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This course is the third in a four-part series devoted to mastering the premiere graphics creation application, Adobe Illustrator, version CS6. Industry pro Deke McClelland takes a project-based learning approach to the key features in Illustrator, including Recolor Artwork, transparency, masks, blend modes, strokes and fills, and dynamic effects. The course also covers techniques for creating custom gradients, designing logos, generating photorealistic neon text, and wrapping type around objects. Plus, Deke shows how to call up the most essential features by organizing your workspace and employing time-saving keyboard shortcuts, how to manage the color settings, and how to adjust a few settings to make the program work even better.
Now if this were a real neon sign, then all of the letters in the word OPEN would be made from a single glass tube that had been hand bent in different directions. The areas of that tube between the letters are blocked out using opaque glass paint. So you can see here if I go ahead and click on this path between the bottoms of the O and P that we have four areas of block out right here. So presumably the light runs through the O, into the P, through the center of the E, up and around and into the N.
I will tell you that I created this artwork based on an actual photograph, so that must be the way it works. Anyway, for the sake of reality we need to create those regions of blocked out tube. So I'll go and switch over to my illustration in progress here and if you're working along with me, go ahead and twirl open the neon layer here inside the Layers panel. Scroll down and you'll see this item called connect. Go ahead and turn it on and meatball it as well. You see over here on the far left side of the Control panel that I have selected a Compound Path.
Now it could build up the block out effect using another blend, just as we did a couple movies ago. But for the sake of variety I'm going to assign multiple strokes to this Compound Path from the Appearance panel. So go ahead and switch over to the Appearance panel, which you can also get by choosing the Appearance command from the window menu, click on the one and only stroke assigned so far in order to make it active; and change its color to deep red, and then change the Line Weight to 30 points. Now I'll add another stroke by clicking on the Add New Stroke icon down here in the lower left corner of the Appearance panel.
This time I will change the stroke color to Black and I'll change its Line Weight value to 26 points. Then I'll go ahead and add yet another stroke by clicking on the Add New Stroke icon down there in the lower left corner of the panel. I'll change the color back to Deep red and I'll change the line weight to 12 points. I came up with all this strictly through trial and error. As I say I was just trying to match a base photograph. Now we need to add a little bit of softness between these strokes. I am going to do that using a Gaussian Blur effect.
So with this top stroke selected go up to the Effect menu, choose Blur, and then choose Gaussian Blur. I came up with a radius value of 10 pixels, then click OK. That deselects the stroke. So I'll go ahead and twirl it open so that I can see, indeed I do have a Gaussian Blur effect assigned to it. And there is blurriness here inside the artboard. Now I'll click on a stroke to make it active again and I'll go ahead and offset that stroke a little bit by going to the Effect menu, choosing Distort & Transform, and choosing Transform. And I'll change both of the Move values to 1 this time around.
Then I'll click OK and you'll see these strokes offset down and to the right slightly. That deactivates the stroke again, which is fine, but I need to reduce the opacity. So I'll go ahead and click on the word Opacity there and I'll change the Opacity value to 50%. So we end up with a dimmer effect like so. All right, now let's work on the black stroke. Go ahead and click on it to select it. Just one thing to do for this guy, go up to the Effect menu, choose Blur, and choose Gaussian Blur. This time I want a radius value of 7 pixels. Obviously, you can try out your own settings if you like.
I will go ahead and click OK and that blurs the black stroke. And now I'll click on the bottom red stroke to select it, and actually I want that same Gaussian Blur effect right there that applied to the top strokes. So I am just going to click on it as long as it's available. And I'll press the Alt or the Option key on the Mac and I'll go ahead and drag and drop that effect on to the bottom stroke. That'll go ahead and blur the backstroke as well. Twirl it open so I can see, yes indeed I've got a Gaussian Blur. I'll click on the word Opacity and reduce this one to 75% in order to come up with this effect.
Now then, I want you to see something. I'm going to switch back to the final version of the Illustrator document and notice each one of these blockouts here, I will go ahead and zoom in, begins dark, becomes a little brighter toward the center, and becomes dark again. I was able to achieve that effect using a Gradient Stroke. So I'll go ahead and switch over to my illustration in progress and I'll click on the top stroke to make it active. Maybe go ahead and twirl these guys closed here and I'll add yet another new stroke by clicking on the Add New Stroke icon.
Now I'll change it from a solid color to a gradient by tapping the period key. And that goes ahead and opens up the Gradient panel as well. I'll go ahead and expand the panel by clicking the Up Down arrow icon couple of times, and I'll click on the white color stop to make it active, and I'll change its location value to 50% so that I end up with this effect here. Now I'll click on the black color stop, and I'll actually double-click on it. Right now it's a weak black, which is not going to perform accurately for this effect. I want a nice rich black. So I will go ahead and click on my black swatch, which is that little global swatch right there.
If you want to see how it's made, look on the color icon right up above the swatch icon there. And then click on this large RGB icon right there in order to convert the black to RGB. That should be all there is to it, but then you need to also go to the flyout menu icon and choose RGB in order to see those RGB values. And notice that they're all set to 0, which is a darker black that you get with CMYK when only the K value is set to 100. Anyway, you need that in order for this effect to work.
All right now that you have set your RGB values to 0 for this black color stop, go ahead and press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac, and drag that color stop to the far left side so you're creating a copy of it. Then the final step here inside the Color panel is to change the Stroke setting. To the center one right there Apply gradient along stroke. And that will go ahead and create the gradient along each one of these strokes, whether it's a horizontal path outlined or a vertical one. Now I am going to collapse my Gradient panel and I am going to change my Stroke Weight to something very thick, 36 points.
So it's thicker than any of the strokes below it, and then finally you want to twirl that stroke open, click on the word Opacity there, and change the Blend mode from Normal to Multiply. That will go ahead and turn that gradient stroke into a darkening agent. Just one final thing we have to do. I am going to press and hold the Ctrl+Spacebar keys. That would be Command+Spacebar on a Mac. And I'll zoom in on this area right there. And notice now that we've revealed some color other than black in the background behind the letters, the black edge of the blended letters is very hard.
So we need to soften that edge. And here is how you do that. Switch over to Layers panel. Go ahead and scroll down until you come to that letters item, which is the blend. Twirl it open and then go ahead and scroll down the list there, and grab this guy right there. So meatball the bottom-most item inside the blend. Then go up to the Edit menu and choose the Copy command or press Ctrl+C or Command+C on the Mac, then return to the Edit menu and choose the Paste and Back command, or press Ctrl+B or Command+B on the Mac.
That goes ahead and pastes yet another version of these letters at the back of the blend. Now what you want to do is you want to change the Line Weight value up here in the Control panel from 32 points to 36 points. And that will go ahead and expand this black region. Finally, go up to the Opacity value here and change it to 0%. That way you're fading from an Opaque black version of the letters to a transparent black version of the letters, and you create this soft transition right there.
All right, so I will go ahead and press Ctrl+0, Command+0 on the Mac to center my zoom; and press Ctrl+Shift+A or Command+Shift+A on the Mac, in order to deselect my letters. That takes care of our neon work inside of Illustrator. In the next movie we will take the artwork into Photoshop and we will end up making it look like this.
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