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In Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Mastery, the third and final part of the comprehensive Illustrator One-on-One series, author and industry expert Deke McClelland shows how to take advantage of the wide array of dynamic effects in Illustrator CS5. Deke explores Illustrator’s powerful Gradient Mesh feature, great for creating photorealistic airbrushing effects. He also covers graphic styles, the liquify tools, envelope-style distortions, the new Bristle Brushes, 3D text, and perspective drawing. Exercise files accompany the course.
I've saved my progress as Too-harsh transition, so called because we have some very harsh transitions going on inside of our gradient mesh where the stem is concerned, and that's because our various column lines are overlapping each other. Let me show you what's up here. I'm going to switch to my White Arrow tool and click on the outline of the shape. Notice that this path, this is very hard to trace. It gets pretty darn confusing. But you can see that this line right here, which is ultimately a column line, wraps up into its neighbor. So it goes up into its neighbor and then gets completely messed up with like three of its neighbors.
So somehow we have to peel those guys apart from each other. So I'm going to start at the base down here with this thing. We have just got this control handle just once again launching out in the space. Now what's going to see natural is to try to soften some of these transitions by reining the control handles in a little bit. You can by the way, if you want to you can add points along a path outline without adding mesh points. They would just be anchor points. You don't do that using the Pen tool. It doesn't work for this purpose. What you do is you switch to the Add Anchor Point tool which you can also get by pressing the Plus key and then you can click along a segment in order to add a point at a specific location like that.
Now, you can't add a color at that location, but you can use it to control how that line bends and so forth. So you could lift the line a little bit at that location if you so desire, and then you could try to tuck this line up as well. You're not going to be able to get away with doing this number. This to me makes no darn sense at times. I mean sometimes we will get something that makes a little bit of sense and sometimes not. Look at that. Why? With this control handle here is that segment leaping up to that degree when this control handle is flat.
That's not the way it works normally inside of Illustrator, but there is various magnetic attractions going on once we get into this 2D space with gradient mesh. So it becomes a big challenge. Anyway, what I'm going to do is I'm going to take this guy back in a little bit and see if we can soften that transition a little, and it looks to me like we've now safely gotten this line mostly on the other side of those two? Yes, we have. But we have this guy crossing, so that's a problem. So I need to lift it as well. So again you're just going to have to be patient, you're going to have to be careful, you're going to have to examine what you're doing.
I say that because it can be pretty maddening when you get these lines overlapping each other to this degree. Now, having said that, sometimes it's useful to have the paths overlap each other because you want a harsh transition, but in our case let's say we don't and we're trying to fix the problem. So I'm going to go ahead and raise it, oh! My God, this guy really wants to whip back and forth as I'm trying to raise it up. So he is going to cause me some problems and I'm going to have to move this control handle out a little bit and just try to see if I can sync this edge in between everybody else there.
Let's press Ctrl+H or Command+H on the Mac and see what kind of progress I am making. This area now appears softer which is good. I still have a very hard transition right there. Now I could just say I like it which I do. I think that looks pretty good. But let's say, nope, I need to get rid of it. So I'll press Ctrl+H or Command+H on the Mac and I can continue to move this out a little bit and I can continue to move this line as well, its neighbor line, which just isn't giving it sufficient room in order to make the color transition. press Ctrl+H again, Command+H on the Mac.
I'm still losing this battle. So here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to press Ctrl+H again, grab this point down here, because you can see that's the last color bearing point before we get all the way up to here. So if I want to darken things up a little bit so I don't have this ready transition, then it's this guy who must be responsible. So I'll go ahead and select it, switch back to HSB, because that's where I'd like to stay-- if you don't mind, Color panel. I'm going to go ahead and take the Brightness value down just a little bit and that really helps tremendously.
If I press Ctrl+H or Command+H now, you can see that edge is going away. I'll raise the Saturation a little bit, so that I don't lose any definition there. All right! Let's say you want the opposite effect. Here we work so hard to make sure that this area doesn't have super swift transitions. What if however if we want this area appear to have some nice rapid transitions? Well, press Ctrl+H, Command+H on the Mac to bring back your edges. Let's go ahead and switch back to the Mesh tool by pressing the U key and I'm going to click right about there in order to add a new bunch of points at this location, grab my White Arrow tool, snag a few of these points in order to make them active like so, and then I'll go ahead and increase the brightness to about that, I think. I'm not spelling out specific values here.
I'm just eyeballing my progress. Then let's go ahead and grab the lower line right there, the lower what would this be? This is a row line I believe. Is it? Is it a row line or a column line? Very confusing at this point. Anyway, let's say it's a row line. That's what I'll call it. Then I could raise this guy up, I could raise the control handles, and I could raise the anchor points too and then I'd press Ctrl+H, Command+H on the Mac and you see now I get this nice harsh transition, which I think lends itself well to that portion of the stem. You know it would be even more rocking at this point? Sorry to zoom in and out here but just came up with a brainstorm.
I'll press Ctrl+H, Command+H on the Mac, and I'm going to add yet another whatever this is line, row line, by pressing the U key, and clicking at this location right there. It's a little tight I think, but let's try it out in order to create another line. I'll go ahead and click at this location. Try to drag this guy down a little bit. Augh. This is hard. Maybe take this guy down, take this point down as well without messing everything up totally. Let's grab these three points right there.
Actually there are four points. Press the I key to get the Eyedropper, Shift+Click to add a little bit of a highlight there, and I went too crazy. That's too much. All right! So press Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on a Mac to undo, get my White Arrow tool, Shift+Click on this point to deselect, because apparently that's the last point before we go on a big train down to the bottom of the stem. All right! So now with just these three points selected, let's try it again. Press the I key and Shift+Click inside of this region in order to add a bright highlight on the underside.
That's too bright I think. So I'll take down the Brightness value. I just want a little suggestion of a bounce back at that point, some bounce light, and then I'll take down the Saturation values. Well, press Ctrl+H to see what I've done. Looks pretty darn good. We've got some new harsh transitions showing up down there. If that worries you, you can certainly work on them. But I think we've got ourselves a nice looking stem. That completes by the way the pepper duo. In the next exercise, we're going to set to work converting gradients to gradient meshes, standard linear and radial gradients, to create our background and shadows.
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