1. Airbrushing with points and handles
      1m 45s
    2. Introducing the gradient mesh
      6m 10s
    3. Working with the Mesh tool
      6m 12s
    4. Lifting colors from a tracing template
      5m 47s
    5. Finessing the colors of mesh points
      4m 17s
    6. Creating a mesh with the Mesh tool
      7m 19s
    7. Adding a gradient mesh to a circle
      4m 37s
    8. Adding a gradient mesh to a slender shape
      8m 7s
    9. Creating soft and sharp transitions
      6m 56s
    10. Converting a linear gradient to a mesh
      7m 29s
    11. Editing a linear gradient mesh
      5m 6s
    12. Converting a radial gradient to a mesh
      8m 19s
    13. Editing a radial gradient mesh
      8m 15s
    14. Creating credible cast shadows
      5m 32s
  4. 1h 15m
    1. The best of static and dynamic adjustments
      58s
    2. Adding wings to a horse in Photoshop
      6m 52s
    3. Introducing the Warp tool
      6m 29s
    4. Brush size, Detail, and Simplify
      8m 24s
    5. The Twirl, Pucker, and Bloat tools
      6m 13s
    6. The Scallop, Crystallize, and Wrinkle tools
      5m 55s
    7. Creating a mind-blowing custom starburst
      4m 29s
    8. Introducing Envelope Distort
      5m 21s
    9. Editing the contents of an envelope
      5m 20s
    10. Warping an envelope mesh
      5m 20s
    11. Liquifying the contents of an envelope
      7m 7s
    12. Creating and editing an envelope mesh
      7m 59s
    13. Blending an envelope into a background
      4m 35s
  5. 2h 1m
    1. Outlines along a path
      1m 13s
    2. Weaving a pattern throughout an illustration
      6m 24s
    3. Introducing the Brushes panel
      4m 21s
    4. Applying and editing a calligraphic brush
      8m 28s
    5. Applying and scaling art brushes
      6m 6s
    6. Applying and editing a scatter brush
      5m 29s
    7. Formatting and scaling brushed text
      5m 40s
    8. Editing the path outlines of an art brush
      6m 2s
    9. Replacing an existing art brush
      6m 46s
    10. Creating and refining an art brush
      8m 3s
    11. Tiling pattern vs. pattern brushes
      5m 12s
    12. Creating a pattern brush
      8m 20s
    13. Designing the perfect side pattern
      7m 1s
    14. Start, end, and corner tiles
      8m 58s
    15. Expanding and filling brush outlines
      6m 49s
    16. Text brushes vs. type on a path
      6m 55s
    17. Combining a text brush with the Width tool
      8m 43s
    18. Introducing the bristle brushes
      5m 43s
    19. Adjusting the hairs in a bristle brush
      5m 24s
  6. 1h 32m
    1. Charts can be beautiful
      1m 17s
    2. Adding a gradient mesh to a complex path
      8m 9s
    3. Importing and graphing data
      5m 22s
    4. Switching between the kinds of graphs
      6m 8s
    5. Changing the Graph Type settings
      8m 7s
    6. Correcting and editing data
      6m 51s
    7. Selecting and coloring graph elements
      6m 29s
    8. Making nuanced changes to a graph
      8m 6s
    9. The pitfalls of manual adjustments
      8m 45s
    10. Creating and applying graph designs
      6m 28s
    11. Making a basic pictograph
      6m 47s
    12. Assembling sliding graph designs
      8m 33s
    13. Making last-minute tweaks and edits
      5m 37s
    14. Composing and customizing a graph
      5m 44s
  7. 2h 6m
    1. Perspective is all about real life
      1m 44s
    2. Assembling an isometric projection
      8m 5s
    3. Introducing Illustrator's Perspective Grid
      6m 8s
    4. Drawing a basic perspective cube
      8m 1s
    5. One-point, two-point, and three-point perspective
      8m 25s
    6. Creating automatically scaling box labels
      4m 41s
    7. Setting up a Perspective Grid
      6m 45s
    8. Perspective Grid tips and tricks
      6m 39s
    9. Drawing and editing a perspective shape
      5m 20s
    10. Shifting between planes on the fly
      5m 24s
    11. Creating a freeform shape in perspective
      7m 8s
    12. Working with perspective symbols
      8m 57s
    13. Matching perspective with the Shear tool
      2m 50s
    14. Rendering an off-plane path in perspective
      5m 7s
    15. Replicating symbols in perspective
      8m 12s
    16. Mass-modifying perspective instances
      2m 56s
    17. Adding and editing perspective text
      5m 37s
    18. Duplicating perpendicular shapes
      7m 17s
    19. Adjusting multiple shapes on a single plane
      4m 48s
    20. Creating a perspective column
      9m 23s
    21. Duplicating a series of perspective paths
      3m 20s
  8. 1h 25m
    1. Just another dynamic effect
      1m 10s
    2. Introducing the 3D Revolve effect
      5m 1s
    3. The 3D Revolve settings
      7m 24s
    4. Fixing 3D rendering problems
      6m 32s
    5. Establishing symbols for 3D art
      6m 50s
    6. Mapping symbols onto 3D surfaces
      6m 14s
    7. Adjusting shading and light
      6m 25s
    8. Toning down 3D art in Photoshop
      5m 43s
    9. Adding a photographic texture
      7m 36s
    10. Converting from Illustrator paths to Photoshop masks
      4m 50s
    11. Making 3D droplets in Photoshop
      5m 58s
    12. Unifying textures with Smart Filters
      5m 48s
    13. Creating 3D type with Extrude & Bevel
      6m 44s
    14. Coloring and correcting extruded edges
      9m 15s
  9. 1h 3m
    1. Take action today, save effort tomorrow
      33s
    2. Introducing the Actions panel
      4m 16s
    3. Initiating a new action
      5m 33s
    4. Recording a practical action
      4m 56s
    5. Four ways to play an action
      4m 27s
    6. Streamlining by disabling dialog boxes
      5m 48s
    7. Editing an action set in a text editor
      7m 20s
    8. Inserting an unresponsive menu item
      6m 16s
    9. Match-processing a folder of files
      5m 42s
    10. Recording a transformation sequence
      6m 11s
    11. Editing and troubleshooting an action
      5m 6s
    12. Recording actions within actions
      7m 21s
  10. 1m 36s
    1. See Ya
      1m 36s

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Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Mastery
13h 5m Advanced Jan 28, 2011

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Mastery, the third and final part of the comprehensive Illustrator One-on-One series, author and industry expert Deke McClelland shows how to take advantage of the wide array of dynamic effects in Illustrator CS5. Deke explores Illustrator’s powerful Gradient Mesh feature, great for creating photorealistic airbrushing effects. He also covers graphic styles, the liquify tools, envelope-style distortions, the new Bristle Brushes, 3D text, and perspective drawing. Exercise files accompany the course.

Topics include:
  • Working with dynamic effects
  • Placing artwork as a Photoshop Smart Object
  • Creating and editing a Gradient Mesh
  • Distorting artwork with an Envelope Mesh
  • Using the Calligraphic, Art, and Scatter Brushes
  • Creating an intricate Pattern Brush
  • Importing and graphing data
  • Creating a complex pictograph
  • Drawing and editing a perspective shape
  • Working with the new Perspective Grid tool
  • Using the 3D Revolve effect
  • Creating 3D type with Extrude & Bevel
  • Recording and playing automated actions
Subject:
Design
Software:
Illustrator
Author:
Deke McClelland

Converting a radial gradient to a mesh

I have saved my progress as Distant table top.ai. In this exercise, we are going to take those two radial gradients, both of which are sitting inside of ellipses below the peppers, and we are going to convert them into gradient meshes, and that will allow us to reshape those gradients, so that they better fit their peppers. So they look like more realistic shadows. So first thing I'm going to do just because I decided what I want is the appearance of the light source being directly on back of the two peppers, so that it's casting the shadow from the right pepper to the right and from the left pepper to the left.

So I am going to select that left handle left. I am going to grab my Rotate tool. This is purely an aesthetic modification by the way, and I'm going to go ahead and drag the ellipse to a different angle, like so. Then I will scoot that ellipse over a little bit, so that the darkest portion of the radial gradient is sitting directly under the pepper. Now let me show you what's going on with those radial gradients. I'm going to switch to my Black Arrow tool for a moment by pressing the V key, and then I'll Shift+Click on the outline of the other ellipse so that both of them are selected.

Now, I will press the G key in order to switch to the Gradient tool here inside the toolbox, and I want you to take a look at those gradient annotators. Notice that the center points of both of those gradients are weighted to the left side of their ellipses, so that these are not entirely symmetrical radial gradients. So in other words, the gradient transitions more quickly on the left side than on the right side. As you may recall, you do that by dragging this smaller circle around, like so. So that way, you can move the center of the gradient independently of the outer perimeter of the gradient.

Anyway, I am going to go ahead and put it back where it was. In an ideal world, that information would be respected when you convert the radial gradient to a gradient mesh. This is not an ideal world though and that doesn't happen. So we're going to lose that information in just a moment but I want you to see that it's there. Also, something else to note. If I were to bring up the Transparency panel for a moment which I will, you can see that these gradients are set to the Multiply blend mode because they both go from dark red to white. And so to avoid having one gradient totally cover up the other, I am using the Multiply blend mode to burn them both into each other.

Multiply being the ideal mode for shadows. All right, so having said that up, let's see what happens when we convert these objects to gradient meshes. I am going to press the V key in order to switch back to the Black Arrow tool. So notice the center location of those gradients, that is, the highest area of colors over here on the left- hand side of each of the ellipses. I will go up to the Object menu. We're not going to choose Create Gradient Mesh of course. We are going to choose the Expand command, or if you've loaded dekekeys, you can press Ctrl+M, Command+M on the Mac. Make sure Expand is set to Fill, make sure Expand Gradient To is set to Gradient Mesh, click OK and look what happen to our gradients.

The large area of color shifted to the center of each of the ellipses. Now, we can't see the rows or columns, so I am just telling you that so you know what to expect. In other words, if you're going to convert a gradient over to a gradient mesh, don't even bother moving it center, because that information is going to get lost. But the fact that it's an elliptical gradient instead of a perfectly circular radial gradient, that information remains intact. We can't see our row or column lines and that's because Illustrator has seen fit to do the double grouping thing. So what I want you to do is go over to the Layers panel, and assuming that your mesh shadows layer is twirled closed, as it is in my case, press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac and click that triangle to expand everything so that you can see into these double groups here.

And notice the top group has a group inside of it with a clipping mask in the mesh. We don't need that. So grab the mesh and yank it out of there. Otherwise it just makes the object that much more difficult to edit. Then go ahead and meatball that group. It now just has a group and a clipping mask, so in other words, it's empty, and press the Backspace key to get rid of it. Now do the same thing for the mesh that's in the other group, the lower group right here. I'll grab the mesh, drag it out, so that's directly below the previous mesh, meatball that group, press the Backspace key, or the Delete key to get rid of it, and you should inside your mesh shadows layer, you should see three objects all of which go by the name Mesh and that's it.

Now we did end up losing our blend modes. So now one of the shadows just covers up the other shadow. That's no good of course. So I am going to click on the boundary there of that big mesh object, the lefthand one, and there is one of two things I could do. I could just go up to the Opacity option up here in the Control panel or I could go over to the Transparency panel over here on the right side of the screen as well. Either way, I could change Normal to Multiply and then I would blend those two gradients into each other. I would burn one into the other. This one is burnt into the white tabletop.

So it doesn't matter. You don't need the Multiply blend mode for that. But there's another way of working, and that it is you can assign different levels of opacity to each one of your mesh points. So let me show you how that works. I will just go ahead and press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on the Mac in order to undo the change to that blend mode, and I'm going to grab my White Arrow tool this time around, and I am going to try to click over here to grab a point and I did and I want you to see before we change the opacity of these points, there is a seam in any radial gradient. So linear gradients have their thing. They've got the problem where you've got this extra row at the top, and the bottom of your shape.

Well, the weird thing about radial gradients is they have a seam and the reason is this looks like it's some kind of polar grid, but what it really is, is circular row lines with the spokes being the column lines. So that means somehow this thing has to separate apart, because row lines as a rule don't go into each other. Typically over on the right side of your shape, you will find a seam like this. So the points actually come apart from each other like so and I'm just dragging them in any direction here in order to show you how they come apart.

They will only come apart on one side. So otherwise, if you drag one of these points around, you will just move a single point, but on one side typically, as I say, the right side of the shape is usually where you will find this. You will find that the shape comes apart and you'll want to know about that because you presumably don't want the shape to ever come apart unless you're making a big packman or something like that. But if you want to keep those points together, then you need to marquee them and move them together. So I am going to press Ctrl+Z several times in a row to put those points back together. Now I am going to marquee around these points like so and I end up grabbing some of the mesh that's associated with mesh peppers.

I could lock those peppers down, which is a good idea and you know what I am going to go ahead and do that. So I am going to lock the mesh peppers layer, so I don't run into that problem in the future. I could still, however, end up selecting the other mesh. So you know what I am going to do, I am going to enter the Isolation mode. I am going to do that by grabbing my Black Arrow tool. I will just double-click anywhere on the outline of this gradient mesh object in order to enter the Isolation mode. You can see that's where we are, because the Layers panel says Isolation mode. And up here at the top of the document window, you see that we're working inside the Mesh object, which is located on the mesh shadows layer.

Now having done that, I am going to show you that opacity trick here. I am going to grab my White Arrow tool, and I am going to marquee these points like so, and now I've selected a total of four points, because at each location, we have two points sitting one on top of the other. Then I will Shift+Drag around those points, Shift+Drag around these points, scoot down a little bit and Shift+Drag around these guys. I want them to be the same color as the interior. So I will press the I key in order to get my Eyedropper, Shift+Click inside of the radial gradient in order to switch out that color, and that means we have a uniformly colored gradient which is no gradient at all of course. It's just a flat fill.

But now we can go up to the Opacity option up here in the Control panel and change it from 100 to 0. So you can change the Opacity value that's associated with individually selected points inside of a mesh. You cannot, however, change the blend mode assigned to individual points. You assign blend mode exclusively to an entire object at a time. All right! Anyway, so that's a different way to work. I am going to leave it set that way, and I am going to press the Escape key in order to exit the Isolation mode and then press the V key in order to switch back to the Black Arrow tool.

I am going to move this over a little bit, so that's more or less centered under that left-hand pepper. We now have two radial gradients that have been converted to gradient mesh objects. However, we are really not so far taking that big of advantage of the gradient mesh object. So what we need to do is modify the centers of each of these objects so that they better fit their peppers, and we are going to do exactly that in the next exercise.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Mastery.


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Q: The instructions for installing the dekeKeys don't work on my computer (which is running Mac OS X Lion). Is there an update to these?
A: The dekeKeys distributed with this course will still work for Lion. You just need to add them to a slightly different folder than in previous versions of OS X.

Open a new Finder window and choose Go > Go to Folder. Type the following file path exactly as written below. Copying and pasting may result in an error.

~/Library/Preferences/Adobe Illustrator CS5 Settings/en_US

Move and/or copy/paste the dekeKeys to this folder and follow the rest of the instructions as outlined in the video, "Installing the dekeKeys keyboard shortcuts."
 
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