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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.
I have gone ahead and saved my progress so far as 100k screened letters.ai. So called because the letters are filled with 100% K and set to the Screen mode and we get this effect right here. Which is to say so far, so good or at least so far, so weird. Now let's say we want to add a drop shadow behind our 100% screened letters. What do we do? Well, let's say that I'm working inside the Appearance palette and my Fill is still active, as it is. Whether you have clicked on this Fill line or on this Opacity line that defines it, either way the Fill is active at this point.
So let's go ahead and add a drop shadow. I will go ahead and click on the fx icon at the bottom of the Appearance palette. Alternately, you can click on the Effect menu if you like. And then click on Stylize and then choose Drop Shadow. That brings up the Drop Shadow dialog box. I have my settings set as you see them. So the mode is set to Multiply, which is the darkening agent inside of Illustrator, Opacity 100%, that's got to be dark, X Offset of 2 pt, Y Offset of 2 pt, Blur of 2 pt, fine, Darkness, 100%, this is going to be a really dark drop shadow.
Turn-on Preview and we get a white drop shadow. You know, I really tried to make sure this was dark. I mean we have got 100% Darkness, Opacity 100%, Multiply is the blend mode. How much darker could you go? You could say well, you could go Color Burn. That's even darker. No, it ain't. It's no darker. It's not going to do us any good. So I might as well set that back to Multiply there. All right, well, you know what? At this point, let's go ahead and click OK because what we have got is the Drop Shadow is assigned to the Fill and the Fill is set to Screen, and so the Fill's blend mode trumps the Drop Shadow's blend mode. So Screen wins and we end up getting this weird screened effect right there. So what do you do? The first thing you do is you grab Drop Shadow and you apply it to the Characters instead, or at least you drop it down to the bottom of all the stuff. You get it away from the Fill, so it's applied to the object in general.
Sure enough, you get a very dark drop shadow but it's also showing through the letters. Why is that? Well, because the drop shadow is 100% Black and the letters themselves are 100% Black, so we are getting no screening effect where black is concerned. So black screening on top of black gets you black is what the moral of the story is here, and so what we need to do is we need to get rid of black where the Drop Shadow is concerned and take advantage of the other colors, Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow because we have got white in each of those plates and they will burl through, they'll lighten their way through the drop shadow.
And just to confirm that that is indeed the case, go down to Drop Shadow, and click on it to bring up the Drop Shadow dialog box, and then instead of selecting the Darkness option, which goes ahead and assigns 100% Black by the way, switch over to Color, and then turn-on Preview, and nothing changes, and why is that? Because all we have done is taken Darkness and put it in the Color Swatch, so it's still at 100% Black. If we want to change it to a different color, which we do, go ahead and click on the Color Swatch. That will bring up the big old Color Picker dialog box. Sure enough we have got 0, 0, 0 for Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow and 100% Black.
That's no good. Let's set the Drop Shadow to 0% Black. That way we won't have to worry about it showing up, and then we need a drop shadow of something other than white. Right now we would have white drop shadow, which isn't going to appear as a drop shadow at all. That's going to be completely transparent. And if you want to confirm that, click OK, and you will notice the drop shadow just goes away, because a white drop shadow set to Multiply leaves the building. Anyway, click on the white swatch again, bring up the Color Picker dialog box, then, I want you to go ahead and set Cyan to 100% and notice by the way, if I press Tab we don't get any preview. You have to click OK in order for the Preview to take hold. So click OK, and now we are seeing a brilliant cyan drop shadow. Why is this working so very well? Why are the letters peeling through that cyan? Because we have a great lightening agent in the Cyan plate. So Cyan is set to 0%, meaning it's white. So it cuts through the cyan drop shadow. We don't have any black so we don't have to worry about 100% Black. All right, so how do we get the cyan drop shadow to stop being cyan, to be sort of a neutral drop shadow? Well, we add Magenta and Yellow. So click on the Swatch and if you wanted to be utterly and completely neutral, I suppose you would set Magenta and Yellow to 100% and leave K set to 0% like so. You will get sort of this murky gray. Click OK, and sure enough, you will get a neutral drop shadow like so. And that's because 0, 0, 0. They are cutting through Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow. Black, we don't care about.
Now then, that doesn't look exactly the color I want it to be. I want it to be a little bluer than that. That looks like a muddy blacky drop shadow. So I'll click on the Gray and I'm going to take out some Magenta. I'll take it down to 80%, and I'm going to take out some Yellow, take it down to 60%, and then Tab, we have a bit of a bluish drop shadow, click OK, and that looks great. Then click OK, and there we have it. And that's how you go about creating white letters that cut through everything but the black, and they also cut through the murky gray sort of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow drop shadow. One of many examples of advanced mind bending blending inside of Illustrator.
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