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This course is the third in a four-part series devoted to mastering the premiere graphics creation application, Adobe Illustrator, version CS6. Industry pro Deke McClelland takes a project-based learning approach to the key features in Illustrator, including Recolor Artwork, transparency, masks, blend modes, strokes and fills, and dynamic effects. The course also covers techniques for creating custom gradients, designing logos, generating photorealistic neon text, and wrapping type around objects. Plus, Deke shows how to call up the most essential features by organizing your workspace and employing time-saving keyboard shortcuts, how to manage the color settings, and how to adjust a few settings to make the program work even better.
In this movie, I will show you how to create this graduated star trail by modifying something that's known as the spine of the blend, which is created automatically by Illustrator any time that your blended path outlines are spread apart from each other. I will go ahead and switch to my illustration in progress and then I will press Ctrl+Y or Command+Y on a Mac, so that we can see a couple of shapes that are otherwise hidden. There is this little circle over here on the far left-hand side. And notice that it once again has a Fill of 25% yellow, and its Opacity value up here in the Control panel is 0%.
Then we have this small circle in the upper right-hand region of the artwork that's inset within the circle that we blended in a previous movie. If I click on it, you can see once again the Fill is 25% yellow, so the Fills are exactly the same, whereas the Opacity is set to 50%. With this shape selected, I will go ahead and Shift+Click on the left hand circle in order to select it as well; and then I will press Ctrl+Y or Command+Y on a Mac in order to switch back to the Preview mode, and I will go up to the Object menu, choose the Blend command, and then choose Make.
And Illustrator creates a series of steps as you can see. So even though the Blend command is not sensitive to varying levels of opacity, it does respond to big distances between paths as you can see. However, that's not good enough. We need more steps than that. So, what I am going to do is double-click on the Blend tool to bring up the Blend Options dialog box, and this time because we're going to be modifying the distance between the two circles--that is, the distance that the blend has to travel--I am going to switch my Spacing to Specified Distance.
And now by default, this will probably come up as something like 4 points. I will turn on the Preview checkbox, and you can see that, that looks pretty darn smooth from this far away. So I will click OK in order to accept that change, and then I will zoom in on my star in the upper-right corner here. And you can see, the closer we get to the star, the more lumpy this blend appears, and that's because we're seeing the tops of each one of the step circles. We need a little tighter spacing than that. So I will double-click on the Blend tool again, and I'll take this value down after turning on the Preview checkbox.
I'll take that value down by pressing the down-arrow key, and at a distance of 2 points, we end up getting a very smooth result. So, I will click OK in order to accept that change. But, I do want you to see something. I will double-click on the Blend tool again because this is the only way to refresh this information. Then I will switch from Spacing to Specified Steps, and you can see that we've got 426 steps, I just want you to notice that. All right, now I will cancel out, and I will press Ctrl+0 or Command+0 on a Mac in order to zoom out from the illustration; go ahead and zoom back in a little bit so I can better see what I'm doing.
And notice we've got this straight line between the two extreme circles. And if I twirl open the star layer here inside the Layers panel, and then I scroll down and twirl open the blend, you can see that we've got a few path outlines to work with. These two guys right here are the two circles, even though their names are truncated. And this guy here, the line, is what's known as a spine. And if you wanted to, you could go ahead and rename that item for what good it does as to spine, just so you can better keep track of it.
Now, let's say I want to modify the spine, so it has a kind of wave associated with it; I can do that using the Convert Point tool. So I will go ahead and click and hold on the Pen tool icon, and then I will select the Convert Point tool from the bottom of the flyout menu, or you can press the keyboard shortcut, Shift+C. And now if you're feeling very careful, you can drag from that end point right there. But, what may end up happening to you is that Illustrator barks at you and tells you that you're not dragging from an anchor point, which means that it thinks you are dragging from the center of the circle instead, in which case just go ahead and click the OK button.
I will press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on a Mac to undo the change, and then lock down those two circles inside the blend so that only the spine is unlocked and then try dragging again. And so where this left-hand anchor point is concerned, you're going to want to drag up and to the right if you want to get the same results I'm getting. Then scroll over to this right-hand point, and while it's tempting to drag inward from that point, what you're going to need to do is drag up into the right because you have to drag in the direction of the path, and in the case of this path, it's going from left to right.
All right so with a little bit of work, you should come up with this result here. Press Ctrl+0, or Command+0 on the Mac in order to zoom out. And now, if you double-click on the Blend tool in order to bring up the Blend Options dialog box, Specified Distance is still set to 2 points. But, if you switch to Specified Steps, you can see that that means something different this time. Now it's 429 steps instead of 426 steps. And while that's not a big difference, it is big enough in order to maintain a smooth blend. All right I am just going to go ahead and cancel out of this dialog box. And that folks is how you modify the spine of the blend in order to send that blend in a different direction than it would otherwise perceive by default.
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