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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.
In this exercise I am going to take those modified radial gradients and I am going to turn them into more credible cast shadows. So it looks as if there is a light source behind the peppers and the peppers are casting shadows forward. I have saved my progress as Better cast shadows.ai; better but not best, found inside the 24_gradient_mesh folder, and I am going to start things off, because it happens to be unlocked, with the right-hand gradient mesh, which I can get by meatballing the second mesh object inside of the mesh shadows layer, and I am going to get my White Arrow tool by pressing the A key. Now I am going to marquee these too far outside points.
So at least it looks like two points. It's really four points with one point on top of another in both cases. So I'll get off four of those points right there by marqueeing them and then I'm going to drag the points down, like so, and notice the effect that you created. It's just immediately better. Now you don't want to drag thing so far that one of the circles interrupts the other, like so. So in other words this ellipse should not cut into any of the blobs in the background there. Because if it does, you'll have a very sharp transition around your shadow. Now that sharp transition may turn out to be exactly what you're looking for.
There are shadows that work that way, but in our case I am going to recommend that we keep the blobs outside of each other so that we have soft transitions all the way around. We just want to make sure that we're creating a directional effect. So about right there actually works pretty nicely for this pepper. Now, you might be tempted to marquee this pair of points right here by themselves and then drag them downward as well, but you are not going to see any difference, because this pair of points right there and this pair of points are both absolutely white. So we are not going to see any difference in the transition from white to white.
If you want to see such a transition as well as in larger shadow, then go ahead and marquee these two points right there and change the opacity. And the Opacity value that I came up with, that I thought looked pretty good, is 10%, and then I will press the Enter key or the Return key on a Mac in order to make that change. And then finally, I just feel like the interior is a little too dark. So I am going to marquee this pair of points, the second to inside points that are associated with the mesh, and I am going to change their Opacity to 95%, and believe it or not, that does help make a little bit of a difference.
That lines up the shadow just ever so slightly underneath that pepper. Let's do something similar with the other gradient mesh. Right now, it's locked down. So let's lock down that mesh we just got done modifying, and unlock the other one. I am also going to go ahead and meatball that top mesh like so, and I am going to marquee these two points right here. This is why it's so essential that the right-hand mesh is locked, so that we don't end up selecting into it. Now I'm going to drag down into the left, like so. Now that ends up creating a sharper effect. If we touch the inner ellipse to that outer blob right there, we get a pretty sharp transition.
So you might not want to go that far with it. You might want to take it out just a hair like so, and then I'll go ahead and marquee this pair of points right there, and I'll change the Opacity value to 10%, so we are doing the same thing we did with the other pepper shadow, and then that darkens up the shadow ever so slightly. I'll go ahead marquee these outermost points. I'll take them down as well, so we end up getting this effect. Subtle modification by the way. You are not going to see huge difference. But it does help us to achieve a more naturalistic shadow. I'm also going to marquee this pair of points if I can, like so, and because everything else is locked I am able to marquee those points independently of the rest of the illustration and then I will go up to the Opacity value and change that value to 95% and then press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac and that is it.
And we end up with these shadows right here, which I think are quite impressive. They're just that little sort of subtle hint of a shadow that absolutely makes the pepper feel like its part of a scene. All right! I am going to press Ctrl+1 or Command+1 on the Mac, just to nudge my screen image there. And I am going to twirl closed mesh shadows and then I am going to turn on my text layer, just so that we can see the final illustration. Now at this point, let's say you want to modify the color of those shadows. Well, that's really easy to do now. I am going to go up to the Object menu and I am going to choose Unlock All, just to unlock everything inside of this illustration.
So we can get to both of the shadows. And I'll press the V key in order to switch to the Black Arrow tool or press Ctrl+Y, Command+Y on a Mac, in order to switch to the Outline mode, and I'll click off the shapes in order to deselect them. Because after you unlock everything, then everything that just got unlocked is selected. So you want to deselect everything, and then click on one of the shadows and Shift+Click on the other one in order to select them both. Press Ctrl+Y or Command+Y again to switch to the Preview mode and I'm also by the way going to press Ctrl+H or Command+H to hide my selection edges.
Now, I'll go up to the Color panel, switch back to HSB, and I am going to dial in some slightly different values. I am going to change the Hue value to 15 degrees, which is going to add a little bit of yellow to the shadows. If you go too much farther than that, the shadows end up looking green just by comparison to these bright red peppers. Then I'll lower the Saturation value to 50% and I'll leave that Brightness value set to approximately 35%, and we get this effect here. So more neutral, lighter shadows as well, but notice that all of that Opacity information remains intact. So it's very easy from this point on to modify the color of those shadows.
The last thing I want you to notice is even though if you were to inspect these shadows very closely, you are going to see some rough edges going on. Those edges are just an artifact of Illustrator's screen redraw. If you were to actually take this artwork into Photoshop, you can see that we have very soft organic looking shadows around these wonderfully hyper organic looking objects. Thanks to the power and flexibility of Gradient Mesh inside Illustrator.
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