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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.
Now that you have a rudimentary idea of what's going on with the perspective grid here inside Illustrator, we are going to create a very basic perspective drawing. You should see the perspective grid on-screen if you're working along with me, if you can't see it, go to the View menu, choose Perspective Grid and then choose Show Grid, and then the grid will leap to life. One of the great things about the grid is that it works in harmony with a geometric shape tools. So armed with any of these tools, rectangle through star, you can draw directly in perspective onto the grid.
The most obvious tool to work with of course is a Rectangle tool. So I will go ahead and select it or press the M key. Then I want you to notice this widget, which is by default located in the upper left corner of the Illustration window. And it is showing you exactly which pane is active, so by default the left grid is active, and notice, it has a keyboard of 1. So you have got keyboard shortcuts of 1 through 4. You don't have to press Ctrl or Command or anything else. And the reason I mention this; right now we don't need the shortcut. Later on it'll become extremely useful when we start moving path outlines between panes.
But anyway, right now the left-hand grid is active. The bottom of this cube takes you to the horizontal grip, which is the ground pane, and then the right side of the cube takes you to the right grid, and then finally if you click outside the cube but inside this circle, then you deactivate the grid so that you can draw normally. In our case we want to draw on the left grid, so go ahead and make sure that's selected, and then draw a rectangle like so, and notice that it comes in perspective just totally awesome. Now I am going to go ahead and change the Fill to Transparent up here in the Control panel.
So I will click that Fill Swatch and I will select None, in order to get rid of the fill, just so I can see what I am doing here. And then I am going to draw shape over here on the right-hand grid, but notice as I draw, I am continuing to draw on the left-hand pane. Why in the world is that? Well, that's because that's what I told Illustrator I wanted to do, which is actually really great. Because you can to extend your artwork in any direction you want regardless of which pane you think you're drawing on. So, I don't want that obviously. I will press Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on the Mac to undo it, and I am going to switch here inside the Widget.
I am going to click on the Right Gird to make it active, it appears orange, because that's the default color for that pane, and then I will drag from here to here like so, and I am trying to make sure I am aligning this intersection point. If you're having a problem making things align properly, then just try dragging farther to the right or taking it in a little bit or what have you, basically what's happening is Illustrator is snapping to the Perspective Grid. Now I want to draw a shape across the top of the steps, and to do that I have to select a pane on the cube, but there is no top edge in the cube.
There is just a bottom edge, well same difference. So the Horizontal Grid, the ground level whatever you want to call it, it's all the same. It affects the bottom, the top of objects as well. Go ahead and click on it to make it active, it turns green, because that's the default color of the ground panes, and then drag from here to here in order to complete your cube. All right, so that's a basic cube for you, that's all it takes. Now let's say that I wanted to appear as a kind of glass box that's holding my stairs. I want to get rid of some stuff on-screen.
I don't want all this folderol, especially the Perspective Grid. It gets on your face pretty quick. So there's a couple ways to hide the grid. One is to go the View menu and choose Perspective Grid and choose Hide Grid, and of course, that's a lot of work to get to that command. Here is an easier way ostensibly, I will escape that here. You're supposed to be able to just click the Close Box to close that widget, just by clicking on Hide Grid and that worked. Sometimes it doesn't work, in which case you have got to switch to the Perspective Grid tool and close it that way. All right, and then go ahead and grab the Selection tool.
You can drag these paths around with a Black Arrow tool if you want to, but notice that they will not be in proper perspective anymore. Whether the grid is visible or not, it doesn't matter. It is just that the Standard Arrow tools do not respect the grid. So don't be doing that, instead, I will press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on the Mac to undo that change, and I will go ahead and Shift+Click on these other sides in order to select them. And I am going to press Ctrl+H or Command+H on the Mac to hide those edges, so again, I can better see what I am doing. And I believe my Fill is currently active, but I will go ahead and click the Fill in the Appearance panel just to make sure, and then I am going to select Fade to Black from the Swatches panel, which is one of the default Gradient Swatches.
And I am going to expand the Gradient panel, make a few changes here. I am going to double-click on this final color stop, and I am going to change that color to white and I am going to increase its Opacity to 100%. Then after pressing the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac, notice we now have an opaque box, so I can't see the stair thing inside. I am going to go ahead and click at the midway point in this gradient in order to add a color stop to that location. I wanted to have a Location of exactly 50%, so I will change that Location value, double-click on the Color Swatch in order to bring up the Color panel.
I am going to change the k value to 50 %, just so that it's parallel and I am going to change the Opacity to 0%, and then press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac in order to get this affect. I don't want a Stroke, so I am going to change this stroke here in the Appearance panel from Black to None, and also I am going to click on the Fill once again to make it active and I should see an Opacity value, if not go ahead and twirl open fill. Click in Opacity and change that Opacity value to 65% in order to achieve this effect.
I want an overall stroke that resembles the big strokes that we have around the isometric and perspective objects, and I'm going to achieved that by first grouping these objects together so I will go to the Object menu, choose a Group command, or I can press Ctrl+G, Command+G on the Mac, and with my group selected here in the Appearance panel, I will go ahead and add a new stroke by clicking this bottom left icon and I want that stroke to be 3 points thick and I am going to move it down below contents, but that's not really going to make any difference, notice that, because we have these translucent fills, they are not adequately covering up those strokes.
So I'm going to have to reconcile that, but first of all I am going to click on Stroke and get rid of those strange minor joints by changing the corner to round joint, and we get that affect. Now I am going to zoom in here, because I think we've got some hairline gaps going between these objects here, and I don't think they reconcile quite properly. With this stroke active, very important, I will go up to the Effect menu and I'll choose Pathfinder and I will choose Add, which should do a virtual add, so that we don't see any of the interior lines, and that actually worked. Oh, great! That's awesome.
Everything is working up better than I anticipated, but if you've got some gaps going on. Then what you, is just switch back to your layers panel, twirl open the perspective layer and go ahead and lock down this item that's called Group that looks like the perspective stairs, so that you don't end up hurting it. And then with the other group active, press Ctrl+H or Command+H on the Mac in order to bring back your selection edges, and I am going to press the A key to switch to my White Arrow tool, and I am going to click off the object to deselect it and then marquee these three intersecting points right there.
And then I will go up to the Object menu, choose Path and choose Average, and once that dialog box comes up, I will just go ahead and make sure both is active and click OK, and then I will go ahead and average the location of those points so that we get a nice seam, and actually that looks pretty darn good, just one more change I want to make. I am going to switch back to my Appearance panel and I'm going to double-click on Group to make the make the group active. Once again, that selects the entire group as well, notice that. Click on Stroke, because I want to move the stroke out just a little bit.
I will go up to the Effect menu, I will choose Path and I'll choose Off Set path, and I'm going to enter a value of 1.5 points and turn on Preview to make sure it's what I want, it is indeed, and I will click OK. Click off the object to deselect it. We have got a stair gadget rendered in perspective, inside of the translucent perspective box, that was drawn using the Perspective Grid tool, here inside Illustrator CS5.
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