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Designs dekeConstructed, featuring best-selling author Deke McClelland, is a new series in which Deke breaks down the creation of cool designs so you can create them on your own. In this installment, Deke shows you how to make a custom gradient dot pattern with Adobe Illustrator. He begins by showing you how to load, apply, and scale the preset patterns that ship with Illustrator, and then demonstrates how to make your own gradient patterns with round and square dots. Last, he shows how to infuse your designs with energy using dynamic rotations that make your own specialized pattern wave.
In this movie, I'll show you how to create this square gradient dot pattern, that drifts from black to white in the middle, and back to black. And despite its complicated experience, it remains absolutely dynamic. I'll go ahead and switch over to my document in progress, and I'll click on this square right here to select the entire grid. Because bear in mind, that's where the only real object is. Everything else is being invented by Illustrator on the fly. Now I don't want to lose my dynamic transform setting.
So I want to create a copy of this object. I'll go ahead and twirl this layer open right here. And I'll Alt+drag or Option+drag the path up until I see the fist with the plus sign, drop it into place, and turn off the original. Now I need to go ahead and expand the effect by going up to the Object menu and choosing Expand Appearance, which will convert the dynamic effect to a total of 2,301 static squares. All right, now, notice that they're all grouped together, which I know because I can see the word Group over here on the far left side of the control panel.
I'll go up to the Object menu and choose the Ungroup command. Now, I'm still going to see the word Group up there, but this is the level of group that I'm looking for, and I only know that because I've spent a lot of time working inside of this document, and that's how things shake out. I'll go ahead and click off the objects to deselect them, and then I'll click on any one of these squares. And you can see I can now select single columns of squares at a time. Now what I want to do is delete all of the columns except the far left-hand one, the far right-hand one, and the exact center one.
But which of the columns is in the exact center? Do I sit here and count my columns all the way over? No, absolutely not. I'll just go ahead and press Ctrl+Shift+A, or Cmd+Shift+A on a Mac, in order to deselect my artwork. And I'll press Ctrl+R, or Cmd+R on a Mac, to bring up the rulers. Now the reason I need the rulers is because I want to drag out a vertical guide. But I want that guide to be exactly in the center. So before I even create the guide I'll go up to the View menu, choose Guides and choose the Lock Guides command to turn it off. If you don't see a check mark, you don't have to choose the command, but we need that command off so we'll go ahead and choose it.
Now it is off, and now I'll drag out a vertical guide, and it doesn't matter where you drop it. Just drop it any old place. Notice that it remains selected because it's unlocked. Now we need to align it with the center of the art board by going up to this Align icon, clicking on it and choosing Align to Art Board. And then, you want to click on this icon right there, Horizontal Align Center, and that will center the guide like so. So now we know that is the column we need to keep. So what I'm going to do is click on this column of rectangles. And also shift-click on his column, the right hand one.
And I'll press Ctrl+R, or Cmd+R on a Mac, to get rid of the rulers. And I'll shift-click on the far left-hand column as well. So we have three columns of squares selected. Now go up to the Select menu and choose Inverse in order to reverse the selection so you're selecting everything we want to get rid of. And press the Backspace key, or the Delete key on a Mac, in order to get rid of not only the excess squares, but also that guideline, that vertical guide that we no longer need. All right, now we need to do a curious thing here.
You need to press Ctrl+a, or Cmd+a on a Mac, in order to select all the squares, and you need to further ungroup them. Notice that they're still part of a group, that is, they're somehow grouped together. So go up to the Object menu and choose Ungroup. And that still leaves us with a group. And what's happened here is every single square is in its own group which will ruin the effect, it won't work this way. So you have to return to the Object menu and choose Ungroup again. Basically, you just have to keep choosing that command until you see the word Path over here on the left-hand side of the control panel.
Now I do. All right, now I'll click off the paths, deselect them, and I'll marquee just the center column of paths. And that selects them all, assuming that I marquee them with the black arrow tool, which I did. And now I'll go up to the Effect menu, choose Distort and Transform, and choose the Transform command. And this time, I'm going to change the horizontal and vertical scale values to 10% apiece. And I'll click OK. I'm not even going to bother to preview this. So I'll just click OK. And the reason I'm not previewing is because my preview is not going to do me much good.
But I can press Ctrl-H, or Cmd+H on a mac. So you can see that I have these itty, bitty, wee, little squares here in the center. Now we need to do an even more curious thing. I'm going to press Ctrl+0, or Cmd+0 on the Mac, to zoom out, I'll press Ctrl+H, or Cmd+H on a Mac, to bring back my selection edges and I'll go up to the Object menu and choose a Group command. And I know you're probably sitting there thinking what why, why all this ungrouping and now we're regrouping? Well, here's the thing. We had to leave these squares completely ungrouped in order to transform each one of them independently.
because otherwise, it would have scaled as one unit. And now, we need to put the groups back together, because we're going to eventually blend them. So go ahead and choose the Group command. And then go ahead and marquee this right-hand column of squares. And return to the Object menu, and choose Group. And of course, we've got a keyboard shortcut that we can take advantage. So, I'll just go ahead and marquee this left-hand column of squares and press Ctrl+G, or Cmd+G on a Mac, in order to group them together. All right, now, click off the path outlines to deselect them.
At this point, we have all the raw ingredients that we need in order to blend this square gradient dot pattern, as we will do in the very next movie.
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