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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 impart some really cool advanced wonderful point editing techniques, when you're working with a Gradient Mesh. Many of which are the kinds of things that will make you go, wow, that's pretty cool, and others of which will make you go, oh my gosh, that's awesome. So we'll see how that plays out for us here. I am still working inside the document called A real mesh.ai, found inside the 16_gradient_mesh folder. I've made some changes to a few points here and there. All right, so I'm going to go ahead and marquee this point here. I was telling you, hey, you can drag points around, you can drag control handles as well. The opposite control handles are locked into alignment with each other, but the two pairs of control handles are independent of each other, by default.
By the way, notice this. If you Shift+ Drag one of these points around, it's going to snap either into strictly vertical alignment there. So you're going to drag the point up and down, or it's going to snap into horizontal alignment. So you can drag it back and forth or you can drag it at a 45-degree angle, something along those lines. That's when you are working with a White Arrow tool. But check out what happens when you are working with the Mesh tool. So I'll go ahead and grab the Mesh tool here, and now notice if I drag and press the Shift key that I'm moving either a row line along the column line, well making sure the column line stays the same as ever, or I could do the opposite, I could take the column line and move it along the row line, if I like. And this is a function of Shift+ Dragging one of these points using the Mesh tool. It's very important that you have the Mesh tool selected for that to work.
Also with the Mesh tool, you can do that thing where you drag the control handles around. Now notice that each one of these anchor points has four control handles in all, so they look almost like a little jack. Well let's say that you want to move all control handles associated with the jack at the same time, then you'd press the Shift key and drag anyone of those control handles and all four of them will move in unison with each other. And again, that little trick there only works when you are working with the Mesh tool. Another thing you can do is you can change the speed of color transitions inside of your Gradient Mesh. So if I drag this control handle out, like so, I'm moving this color that's associated with this anchor point right here outward, so that I'm extending the yellow as you can see right there, and the farther I drag, notice that in my case I'm affecting both handles at this point, the farther I drag, the more rapid the contrast becomes in this area here.
So you can have nice fluid contrast if you want, by keeping your control handles pretty far away from each other, or you can have rapid sharp contrast if you prefer, by moving the handles closer to each other and even having the handles overlap each other, like so. So you can experiment with that in order to see what kind of transitions you end up getting. Notice that nice sharp harsh line there between the yellow and the purple, and so what you are getting is what I like to call painterly results, in other words, results that you would get with traditional paints, for example.
Another thing that you can do, if you don't like the fact that these handles are symmetrical to one another, the handles that are associated with an anchor point that is to say that these guys are locked into alignment, why then you can break them out of alignment, to create a cusp point, and you do that by going to the Pen tool of all tools, and then you switch over to the Convert Anchor Point tool right there. And now you can go ahead and drag one of the control handles without the other one, like so, and you can get some very interesting radical results if you want to, so that you have all the control over what's going on in the world like so.
And now I can create sort of a point of color that way. So lot of different ways to modify your anchor points and your control handles, and your color transitions inside of Illustrator. But there is yet another way you can lasso points as we've seen, and then you can warp them, and I'll show you how that works in the next exercise.
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