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In Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Mastery, the third and final part of the comprehensive Illustrator One-on-One series, author and industry expert Deke McClelland shows how to take advantage of the wide array of dynamic effects in Illustrator CS5. Deke explores Illustrator’s powerful Gradient Mesh feature, great for creating photorealistic airbrushing effects. He also covers graphic styles, the liquify tools, envelope-style distortions, the new Bristle Brushes, 3D text, and perspective drawing. Exercise files accompany the course.
We are going to start things off by creating this snowflake and we are going to do so using a dynamic affect that goes by the name Transform. Now initially it's going to seem prosaic, even bizarre, when in fact it is the most useful dynamic effect there is. It's a very-very practical affect as you will see. And once we create this core snowflake, we are going to take the snowflake into Photoshop here and we are going to assign it a kind of Crystal effect, which is best done in Photoshop, but of course, we have got to start the project in Illustrator. So I will go back to Illustrator and I want you to open up, if you're working along with me, this file called Base polygons.ai and it contains a total of 14 different path outlines here, that is the while path outlines, as opposed to the gradient in the background.
Some of which I drew using the polygon tools. So all of these modified hexagons started off as regular hexagons and then I went ahead and stretched them using the white arrow tool, and the other shapes are more elaborate ones I drew using the Pen tool, but bare in mind that these are all very basic shapes. There is not so much as a single control handle inside of this document. So all we have got is anchor points joined by straight segments. Now the first thing I want to do is I want to fill out these leaves along the top edge of what I'm calling the main trunk of the snowflake shape and I am going to do that using the Transform effect.
So here is how it works. I will click on this top polygon in order to select it, using the Black Arrow tool. Now I could go ahead and manually duplicate this object and I could use a Scale tool as well, but as you're about to see, the Transform effect gives you a lot more control. So I will go on to the Effect menu, I will choose Distort and Transform, and then I will choose the Transform command. If you loaded Dekekeys, my custom keyboard shortcuts, then I've given you a shortcut of Ctrl+E or Command+E on the Mac for the Main effect. That's a keyboard shortcut that otherwise goes unused inside of Illustrator.
Now I am going to turn on the Preview check box. One of the downsides of dynamic effects is that preview is always off. So you always have to take a moment to turn that Preview check box on, if you want to see what you're doing, and now I'm going to click inside this vertical value, and I am going to press the down arrow key to nudge that shape upward, and I am going to eventually take this vertical value down to -12 points, which ironically or at least none intuitively I think, moves the shape upward. Positive vertical values move the shape downward. But notice it haven't really moved the shape, so the selection is exactly where it ever was. This path outlines has not moved, in so far as Illustrator is concerned.
So if in the future you wanted to select the shape, you would have the click on its previous location, which is quite confusing, don't you think? Because now its fill and all of its other attributes have moved up 12 points. Now you might say to yourself, "Well, that's insane Deke, why in the world would you do that, just to make your artwork more difficult to deal with?" Well, you will see in just a moment how extremely powerful this approach is. I am going to change the horizontal value to -5 points like so and then I am going to change my Scale values as well. I will change the Horizontal value to 84% and I will also change the Vertical value to 84%, so we are scaling the shape uniformly and then I'm going to increase the number of copies.
I will press the up arrow key in order to create a first copy of that shape. So what we do is we restore the original, then I will press the up arrow key a few more times, until I have a total of six copies that are being created on the fly. And so you can see how amazingly useful this command is, especially given that it is a dynamic effect so you can come back and change you mind anytime you like. Now currently I am scaling with regard to the center of my shapes, so I'm not aligning my paths to the trunk and that's a function of this guy right there.
If you want to modify the origin of your transformation, then you have to click on one of these little points inside of this matrix. I am going to go ahead and click on the left-hand point like so, and that goes ahead and aligns those leaves properly and then I click OK. And now if you go over to your Appearance panel, which is where you modify your dynamic effects, and if you can't find the Appearance panel, go up to the Window menu and choose Appearance, where you have that keyboard shortcut that Adobe gave you of Shift+F6, and then you will see, so long as that Path outline is still selected, you'll see the word Transform right there.
If you ever want to modify those settings all you have to do is click on the word Transform, up comes that dialog box, you make any changes you want, and then you click OK in order to accept them. Now a frequent question I should say, that I get from Freehand users. So folks who were using either all this Freehand or Macromedia Freehand back in the old days, one of the great things that Freehand allowed you to do is create this power duplication sequences, in which you could rotate and scale and move a shape outline, and then just create a trail of those things.
Illustrator doesn't really let you do that. With, for example, with the Scale tool you can scale and duplicate, and then create a sequence, and then with the Rotate tool you can rotate and duplicate and create a sequence. However, you can't rotate and clone and create a sequence. Well you can here inside the Transform Effect dialog box. So if were to turn on the Preview check box here so I can see what I am doing, and I were to say, gosh, I think I want to rotate these guys 4 degrees, then I would rotate them as I scale them and as I clone them. So this dialog box gives you all kinds of control.
Anyway, I don't want to do that, because it kind of ruins the snowflake effect. I will click Cancel in order to restore my original settings. So that's our first application of Transform. I assure you it will not be our last. In the next exercise I am going to show you how to repeat and modify your last applied dynamic effect.
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