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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 am going to show you how to create a knockout group, and why you would want to do such a thing here inside Illustrator. I have saved my progress as Blend mode effects.ai. It's fun inside the 22_transparency folder. And if you take a look at the big creature here, I am not really satisfied with the colors that I am achieving so far. It's nice it's a cool kind of black ceramic effect, but we have some very low saturation colors going on. So these dark sort of drab grays except in the belly where we have some strange browns.
Then the brightness of the strokes is somewhat unenthusiastic I think. So I would like to come up with a different effect in which we have some sizzling colors going on inside the filled region and then we have some bright white strokes. So if you're working along with me, turn off the beast layer and then turn on math beast which is the top layer. The reason it's called math beast is because I have the Multiply blend mode which is the math applied to the various gradient fills inside of these shapes. I am going to click on this front-most leg of the creature, and that should select the big outer path outline that stretches down the leg and across the belly around the tail on the spine and up into the neck as well.
Now, currently, I have my selection edges hidden, so it's difficult to confirm that I have selected the right object. One of the ways to confirm that is to go to the Transparency panel and if you expand that panel by clicking that double arrow icon a couple of times, so you can see the thumbnail on the left-hand side, you will see a little preview of the selected objects. So that's another way to confirm what's selected inside Illustrator. Then again if you would like to see the selection edges, all you have to do is press Ctrl+H, Command+H on the Mac. Now then I am going to go over to the Appearance panel, and notice that I have a white stroke which has no special blend mode assigned to it and then I have three gradient fills all of which are blended together.
So at the top of the stack, I have this Screen fill here and this is just a little bit of a highlight on this foreleg. And then below that, I have this big Radial fill and we can see how the fills put together if you press the G key in order to select the Gradient tool. So you will see that it goes from this dark color way at the bottom, pretty much below the path outline up to the animal's haunches. What that's doing is creating a little darkness across the belly. That fill is set to the Multiply mode, but what that means is that this Screen gradient and this Multiply gradient are interacting with the Base gradient.
Now the Base gradient is a linear gradient as you can see, and it goes from the tail all the way up to the neck of the animal. It's set to Multiply as well. So it's by no means opaque, meaning that it is interacting with the background. It also means that every single one of these path outlines is interacting with each other. So, I am going to press the V key in order to switch back to my Black Arrow tool and hide that gradient annotator onscreen. Now, I'm going to switch back to my layers panel. So, what I want to do is I want to isolate the blending inside of this layer.
So, I am going to meatball all the layer in order to target all of the objects together as a group. And notice these two check boxes at top. All three of these check boxes are essentially problem solvers down here at the bottom of the Transparency panel. This bottom guy is a function that I doubt you'll ever have a need for. But these two top check boxes; Isolate Blending that's going to go ahead and isolate the blending inside this particular layer which means if I turn it on then we get exactly the opposite of the effect we want. We have the gradients in the various paths inside this layer interacting with each other, but they're not interacting with the background at all anymore because once again, we've isolated the blending to adjust this layer.
That's not at all what I want. So I am going to turn that check box off. Next door is this thing called Knockout Group, and by default, it often enhance what we're seeing here, a little sort of square inside of it, indicating that Illustrator really doesn't know whether it's turned on or off at this point and it must vary on a path-by-path basis. But what it does is exactly what we want. We want the various paths inside of this layer to knock each other out so they don't interact with each other; they only interact with the contents of the other layers.
Notice as soon as you click on that check box and that should turn it on; if that doesn't turn it on the first time, you need to click again in order to really tell Illustrator, it needs to be on. But once you see a check box, everything should work out just absolutely exactly the way it needs to except for this rear forward leg that currently isn't set to the correct blend mode at all. Right now, it's set to Normal. So I need to go ahead and click off of the paths to deselect them and then click on that rear leg to make it active, independently of the other paths in that layer.
Now I will switch over to the Appearance panel, and notice that I have two gradients this time a Screen gradient on top, but that just means it's interacting with the Base gradient. The Base gradient is currently set to Normal because notice, Opacity says Default. That means no blend modes are going on which means normal and 100% opacity. So go ahead and click on that Opacity option if you want to, that's one way to get to these transparency options. So, we essentially just have a duplicate Transparency panel. I'm going to change the Blend mode from Normal, no blend mode, to Multiply which will burn the effect in and we end up getting this result right here.
So obviously, it looks great and all of the various blend modes are interacting with each other perfectly that is with the background, not with each other. We have one cohesive animal that exists on this one layer, math beast, which is now set to a Knockout Group even though this specific object is not set to a Knockout Group. The entire layer, if you once again meatball on it, it does have Knockout Group assigned and that's exactly what we want. But if you look closely, you are going to notice these weird little seams on top of the two forward legs.
So here on the rear leg and the front leg as well. The question becomes, are those real. If I zoom in, they continue to persist, and I was telling you in one of the previous chapters that one of the ways to tell if the seams that you see inside of Illustrator are real or not is to change your Zoom Ratio, to zoom in or to zoom out and see if the seams disappear. In our case, they are persisted which generally indicates that they're really there. I am going to show you how to really truly check if they are there in the next exercise.
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