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Knowing the fundamentals of drawing and reshaping paths is only part of the story. In Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Advanced, the second of the popular One-on-One series, computer graphics expert Deke McClelland covers some of Illustrator's most powerful and least understood features. He shows how to merge simple shapes to create complex ones with the Pathfinder palette, as well as align paths to create schematic illustrations. Deke explains how to paint fluid, multicolor fills with blends, and the new and improved gradient tool. He explores seamlessly repeating tile patterns, blobs and brushes, and imported images. He also dives into one of the deepest features in all of Illustrator, transparency. Exercise files accompany the tutorial.
Recommended prerequisite: Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals.
Download Deke's customized keyboard layouts and color settings for Illustrator from the Exercise Files tab.
In this exercise I'm going to show you how to change the color and position of color stops inside of a gradient, using the new and improved Gradient tool here inside of Illustrator CS4. I've gone ahead and saved my progress as Green to red gradient.ai, found inside the 15_gradients folder. Notice that I have the rectangle selected. I also have my Gradient tool active, so that I can see this bar that's indicating the direction of the gradient inside of the rectangle. If I hover over the bar, I'll see it in color, and I'll also see the location and color of the stops.
So I can see the green color stop at the beginning of the gradient in the upper left corner of the rectangle. If I move my way down I'll see the Midpoint Skew right there in the middle of the gradient bar. Then all the way at the end here I see the final color inside of the gradient. Then if you move your cursor away, you're not going to see the color anymore and so on. If you want to adjust the position of these gradient stops, you do it just the way you do inside of the Gradient palette. So you can drag these color stops around, if you like, like so. You can even create new color stops by clicking some place just below the gradient bar, like that, and you'll see this little cursor with a plus sign that shows you that you can add a color stop if you like. Then you can drag it to a new position. You can even do that thing where you Alt+Drag or Option+Drag a color stop in order to clone it, like so.
Then if you want to get rid of color stops, just go ahead and grab the color stop and drag it away, like that. I'm going to go ahead and get rid of all the color stops except for the original green one and the cloned green one, like so, so that we have just a solid green gradient going on, which really amounts to a solid fill at this point. Then I'm going to go up here and grab this green color stop and drag it all the way down to the lower right corner of the rectangle, and then what I need to do is change the color of that color stop. Now, I'm going to tell you a couple of things about working with these color stops right here. Notice that you do not have numerical control, so I cannot say at some point, gosh, I want the Midpoint Skew to be 35% in between the two color stops. If I want that kind of control, I have to go over here to the Gradient palette and click the Midpoint Skew right there.
But notice if I make a numerical modification, like I'll go ahead and reset it to 50%, and then press the Tab key or what have you, then I move my cursor over this gradient bar and sure enough the Midpoint Skew has been moved. So there is synchronicity between the Gradient palette and the modifications that you make to the gradient directly with the Gradient tool. Anyway, I'm going to go down to this color stop right here. How do you change the color of one of the gradient stops? Well, you double click on it, and that's going to bring up this pop-up palette, which can either be the Color palette, if this little Color palette is selected, or it can be the Swatches palette, if you click on the swatches icon right there.
I'm going to go ahead and switch over to the Color palette and I'm going make these modifications. I'm going to change the Magenta value to 35%. Then I'm going to Tab my way to the Black value and I'm going to change it to 25%. So these are the values we're looking at, Cyan, 100, Magenta, 35, Yellow, 100, and Black 25%. That's it for now. That's all we're going to do. Now later we're going to go ahead and add an additional Radial Gradient on top of this Linear Gradient, but before we do that, the in exercise we're going to apply a few additional Linear Gradients to the paddle itself, and I'll show you how to use the Gradient tool to steer all those gradients in exactly the same direction.
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