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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 I'm going to show you how to apply a gradient to live type inside of Illustrator. I've gone ahead and saved my progress so far as Ha ha gradient strokes.ai, so-called because ha ha, they're not really gradient strokes. They're really strokes that have been converted to path outlines and then filled with gradients. Here's the deal. I have got yet another layer for you. Go ahead and lock down your accents layer and turn on your plate layer, which is the label for this museum quality piece that we have here, and it says of course Mishipizheu, just so that people who are not familiar with my endless obsession with this mythical creature know what in the world it's called.
And let's say I want this text, which is live type by the way. If I click on it to make it active, press Ctrl+H I guess or Command+H on the Mac to make sure that I can see my baseline right here. And you can see that this is a line of point text that's set in the font Myriad, which is pretty common. It should be located on your machine. So you shouldn't have any problems with it hopefully. Knock on wood. All right so let's go ahead and fill that text with some gradient, right. So again the Gradient palette, hey, so sure. If you want to do some fill in, that's great and of course my Fill is active. Currently it's black, so great.
Everything is right ready to go, I'll go ahead and click on that Gradient Fill now and yup it's filled with that gradient all right. You can see it right there at the bottom of the toolbox. Strangely though, my text doesn't look the least bit gradient. It looks like it's black to me. I mean I would swear to you that is black. Boy it sure looks like it. So not only does Illustrator not give me any sense that I can't do is. But then it pretends I did do it and it doesn't beep or anything. It doesn't even bring up an error message or alert me that this isn't going to work. It just pretends it's doing it and this most certainly, friends, is not doing it. You could print this document and it will print just like it looks like it's going to print.
Anyway go to the Appearance palette and it just says hey, Type, Characters, you know, and all right great. So I'll go ahead and undo that because that doesn't really seem to have worked too well. We need to go ahead and select the text with the Type tool. It's just one of those things right. So let's go ahead and double-click on this text object right there and press Ctrl+A or Command+A on the Mac to select all the text and sure enough it's telling me it's filled with black. Let's go ahead and isolate that Fill, why don't we, and change it to the Gradient. And it says, sure you have gradient text. It's awesome, excellent news.
So I'm going to press Ctrl+Enter or Command+Return on the Mac. Boy! That looks black to me. I don't know. You know maybe my prescription is off on the glasses I don't wear or something along those lines, but that I swear to you is black text. Let's go ahead and zoom in. Why don't we? Yup, sure is black. So what in the world is this program's problem? If I double-click, notice we are seeing Type and Characters inside of Appearance. I'll go ahead and double- click on it. It's going to tell me, it sits there and lies to me that this is text that's filled with a gradient. I just don't know .
Is it just like we go to the View menu and choose like Overprint Preview or something like that and get a better sense what this really looks like. Press Ctrl+H or Command+H on the Mac. It's black. It's just black. All right so here is what you really do. Let's go ahead and press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on the Mac to undo this absolute nonsense and press Ctrl+H, Command+H on the Mac so that it bring back my selection outline there. Here is what you do. You go to the Appearance palette and as I was telling you this is just odd and I don't know why it just doesn't do it for me by default, instead of making me go through this. But the Appearance palette is telling me hey, you got some Type, you got some Characters. And if you double-click on the Characters, that's when you are just going to see they are filled with black and so on. You're going to select the text. You don't want that.
So double-click on Type once again to go back to where you were. And you go ahead and add a Fill on top of the Type that will be basically masked by the Characters. So I'll add this new fill like so and now I have a black Fill with no Stroke on top of my Type. Now I'm going to go ahead and add a Gradient and I get gradient text. Isn't that awesome? Now if you look closely you'll see a little bit of black sort of fringe around your characters and that's because they're also black. So in that case what you do is you double-click on Characters and set your Fill right there.
Go ahead and set it to None. So that we don't have any black showing through from the letters and then double -click on Type to go back to the Type that has the Fill on top of it. That's basically being masked by the characters. Now your text is still completely editable, people. So you can change it if you want to. So this is true editable gradient type. It's just bizarre. Anyway, go back to Type. What I really want is I want to grab the gradient that's already associated with this name plate back here. So I'm going to get my Eyedropper tool and I'm going to click on that gradient and you're going to say, hey! Deke, not only do we have gradient inside type, we have a gradient stroke around our text. Well no we don't. What we have instead-- let's go ahead and show these two fills that are here because the Stroke is still set to None.
We've got a couple of Fills and one of the Fills has Offset Path associated with it. So that Offset Path effect right there is creating the appearance of a stroke. It's not really a stroke. Anyway kind of looks like a stroke though and that's another way I suppose to achieve a gradient stroke effect. Anyway, I'm going to go ahead and throw that gradient in the Trash because I don't want it and I'm also going to get rid of Round Corners. So that we don't have that in the way either and then finally what I would do is I would get my Gradient tool like so, and I'm actually going to change the direction of my gradient, so it goes straight up and down like this. And then I'll move this guy down a little bit so that we have text that's going from dark to light toward the bottom.
And then I'm going to click on this Fill and I'm going to change its blend mode from Normal, which is what it is right now. I'm going to change it to Screen. So that it shows up very nicely there I think. If necessary I can move this down a little bit, so that I have a little bit more darkness associated with the top of the letters, move this guy up a little bit as well, so we're brightening the bottom of the letters and so forth. So this remains editable text. So it's just strange is basically what it comes down to and it's yet another variety of strange. They have actually made some changes to that strange behavior inside of Illustrator CS4. But they didn't really fix the problem. We now have seen everything there is to know about gradients, folks, inside of Illustrator CS4 or so you would think.
In the next chapter, I'm going to show you how to create still more custom gradients effects that go beyond anything that we've seen here and you'll see just why they're so practical and so useful, when we explore the world of blends and masks inside Illustrator.
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