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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.
Now, Transparency is such a multifaceted topic inside of Illustrator. You've got the opacity value, you've got blend modes, you've got opacity masks, you've got much, much more as we'll see. So I thought before we just dig in here, I would introduce you to the sample project that we'll be using throughout this chapter. Now, I've been working with some variation on this sample project for a few years now, and every time I go ahead and upgrade it. This time is no exception, which is why I've called this file Pied Pianist III.ai.
Now, what we're seeing is an imported photograph of my son Sammy that I shot long ago, when he was just a little guy. He is just jamming on the piano there. But it's in awful wretched photograph. If you were to take a close look at things, you might notice such details as this purplish wood in the background here. It really all looked kind of wood colored, but we have all sorts of aberrant colors going on, which is just fine because I'm going to use it as the template for my tracing, for this elaborate illustration, although we'll allow his head to peak through, because I think his head looks just great.
But the phonograph is set in front of this layer called Wacky stuff and the Wacky stuff makes up this elaborate frame here that just goes on and on, a huge frame given the size of this photograph. Even though it's completely over the top and it seems unnecessary, the reason it's here is because it's an example of dynamic effects gone wild inside of Illustrator. If you want to check it out, all you have to do is twirl open the Wacky stuff layer here, and then you could meatball anyone of these items, all of which are called back. They're all these little rectangles that just fill up the artboard and nothing more, and the artboard is exactly the same size as the imported image.
Then you would go over to the Appearance palette and you would see what in the world is going on with these dynamic effects. Now, the reason I'm leaving it up to you to investigate these effects, if you have a mind to, is because you and I'll be investigating them together in the Dynamic Effects chapter in the Mastery portion of this series, but for now I'm going to just let you know that its here. Then I'll switch back to the Layers palette, let's lock down the Wacky stuff layer, go ahead and twirl it closed. I'm going to zoom to 120% down here on the lower left corner of the window, because that just happens to be a good fit for Sammy on this particular screen, the screen on which I'm recording.
Now, in front of Sammy I've got a frame. So that's a very simple framing effect of course, a double stroke right there. Then we have some more interesting objects. This is where I began to trace the scene. So I went ahead and added this bright blue bench. Now, notice the bench isn't exactly tracing Sammy's bench. That's perfectly fine. I'm making adjustments as I go along. In front of that I've added this sort of Liberachi style jacket to Sammy, with these little fluff rouge here, to give the scene a little bit of weight. It needs some formality I think. Then of course I need to redraw the piano right there, with just as many white keys as black keys, and I'll fill you in on that later.
I also figured that Sammy was going to look a little better with some sort of kind of Phantom of the Opera, sort of eye makeup right there. Isn't that good looking, with these nice bright vivid eyes popping out? I also felt very guilty in the early years of Sammy's life that he had no hair, and so I decided to add this Hair layer to make up for it, and complete with the little soul patch right there. Then finally, he needs some gloves of course. When I say finally, we're not by any means done, but he needs some gloves at this point, and I figured, just for the sake of the intrigue of this illustration so far, that his gloves should contain little eyeballs inside of them, matching of course the color that I've established as his iris color right there. He actually has brown eyes, but I'm giving him blue eyes for the sake of this composition.
Then if you drop down to the Backdrop layer and turn it on, you'll see that it covers up everything in the photograph, except Sammy's head. So we're now establishing the sort of theatrical background, complete with these curtains right here that match the Frame Effect you might notice. Let's go ahead and scroll up the list. We've got a gradient. This little pop of blue down here in the lower left corner of the illustration that's brightening the scene. By the way, if you turn on this Boundary layer here, you'll see that you crop the piano, so that it stays inside of the photographic area, inside the artboard.
Then finally, I've got some text items on top. Now, every single one of these layers is employing to some degree or other transparency inside of Illustrator. I'll show you how that works beginning in the next exercise.
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