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In Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Advanced, author and industry expert Deke McClelland teaches how to take advantage of the wide array of dynamic features in Illustrator CS5. This course demonstrates how to apply these features to paths, groups, and editable text to create professional-quality artwork. The course covers Live Trace, Live Paint, and Live Color, as well as symbols, gradients, exporting, and integration with Photoshop. Exercise files accompany the course.
In this exercise, I'm going to show you how to create the most useful kind of opacity mask there is. That's a gradient opacity mask. I've saved my changes as Conceal & reveal.ai, so called, because we have this square here inside the opacity mask. That's where I'm working right now. So I'm midstream on this project. I've got this square that's set to black, so it's concealing the contents of the layer. I have this circle that's set to white, so it's revealing the contents of the layer. They're both movable by the way. You can move them anywhere you want. They'll continue to conceal and reveal as you go.
If you want the opposite behavior, I'll just show you this. You can turn on the Invert Mask check box, which goes ahead and reverses the objects. Not the background, just the object, so that black is now concealing, and white is now revealing. I think that's insane. So I'm going to go ahead and turn that check box back off. But Illustrator is nothing if not flexible. All right, well, let's say you want to keep these objects around here. You don't want to get rid of them. Well, you can just go ahead and turn them off inside the layers panel. So, I can twirl open that Opacity Mask layer. I can turn off the eyeballs for both of these paths.
That way, I can keep them around if I want to bring them back later. There is no reason. I would, in this case. I just want you to see that you have all the flexibility of the layers panel here inside the Opacity Mask. You can even name objects and add layers if you want to. But what I'm going to do is I'm going to zoom out and click, and scroll down too, so that I can take in the entire bottom of this illustration. I'm going to switch back to my Rectangle tool, either by selecting it, or pressing the M key, because if we're going to create a gradient, we have to put it inside something.
So I'll go ahead and draw a big rectangle around this area, like so. The rectangle comes in for me with a white fill, no stroke. That's great. That way, I can see the contents of the layer as I work on it. I don't want a stroke by the way. That could ruin the effect if I'm not careful, just better not to have one. All right, now let's go to the Gradient panel. I do want to fill this guy with a black to white gradient. That way, the black area is concealing. The white area is revealing. Then I'm creating a gradient reveal in between. So I'm going to grab my current fill color in the Color panel.
I'm going to drag it down into the Gradient panel, like so. That's just a precaution, just in case I didn't have a black to white gradient already set up in advance. It looked like I did, but I might as well be deliberate about these things. But I want this gradient to go from black to white, not from white to black, just because I guess, that's the way I think. I'm not sure why. But I'll go over here to Reverse Gradient, and click on it, so I start with black, and I end with white. I'm clicking on that Color Swatch just to ensure that it really is a 100% black, because if it's anything less than a 100%, then it's going to be a little bit of a reveal.
It's mostly going to conceal, but not entirely. I want to make sure it starts with an absolute conceal. Then I'll grab my Gradient tool or pres the G key in order to get my gradient annotator. I'm going to drag from the bottom of the illustration up like so, to about this location here, right about at the center of the top letters. I end up concealing the bottom of the layer, revealing the top of layer, and creating a fade in between a nice gradual fade. Now I can continue to modify this gradient to my hearts content. But at this point, I think I'd like to reduce the Opacity of this layer a little bit.
If you switch to the Transparency panel, and change that Opacity value there, then you're going to change the Opacity at the layer mask. That is the selected object on a layer mask, this rectangle in particular. You're not going to affect the layer. If you want to affect the layer, you have to click on this thumbnail to switch back to the layer. That's the only way by the way to escape out of the Opacity Mask. You can't press the Escape key. There is no other keyboard shortcut. You just click on that thumbnail, and you're back. Now with the layer active, you can see that it's meatballed there in the layers panel.
I'll go ahead and change that Opacity value to 50%. Then press the Return key or the Enter key on the Mac. Something I should mention here, just as an FYI, I'm going to go ahead and zoom in. I'm trying to center the zoom onscreen, so that I can see the majority of my illustration. If I add any sort of object to this 50 % layer right here, because the layer is meatballed, it's the layer that's changed to 50%, or it could be a blend mode, or anything else. This Opacity Mask affects the translucency as well.
Anything I add to this layer will come in similarly at 50% with the layer mask in charge. So for example, if I just draw a rectangle here, and in this case, it happens to be filled with a gradient. That's fine. It doesn't really matter, because I'm going to get rid of it in the moment. But even though, it's Opacity is set to 100%, and the blend mode is set to Normal. I can see through this object. Check it out. If I take this rectangle and I drag it to a different location, so that it covers up another object. This is a poor demonstration, because my reflection_2 layer is below bulb & lines.
I'll go ahead and drag it on top, just for the sake of demonstration here. Notice that even though this is an absolutely opaque object, I can see through it, and that's because they are layer, therefore, everything that goes on that layer is set to 50% opacity. So I just want you to have a sense of the amazing power of working with all these transparency settings here in Illustrator. Anyway, I'm going to go ahead and click off the path outline to deselect everything. I'll then click on this rectangle to reselect it. Press the Backspace key or the Delete key on the Mac to get rid of it and move the reflection_2 layer, back to its original location, below bulb & lines.
In the next exercise, I'm going to create an object, specific opacity mask that affects just the translucency of this reflected text.
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