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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.
In this exercise, I'm going to show you how to use the Blend tool, which is another way to create blends inside of Illustrator. I haven't been too keen on the Blend tool for a few years because it's been buggy. They had some problems with it. But they seemed to have largely fixed the problems inside of Illustrator CS4, so let's give it a go. I've gone ahead and reinstated the original version of Lone ghost.ai, so you can go ahead and open that up as well. I'm going to scroll down to the bottom of the Layers palette, and Alt-click or Option-click in the Lock Column in front of the Backdrop layer to lock everybody but backdrop.
Then I'm going to go ahead and scroll- open Backdrop, I'm going to select the rectangle. Let's go ahead and switch that to green once again, so that we can see the difference between it and the Blend we're about to create. Then I'll turn on my objects and I'll meatball them, to make them active. And now let's go ahead and get the Blend tool right here. It's this guy, and it's got a keyboard shortcut of W. So there it is. I am going to select the Blend tool. Now what the Blend tool does, what it's asking you to do is to click on the points that are significant points that you want to blend between.
The first object on which you click will become the bottom object in the stack, and then the second object will become the next object up, and then the third object will become the next object up in front of that and so on. So you know what? I'm going to twirl these guys open, so we can see what's going on, so we can see middle, top, base in the wrong order, just as they were in the previous exercise. All right, so I'm going to start by clicking on the bottom-right anchor point, just choose an anchor point and stick with it with the other object. So I'm going to click here, you don't drag with this tool, you just click, you don't really get any indication that anything is going here, but something is going on.
Now move your cursor over the bottom- right point in the next object up and the blue object, and click and I want you to watch the Layers palette right here, watch what happens between middle and base. When I click right there, I go ahead and create this blend between those two objects, here it is inside the Blend object, and now if I scroll it open, we've got the path of the blend because these objects are separated from each other, and then we've got base with middle right on top of it. And top is completely out there by itself, not part of the group until I go over and click on its bottom-right corner, and then it gets thrown in to the group in the proper order. So all of my problems are taking care.
Notice that Illustrator has not only changed the order of my objects, but it's also taking care of that problem where we were blending between the proper points, and I have to flip the shape and all that jazz, don't have to do it now, thanks to the Blend tool. Now the great thing about this is I have been doing this example for probably about five years, and the Blend tool did not do anything for us, until Illustrator CS4, and now it solves the problem. So you can work either way. It's easier just to make a Blend, but if you find that you are having problems you may want to go ahead and grab the Blend tool, and create the blend manually.
In the next exercise, I'm going to show you how to effectively add a fourth color stop by cloning a path. Stay tuned!
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