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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, I am going show you had add objects to on opacity mask. I will saved my progress as Empty opacity mask.ai and I am going to go ahead and scroll down here, so I can see the reflection. Now let's say I want modify the opacity mask, well, I look here to the transparency panel and I can't see it, in my case, you may be able to, if you are still working along with me but I can't see mine. Why is that? Well I don't have the right layer selected, so I click on it. Still can't see it and that's because I need to select that exact object that contains the opacity mask and that happens be the entire layer so I need to meatball it, like so and now I can see both the contents of the layer represented in the left-hand thumbnail and the layer mask represented in right-hand thumbnail.
Now, the layer mask happens to be completely white, which means that I can see the entire contents of this layer. I am going click on the Opacity Mask to edit it. This is a very important step and it's easy to forget believe it or not, when you are working right inside of Illustrator that you've got to take a moment to click on the opacity mask to make it active, you want to see layers, opacity mask in the layers panel and then you can add your objects. So I'll grab the Rectangle tool, what the heck, well that I can get by pressing the 'M' key of course. I will draw inside of the light bulb and I can -- what looks like a rectangle with a white stroke, what in the world is going on? Well, what you have really drawn is a rectangle that's filled with white, notice up here in the Control panel, it's filled with white and it has a black stroke.
Let's change this stroke weight for moment, so I can just show you what's going on. I am going to increase that stroke weight to let's say 12 points and what's happening here is this black stroke is cutting a hole in the layer because black in your opacity mask means conceal that is, it's cutting a hole and white in the opacity mask means reveal, that is its restoring the contents of that layer. So what if we want this entire square to be a hole, well go up to the Control panel and click on that Fill icon and switch to this black swatch and by the way you don't need a rich black or anything like that when you're working inside of an opacity mask, just a 100% black does the trick and typically you're just working with black values.
You can assign color but it makes your results very unpredictable, here inside the opacity mask. Next, I suggest we get rid of the stroke. So I don't tend to like to use strokes as opacity elements. So I will click on the Stroke Swatch and then I will change it to none. So the result is a square hole inside of the light bulb, I am going to go ahead and scale it by grabbing my Scale tool and I'm going to drag like so just to make a little bigger so we are covering up most the bulb. Now I want to show you how to create a Reveal. Let's say, I want to do it with a circle this time, just for the sake of variety.
So I will click and hold on Rectangle tool, choose the Ellipse tool or I could press the 'L' key and I will go ahead and draw a circle inside of this area. It's still set to black because that was my last attribute that I had assigned. I will go up to the Control panel, click on a Fill swatch and change it to white and than it goes ahead and reveals the contents of that layer. And so you can do this as much as you want and you can definitely by the way, paint with shades of gray in order to create gradients. It's a very popular way to work. In fact, in my opinion that's about the best way to work there is, because think about it here, if only you want to do is create a hole in a path, then you can use a compound path or a compound shape, both of which are more convenient than resorting to an opacity mask and if all you want to do is put a bunch of paths inside the container, then a clipping path is a way to go.
However if you want the contents of the layer to gradually fade away, then a Gradient Opacity Mask is the way to go in Illustrator and I will show you how to create just such a mask in the next exercise.
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