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Creating a multi-color blend


Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Advanced

with Deke McClelland

Video: Creating a multi-color blend

In this exercise, we're going to take our first look at Blends inside of Illustrator. Specifically, we are going to take this big background sky that's currently filled with a linear gradient starting at the top and going to the bottom, that contains a total of six different colors. So it's quite the gradient. But we'll see that by replacing that gradient with an equivalent blend, we provide ourselves with lots more opportunities. The name of this graphic is Lots of and I am going to zoom out so that I can take in the entire illustration at a time.
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  1. 38m 35s
    1. Welcome
      1m 48s
    2. Linking AI and EPS files to Illustrator
      6m 48s
    3. Installing the dekeKeys keyboard shortcuts
      7m 43s
    4. Remapping Mac OS shortcuts
      6m 56s
    5. Installing the Best Workflow color settings
      4m 54s
    6. The color settings explained
      7m 4s
    7. Preserve Numbers vs. embedded profiles
      3m 22s
  2. 1h 40m
    1. Converting pixels to vectors
      1m 2s
    2. Tracing an imported image
      6m 17s
    3. Other ways to trace
      3m 17s
    4. Raster and vector previews
      7m 2s
    5. Threshold, Min Area, and Max Colors
      5m 27s
    6. Tracing options: The raster functions
      8m 2s
    7. Using the Ignore White option
      5m 3s
    8. Tracing options: The vector functions
      6m 40s
    9. Expanding traced artwork
      5m 6s
    10. Sketching and drawing for Illustrator
      6m 24s
    11. Editing scanned line art
      9m 23s
    12. Adding contrast and color
      10m 32s
    13. Live Trace and resolution
      9m 8s
    14. Expanding and separating paths
      8m 43s
    15. Scaling and editing traced art
      8m 4s
  3. 1h 8m
    1. Gradients are good
      1m 15s
    2. Assigning a gradient fill
      6m 9s
    3. Using the gradient annotator
      7m 31s
    4. Editing multiple gradients
      4m 37s
    5. Establishing symmetrical gradients
      5m 28s
    6. Creating a radial gradient
      5m 46s
    7. Adjusting the midpoint skew
      3m 23s
    8. Mixing gradients with blend modes
      6m 11s
    9. Making a transparent gradient
      6m 42s
    10. Drop shadows and dynamic effects
      5m 58s
    11. Assigning a gradient to editable text
      5m 42s
    12. Editing text that includes dynamic effects
      2m 56s
    13. Assigning a gradient to a stroke
      6m 46s
  4. 1h 37m
    1. The earliest dynamic functions
      1m 10s
    2. The gradient-intensive illustration
      5m 26s
    3. Creating a multi-color blend
      7m 39s
    4. Establishing a clipping mask
      3m 34s
    5. Reinstating the mask colors
      9m 7s
    6. Editing blended paths
      6m 50s
    7. Adjusting the number of blended steps
      6m 49s
    8. Using the Blend tool
      4m 33s
    9. Blending between levels of opacity
      7m 32s
    10. Editing the path of the blend
      6m 22s
    11. Adding a custom path of the blend
      5m 4s
    12. Placing one mask inside another
      8m 33s
    13. Blending groups and adjusting the speed
      6m 1s
    14. Rotating objects in 3D space
      10m 21s
    15. Creating custom perspective guides
      8m 31s
  5. 1h 37m
    1. What was old is new again
    2. Introducing tile patterns
      6m 11s
    3. Determining the points of intersection
      6m 51s
    4. Extending paths from the intersections
      5m 40s
    5. Crafting symmetrical subpaths
      5m 38s
    6. The final flawed subpaths
      5m 52s
    7. Reconciling misaligned paths
      5m 34s
    8. Completing the core path outline
      6m 14s
    9. Making a symmetrical modification
      6m 47s
    10. Adjusting the interior elements
      8m 26s
    11. Coloring paths and testing the interlock
      9m 29s
    12. Establishing a rectangular tile
      6m 22s
    13. Defining a tile pattern
      3m 43s
    14. Creating a few color variations
      8m 50s
    15. Protecting patterns from transformations
      6m 9s
    16. Transforming patterns without paths
      5m 30s
  6. 1h 12m
    1. Filling and stroking virtual areas
    2. Introducing Live Paint
      7m 57s
    3. Stroking with the Live Paint Bucket tool
      5m 30s
    4. Using the Live Paint Selection tool
      7m 18s
    5. Adding a path to a Live Paint group
      4m 33s
    6. Building a classic Celtic knot
      8m 28s
    7. Constructing the base objects
      5m 31s
    8. Weaving one object into another
      6m 13s
    9. Creating a path that overlaps itself
      7m 15s
    10. Painting a path that overlaps itself
      5m 34s
    11. Creating knots inside knots
      5m 2s
    12. Adding gradients and depth
      8m 22s
  7. 1h 4m
    1. Dynamic effects and OpenType
      1m 12s
    2. Applying a dynamic effect to type
      5m 43s
    3. Creating a basic bevel effect
      4m 12s
    4. Building up a multi-stroke effect
      4m 49s
    5. Best practices for 3D type
      6m 34s
    6. Applying a "path wiggler" to type
      6m 14s
    7. Drop shadows and Raster Effects settings
      4m 52s
    8. Duplicating attributes and effects
      7m 8s
    9. Editing type with dynamic effects
      7m 27s
    10. Ligatures, swashes, ordinals, and fractions
      5m 45s
    11. Small caps and the Glyphs panel
      4m 25s
    12. Warping text and increasing resolution
      6m 9s
  8. 1h 44m
    1. A world of colors at your beck and call
      1m 32s
    2. Customizing a letterform to make a logo
      8m 37s
    3. Creating a custom drop shadow effect
      6m 26s
    4. Introducing the Color Guide panel
      9m 3s
    5. Harmonies and Color Guide settings
      5m 39s
    6. Lifting harmony rules from color groups
      7m 21s
    7. Harmony layouts and the Lab color wheel
      8m 15s
    8. Working inside the Edit Color dialog box
      6m 36s
    9. Limiting a color group to spot colors
      5m 47s
    10. Recoloring selected artwork
      5m 50s
    11. Recoloring with custom color groups
      6m 1s
    12. Swapping colors with the Color Bars feature
      5m 18s
    13. Using the options in the Assign panel
      8m 41s
    14. Moving color groups between documents
      7m 17s
    15. Distilling your artwork to one spot-color ink
      7m 45s
    16. Recoloring artwork that contains gradients
      4m 17s
  9. 1h 21m
    1. How symbols work
      1m 2s
    2. The power of symbols
      5m 1s
    3. Creating new symbols
      6m 0s
    4. Enabling the new 9-slice scaling
      4m 24s
    5. Adjusting your 9-slice scaling guides
      6m 54s
    6. Previewing and acquiring symbols
      4m 12s
    7. Finding a symbol and creating an instance
      4m 13s
    8. Duplicating and replacing instances
      4m 19s
    9. Breaking a symbol link and envelope fidelity
      5m 26s
    10. Distorting and expanding a symbol
      4m 54s
    11. Updating an existing symbol definition
      3m 40s
    12. Recoloring a symbol definition
      4m 13s
    13. Applying a basic "local" color adjustment
      5m 20s
    14. Applying a more elaborate local color adjustment
      5m 4s
    15. Laying down a random symbol set
      5m 35s
    16. The eight symbolism tools
      6m 55s
    17. Editing selected instances
      4m 11s
  10. 1h 32m
    1. Illustrator needs Photoshop
      1m 1s
    2. Two ways to place a pixel-based image
      6m 6s
    3. Working with linked images
      6m 6s
    4. Linking versus embedding
      9m 38s
    5. Stroking and blending an image
      6m 16s
    6. Adding a clipping mask and page curl
      6m 51s
    7. Creating a blended border effect
      7m 10s
    8. Rasterizing your artwork in Photoshop
      8m 0s
    9. Saving a flat raster file from Photoshop
      4m 58s
    10. Restoring cropped border elements
      5m 39s
    11. Copying and pasting into Photoshop
      6m 27s
    12. Working with Photoshop Smart Objects
      5m 26s
    13. Adding a pixel-based layer effect
      4m 12s
    14. Editing a Vector Smart Object in Illustrator
      7m 20s
    15. Creating and placing a transparent image
      7m 1s
  11. 1h 15m
    1. The many forms of transparency
      1m 29s
    2. Real-world blending modes
      7m 57s
    3. Exporting transparency from Illustrator
      6m 24s
    4. Opacity and blending modes
      6m 18s
    5. The Darken and Lighten modes
      7m 17s
    6. The Contrast, Inversion, and HSL modes
      6m 12s
    7. Blending modes in action
      5m 11s
    8. Creating a knockout group
      6m 14s
    9. Confirming the viability of your artwork
      6m 8s
    10. Introducing the opacity mask
      4m 6s
    11. Making an opacity mask
      5m 25s
    12. Drawing inside an opacity mask
      3m 34s
    13. Creating a gradient opacity mask
      5m 29s
    14. Adding an opacity mask to a single object
      3m 22s
  12. 1m 13s
    1. Until next time
      1m 13s

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Watch the Online Video Course Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Advanced
14h 53m Intermediate Nov 30, 2010

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

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.

Topics include:
  • Tracing a pixel-based image
  • Sketching and drawing for Illustrator
  • Creating and editing gradients
  • Creating multi-colored blends
  • Creating seamlessly repeating tile patterns
  • Creating interlocking artwork with Live Paint
  • Designing advanced type effects
  • Recoloring artwork with color harmonies
  • Making the most of symbols
  • Integrating Illustrator with Photoshop
  • Using transparency, blend modes, and opacity masks
Deke McClelland

Creating a multi-color blend

In this exercise, we're going to take our first look at Blends inside of Illustrator. Specifically, we are going to take this big background sky that's currently filled with a linear gradient starting at the top and going to the bottom, that contains a total of six different colors. So it's quite the gradient. But we'll see that by replacing that gradient with an equivalent blend, we provide ourselves with lots more opportunities. The name of this graphic is Lots of and I am going to zoom out so that I can take in the entire illustration at a time.

Notice that it bleeds off the artboard and I do have a bleed boundary set up and you can get to it by pressing Ctrl+Semicolon or Cmd+Semicolon the Mac to turn on the guides, and that way you'll see that red bleed line right there. So in other words, I have this document set up properly so that we can print a full bleed. And then I'll scroll down to Layers panel and I'll twirl open the sky later right there, and it contains two objects; path, which is the big background rectangle that's filled with a gradient as well as these bands of color that are assembled inside of a group, currently they're turned off.

We'll be turning them on in just a moment. But first I'm going to meatball the path to select it, and I've got my Gradient panel up so that we can see the various colors that I've used inside the gradient. So things start off at the bottom of the gradient with this color right here. If I click on this color swatch and take a look at the color values here inside the Color panel, I've got a 25% Cyan, everything else is zeroed out. So that we have this little bit of brightness down here at the bottom of the sky. Next, I have this very deep red, and notice for each and every one of my colors the next color is a kind of a dark brown.

All of my color values add up to no more than 270% and that's very important. Because if your total ink percentage adds up to more than 270% you stand a chance of having your ink smear when you go to print this illustration, and you don't want that to happen. So keep an eye out for those totals as you work along. It's especially tempting by the way, I should just say, when you're trying to create rich dark colors like these, it's tempting to go into the stratosphere and build up color values that add up to 300% or 350% and those will definitely smear, so watch out for that.

Anyway, what I want to do though is replace this gradient with a blend because I want some more sort of wavy action going on in the sky where the bands of color are concerned. Right now, each and every band is strictly horizontal inside of this linear gradient. So I am going to click in the gradient swatch in the upper left-hand corner of the Gradient panel to make it active and that way I can switch out the entire gradient with a flat fill just by clicking somewhere inside of the CMYK spectrum. And it doesn't matter where you click, just click somewhere in there if you're working along with me, because that way you'll be able to better see the bands of color that we are going to blend together.

They are these bands here, I will go ahead and turn them on, this is a group of a bunch of different objects and notice every single one of those six colors is represented. So I am using the exact same colors that were at work inside of the gradient. They're just expressed as separate path outlines with flat fills. And what I'm going to do here is, I will meatball the bands in order to select them and then I'm going to ungroup them. I just wanted to group them together to keep them tidy. But before I blend them, I might as well ungroup them because otherwise I'll have a blend inside of a group and that just makes it more laborious to edit the document later.

So with this group selected, I'll go up to the Object menu, and then I'll choose the Ungroup command, or I could press Ctrl+Shift+G, Cmd+Shift+G on the Mac to ungroup those guys. Now click off of them in order to deselect the entire group and I'll click on any one of these objects. I just want you to see. I've clicked on the light blue down here at the bottom. That's the exact same color that was at work at the bottom of the gradient. So that is 25% Cyan, everybody else zeroed out. If I click on the red shape in order to select it, that's that same collection of color values that I used to create the red.

Again, I'm making sure that my percentages add up to 270% or less. That magical number by the way is just a standard in the prepress community. It doesn't have to be 270%, some presses can handle more ink. You would want to talk to your commercial printer to find out what their total ink limit is. By the way, that's the question you would ask is, how much ink can you handle? What is your total ink limit? All right, with all of those objects ready to go, I am going to go ahead and select them by marqueeing across them with the Black Arrow tool, so I have all six of my paths selected. And there is a couple of different ways to create a blend inside of Illustrator.

One is to use the Blend tool, down here near the bottom of the toolbox, and it's got a keyboard shortcut of W. However, I'll tell you, I don't use this tool very often. What it allows you to do is click at specific points inside of your blended objects in order to blend them together. It works best when you only have two objects that you are trying to blend, although you can use it with more. But the only reason you actually need to take advantage of it is if your blend starts going weird on you. If it doesn't blend in the right way, that is, this point for example, this bottom left-hand point in this purple path ends up blending over to the bottom right-hand point in the next path down.

That's the kind of situation where you need the Blend tool. For standard blends, however, like this one here, you don't need it. What you do instead, is you go up to the Object menu, you choose the Blend command, and you choose Make. And this is a keyboard shortcut. If you're going to do a lot of blending inside of Illustrator, which I recommend you do, very powerful feature, then you want to remember this keyboard shortcut as well, Ctrl+Alt+B or Cmd+Option+ B on the Mac, and that goes ahead and blends all of the objects together in order to create a continuous smooth gradient as we're seeing here.

Now, I am going to click off of the paths for a moment so that you can see what the gradient looks like and because all of those path outlines were bending, I had a bunch of curvatures set up in those path outlines that I drew using the Pen tool, incidentally. We have that same curvature built in to our final blend as well, into the gradient that we've constructed manually here inside of Illustrator. That means that I can now go in and edit those blends. Because this is a live dynamic object, it will respond to my edits on the fly.

So I could go ahead and grab my White Arrow tool, for example, and then I would just hover the tool over a perspective path outline. I can see now, notice my cursor has a little square next to it, a black square indicating that there's something underneath the cursor. If I click on it, sure enough I've gone ahead and selected it, it looks like the red shape, because I can see it's red, here inside the Color panel. Now I can manipulate its control handles or the anchor points as well in order to change the nature of my gradient. So notice now that I've set things up so I have a pretty harsh transition at this point, which can be very useful depending on the kind of effect you are trying to create.

If you are trying to create nice sharp highlights, for example, then you want your path outlines to be very close to each other inside the blend. If you want smoother transitions, then you move that path outline away, so that you have more room between the various paths inside of your blend. So I might want to go ahead and bring this side up a little bit to add a little bit of glow over this region of this hill, over this grass, for example, and I have that kind of control, it's amazing. Now the thing, I will tell you is now I've got this big huge galumphing sort of gradient that's exceeding outside of my rectangle, that's not necessarily a problem for our purposes because we've got this bleed.

So anything outside of the bleed is just going to drop out. But let's say it's important to you that all of the elements of the blend fit inside of the rectangle, that's when you take advantage of a clipping mask and I'll show you how that works in the next exercise.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Advanced .

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Q: The instructions for installing the dekeKeys don't work on my computer (which is running Mac OS X Lion). Is there an update to these?
A: The dekeKeys distributed with this course will still work for Lion. You just need to add them to a slightly different folder than in previous versions of OS X.

Open a new Finder window and choose Go > Go to Folder. Type the following file path exactly as written below. Copying and pasting may result in an error.

~/Library/Preferences/Adobe Illustrator CS5 Settings/en_US

Move and/or copy/paste the dekeKeys to this folder and follow the rest of the instructions as outlined in the video, "Installing the dekeKeys keyboard shortcuts."
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