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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.
In this exercise we are going to go ahead and bring these frisbee elements here, these sort of greenish ones, to front so that they cover up the grid lines and then we are going to make the smock translucent so that we can see through to the rear portions of the frisbees. So I've gone ahead and saved my progress so far as Smock in prog.ai. Prog not being a city in the Czech Republic, but rather short for progress. And you may recall, what we are looking for is this final effect right there where we can see through this smock, so we've got some translucency in the head as well.
And we can see through to those frisbee elements in the background and of course the foreground frisbee elements are covering up the grid lines. That's why we need by the way both forward frisbee elements, these partial frisbees, and the full frisbees back there in the background, because they really are stacked at different locations here inside of the illustration. All right, let's go back to Smock in prog.ai like so and then what I want you to do is click on any one of these frisbee element guys with the Black Arrow tool and that selects everything, because we are working inside of a group.
Because after all, we went ahead and apply the Divide operation which groups everything. So we can't just go ahead and click willy-nilly with the Black Arrow tool. We need to find this group some place inside of this stack here in the Layers palette. So I've got my Pathfinders twirled open. I'm going to go ahead and scroll down. Notice I'm scrolling down kind of quickly, but also kind of slowly. Not so quickly that I'll miss this, which is what I'm trying to see. I want to make sure that I can spot my little blue square right there or whatever color it's going to be. It depends on the layer color of course.
And there is my group. I'm going to go ahead and twirl it open and there are my frisbee elements right there. So I'll go ahead and meatball them and I can tell that they are the frisbee elements because we can see them in color right there and I've got some nice big thumbnails at work inside the Layers palette. Now I want to move it to the top of the stack. I want these objects to appear in front of the grid lines. So I'll press Ctrl+Shift+Right Bracket or Command+Shift+Right Bracket on the Mac. That doesn't seem to have worked. So I'll go ahead and right-click or if you don't have a right mouse button on the Mac, then press the Ctrl key and click to bring up the shortcut menu and then choose Arrange > Bring to Front. That should work. So when I choose that command nothing happens once again. Why is that? Well, because when I'm working inside of a group, like I am, especially when I have a group inside of a group, this guy cannot go outside of this guy.
So I can only move the selection to the top of the group. So what I need to do is press Ctrl+X or Command+X on a Mac in order to cut those frisbee elements out of this group. Notice they've disappeared here and then I'll press Ctrl+F or Command+F on the Mac in order to paste those frisbee elements to the top of the stack and there they are right there. And why don't we take a moment, friends and neighbors, to name these guys frisbee elements or something along those lines. I believe that's how you spell it, and click OK in order to accept the new name.
And you know what? These guys are a color drawing. I don't need them to be colored with this weird green any longer. I'll go ahead and press the I key to switch to the Eyedropper and I'll click on this shape right there that is colored with the right shade of cyan, which is 100% cyan. Nice. Now then we need to apply the translucency to the smock objects. So go ahead and get yourself the Black Arrow tool and click on anyone of the smock objects to select all of them, like so, and that should select that entire group. Where was that? It's at some place down the stack here. There it is.
You should select the entire group of objects here, four paths total, and then what we are going to do is go over to the Appearance palette, which if you don't see right here next door to the Layers palette, then you can go up to the Window menu, and choose the Appearance. Command+Shift+F6 is your keyboard shortcut there. And what we'd like to see at this point is a group of fill and stroke attributes. Instead we just see the word Group. So I need to double-click on Contents in order to see what's going on with the contents of that group,and it's telling me that it knows the strokes, but it doesn't know the fills and that's just falling under the category of Mixed Appearances.
Now Illustrator CS4 has gotten a lot better where that Mixed Appearances thing is concerned, but not best. It's not always figuring out what the appearances are. In this case, I believe everybody is filled with white. So I don't know why it's getting mixed up, but, hey, you know what? Here is how we take care of the problem. You go ahead and press the A key to switch to the White Arrow tool, you click off the paths to deselect them, you Alt-click or Option-click on any one of these paths to select it, and then what we are going to do is we are going to isolate the fill here inside the Appearance palette and we are going to change the Opacity. I'm going to click on the word Opacity right here for the fill and I'm going to change the Opacity value right there to 80% and then press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac in order to achieve a small degree of translucency. S that he's slightly ghosted, don't you know? Because he is the ghost robot after all.
And then I'll press the V key to get the Black Arrow tool. I'll click on anyone of the shapes right here to select all of them, all the shapes in the group, and I'll switch back to the White Arrow tool there by pressing the A key and I'm going to Shift+Alt or Shift+Option- click on this top guy to deselect him. We want to lift the attributes from this top shape, so he has to be deselected. It's just a weird little function inside of Illustrator. So Shift+Alt-click with a White Arrow tool, Shift+Option-click on a Mac to deselect it. Then press the I key for the Eyedropper and click on that deselected shape. Now that wouldn't have worked if it was still selected.
But because it's deselected, it went ahead and transferred that Fill/Opacity attribute to the other selected objects. Come to think of it, we might as well go ahead and grab that head as well. So press the V key for the Black Arrow tool, click on the head, the outline to the head that is to select it, press the I key for the Eyedropper, go ahead and click anywhere on the shape outline in order to lift the Opacity attribute and there we have it. We can now see through the robot to the background. So why can't we see the frisbee shapes in the background? Because we turned them off. We hid them. So go back to the Layers palette, scroll all the way down to the bottom of the stack to where this group is and these are by the full frisbees. Go ahead and click OK. Now show him by clicking where the eyeball should be right there in order to bring it back and we can now see through the smock objects to the frisbees in the background. We've done a brilliant job. Go ahead and press the V key for the Black Arrow tool, click off, and we have now achieved a translucent robot.
In the next exercise, we are going to take care of these feet and this ball and chain right here using still more Pathfinder operations here inside Illustrator CS4.
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