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Knowing the fundamentals of drawing and reshaping paths is only part of the story. In Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Advanced, the second of the popular One-on-One series, computer graphics expert Deke McClelland covers some of Illustrator's most powerful and least understood features. He shows how to merge simple shapes to create complex ones with the Pathfinder palette, as well as align paths to create schematic illustrations. Deke explains how to paint fluid, multicolor fills with blends, and the new and improved gradient tool. He explores seamlessly repeating tile patterns, blobs and brushes, and imported images. He also dives into one of the deepest features in all of Illustrator, transparency. Exercise files accompany the tutorial.
Recommended prerequisite: Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals.
Download Deke's customized keyboard layouts and color settings for Illustrator from the Exercise Files tab.
All right, so here I'm looking at my bad messed up blend. We need to fix it. So what we are going to do is we are going to release this blend and recreate it, like so. Make sure that the blend is active here inside the Layers palette and by the way, I'm still working inside that same Lone ghost.ai file that I opened in the previous exercise. Make sure that the blend is meatballed here in the Layers palette. Then I want you to go up to the Object menu, choose Blend and choose Release, or you've got a keyboard shortcut. Mash your fist and press B, so Ctrl+Shift+Alt+B or Command+Shift+Option+B on the Mac, and that goes ahead and gets rid of the blend. Now the problem with working this way is that the placement of our objects is all wrong.
So I'm going to press Ctrl+Z, Ctrl+Z a couple of times in a row, that would be Command+Z, Command+Z, a couple of times in a row on the Mac to get those objects back where they belong. Then we'll go up to the Object menu, choose Blend, and choose Release. Or we could have probably just done one more undo. I think that would work as well. And then I'm going to grab this path right there, and I'm going to throw it in the Trash, because we don't want that bad path of the blend sitting there. And then I'll grab the top object and move it above middle, so it goes top, middle, base. Much better. And now let's press that keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Alt+B or Command+Option+B to go ahead and make the blend on the fly, and this time the blend works out beautifully with an exception. We do have a problem here.
I am going to go ahead and twirl-open my blend object once again. Notice we got top, middle, base, I'm going to meatball middle for a moment, and notice how we've got this little blue line that sort of jutting down right there. Let's take a closer look at it. I am going to switch to my White Arrow tool by pressing the A key, and I'm going to drag this down, and by dragging it down I exaggerate the problem, and you can see that this anchor point is blending to this anchor point, right there. Let me go ahead and shift meatball this base objects so that we can see it as well. And you can see that each one of these objects is a four-pointed trapezoid, which is just a fancy geometric term for a floppy rectangle, and you can now see, we are indeed blending from one anchor point to another anchor point in each one of these shapes. So that's what Illustrator likes to see. It likes to see paths with the same number of points, so it knows exactly how the blend should occur. In this case, it got things mixed up, so it's going from the lower-right anchor point on one object, to the lower-left anchor point on the other.
What in the world do we do about this? Well, I'll show you another solution in the next exercise. But at this point having already built this blend, the easiest thing to do is to just go ahead and meatball the base object by itself because everything is working beautifully by the way, between the top and middle objects. So there is no reason that we need to change either those paths, we just need to change the base path here. Under the worst of circumstances you'd have to move your anchor points around to different locations, but in our case, all we need to do is go to the Rotate tool, switch over to the Reflect tool like so, double-click on the Reflect tool, make sure the access is set to Vertical, as it is, go ahead and turn on Preview and you'll see that this does indeed fix the problem, and then click OK.
Now you may take a look at this and you may say, well, we've got a little bit of an issue there, but that's actually exactly the way it should be. That weird little slither of color there is showing us that things are working out just fine. I'll go ahead and marquee that point and drag it out so that we can see that yes indeed we are blending from this point to this point, just as we ought to be. So let's go ahead and shift meatball middle there. We are going from this point to this point, and then this anchor point to this anchor point, and so on. So everything is exactly the way it's got to be. This one is going here, so this one must be going there, which is absolutely what we want.
All right, so that's one way to solve the problem, folks. Well, the other way to work is to use the Blend tool. It takes more effort upfront, but it also helps to eliminate these kinds of problems, and I'll show you how, in the next exercise.
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