Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Mastery
Illustration by John Hersey

Creating soft and sharp transitions


Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Mastery

with Deke McClelland

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Video: Creating soft and sharp transitions

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.
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  1. 37m 22s
    1. Welcome
    2. Linking AI and EPS files to Illustrator
      6m 34s
    3. Installing the dekeKeys keyboard shortcuts
      7m 43s
    4. Remapping Mac OS shortcuts
      6m 56s
    5. Installing the Best Workflow color settings
      4m 56s
    6. The color settings explained
      7m 4s
    7. Preserve Numbers vs. embedded profiles
      3m 24s
  2. 1h 35m
    1. My favorite features in all of Illustrator
      1m 21s
    2. Introducing the Transform effect
      5m 30s
    3. Repeating the last effect you applied
      4m 52s
    4. Applying multiple passes of a single effect
      5m 21s
    5. The wonders of editing dynamic artwork
      7m 13s
    6. Applying effects inside effects
      5m 11s
    7. Assigning an effect to an entire layer
      5m 42s
    8. Building a complex bevel effect
      5m 44s
    9. Placing artwork as a Photoshop Smart Object
      4m 55s
    10. Editing that Smart Object in Illustrator
      4m 21s
    11. Rotating continuously overlapping objects
      5m 34s
    12. Adjusting a dynamic transformation origin
      6m 22s
    13. Vector vs. raster effects
      5m 46s
    14. Introducing the Scribble effect
      5m 23s
    15. Copying effects between layers
      4m 20s
    16. Introducing Graphic Styles
      6m 50s
    17. Controlling the Filter Gallery preview
      2m 28s
    18. Document Raster Effects Settings
      4m 31s
    19. Combining and saving styles
      4m 32s
  3. 1h 25m
    1. Airbrushing with points and handles
      1m 45s
    2. Introducing the gradient mesh
      6m 10s
    3. Working with the Mesh tool
      6m 12s
    4. Lifting colors from a tracing template
      5m 47s
    5. Finessing the colors of mesh points
      4m 17s
    6. Creating a mesh with the Mesh tool
      7m 19s
    7. Adding a gradient mesh to a circle
      4m 37s
    8. Adding a gradient mesh to a slender shape
      8m 7s
    9. Creating soft and sharp transitions
      6m 56s
    10. Converting a linear gradient to a mesh
      7m 29s
    11. Editing a linear gradient mesh
      5m 6s
    12. Converting a radial gradient to a mesh
      8m 19s
    13. Editing a radial gradient mesh
      8m 15s
    14. Creating credible cast shadows
      5m 32s
  4. 1h 15m
    1. The best of static and dynamic adjustments
    2. Adding wings to a horse in Photoshop
      6m 52s
    3. Introducing the Warp tool
      6m 29s
    4. Brush size, Detail, and Simplify
      8m 24s
    5. The Twirl, Pucker, and Bloat tools
      6m 13s
    6. The Scallop, Crystallize, and Wrinkle tools
      5m 55s
    7. Creating a mind-blowing custom starburst
      4m 29s
    8. Introducing Envelope Distort
      5m 21s
    9. Editing the contents of an envelope
      5m 20s
    10. Warping an envelope mesh
      5m 20s
    11. Liquifying the contents of an envelope
      7m 7s
    12. Creating and editing an envelope mesh
      7m 59s
    13. Blending an envelope into a background
      4m 35s
  5. 2h 1m
    1. Outlines along a path
      1m 13s
    2. Weaving a pattern throughout an illustration
      6m 24s
    3. Introducing the Brushes panel
      4m 21s
    4. Applying and editing a calligraphic brush
      8m 28s
    5. Applying and scaling art brushes
      6m 6s
    6. Applying and editing a scatter brush
      5m 29s
    7. Formatting and scaling brushed text
      5m 40s
    8. Editing the path outlines of an art brush
      6m 2s
    9. Replacing an existing art brush
      6m 46s
    10. Creating and refining an art brush
      8m 3s
    11. Tiling pattern vs. pattern brushes
      5m 12s
    12. Creating a pattern brush
      8m 20s
    13. Designing the perfect side pattern
      7m 1s
    14. Start, end, and corner tiles
      8m 58s
    15. Expanding and filling brush outlines
      6m 49s
    16. Text brushes vs. type on a path
      6m 55s
    17. Combining a text brush with the Width tool
      8m 43s
    18. Introducing the bristle brushes
      5m 43s
    19. Adjusting the hairs in a bristle brush
      5m 24s
  6. 1h 32m
    1. Charts can be beautiful
      1m 17s
    2. Adding a gradient mesh to a complex path
      8m 9s
    3. Importing and graphing data
      5m 22s
    4. Switching between the kinds of graphs
      6m 8s
    5. Changing the Graph Type settings
      8m 7s
    6. Correcting and editing data
      6m 51s
    7. Selecting and coloring graph elements
      6m 29s
    8. Making nuanced changes to a graph
      8m 6s
    9. The pitfalls of manual adjustments
      8m 45s
    10. Creating and applying graph designs
      6m 28s
    11. Making a basic pictograph
      6m 47s
    12. Assembling sliding graph designs
      8m 33s
    13. Making last-minute tweaks and edits
      5m 37s
    14. Composing and customizing a graph
      5m 44s
  7. 2h 6m
    1. Perspective is all about real life
      1m 44s
    2. Assembling an isometric projection
      8m 5s
    3. Introducing Illustrator's Perspective Grid
      6m 8s
    4. Drawing a basic perspective cube
      8m 1s
    5. One-point, two-point, and three-point perspective
      8m 25s
    6. Creating automatically scaling box labels
      4m 41s
    7. Setting up a Perspective Grid
      6m 45s
    8. Perspective Grid tips and tricks
      6m 39s
    9. Drawing and editing a perspective shape
      5m 20s
    10. Shifting between planes on the fly
      5m 24s
    11. Creating a freeform shape in perspective
      7m 8s
    12. Working with perspective symbols
      8m 57s
    13. Matching perspective with the Shear tool
      2m 50s
    14. Rendering an off-plane path in perspective
      5m 7s
    15. Replicating symbols in perspective
      8m 12s
    16. Mass-modifying perspective instances
      2m 56s
    17. Adding and editing perspective text
      5m 37s
    18. Duplicating perpendicular shapes
      7m 17s
    19. Adjusting multiple shapes on a single plane
      4m 48s
    20. Creating a perspective column
      9m 23s
    21. Duplicating a series of perspective paths
      3m 20s
  8. 1h 25m
    1. Just another dynamic effect
      1m 10s
    2. Introducing the 3D Revolve effect
      5m 1s
    3. The 3D Revolve settings
      7m 24s
    4. Fixing 3D rendering problems
      6m 32s
    5. Establishing symbols for 3D art
      6m 50s
    6. Mapping symbols onto 3D surfaces
      6m 14s
    7. Adjusting shading and light
      6m 25s
    8. Toning down 3D art in Photoshop
      5m 43s
    9. Adding a photographic texture
      7m 36s
    10. Converting from Illustrator paths to Photoshop masks
      4m 50s
    11. Making 3D droplets in Photoshop
      5m 58s
    12. Unifying textures with Smart Filters
      5m 48s
    13. Creating 3D type with Extrude & Bevel
      6m 44s
    14. Coloring and correcting extruded edges
      9m 15s
  9. 1h 3m
    1. Take action today, save effort tomorrow
    2. Introducing the Actions panel
      4m 16s
    3. Initiating a new action
      5m 33s
    4. Recording a practical action
      4m 56s
    5. Four ways to play an action
      4m 27s
    6. Streamlining by disabling dialog boxes
      5m 48s
    7. Editing an action set in a text editor
      7m 20s
    8. Inserting an unresponsive menu item
      6m 16s
    9. Match-processing a folder of files
      5m 42s
    10. Recording a transformation sequence
      6m 11s
    11. Editing and troubleshooting an action
      5m 6s
    12. Recording actions within actions
      7m 21s
  10. 1m 36s
    1. See Ya
      1m 36s

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Watch the Online Video Course Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Mastery
13h 5m Advanced Jan 28, 2011

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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.

Topics include:
  • Working with dynamic effects
  • Placing artwork as a Photoshop Smart Object
  • Creating and editing a Gradient Mesh
  • Distorting artwork with an Envelope Mesh
  • Using the Calligraphic, Art, and Scatter Brushes
  • Creating an intricate Pattern Brush
  • Importing and graphing data
  • Creating a complex pictograph
  • Drawing and editing a perspective shape
  • Working with the new Perspective Grid tool
  • Using the 3D Revolve effect
  • Creating 3D type with Extrude & Bevel
  • Recording and playing automated actions
Deke McClelland

Creating soft and sharp transitions

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.

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

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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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