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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.
So far all the gradients that we have created have been linear gradients. Meaning, that they start at one color, end at another color; you can add as many colors in-between if you like. However, all the colors are arranged along a straight axis. There is another kind of gradient though that's available to you inside of Illustrator, and that's a radial gradient, in which the colors are arranged in concentric rings. I am going to show you how that works by assigning a radial gradient to the background behind the cat, as you see here in the finished Gradient cat.ai file. Let's go ahead and switch over to the illustration in progress; it's called highly polished cat.ai.
I am going to back off a little bit by zooming out, so I have a little room to work here. I am going to click on the big rectangle to select it with my Black Arrow key. Then I'll go over to the Gradient panel and I want to use the rich black that I've already assigned to fill inside my new gradient. So, I'll go ahead and grab this color swatch here in the Color panel and I'll drag it down to the gradient bar and drop it at the end right there. So I have a white to rich black gradient. As you can see the colors are arranged horizontally, that is along a horizontal axis. So what they really are is vertical strips of color at this point.
So we have a bunch of vertical lines of different shades in this case coursing from white on one side of the shape to black on the other side, to a rich black, that is. However, if you'd rather arrange your colors in concentric rings, then you just go to the Gradient panel and you switch from Linear to Radial, like so. Now, notice that the gradient begins in the center of the shape and ends near the outside of the shape and it actually ends with a gigantic circle as you're about to see. So, the first color is going to be at the center and the last color is going to be around the perimeter of that circle.
Typically, when you are creating radial gradients they start bright and they end dark. If yours is going the wrong direction then you can just click on the reverse gradient button, which is a heck of a tool. I just got to say, it's a really convenient option. Anyway, I am going to reset it to where it was before, and then I'm going to ahead and bring up my Gradient tool. As long as the shape is still selected I should see a gradient annotator. It looks a lot like the annotator we've seen so far, the one that's associated with the linear gradient. The big difference is that when you move inside of this giant circle you can see the perimeter of the gradient.
So this outside circle shows the location of all of the last colors, the entire big circle of the last color, and anything beyond that circle is just going to be rich black in our case. So, what I suggest we do is we go ahead and modify this circle a little bit. Now, you can drag the origin point, once again, the big circle there, in order to change the location of the entire gradient. I am going to leave it centered inside the backdrop and I am going to change both the angle and the location of the last color by dragging this diamond, which is the terminus, of course, of the gradient, and I am going to drag it up and over, at least that's what I'd like to do.
I am not changing the angle; I am just changing the positioning at this point. So, I'm just changing the location of that point, which actually works out pretty nicely. I can now see that the circle is every bit as large as the rectangle itself. Now, if you want to change the angle of the gradient then you go ahead and move your cursor slightly outside the terminus once again and you drag like so with that little rotate cursor. Going to notice, however, that that's not going to do anything. As long as you don't change the location of that point, then changing the angle doesn't have any effect on the gradient because after all you're changing the angle of a ginormous circle.
And a circle is always a circle regardless of its angle. So what we need to do if we want to get different results out of this is we need to bend the shape into an ellipse. You can do that by going up to this little icon right there. Notice that guy, that's sitting at the top of the circle, and it's angled over, which is why it's at its current location. Go ahead and drag that down like so and that will go ahead and slim the circle into an oval. You can determine the exact dimensions, that is at least the proportions of that ellipse, by changing this value right here inside the Gradient panel.
So, I might change it to 70% if I want absolute control over how big that ellipse is or at least numerical control. I am also going to change the angle to 135 degrees, which is going to send this line in exactly the opposite direction, or more or less the opposite direction, anyway. So that the gradient begins in the center of the rectangle and it ends down and to the left. Now, finally, I am going to do one more thing, and this applies only to radial gradients inside of Illustrator. I am going to go ahead and zoom in so I can better see what I am doing, and notice that next to the origin circle there is yet another circle, and that circle determines the center of our gradient, that is, the location at which the gradient truly begins and it allows you to offset that initial color with respect to the outside perimeter.
So let me show you what that looks like. As I drag up, and I've got to be careful at first when I am dragging because Illustrator has a tendency to make this line just go wonky as heck when you are right next to the origin point. But as you drag away you'll have a little more control. Then once you get that starting point to some place inside the ear you can go ahead and release. So, what's happening is now the center point of the gradient is offset with respect to the perimeter, so the perimeter's remained at exactly the same position. So if you drag this guy all the way up here you'd have quite the spotlight effect.
The gradient would race from this starting point to the endpoint right there and it would go very slowly from the starting point to the endpoint down and to left. Anyway, I don't want things to be quite that radical so I am going to move this point back inside the ear like so and release, and then I'll go ahead and zoom in. Then I'll press the V key to switch back to the Black Arrow tool, click off of the path in order to deselect it, and that is how you work with radial gradients inside Illustrator.
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