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This course is the third in a four-part series devoted to mastering the premiere graphics creation application, Adobe Illustrator, version CS6. Industry pro Deke McClelland takes a project-based learning approach to the key features in Illustrator, including Recolor Artwork, transparency, masks, blend modes, strokes and fills, and dynamic effects. The course also covers techniques for creating custom gradients, designing logos, generating photorealistic neon text, and wrapping type around objects. Plus, Deke shows how to call up the most essential features by organizing your workspace and employing time-saving keyboard shortcuts, how to manage the color settings, and how to adjust a few settings to make the program work even better.
In this movie, I am going to show you how and why you might create a Knockout Group, which prevents objects inside of a group or layer from interacting with each other. Now that might sound just like meatballing an entire layer and applying a Blend mode to it because after all, that prevents the path outlines inside of a layer from interacting with each other, too. But it's more nuanced than that. I know, I hate nuance too, but you may run into a situation like this. Imagine that instead of the effect I just created, I want something more like this, where the strokes are nice and bright white and then I've got a bunch of gradients that are essentially multiplied into the background.
Now, if I were to apply the Multiply Blend mode to the entire layer, then those strokes would become invisible, because there's no way to get white out of a Darkening mode. So I had to apply the Multiply Blend mode to the gradient fills independently of the white strokes, which means there was no way to apply a Blend mode to the entire layer at a time, which is exactly where Knockout Groups come in. So now that I am finished with that setup, let me show you how to do it. I'll go ahead and switch over to the document I created in the previous movie and I'll turn off the top Mishipeshu layer and then I'll turn on this White Lines layer right there.
And notice that I have a bunch of shapes with a bunch of gradients interacting with each other. I'll go ahead and assign the Blend modes to the main body shape here so you can see what's up, because it's fairly indicative of what I did all the way around. Now I'll switch over to the Appearance panel, and notice that I have a series of three gradients built up on top of each other along with this 1.5-point white stroke. Right now we're seeing just the bottommost fill. I'll turn on the next one up, and notice that it darkens things very slightly. If I go ahead and grab the Gradient tool--which you can get by pressing the G key--you can see that I've got a radial gradient that extends from outside of the animal's body to just barely into his body, so that we're creating a little bit of shading down below.
In order to turn that into effective shading, I need to apply the Multiply Blend mode. So with the fill selected, I'll click on the Blend mode pop-up menu and choose Multiply and then because I loaded dekeKeys, I can just press Shift+7 to reduce the Opacity value to 70%. The next gradient fill also turned off --I'll go ahead and turn it on here--is designed to add a little highlight to this foot. And so you can see that it barely extends into this selected path outline here. Now, in order to make the highlight brighter, I need to assign the Screen mode so I could go back up here to the Transparency panel or I could just click on the word Opacity underneath this fill. That brings up the full Transparency panel and I'll change the Blend mode from Normal to Screen this time around. And then I'll press the Esc key in order to hide that sub-panel and I'll press Shift+5 to reduce the Opacity to 50%. All right! Finally, I want to change this background fill here to Multiply as well so that it's interacting with the objects behind it.
So I'll go ahead and click on that fill to select it. I'll click on the word Opacity there and I want you to see something about this version of the Transparency panel: When the whole panel is expanded--and I'll show you how that works in just a moment-- you can see a preview of the selected object, which is actually really useful sometimes. Let's say I press Ctrl+H or Cmd+H on a Mac to hide the selection edges and I switch back to my Black Arrow tool, so that I'm not seeing the gradient annotator and I am really not sure if anything is selected or not. Well if I click on Opacity, then I can see a little preview of just the selected object.
And notice, if I go ahead and press Ctrl+Shift +A or Cmd+Shift+A on the Mac to deselect everything, I will see no selection up here at the top of the Appearance panel. But even better is the fact that when I click in the word Opacity, I see nothing and therefore I don't have anything selected. All right! I am going to go ahead and click on this path outline again and I can confirm that it's selected by clicking on Opacity, there it is and I'll change the Blend mode from Normal to Multiply and we end up getting this effect here, which is great except for the fact that all of these shapes are interacting with each other which I don't want them to do.
So, here is what you do next. You go ahead and switch back to the Layers panel and you either assemble all of these path outlines into a group, or in my case they are already assembled inside of a layer. So I'll just go ahead and meatball the layer. So you want to select the thing that's encompassing all of these interacting path outlines and then I'll go up here to the Transparency panel and I'll click this little Double Arrow icon a couple of times in order to expand the panel so that I am seeing the entire thing. There is the preview of all of my selected shapes, and notice that I've got a few different checkboxes down here; they are all designed to solve problems.
Now this last checkbox here is not anything you need to worry about, but these two are quite useful; Isolate Blending will go ahead and do exactly the opposite of what we want to do. So if I turn on that checkbox, you can see that the blending is isolated to the active layer. In other words the path outlines inside the layer will interact with each other, but they're not going to interact with any other layers. That's exactly what we don't want, so I'll turn that checkbox off. We've got this other one next door called Knockout Group and that's the one we want to apply. That turns this layer into a Knockout Group, so that none of the path outlines inside the layer interact with each other; they just interact with everything outside the layer.
Now, by default you may see a little bar inside this checkbox. If so, just go ahead and click on it and that will turn the checkbox on and we get the effect we're looking for. If you turn the checkbox off, then we end up with the path outlines interacting again and then for some reason if you turn on the checkbox again, you get the bar and it doesn't make any difference. So I just want you to know that you cycle through three different states often times with this checkbox and the state we're looking for if you want it on, is the checkbox and we get this effect here. All right! I'll go ahead and press Ctrl+Shift+A or Cmd+ Shift+A on a Mac in order to deselect the artwork and incidentally--I want to share one more thing--I am going to bring back that top layer there, so we can see the version of the artwork from the previous movie.
So I'll turn off the White Lines layer and turn on this top blue layer. If ever after applying a bunch of Blend Modes, you see some ragged edges here and there inside your artwork, especially around strokes, that's generally because you're zoomed out and you're seeing the results of the screen anti-aliasing. So it's just the screen artifact. It has nothing to do with how your artwork is going to print. And if you ever want to confirm that, just go ahead and zoom way in by pressing the Ctrl and Spacebar keys or the Cmd and Spacebar keys on the Mac and dragging, and then zoom way in on your artwork and go ahead and check out those strokes in detail, and they should end up looking really great.
The only problem where this artwork is concerned--I'll go ahead and back out and zoom back in right there at this location--is these guys right there which are the result of the Color Dodge Blend mode hitting some very hot spots and exaggerating the contrast inside of these areas. However, they will still print smooth; you're just going to see these red lines right through these areas. So it's just something to bear in mind. You should always get nice sharp smooth strokes regardless of the Blend modes that you apply. All right! So that takes care of the Opacity value, all the Blend Modes and Knockout Groups.
In the next movie, we'll take a look at a few ways to combine Blend modes with dynamic effects.
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