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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.
Okay gang, I'm still working inside that same Shooting star.ai file that I opened in the previous exercise. I'm going to go ahead and twirl this layer closed, this Ball layer, lock it down, go down to the Feet layer, unlock it. We're just taking these precautions with all this locking and unlocking so we don't end up messing up any of the good portions of our illustration. I also want you to see that as an option of course to just sit there and unlock and lock your way through a layer document. All right, so I'm zoomed in on the feet, what we want to do is we want to put the laces inside of the shoes. Check it out. Each one of these laces is represented by a blend. How in the world did I pull that off? I want you to see this because blends can take so many forms inside of Illustrator. I'm going to go ahead and meatball this blend right there and then I'm going to go up to the Object menu and I'm going to choose Blend and I'm going to choose Release, in order to get rid of those intermediate steps right there and then notice I have two paths at this point. I'm going to meatball the topmost of these two paths like so and then I'm going to delete it, so that I can show you exactly how I made these laces.
All right, so I'll get my Black Arrow tool, click on this line right here and notice it's just a line that was drawn with the Art tool, nothing special here. So I drew a line with the Art tool and then I rotated it slightly, then I grabbed it and I cloned it like so. So I'm pressing the Alt key or the Option key and then releasing in order to create a clone of that line. Then I'll select both of them by Shift- clicking on one and I'll press Ctrl+Alt+P or Command+Option+P to make a blend that's not nearly enough laces. So, I'll go over to my Blend tool, double-click on it and I'll change spacing to Specified Steps, I don't tend to use specify distance, but you can also specify the distance between steps if you want to.
I am going to choose Specified Steps and I'm going to raise that value to 3, press the Tab key so that I can see that I have got enough laces there, sure enough, click OK. Now, check this out, I'll go ahead and twirl open the blend and I could take one of these items here, let's grab the top item because the bottom one here is front most in the stacking order and I'll grab my Black Arrow tool, because this is the only guy selected and I can drag it to a different location and notice that Illustrator keeps up with whatever modifications I make thanks to the fact that I'm blending between these two extreme shapes right here.
So, blends can be fantastic, they can be useful any time you have repeated shapes inside of your illustration, repeated lines or shapes. All right, so anyway I'll go ahead and close that guy down, now let's mask the laces inside of the shoes. So, we'll go ahead and get the two shoes right there, move them up top like so, because the masks have to be in front of the paths that they are masking. Then let's go ahead and select everybody, I'll go ahead and actually -- what the heck? I'll just drag across him like so this time. I have selected all of the objects as you can see, the individual steps will not appear to have points or segments associated with them, because they are being generated on the fly. Now let's go up to the Object menu and I want you to choose Clipping Mask and choose Make once again, press Ctrl+7, Command+7 if you like and you will get this effect here, all right, what is going on in this case? Let's go ahead and twirl open the group and you will see that the topmost item became the clipping path and it's masking the other shoe, so that's going to away, plus it's laces.
So only one set of laces is showing up because the other guy is too far away for matter. All right, so that's not what we want to do, go ahead and press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on the Mac in order to undo that operation. Now you could go ahead and mask each one of the shoe and lace combinations independently, if you wanted to but I'm going to show you a better way to work. Let's go ahead and meatball one of the feet paths right here and then Shift meatball the other one. Then I'm going to go up to the Object menu and I'm going to choose Compound Path. Notice it's located right next door to Clipping Mask and for good reason. They are very useful when used together.
So I'm going to go down to Compound Path and I'm going to choose Make or press Ctrl+8, Command+8 on the Mac, now you may recall, this is the command that you can use to create donuts, inside of the Illustrator. So shapes where one path cuts a hole in another. But you can also use it just to combine two shapes into one, which is what we are doing here. So I'll choose the Make command, now these two paths don't happen overlap each other, they are now a single compound path as you can see here and I could get me White Arrow tool, click off the shape to deselect, Alt-click or Option- click on one of them in order to select the entire path, move it over to the other shoe and you can see that we are now cutting a hole where the two intersect each other.
So we do get that Exclude operation going right there. But when they are separated from each other, it just works like an Add operation. The two have just become a single path. Now I'll go ahead and Shift meatball the two blends, so that the Compound Path and the two blends are active and I'll go ahead and press Ctrl+7 in order to create a mask or Command+7 on the Mac and I get this effect right there. We are keeping all of the laces because the one Compound Path -- check this out, what is now a Compound Clipping Path is now just one single path that's clipping the blends underneath it.
Now of course we need to go ahead and reinstate the Fill and Stroke attributes. So, I have only the Compound Clipping Path selected, I'll go and grab my Eyedropper tool by pressing the I key, click in order to load those Fill and Stroke attributes and we now have some very nice feet in my opinion and the deal is done. Once again, much more flexibly then the approach we took with Pathfinder Operations back in the Pathfinder Operation chapter. Now, is that to say that masking is always better than Pathfinder Operations? Not by a mile.
It's just that sometimes it's better and you want to remember then it's available to you. Other times Pathfinder Operations are the only way to go. In the next exercise, we are going to see how to nest one clipping mask inside of another.
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