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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.
I am still working inside the document called Start here.ai. This time around we are going to take every one of these objects inside of the suit group and we are going to use it to clip the object behind it, so that we are not seeing through the left side of the jacket to the right side of the jacket to the pants to the tail, to the little fluffaroos and so on, and we can accomplish that using what's called a knockout group inside of Illustrator. So now I have shown you a different way to go ahead and modify the Opacity of all objects in a group together and we'll run through that really briefly here.
I'll go ahead and meatball the suit group right there inside of the Layers palette. Then what you do is you switch over to the Appearance palette because here is the problem. We have all sorts of Opacity values applied to Fills of the various objects inside of this group. So we need wipe that out, we need to get rid of those fill Opacity values and then apply a different Opacity value to the overall group to get the effect that we are looking for. So, to get rid of the current transparency modifications, you go over to the Appearance palette menu and then you would choose Reduce to Basic Appearance, but it's dimmed and that's because currently the group has no Opacity applied to it, no special Opacity value, and you can tell that by clicking on the word Opacity right there. It's set to 100%. So what do you? Well, in order to reestablish everybody that's being opaque inside of this group, you double-click on this Contents option right there and now you have managed to select all of the items inside of the group and if you go back to the Layers palette, you will see what I'm talking about. The group itself is no longer meatballed. Rather all of the objects inside the group are meatballed.
So they are the focus of our modifications here inside the Appearance palette, switch back. Don't worry about the fact that it says Mixed Objects, which means we have a collection of paths and groups at this point selected and Mixed Appearances because we have different Fills and Strokes and so on. Once again, go to the Appearance palette fly-out menu and this time choose Reduce to Basic Appearance and you will get rid of the special Opacity modifications with the exception of those inside of the things I'm calling the fluffaroos, the little flouncy front here, and that's because they exist inside yet another sub-group. Same with the sleeves up here. You could dig through them and modify them as well if you want to, but for now just to get a sense what's going on, let's go ahead and switch back to the Layers palette and I'm going to scroll down my list a little bit here and I'm going to target the suit by clicking on it's meatball. So I have got the entire group selected and now I'll change its Opacity value to 50% and press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac.
And you can see, good news is we've gone ahead and changed the Opacity of all of the objects at a time with the exception of the sleeves and the flounce and that kind of stuff, the stuff we knew wasn't right in the first place. But the bad news is in addition to changing the Opacity of the Fills of the various objects, we've reduced the Opacity of the Strokes and I just don't want to do that. So what's our option? Well, you go ahead and press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on a Mac, a couple of times to reinstate the original Opacity values throughout the suit group and your forward left-side of the jacket, his right, should still be translucent as well. Now, go ahead and target that entire suit group, then go up to the Transparency palette, make sure that it's expanded for you and you can get to this option, by the way, by going to the Opacity option, by clicking on the word Opacity up here in the Control palette as well. Just because you never know what's going to appear inside the Control palette. And if you can't find it, you may be better off going to the Transparency palette itself which you get to by the way, by going to the Window menu and choosing the Transparency command.
All right, then notice, if you go ahead and expand the Transparency palette, it may just appear kind of dinky like this right here and you have to click on this little icon to left of the word Transparency a couple of times in order to expand the palette to its full size. Then you will see this checkbox right there that says Knockout Group. What it does is it turns the entire group into a knockout group, so each one of the objects knocks out the object below it, inside the group once again. And when you turn on this checkbox nothing happens. So you don't get a check.
Instead you get this sort of non-committal square inside of a square, which so far as I can tell inside of Illustrator, universally means I'm not really paying attention to you. That's Illustrator talking. It really is non-committal and it's telling you that something about this object isn't quite set right. You will often see this happen when you are creating a Knockout Group but otherwise it's pretty rare. But if you do see it happen often times the solution, and always the solution in this case, is to click the checkbox again.
So that second click of the checkbox makes things happen and you can see now we are using each object inside the group to clip the objects in back of it, while retaining all of our Fill Opacity information and keeping all of our Strokes nice and opaque. In the next exercise, I'm going to show you how to create an opacity mask.
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