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Making a transparent gradient

From: Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Advanced

Video: Making a transparent gradient

Another great new innovation in Illustrator CS4 where gradients are concerned is your ability to change the opacity of a color stop, so you can make opaque to transparent gradients, if you like. And that's exactly what we're going to do in order to create a vignetting effect. I'll show you what that means. But first, I've gone ahead and saved my progress as Background gradients.ai, and if you switch over to the Final gradient effect right here, you'll see that our background is a little bit darker because we have a vignette effect surrounding the corners of the illustration. And a vignette, by the way, is a photographic effect that's created by the lens element, casting a shadow on the photographic image. We can achieve such an effect here inside of Illustrator as well.

Making a transparent gradient

Another great new innovation in Illustrator CS4 where gradients are concerned is your ability to change the opacity of a color stop, so you can make opaque to transparent gradients, if you like. And that's exactly what we're going to do in order to create a vignetting effect. I'll show you what that means. But first, I've gone ahead and saved my progress as Background gradients.ai, and if you switch over to the Final gradient effect right here, you'll see that our background is a little bit darker because we have a vignette effect surrounding the corners of the illustration. And a vignette, by the way, is a photographic effect that's created by the lens element, casting a shadow on the photographic image. We can achieve such an effect here inside of Illustrator as well.

All right, so I'm going to switch back to the Background gradients.ai file and I'm going to zoom out. What I want to do is I want to create a new layer. So click on the Logo layer to make sure that it's active. Then go down to the little Page icon and Alt-click or Option-click on it to bring up the Layer Options dialog box. We're going to call this new layer Vignette, and I want you to change the color of the layer from yellow to green. It's very important, if you're working along with me, that you make a new layer for this vignetting gradient, because we're going to be doing some weird stuff to the Logo layer later and we don't want it to affect the gradient. So you don't want to have that gradient on the same layer as Logo.

Anyway, go ahead and click OK. We've got this new vignette layer right there. Get your Rectangle tool and draw a rectangle from corner to opposite corner, the direction of your drag is irrelevant, do whatever you want there. In my case, the rectangle ends up being filled with white, you want to make sure that your rectangle is filled with a nondescript color as well, because we want to start over from scratch, where making this new gradient is concerned. I do not, however, want a stroke. So I'm going to switch over to the Stroke here and I'm going to change it to None. Then I'll go back to the Fill, in my case, just by pressing the X key, what have you, and go to the Gradient palette. Click the down-pointing arrowhead and switch your gradient to Black, White right there, like so.

Now it's going to appear as a linear gradient, we don't want that, because we want a vignetting effect that's surrounding all of the corners of this rectangle. We need a radial gradient. That's going from the center white to the outskirts black. So change the Type to Radial, like so, and it will look like this. All right, now this is garbage, obviously, this isn't what I want. I want this gradient to blend with the underlying illustration, of course. So I want this center to be absolutely transparent. So I could click the white color stop and I could change its opacity from 100% to 0%, like so. I press the Enter key or the Return key on the Mac and I get this totally horrible effect right there.

The reason it looks so very, very bad is because we're going from opaque black to transparent white. So that means in between where we're sort of 50-50 here, we've got gray. So we have 50% opaque gray, which looks terrible and it's just kind of casting this awful gloomy cloud over our illustration. It ruins everything that we've done, frankly. So what do we want to do? Well, we want both of the color stops to be exactly of the same color. So let's first figure out what this initial color stop is and it's 100% K. Now I could make it look better, by the way, by switching it a rich black, if I wanted to.

I could go over to CMYK right here and I could change the C, M and Y values to, like 50% across the board or 60% across the board or something along those lines. But it's not really worth it. We don't need to do that. We just need to make sure that this white swatch is the same that is black as well. So go ahead and click on that white swatch and switch over to CMYK just so that we're matching everything and change the K value to 100%, leave C, M and Y alone, leave them set to 0%. We get this effect here, which is better.

Now it's not best but it's much better than it was before. So we have a gradient that's turning transparent towards the center of the rectangle. Now, I'm going to zoom out and I'm going to switch over to the Gradient tool so that we can makes some further modifications. Now you can make all the changes we've made so far with the exception of changing the Type to Radial. You can make all those changes using the Gradient tool. So, for example, if I double-clicked on this first color swatch, I could change its Opacity to 0%. I could also change its Location value, which I'm going to. I'm going to change the Location value to 50%, like so, so that we open up some of the central portion of the illustration.

So notice now if you take a look at this, the first color stop begins at this location here. So this entire region right around here is absolutely transparent, going all the way over to here and upward as well. Let's extend the gradient so it's longer, like so, and also I want the gradient to be elliptical once again because after all our artboard is wider than it is tall. So it's not an absolute square, so similarly our Radial gradient cannot be circular. It needs to be elliptical. So I'm going to reduce the height of the gradient to somewhere in the 70% range, where the aspect ratio is concerned. Then I'll increase the size of the gradient until the ellipse is touching its tangential, as they say, to the corners of this rectangle. Nifty! That looks great actually.

Okay, the only thing that doesn't look great is that we have some greyness associated with this black gradient that we're applying. That's because we're not working with rich blacks, we're working with these sort of tiny blacks right here that are just 100% K and nothing else. As I say, we could change the Cyan, Magenta and Yellow values, but why bother? When all we need to do is make sure, by the way, that your entire rectangle is selected here with the Black Arrow tool. What I mean is if you go to the Appearance palette, we don't want just the fill to be active or just the stroke to be active or something like that, we want the entire path to be active there.

Then I want you to go up to the word Opacity up here in the Control palette, click on it. Let's go ahead and change the blend mode from Normal to our shading mode that we've already seen twice now inside of this chapter, and that is Multiply. So when in doubt, Multiply is your great blend mode for burning in those shadows and making them look nice and rich and wonderful and colorful and so on. Notice the difference. It looks so much better now. So this was before, by the way, that's Normal, and this is after, that's Multiply, beautiful! Now it's too dark, so I'm going to change the Opacity value to 50%, like so, good. Now let's zoom in a couple of clicks here. I'm going to click off the rectangle to deselect it. Let's go back to the Layers palette.

So if I turn off the Vignette layer, this is what the illustration looked like at the outside of this exercise, little lighter and this is what the illustration looks like now with the Vignette layer, a little bit of darkness surrounding the entire illustration. It adds a little bit of mood lighting to our wonderfully mysterious Ping Pong paddle. In the next exercise, we'll begin to add another kind of gradient inside of Illustrator in the form of drop shadows.

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This video is part of

Image for Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Advanced
Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Advanced

149 video lessons · 21463 viewers

Deke McClelland
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 28m 41s
    1. Welcome
      1m 7s
    2. Installing the dekeKeys keyboard shortcuts
      8m 59s
    3. Resetting the Function keys on a Mac
      4m 47s
    4. Installing the CS4 color settings
      4m 20s
    5. Loading the CS4 color settings in Illustrator
      6m 3s
    6. Loading the CS4 color settings in Bridge CS4
      3m 25s
  2. 1h 53m
    1. From the simple emerges the complex
      42s
    2. Introducing Pathfinder operations
      4m 17s
    3. Editing a compound shape
      4m 39s
    4. Adding to a compound shape
      3m 11s
    5. Inserting a subpath into a compound shape
      3m 56s
    6. Expanding a compound shape
      4m 53s
    7. Assembling primitives
      4m 42s
    8. Preparing a template in Photoshop
      7m 0s
    9. Uniting paths permanently
      5m 40s
    10. Minus Front vs. Minus Back
      1m 55s
    11. Working with compound paths
      6m 49s
    12. When in doubt, divide
      3m 54s
    13. Divide and Unite
      3m 2s
    14. Open path pitfalls
      5m 35s
    15. Strokes bad, fills good
      4m 38s
    16. Advanced Divide and Unite
      8m 59s
    17. Using the Crop operation
      8m 30s
    18. Expert Divide and Unite
      8m 45s
    19. "Ghosting" shapes with Fill Opacity
      6m 45s
    20. Anticipating and troubleshooting
      8m 16s
    21. Exclude and Intersect
      7m 24s
  3. 44m 59s
    1. Familiar one moment, different the next
      1m 3s
    2. Snapping to anchor points
      5m 41s
    3. Aligning a group to the artboard
      3m 34s
    4. Distributing objects on the artboard
      4m 16s
    5. Setting the key object
      4m 54s
    6. Distributing objects by space
      3m 6s
    7. Distributing objects by selections
      3m 19s
    8. Aligning point text
      6m 7s
    9. Aligning live text vs. using outlines
      4m 58s
    10. Aligning key letters
      3m 35s
    11. Aligning to key objects
      4m 26s
  4. 1h 4m
    1. CS4’s gradient renaissance
      1m 7s
    2. Applying a gradient
      6m 0s
    3. Dragging and dropping color swatches
      2m 55s
    4. Using the Gradient palette
      6m 27s
    5. Designing a shaded gradient
      5m 9s
    6. Saving a gradient swatch and adding a texture
      4m 2s
    7. Introducing the new Gradient tool
      4m 39s
    8. Editing color stops inside a shape
      3m 26s
    9. Setting multiple gradients to the same angle
      5m 0s
    10. Adding and adjusting radial gradients
      7m 20s
    11. Making a transparent gradient
      7m 6s
    12. Adding drop shadows (a kind of gradient)
      6m 28s
    13. Blends vs. blend modes
      4m 38s
  5. 1h 17m
    1. Creating freeform color flows
      1m 0s
    2. The power of CS4's transparent gradients
      10m 25s
    3. Creating a gradient mesh
      4m 30s
    4. Expanding a gradient to a gradient mesh
      7m 40s
    5. Adding and deleting rows and columns
      6m 13s
    6. Selecting and coloring points
      6m 5s
    7. Assigning colors with the Eyedropper tool
      7m 42s
    8. Cool mesh editing techniques
      3m 56s
    9. Warping and puckering a mesh
      7m 24s
    10. Applying precise finishing touches
      5m 48s
    11. Gradient strokes
      9m 45s
    12. Gradient text
      6m 50s
  6. 55m 35s
    1. The first of the dynamic functions
      1m 4s
    2. Making a blend automatically
      5m 48s
    3. Fixing problem blends
      3m 56s
    4. Making a blend with the Blend tool
      3m 6s
    5. Cloning and coloring a blended path
      4m 37s
    6. Creating a mask
      3m 53s
    7. Blending between translucent shapes
      5m 30s
    8. Blending along a curve
      4m 34s
    9. Adjusting the speed of a blend
      2m 58s
    10. Filling and stroking a mask
      4m 36s
    11. Creating a compound clipping mask
      6m 3s
    12. Nesting one clipping mask inside another
      6m 7s
    13. Ghosting nested masks and blends
      3m 23s
  7. 1h 13m
    1. Patterns that repeat forever and ever
      51s
    2. Introducing tile patterns
      6m 36s
    3. Beginning a core design
      5m 6s
    4. Building an interlocking element
      6m 25s
    5. Achieving precise radial symmetry
      4m 46s
    6. Rotating duplicates around a common center
      3m 10s
    7. Determining how a pattern repeats
      9m 54s
    8. Coloring the core objects
      5m 0s
    9. Identifying the rectangular tile
      7m 14s
    10. Saving tile patterns
      7m 19s
    11. Applying tile patterns to a shape
      3m 25s
    12. Protecting patterns from transformations
      7m 36s
    13. Moving patterns without paths
      5m 51s
  8. 1h 19m
    1. Illustrator gets natural
      1m 15s
    2. Introducing the vector painting tools
      3m 16s
    3. Calligraphic brush options
      4m 3s
    4. Pressure sensitivity
      5m 17s
    5. Editing a calligraphic brush
      5m 53s
    6. Repainting and smoothing paths
      5m 30s
    7. Making the paintbrush behave
      6m 16s
    8. Erasing stroked paths
      3m 17s
    9. Painting with the new Blob brush
      6m 24s
    10. Refining filled paths with the Eraser
      4m 14s
    11. Painting independent paths
      3m 53s
    12. The Selection Limits Merge options
      3m 20s
    13. Applying and scaling an art brush
      6m 23s
    14. Snipping a brushed path
      4m 55s
    15. Colorizing an art brush
      4m 9s
    16. Heaping a stroke on an art brush effect
      4m 32s
    17. Creating a custom art brush
      6m 51s
  9. 1h 44m
    1. The computer art world’s dynamic duo
      1m 7s
    2. Copying and pasting pixels from Photoshop
      7m 21s
    3. Linking is efficient, embedding is not
      2m 47s
    4. Editing an image in Illustrator
      7m 30s
    5. Filtering an image in Photoshop
      6m 34s
    6. Adding a filter mask in Photoshop
      6m 25s
    7. Masking a woman from the background
      3m 49s
    8. Creating a sepia effect
      6m 37s
    9. Adding a second gradient map layer
      2m 13s
    10. Achieving a graphic effect with Levels
      8m 10s
    11. Preparing an image for use in Illustrator
      5m 46s
    12. The importance of image resolution
      9m 40s
    13. Placing and linking images
      4m 43s
    14. Managing linked images
      6m 18s
    15. Integrating an image into a design
      5m 12s
    16. A better way to wrap text
      7m 28s
    17. Previewing the trim size
      4m 25s
    18. Layer comps and editable text
      8m 42s
  10. 2h 11m
    1. Transparency is safe and fun
      1m 27s
    2. Introducing the translucent composition
      4m 39s
    3. Assigning opacity to an Appearance attribute
      3m 41s
    4. Creating a knockout group
      5m 7s
    5. Defining an opacity mask
      7m 15s
    6. Using the Clip checkbox
      2m 41s
    7. Opacity mask tips and tricks
      3m 20s
    8. The Multiply blend mode
      6m 8s
    9. Adding to an existing opacity mask
      7m 53s
    10. Blending between parallel groups
      7m 27s
    11. Creating a gradient opacity mask
      4m 54s
    12. Employing an opposing gradient mask
      7m 57s
    13. Combining Multiply and Screen
      3m 49s
    14. Blend mode roundup
      5m 24s
    15. Mixing blend modes inside a single path
      3m 48s
    16. Blend mode and transparent gradient
      3m 49s
    17. Masking an entire layer
      7m 0s
    18. Combining Screen with 100K Black
      7m 43s
    19. Knocking out a drop shadow
      5m 18s
    20. But will it print?
      3m 8s
    21. Working with the Flattener preview
      8m 44s
    22. Rasterizing an illustration in Photoshop
      9m 16s
    23. Super-rich blacks and raster effects
      3m 35s
    24. Exporting TIFF artwork from Illustrator
      7m 48s
  11. 58s
    1. Until next time
      58s

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