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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're going to take that elliptical gradient that we created with a fair amount of effort as a blend, and we are going to customize it to fit the contours of this grassy knoll. And that's something that we can't do with a gradient, but we can do with a blend. I have saved my progress as Manual elliptical grad.ai and I am going to go ahead and grab my White Arrow tool and I am going to hover my cursor over the various points inside of this grass in order to find out where the edges of my blended objects are. So if I move to this point right there, notice that you can see in addition to my white arrow cursor I have a black square that tells me that there is something underneath my cursor.
I will click on it to select it and this looks to be the middle path and indeed it is. So this is that sort of darkish shade of green, not the ultra dark green and not the light green, but the one in between. What I would like to do is add a couple of points so that I can raise this area here in order to match the contour of this bump. I am going to do that by switching over to my Pen tool. So you can add points and delete points and do the whole number on path outlines that are parts of blends, just as you can with any path outlines inside of Illustrator.
So I will grab my Pen either by clicking on it or pressing the P key, and then you have to be pretty careful here. Scoot your cursor over the segment. Make sure that you see a plus sign next to the cursor and click. If you don't see a plus sign, if you see an X, don't click, because that will create a new point. It's very easy to do if you are not paying fairly meticulous attention. Then I am going to move my cursor over to this location. I have got a plus sign next to the cursor. I will click in order to add a new point, like so. So far so good. Now I am going to grab my Direct Selection tool, my White Arrow tool, and I will drag this point upward, like so.
Now what I have done, you may notice, I was telling you in a previous exercise, that it's important to make sure that you have the same number of anchor points in all of your blended shapes and that they're the same kinds of anchor point so that Illustrator knows how to blend the shapes together. Well, that's a good rule of thumb. You can sometimes get away with not following that rule and when you're adding points, because you've already established the order of the blend and the way that the blend is mapped out, you have a fair amount of flexibility in terms of adding points to the various shapes, but you still have to take easy.
It is possible if you add too many points to any one shape inside a blend to mess things up. So just try adding a point, moving it around making sure the blend still works out nicely. Now I have dragged this point up toward the top of this path outline right there. I just want it to be slightly inward, and then I am going to click on this anchor point there in order to select it and I will move this Bezier control handle up like so and now I will grab this guy as well. I will click on this anchor point and move its control handle up, to get this effect. Now notice I am kind of messing up the gradient.
I have this interesting wash of green that's sweeping in from the left-hand side. Now, I could end up liking that. That could end up working very nicely for me. I don't happen to like it, however. So I'm going to zoom out and I am going to take this control handle and scoot it in like so that I have less radical transitions inside of my blend. Now I will drag this guy up little bit. That is that anchor point. Click on this anchor point over here, scroll over, and move its control handle inward as well, because again we've got a very radical transition at that location.
Now let's take a swing at editing the innermost path outline inside the blend. I will scoot my cursor down until I see once again that I've got a square next to my White Arrow tool. Now this one is telling me that I am going to be clicking on an anchor point, which is just fine. So I will go and click on that anchor point to select it. That works out pretty nicely. Then I will grab my Pen tool once again and I will hover my cursor over a segment taking care to make sure that I'm seeing a plus sign next to the cursor. I will click in order to add a point at that location. Then I will move the cursor over to the left-hand side, click as soon as I see a plus sign next to it.
Press the A key in order to switch back to the White Arrow tool, scoot this guy up a little like so, maybe move this control handle, just move these guys around until I feel like I am getting the look that I am hoping for, and I will go ahead and move these down a little bit, because if I move them too far up like this, then I am going to see a flat area of green on the inside down here toward the bottom of the illustration and I don't know that I want that large of a flat area. And I'm not sure I want this kind of radioactive highlight down here on the grass either.
So I want to take it a little easy. I will scoot this anchor point down, like so. Scoot this guy this guy down as well and we should get a nice smooth transition as I'm seeing here inside of my final blend. Now in this case I am blending from a six -point shape down here at the bottom to another six-point shape in between, and then finally to a four-point shape at top, but everything seems to visually reconcile. So I'm okay. If you feel like you're not seeing reconciliation, your colors are moving in sort of aberrant directions, you could go ahead and try to find an outermost path outline, which I believe, no, that's not it.
That's the clipping path itself. I don't want that. I will go ahead and meatball this path so I can find it. It's right there. Good. I will click off of it. Then I will come back to it. Now this is a problem you may run into every once in a while, which is you can't quite get to the contents of a clipping path, and this is something that Adobe has changed over time, quite for the worse, in my opinion. If for some reason you just can't get to the contents of a clipping mask then what you have to do is press the V key to switch to the Black Arrow tool, click on that clipping path in order to select it, like so, then go up here to the Control panel and notice that it's telling me it's a group.
It's actually a group with a clipping mask inside of it, which is very important. Notice these two icons, one allows you to edit the clipping mask itself, which I don't want to do. The other one is to edit the contents. So I will click on Edit Contents and then I will select all of those various ellipses and now with any luck I should be able to get to that guy by clicking out with a White Arrow tool or what have you. What I want to do is I want to press the P key to switch to the Pen tool and I'll go ahead and add a point at this location right there, and I'll add another anchor point over someplace around here.
As soon as I see a plus sign next to my cursor, I will click in order to add an anchor point and that does smooth out the gradient a little bit. By virtue of the fact that I know have six anchor points associated with the outermost shape. So hopefully by now you get the idea, I will go ahead and press the V key, click off of my shapes to deselect, and the idea is this, when you're editing a blend you can make any modifications you want - you can add points, you to move points around, you can move control handles - just be cognizant of the fact that Illustrator has to somehow reconcile the blend between the various objects. And the best way to do that is to ensure that each and every path outline inside the blend has the same number of anchor points.
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