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In Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Advanced, author and industry expert Deke McClelland teaches how to take advantage of the wide array of dynamic features in Illustrator CS5. This course demonstrates how to apply these features to paths, groups, and editable text to create professional-quality artwork. The course covers Live Trace, Live Paint, and Live Color, as well as symbols, gradients, exporting, and integration with Photoshop. Exercise files accompany the course.
In this exercise I'm going to introduce you to the final transparency feature, as well as the one that consumes the most space here inside the Transparency panel, and that's the Opacity Mask. And an Opacity Mask is pretty much exactly what it sounds like, but that's probably not all that helpful. An Opacity Mask is an item, a group of objects that determines the opacity of an entire group or layer, that you've got selected inside of Illustrator. And so essentially black indicates transparency, and white indicates opacity, and then you can create for example gradient fades across an entire layer.
Some very, very powerful features we're about to see. And if you're familiar with Photoshop, it's analogous to Photoshop's layer masks. It's just that you can apply them to more than a layer, which is why it has that different name. Anyway I've got opened this file called Light reflection.ai, that's found inside the 22_transparency folder. And note what we have here is, its variation on the light bulb graphic with some new text, and then it's casting a reflection on to this sort of tabletop below. So let's evaluate what's going on inside of this illustration.
If you twirl-open the green grad layer here at the bottom of the layers panel, you'll see that there's just one path outlined at work. Go ahead and meatball it to make an active. And it's filled with a gradient, and if I switch to the Gradient panel I should be able to see what kind of gradient is assigned, that assumes by the way that the Fill is active. If the Stroke is active you may see no gradient or an entirely wrong gradient down here inside the Gradient panel. Anyway let's switch back to the Fill, and what I want you to see is that this is a four-stop gradient. So we've got this fairly dark green at the bottom of the gradient.
And that's down here at the bottom of the illustration incidentally, so the gradient is going straight upward at a 90 degree angle. And then I've got this lighter color right there, and a darker color right next to it, and that darker color is actually the exact same color that I started with, repeated. And these two colors are very close to each other. So notice that one of the color stops, the light one is at 36% of the length of the gradient. And then the one next door is at 39%. And as a result we're getting this fast transition around this tabletop area.
Now if we wanted it to be an even faster transition, I could select that darker color stop and I could reduce the Location value to say 38%, and then I could select the lighter one by clicking right next to it. I only have a few screen pixels to work with at this point. And I could raise it to 37%, and notice now we get a much sharper transition at this tabletop location. However, I felt like that was too much of a transition. So I'm pretty happy with the effect I came up with before. I'm going to take that Location value back down to 36% for the light color, and then for the dark color I'll take it up to 38%.
And then finally I'm ending the gradient with a darker color still there at the top. All right, so that's what's going on with that sort of out of focus glass table effect. Now I'm going to twirl-close that green grad layer, and notice the reflection layer right above it. It contains all the objects that are reflected downward onto the glass. So the original objects including that line of point type, they are on the bulb & lines layer the reflected objects are on the reflection layer. Notice that the reflection layer has a dashed outline underneath it. That means if that object the entire layer that is to say, has an Opacity Mask assigned to it.
And if you meatball that layer to make it active, and then go back to the Transparency panel you will see a second thumbnail. So next-door to the selected objects thumbnail, is a thumbnail that represents the Opacity Mask. And that's why we're going to be working with throughout the following exercises. So I just want you to have a sense of what's going on. Anytime you're reviewing an Illustration that comes to you from another artist for example, or an illustration that you created a couple of years ago, and you can't remember how it was put together, I have that happen all the time. Whenever you see this dotted outline under a layer name or a group name, or a sub-layer name inside the layers panel, that means you've got an Opacity Mask at work, and that means that you can edit that Opacity Mask as I'll demonstrate in the following exercises.
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