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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.
In this exercise, we are going to take a more concerted look at Blend modes inside of Illustrator, specifically I will show you how to use the modes inside the Darken and Lighten groups. I'm still working inside Mishipizheu CS5.ai. I have gone ahead and meatballed the beast layer, the only reason we can't see the selection edges is because I hid them by pressing Ctrl+H or Command+H on the Mac. Now, we are going to switch the Blend mode here inside the Transparency panel or if you prefer, you can go up to the Control panel, click on Opacity and change the Blend mode up there, either way is just fine.
But for the sake of convenience, because it's just sitting there and that way it doesn't overlap anything inside the illustration, I will work from the Transparency panel and I'm going to change the mode to Darken. Now Darken is one of the modes that's named fairly logically here, because what it does is it goes ahead and uses the active object to darken the stuff below, and what's really happening is that at any tiny micro-point inside of the illustration, whoever is darker wins. So in other words, at this point right there, let's say if the monster, it the beast layer is darker, then it shows up, if not, then the background shows up instead.
Now you may say, well in that case, if it's this kind of either/or proposition, either you see the foreground or you see the background which is the way it works, then how come he is translucent? How come we are seeing through him? He never disappears, we are just seeing through him to the background. Well, because this either/or proposition happens on an ink-by-ink basis, and to see what I mean by this, go to the Window menu and choose Separations Preview, or you can click on that little Separations Preview icon, if you can see it, there in your panel Strip and that brings up the Separations Preview panel.
Then you have to turn on Overprint Preview because otherwise the panel doesn't even work, and then I want you to Alt+Click or Option+Click on the eyeball, in front of Cyan. In order to view the Cyan plate independently of the others. And you'll see that now the monster, the beast layer here fades in and out. At first you can see the contents of the beast layer in the upper right-hand corner of the illustration, but then a swath of Cyan moves across from the background and becomes darker and blocks him out entirely and then he comes back and then he goes away and then he comes back and so on.
Something very similar happens inside the Magenta plate. So if I turn on Magenta and turn off Cyan, we get this effect, there he is, there he isn't, there he is again and so on. Yellow is pretty hard to see by the way, if you turn on the Yellow plate and then turn off Magenta, it looks like it's pretty much of a wash, but it's anyone's guess, what's going on there, because everything is Yellow. And then finally, if you turn on Black, you'll notice, and I will leave Yellow on as well, because it's not hurting anything, you'll see that Black wins, he wins in the Black channel because he's got those black strokes.
So to see the Composite View, you turn CMYK back on and that is the result of all o the inks working together. All right, I am going to go ahead and close this panel and I'm going to switch my mode from Darken to Multiply because the thing about Darken is you can end up with some kind of choppy transitions because it's such an on/off proposition the whole time, on an ink-by-ink basis. That can mean that the transitions don't look very smooth, and so if you want smooth or more uniform transitions, then you bump it up to Multiply, which ends up giving us more deeply colored effect as you can see here.
This is as if we took the creature and printed him on one transparency and then we took the background and printed it on another transparency and then laid the two on top of each other on the light table, you end up getting this effect right there. And it always looks great, is basically what it comes down to. You always get smooth, even darkening effects, which is why Multiply is the preferred mode for Shadows inside of Illustrator. Next, we will move up to Color Burn, and Color Burn is going to give us way choppier transitions as you see here, and more highly saturated colors as well.
It's a kind of over-the-top darkening effect with a lot of contrast built into it. I almost never use it inside of Illustrator, but you can use it to create kind of burning effect sometimes. Anyway, it's the least of the darkening modes in my opinion. I am going to now switch to Lighten and we will end up getting this effect here. And again it's like Darken except the other way around. So at any given point, whoever is lightest ends up winning. So at this point, it might be the creature, that's the lightest inside of the illustration or it might be the background, and whichever it is, is what shows through on an ink-by-ink basis, once again.
And if you want to see what's going on with the inks, you bring up the Separations Preview panel and let's Alt+ Click or Option+Click on the eyeball in front of Cyan and you'll see that for the most part, the background is lighter, but it's also the exact opposite pattern of what we saw with the Darken mode. So with the Darken mode, his head showed up in the upper right-hand area. Now the background shows up because it's brighter, which is obviously to be expected, because that's why it lost the fight with the Darken mode, and then this area is lighter where the creature is concerned. So it shows up, and then the background shows up and then the creature shows up and so on.
Now notice that the stroke is actually kind of light inside of the Cyan channel and that's because these strokes have a lot of Black inside of them but they don't have much of the other inks. So since this is an ink-by-ink equation, the Black stroke is actually brightening the background. Anyway, next, I am going to switch to Magenta, turn off Cyan, again we get the opposite effect that we did with Darken inside the Magenta channel. Yellow is going to be pretty hard to read, although look, he looks brighter than his background here inside the Yellow plate, and then finally, I will turn off Black, turn off Yellow and the creature totally goes away, because nothing about the creature is brighter than its background inside the Black plate.
Except maybe this little foot down here is little brighter, not much, and then if you click in front of CMYK, you see the composite view. Now once again, you can end up getting pretty choppy results where Lighten is concerned. If you want a more uniform lightning effect, then you switch from Lighten to Screen. It's also going to get a little more colorful, as we're seeing here, and because Screen is essentially the opposite of Multiply, think of it this way. Imagine that we took the beast and put it on one slide like to go on a slide projector and then we took the background and put it on a different slide in a different slide projector and you pointed both of the projectors at the same screen, why then you are brightening up the entire effect, and it's a nice uniform brightening effect and it is the best of the lightning modes, quite frankly, which is why, it's the preferred mode for glows inside of Illustrator.
Next, what we have is Color Dodge and it's analogous to Color Burn, it produces some really choppy, high contrast, high saturation effects. It's good for fire and that kind of stuff on rare occasions. However again, I don't use it very often. So, if you want a really super hot effect, Color Dodge is the way to go, if you want a more uniform brightening effect, Screen is your best bet, and if nothing else, remember your two best Blend modes are Multiply in order to darken an object onto its background and then Screen in order to lighten an object against its background, and if you remember just those two, you'll know most of what you need to know about Blend modes inside Illustrator.
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