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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.
I have saved my progress as Happy little star.ai. In this exercise, I am going to show you how to blend between objects that are far apart from each other and then how to modify the path of the blend in between. So I am going to start things off by zooming out. I am going to select this interior circle. Can't really see it but you can see the Exterior circle right there which is the beginning of that blend between the circle on the star shape. If you move your cursor in a little bit, you'll see that there is another shape just on the inside of the larger circle.
Click on it and you'll select a smaller circle that has an Opacity value of 50% and 25% Yellow, that's all. Just like the outer circle actually but it's a different opacity level. But I want you to note that the color is 25% yellow, nothing else is going on. Now I am going to zoom out so that I can take in more of my graphic at a time and there is another circle over here some place. So I will press Ctrl+Y or Cmd+Y on the Mac to switch to the outline mode, and there it is, I will click on it to select it. It has that exact same color.
So just 25% yellow, nothing more, and an Opacity level of 0%. And I was telling you in a previous exercise, Illustrator is smart enough to smooth out the transition between different fill or stroke colors. It is not smart enough to smooth out the transition between different levels of opacity and we will see that right now. So I've got one of the circle selected over here on the left-hand side, I will Shift+Click on that inner-most circle in the upper-right corner, or near the upper-right corner, anyway, of the Illustration. Then I will press Ctrl+Y, Cmd+Y on the Mac to switch back to the Preview mode, and even though these Path outlines are way on opposite sides of the Illustration, you can still blend between them.
So I will go to the Object menu, I will choose Blend and I will choose Make, Ctrl+Alt+B, Cmd+Option+B on the Mac in order to blend between these two shapes. Now what would happen if they were right on top of each other is we just get that one standard step in between. Because they are so far apart from each other Illustrator is saying, well, I guess you want me to sort of fill in the gaps, so I will do my best here and here is a bunch of circles in between, whatever. All right, so it's up to you now to modify the number of steps of course, so you double-click on the Blend tool inside the toolbox. That brings up the Blend Options dialog box.
Let's see how many steps Illustrator created for us by changing Spacing from Smooth Color to Specified Steps, and apparently it's 34 steps. Well what we need to do is increase the number of steps until we get an absolutely smooth transition. Now at about a hundred steps, if I enter that value, make sure Preview is turned on, press the Tab key in order to invoke the Preview. We have a very smooth transition from this 50% opaque shape to a 0% opaque shape and that is to say, we have a nice smooth Gradient transition in terms of the level of translucency.
However we have a bunch of bumps on the outside of the shape that's being created in the meantime. And that sort of creates this kind of wormy effect, and that's because we're still seeing the individual little circles that Illustrator is drawing in between these virtual circles, that is to say. At some place around 150 those are going to die away. So I am going to change the value to 150, press the Tab key, sure enough we get a pretty darn smooth transition now in between. However, if I click OK in order to accept that modification, we have got a straight line in between one blended object and the other.
What if I want this line to sort of wave back and forth? Why, I can adjust the path of the blend. So notice what we've got here. You can see right there onscreen. You can also see it here in the Layers panel if you like. If I twirl open the star layer and then twirl-open the Blend, that is that top blend right there, the one that's selected, you can see that I've got two path outlines and this other path on top, which is a straight line, and that top path is the path of the blend that we are seeing in between. So we have got a circle on the left, a circle on the right, and a path of the blend in between the two.
And that path of the blend shows up automatically when two objects span a great distance. It doesn't always show up inside of a blend but it is created when there is a lot of distance associated with the blend, as there was, you may recall way back when, where the Background Blend and the sky was concerned. We had a path of the blend there too. But we will see that sometimes the path of the blend doesn't get created and you have to create it manually. Anyway, how do we go about modifying it? Well, if you want to add some curvature here is how, go to the Pen tool, click and hold on it, and choose the Convert Anchor Point tool from the flyout menu.
And then I am going to drag from this anchor point right there, even though it's at the middle of the circle, because the path of the blend is on top, we should get it. So I'll go ahead and drag like so and no, it's unhappy with me. It should work, actually, I've done this before and usually it works out just fine. It did this time. But if you end up having a problem, like I did the first I tried it, I will go ahead and undo that modification. What you can do is select the path of the blend automatically, which I've actually done for myself here, or you can lock down the two other paths, like so.
I could just go ahead and give them some locks here inside the layers panel. So you'd want to leave that path of the blend, the straight-line, unlocked and then that way nothing is going to get in your way and you could drag like so in order to create a Control Handle, so I'm dragging a Control Handle out of the Anchor Point, converting it from a corner point, which it was before, to a smooth point and I'm creating a curved segment as a result. Now then, what about this guy? Well the tempting thing to do is to grab this anchor point and drag down, but that's the wrong thing.
You want to drag in the opposite direction because you need to keep dragging in the same direction as you're modifying your path outlines, so I already established the equivalent of a clockwise direction for my path, I need to stay clockwise, like so, that is in my case dragging to the left, and it could be up or down. But I am going to drag up and to the left, and I end up achieving this effect here. All right, let's go ahead and center the view onscreen, and I will press Ctrl+Shift+A or Cmd+Shift+A on the Mac in order to deselect everything, I'll switch back to the Black Arrow tool.
I will go ahead and unlock these two paths that are inside the Blend. And this is the result of blending between two objects with the exact same Fill Color but different levels of opacity that are geographically very far apart from each other, and then modifying the curvature of the path of the blend.
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