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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.
In this exercise, we are going to take that linear gradient that I just got done converting to a gradient mesh object, and we're going to modify it so that we create a kind of tabletop effect in the background. I've called my progress file Streamlined mesh object.ai because that's what it is. After all that work we finally streamlined the linear gradient mesh. Now then let's make some quick and easy modifications here using the White Arrow tool. So I will go ahead and grab that Direct Selection tool, and I will click on this pale yellow point right there and Shift+ Click on the one on the opposite side, and I am just going to lift that row divider line so it falls midway into the stem on left-hand pepper.
I am also going to change the color. I'll go up to the Color panel, switch to HSB, since Illustrator seem fit to switch between RGB, and then I am going to change the colors, like so. I am going to change the Hue value pretty radically to 180 degrees ,which is cyan, and then an S value of 35 is fine, and actually a B value of 85% is fine as well. So that's the color I am looking for. Now, I am going to Click and Shift+Click, that is, Click and Shift+Click on the two top-most points, and I am going to check out their color, and everything is fine here except for the Saturation value, which I am going to raise to 20%, just add a little bit of saturation to that sky or that sun overhead, or whatever it is.
This line I think is fine. I am going to go ahead and click here and Shift+Click here, just to check out what the colors are. We've got 190, 35, and 70 approximately, and that's just fine. Then I am going to add another row and a couple of columns. I am going to do that using my Mesh tool. So I will go ahead and grab that tool, and I will click right about, well oh! gosh, I have got Bezier control handles on the way in both sides. So I'll Ctrl+Click or Command+Click up here on this segment just so that the control handles go away so that I can add a row at this location.
I want that row to appear right about there I think. So we've got this wonderful sloping line, which I wasn't interested in, in the least. So you know what, I will press Ctrl+R or Command+R on the Mac to bring up my rulers. I will drag down a guideline from the top ruler, and then I will go ahead and align it with that point, which is where I want it to be at, and using my White Arrow tool which I will get by pressing the A key. I will grab this point right there and I will drag it up while pressing the Shift key so that it snaps into place and you know what, it still doesn't look like this line is straight.
So I will go ahead and drag this one down a little bit and then Shift+Drag it back up so that it snaps into place as well, and it'd be really great if everything was snapping properly. But well, this looks pretty good. I will just accept that. So now I'll go up to the View menu and I will go ahead and choose Guides and I will choose Clear Guides, because I don't want that thing there. I want it to go away. All right! Now, I am going to switch back to the Mesh tool and I want to add those columns. So I am going to go ahead and click at this location along the tabletop. This is more or less a tabletop right here. The tabletop actually falls a little bit above it as you can see.
But I will go ahead and click at this point in order to add a column line and I will click at this point as well, right about there I think to add another column line and that looks pretty good. Now, I will take this point right there, the new point I just created and Shift+Click on the other side of the tabletop. I will go ahead and change the color here inside the Color panel, we just switch back to RGB, I don't care. I am going to change it back to white by clicking on this little white swatch here inside the Color panel. Then I will go ahead and grab these two points, the outermost points along this sort of tabletop line.
So I'll click on one, Shift+Click on the other, and I am going to Shift+Drag them down like this in order to create that tabletop line. Now, unfortunately we have a kind of bell shaped curve that's created by our control handles here. We don't want that. So I am going to take this Control Handle and drag it into the point. You are going to have to be careful about that, so that you don't end up doing this kind of number too much. So just drag it into the anchor point to make it go away, and drag this point into its anchor point to make it go away, and drag this point into its anchor point to make it go away, and then here is the fun one. Go ahead and drag this anchor point into this one to make a mess of things.
So we do have a control handle problem as you can see. We've got this control handle that's controlling this segment that for some reason decided to take a vacation and go to the left side of the image. I don't understand that one at all, because it's very repeatable and it only happens with that point. But anyway, let's go ahead and drag it back to the other side since we are having such an awesome time. I'll press the Shift key as I do so in order to constrain that control handle, so it's exactly horizontal. All right! So now we have this quick transition from white to blue, which is exactly what we want.
Believe it or not, we've actually completed this effect. I am going to go ahead and zoom in here, a couple of clicks, so that we can take in our peppers sitting on their little tabletop, and I'll press Ctrl+R, Command+R on the Mac in order to make those rulers go away. I just love this effect, because it's nice and diffused and it looks like the tabletop is extending beyond the field of focus, which is perfect. That way, the peppers are nice and sharp in the foreground. In the next exercise, we are going to take on these radial gradients that are serving the shadows, and believe it or not, it's going to take a lot less work than what we've done so far.
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