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Expanding a gradient to a gradient mesh

From: Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Advanced

Video: Expanding a gradient to a gradient mesh

All right, I'm still looking at the Plain background.ai file that I opened in the previous exercise and made a mess of as you can see right here. Now something I want you to note. I want to see down here in this twirled open Backdrop layer that we have this object that's called Mesh. So we have permanently converted this rectangle to a mesh object and there is not a command that says release the mesh and just return it to a standard rectangle. You should know that. So if we're to go ahead and get rid of all these mesh junk that's going on here. We either need to press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z several times in a row or we need to go up to the File menu and choose the Revert command or press F12. Yes, we want to revert and get back to our good, undisturbed path right here.

Expanding a gradient to a gradient mesh

All right, I'm still looking at the Plain background.ai file that I opened in the previous exercise and made a mess of as you can see right here. Now something I want you to note. I want to see down here in this twirled open Backdrop layer that we have this object that's called Mesh. So we have permanently converted this rectangle to a mesh object and there is not a command that says release the mesh and just return it to a standard rectangle. You should know that. So if we're to go ahead and get rid of all these mesh junk that's going on here. We either need to press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z several times in a row or we need to go up to the File menu and choose the Revert command or press F12. Yes, we want to revert and get back to our good, undisturbed path right here.

It wasn't a very complicated path. We could redraw a rectangle as quickly as we reverted the illustration, but when you are working through your drawings, you may be working with more complicated objects. So I just want you to see that. Now this next approach that we are going to take where we are going to create a gradient and then base the gradient mesh on that gradient, gives us a lot more control, a lot more flexibility and we don't have that problem with losing our original path as you are about to see. All right so here is what I'm going to do. I'm going to go ahead and lock down once again some of the other layers right here and I'm going to lock down this path in the background, here inside the backdrop layer. So that really the visible objects. Only the yellow path is not locked at this point.

Then I'm going to meatball it to make it active and now let's go ahead and apply a gradient that I have created in advance for you. So if you go over here to the Gradient palette and you click this down pointing arrowhead and you scroll to the bottom of the list, you should see one called the Color rivers. Go ahead and click on it and you'll see this gradient right there. So it's a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 color gradient with a variety of yellows and greens and reds going on. I am going to now switch back to the Transparency palette just to give me a little more room inside the Layers palette and at this point, what I want you to see is what the original underlying template looks like because that's what we are more or less trying to match here. I'm going to go ahead and turn off the backdrop layer for a moment and you can see that we have got all these wild colors. Recall this is my acrylic painting before I essentially ruined it.

I have got all these reds and greens and yellows going on, some oranges as well, going on in this background and that's the kind of thing that I want to emulate. I want you to be able to create something along the lines of these river flows right here. And this gradient that I have created right here just helps me to establish some of the base colors. So I have something to work with in the first place. All right I'm going to go back to my black arrow tool, click on that rectangle if I can find it right there in order to make it active again, so that we can change the angle of the gradient. I'm going to grab my Gradient tool and I can see that my gradient is just running straight across at a horizontal angle.

I'm going to drag from about here to here like so, in order to create a diagonal gradient much like the one that's at work inside of my background acrylic painting that's serving as a template there. I am not sure that I wanted to be quite this long so I might rein it in just a little bit like so, drag this guy back up here, then rein this point back again. Obviously, I could rotate the gradient if I wanted to. Anyway, this looks pretty good to me. I want to make sure that I'm completely filling up the rectangle if I can. All right this looks good.

Then I might actually adjust some of these midpoints skews on the fly here because I want to deemphasize the greens a little and draw out the reds like so, so I'm moving the midpoint skews, the little diamonds on either side of the red color stop outward sort of into the green territory here. And I could do the same thing with the midpoint skew that's associated with the yellow colors stop too, drag it into the greens as well and I might move the greens inward, I might move the red upward and so on, just until I get things looking kind of the way I want them to.

Then just to make sure I'm doing what I want to do, I'll go ahead and click the eyeball for the backdrop layer to hide it for a moment. So I just want to burn this image, this acrylic painting here, into my memory for a moment. I have got some red running through this area, a green stripe here, a green stripe there, obviously it's more complicated than that as some green goes into this area and then a mass of yellow that will be cut by red later. But this looks pretty good. It looks like I have things pretty locked up at any rate. All right, any time I hide this backdrop layer, of course I deselect my path so I have to re-meatball it to make sure it's active once again. And I'm going to switch back to my Black Arrow tool, just so that I'm not seeing that gradient bar running through the middle things and now I want to go ahead and convert this Gradient to a Gradient Mesh. Well, if you go up to the Object menu, there is no command that says Convert Gradient to Gradient Mesh.

Instead what you choose is the Expand command, which is anything but obvious but this is how it works. You go ahead and choose Expand and then when you see the Expand dialog box right there, you have the option of either specifying a certain number of objects, so you could actually render every one of these colors as a band of solid fill object like so. I'll go ahead and show you what this looks like. So 255 objects is the default setting. That's a postscript thing for what's it worth, so I'll go ahead and click OK. Now if I was to go ahead and show the underlying shapes here, let's see what we have got. I'll go ahead and twirl open this group and it's got a group inside it for some reason. Notice all these paths that are at work here and if I were to get my White Arrow tool, let's see if I could show you some of these paths without making a total mess of things. It might be a little difficult. Let's go ahead and try this instead.

I will just go ahead and click on some of these path outlines to see if we can see them on screen, oh, yeah. There it is, that tiny guy right there. That's not so useful. Let's see one of the bigger ones like this, let's say. Is this one right here? You can see we are really going to have to scroll down the list if we want to get to the center of this gradient. Here is this guy. It runs right through this portion. Isn't that nifty? All right, so just tons and tons of tiny little slivers of objects here which together end up representing a gradient but we don't want that. So let's go ahead and choose Undo Expand or press Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on the Mac to undo that.

So we get back to our original gradient fill shape. Instead what you do is you go to the Object menu, you choose Expand, same command of course. But instead of specifying objects, you say that you want a Gradient Mesh and you click OK and then you have a Gradient Mesh. Then to check out what that mesh looks like, notice we have a group inside of a group, which really isn't all that useful. I'm going to take this group out of that group. We don't need a double group like that. So what we need is a clipping path and that's the rectangle, so the original rectangle is retained and it's clipping, that is to say masking, this mesh that's set at an angle.

In order to see the mesh, I'll just go ahead and click on this meatball right there for the mesh object there inside of the backdrop layer. You can see now that we have a series of rows going on, these rotated rows. No columns just one big column but we can always add columns later but each one of the rows is representing a key color inside of our gradient. So we should have a total of 6 rows in all because we have 7 gradient stops, 7 lines on either side of these rows.

In order to see these guys better, I think we should change the color of the backdrop layer. I'm going to go ahead and double-click on this backdrop layer and change it from Other-- it's really all of. I don't know why it says Other. To yellow right there and click OK and now we can really see those lines very clearly. In the next exercise, we'll begin to take a look at how you edit a Gradient Mesh.

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This video is part of

Image for Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Advanced
Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Advanced

149 video lessons · 21456 viewers

Deke McClelland
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 28m 41s
    1. Welcome
      1m 7s
    2. Installing the dekeKeys keyboard shortcuts
      8m 59s
    3. Resetting the Function keys on a Mac
      4m 47s
    4. Installing the CS4 color settings
      4m 20s
    5. Loading the CS4 color settings in Illustrator
      6m 3s
    6. Loading the CS4 color settings in Bridge CS4
      3m 25s
  2. 1h 53m
    1. From the simple emerges the complex
      42s
    2. Introducing Pathfinder operations
      4m 17s
    3. Editing a compound shape
      4m 39s
    4. Adding to a compound shape
      3m 11s
    5. Inserting a subpath into a compound shape
      3m 56s
    6. Expanding a compound shape
      4m 53s
    7. Assembling primitives
      4m 42s
    8. Preparing a template in Photoshop
      7m 0s
    9. Uniting paths permanently
      5m 40s
    10. Minus Front vs. Minus Back
      1m 55s
    11. Working with compound paths
      6m 49s
    12. When in doubt, divide
      3m 54s
    13. Divide and Unite
      3m 2s
    14. Open path pitfalls
      5m 35s
    15. Strokes bad, fills good
      4m 38s
    16. Advanced Divide and Unite
      8m 59s
    17. Using the Crop operation
      8m 30s
    18. Expert Divide and Unite
      8m 45s
    19. "Ghosting" shapes with Fill Opacity
      6m 45s
    20. Anticipating and troubleshooting
      8m 16s
    21. Exclude and Intersect
      7m 24s
  3. 44m 59s
    1. Familiar one moment, different the next
      1m 3s
    2. Snapping to anchor points
      5m 41s
    3. Aligning a group to the artboard
      3m 34s
    4. Distributing objects on the artboard
      4m 16s
    5. Setting the key object
      4m 54s
    6. Distributing objects by space
      3m 6s
    7. Distributing objects by selections
      3m 19s
    8. Aligning point text
      6m 7s
    9. Aligning live text vs. using outlines
      4m 58s
    10. Aligning key letters
      3m 35s
    11. Aligning to key objects
      4m 26s
  4. 1h 4m
    1. CS4’s gradient renaissance
      1m 7s
    2. Applying a gradient
      6m 0s
    3. Dragging and dropping color swatches
      2m 55s
    4. Using the Gradient palette
      6m 27s
    5. Designing a shaded gradient
      5m 9s
    6. Saving a gradient swatch and adding a texture
      4m 2s
    7. Introducing the new Gradient tool
      4m 39s
    8. Editing color stops inside a shape
      3m 26s
    9. Setting multiple gradients to the same angle
      5m 0s
    10. Adding and adjusting radial gradients
      7m 20s
    11. Making a transparent gradient
      7m 6s
    12. Adding drop shadows (a kind of gradient)
      6m 28s
    13. Blends vs. blend modes
      4m 38s
  5. 1h 17m
    1. Creating freeform color flows
      1m 0s
    2. The power of CS4's transparent gradients
      10m 25s
    3. Creating a gradient mesh
      4m 30s
    4. Expanding a gradient to a gradient mesh
      7m 40s
    5. Adding and deleting rows and columns
      6m 13s
    6. Selecting and coloring points
      6m 5s
    7. Assigning colors with the Eyedropper tool
      7m 42s
    8. Cool mesh editing techniques
      3m 56s
    9. Warping and puckering a mesh
      7m 24s
    10. Applying precise finishing touches
      5m 48s
    11. Gradient strokes
      9m 45s
    12. Gradient text
      6m 50s
  6. 55m 35s
    1. The first of the dynamic functions
      1m 4s
    2. Making a blend automatically
      5m 48s
    3. Fixing problem blends
      3m 56s
    4. Making a blend with the Blend tool
      3m 6s
    5. Cloning and coloring a blended path
      4m 37s
    6. Creating a mask
      3m 53s
    7. Blending between translucent shapes
      5m 30s
    8. Blending along a curve
      4m 34s
    9. Adjusting the speed of a blend
      2m 58s
    10. Filling and stroking a mask
      4m 36s
    11. Creating a compound clipping mask
      6m 3s
    12. Nesting one clipping mask inside another
      6m 7s
    13. Ghosting nested masks and blends
      3m 23s
  7. 1h 13m
    1. Patterns that repeat forever and ever
      51s
    2. Introducing tile patterns
      6m 36s
    3. Beginning a core design
      5m 6s
    4. Building an interlocking element
      6m 25s
    5. Achieving precise radial symmetry
      4m 46s
    6. Rotating duplicates around a common center
      3m 10s
    7. Determining how a pattern repeats
      9m 54s
    8. Coloring the core objects
      5m 0s
    9. Identifying the rectangular tile
      7m 14s
    10. Saving tile patterns
      7m 19s
    11. Applying tile patterns to a shape
      3m 25s
    12. Protecting patterns from transformations
      7m 36s
    13. Moving patterns without paths
      5m 51s
  8. 1h 19m
    1. Illustrator gets natural
      1m 15s
    2. Introducing the vector painting tools
      3m 16s
    3. Calligraphic brush options
      4m 3s
    4. Pressure sensitivity
      5m 17s
    5. Editing a calligraphic brush
      5m 53s
    6. Repainting and smoothing paths
      5m 30s
    7. Making the paintbrush behave
      6m 16s
    8. Erasing stroked paths
      3m 17s
    9. Painting with the new Blob brush
      6m 24s
    10. Refining filled paths with the Eraser
      4m 14s
    11. Painting independent paths
      3m 53s
    12. The Selection Limits Merge options
      3m 20s
    13. Applying and scaling an art brush
      6m 23s
    14. Snipping a brushed path
      4m 55s
    15. Colorizing an art brush
      4m 9s
    16. Heaping a stroke on an art brush effect
      4m 32s
    17. Creating a custom art brush
      6m 51s
  9. 1h 44m
    1. The computer art world’s dynamic duo
      1m 7s
    2. Copying and pasting pixels from Photoshop
      7m 21s
    3. Linking is efficient, embedding is not
      2m 47s
    4. Editing an image in Illustrator
      7m 30s
    5. Filtering an image in Photoshop
      6m 34s
    6. Adding a filter mask in Photoshop
      6m 25s
    7. Masking a woman from the background
      3m 49s
    8. Creating a sepia effect
      6m 37s
    9. Adding a second gradient map layer
      2m 13s
    10. Achieving a graphic effect with Levels
      8m 10s
    11. Preparing an image for use in Illustrator
      5m 46s
    12. The importance of image resolution
      9m 40s
    13. Placing and linking images
      4m 43s
    14. Managing linked images
      6m 18s
    15. Integrating an image into a design
      5m 12s
    16. A better way to wrap text
      7m 28s
    17. Previewing the trim size
      4m 25s
    18. Layer comps and editable text
      8m 42s
  10. 2h 11m
    1. Transparency is safe and fun
      1m 27s
    2. Introducing the translucent composition
      4m 39s
    3. Assigning opacity to an Appearance attribute
      3m 41s
    4. Creating a knockout group
      5m 7s
    5. Defining an opacity mask
      7m 15s
    6. Using the Clip checkbox
      2m 41s
    7. Opacity mask tips and tricks
      3m 20s
    8. The Multiply blend mode
      6m 8s
    9. Adding to an existing opacity mask
      7m 53s
    10. Blending between parallel groups
      7m 27s
    11. Creating a gradient opacity mask
      4m 54s
    12. Employing an opposing gradient mask
      7m 57s
    13. Combining Multiply and Screen
      3m 49s
    14. Blend mode roundup
      5m 24s
    15. Mixing blend modes inside a single path
      3m 48s
    16. Blend mode and transparent gradient
      3m 49s
    17. Masking an entire layer
      7m 0s
    18. Combining Screen with 100K Black
      7m 43s
    19. Knocking out a drop shadow
      5m 18s
    20. But will it print?
      3m 8s
    21. Working with the Flattener preview
      8m 44s
    22. Rasterizing an illustration in Photoshop
      9m 16s
    23. Super-rich blacks and raster effects
      3m 35s
    24. Exporting TIFF artwork from Illustrator
      7m 48s
  11. 58s
    1. Until next time
      58s

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