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Masking an entire layer


Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Advanced

with Deke McClelland

Video: Masking an entire layer

In this exercise, I'm going to show you a few different ways to clip an entire layer to a single path outline and it turns out to be pretty darn easy once you learn how it works but it's also a little weird, as you'll see. I have gone ahead and save my progress so far as Ready to and I'll tell you what I would like you to do. Just to simplify things, let's go ahead and twirl the Vectors layer closed for now and turn it off, so that we can focus our attention on the Backdrop layer. You should also unlock the Backdrop layer by clicking on its lock icon to make it go away.
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  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
    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
    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

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Watch the Online Video Course Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Advanced
12h 54m Intermediate Jul 09, 2009

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

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.

Topics include:
  • Working with compound shapes in the Pathfinder palette
  • Ghosting shapes with Fill Opacity
  • Understanding gradients and the gradient tools
  • Cloning and coloring a blended path
  • Saving tile patterns and applying them to a shape
  • Importing and linking images from other applications
Deke McClelland

Masking an entire layer

In this exercise, I'm going to show you a few different ways to clip an entire layer to a single path outline and it turns out to be pretty darn easy once you learn how it works but it's also a little weird, as you'll see. I have gone ahead and save my progress so far as Ready to and I'll tell you what I would like you to do. Just to simplify things, let's go ahead and twirl the Vectors layer closed for now and turn it off, so that we can focus our attention on the Backdrop layer. You should also unlock the Backdrop layer by clicking on its lock icon to make it go away.

All right, then I'm going to twirl the Backdrop layer open. Then notice all the objects in the Backdrop layer extend outside of the artboard. They just end up ending wherever they end willy-nilly throughout the illustration and that might be okay. If you plan on just printing the artboard and you want a full bleed, then you would want some extra room here so that the artwork can bleed beyond the edges of the trimmed pages. But let's say that we are not interested in a bleed and we are not interested in confining the size of our printed artwork to the artboard. We want it to extend beyond the artboard for whatever reason. But we do want to constrain the elements on the Backdrop layer to this rectangular area that's currently defined by the artboard.

Well, I have gone ahead and drawn this rectangular path, right here. It's just called Path inside the Backdrop layer and if you meatball it, you can see that it's this path outline right there. And just to make it abundantly clear, let's go ahead and bring up the Fill for this object and then I'm going to go ahead and set it to like a shade of green, so that we can see this object. The reason that we have this bright blue region at lower left inside of the rectangle is because of the gradient layer. That's a function of that gradient set to the lighten mode and if I turn- off gradient, you'll see what I mean.

There is the solid green rectangle without the gradient and there it is with a gradient. All right, anyway, my point is that the Fill and the Stroke assign to what will be the clipping mask don't matter. So if I were to go up to the Control palette, and change this stroke to something ridiculous like 40 pt, like this, it's still going to completely drop away in just a moment. And again, we get this gradient effect because of the gradient layer right there. All right, here is how you go about assigning this path outline as a mask for the entire Backdrop layer. The first thing you do is make sure nothing is selected. That's the easiest thing. You can have objects selected inside of your artwork but it's better off if you don't because you can run into some errors every once in a while. So press Ctrl+Shift+A or Command+Shift+A on a Mac to deselect everything.

Then make sure that the Backdrop layer is active inside the Layers palette, so whichever layer you want to mask needs to be active, then make sure the mask itself is the top object in the stack. If anything else is at the top, even in the entire sublayer, it's going to mess up the effect. So make sure that path outline is at the top as it is. Then drop down to this first icon here at the bottom of the Layers palette that says Make Release Clipping Mask when you hover over it and just click on it. And notice just like that the Fill and Stroke attributes disappear inside the illustration window. You can see that this rectangular path has become a clipping path, thereby clipping everything below it and the area that's shown in white is the opaque area, the area in gray is the transparent area and then, of course, everything in the Backdrop layer that extends outside of that rectangle drops away.

All right, so let's try gain with the Vectors layer, except let's see a few variations here. I'm going to twirl close the Backdrop layer, lock it down again, twirl open the Vectors layer and go ahead and show it by bringing up its eyeball. All right, then notice we have got this boundary layer at the top. It's the exact same rectangle but before we just replay the exact same steps because it's the same thing all over again, let me show you some things that can go right and wrong about whole layer clipping masks. I'm going to drop down here to this circular path, remember that's a circle that I used to demonstrate opacity masks, a few exercises ago. Go ahead and grab it and drag it to the top of the stack like so.

Now were I to turn that path outline on and select it, I drop down here to the bottom of the Layers palette and notice that this guy is dimmed. What in the world is the reason behind that? I mean I have even identified the path that I want to use is the clipping mask. Well, what you haven't done is you haven't identified the layer and that's just the craziest thing but that's how it works. So notice, even if nothing is selected, so I'll just click outside in this nether region of the artwork and even if the top path outline is turned-off, it's hidden. Watch this little icon down here at the bottom of the Layers palette, see how it's currently dimmed, which makes sense given that the active path is no longer visible but watch it. If I click on the Vectors layer, that's what it takes. That icon becomes available to me once again. That's because I have identified the layer itself that I want to clip. That's all you need to do, have nothing selected, have a path at the top of the stack and then go ahead and click on this icon.

Now notice that here inside of the Layers palette, this circle is now named Clipping Path and it has gray on the outside of the circle and white on the inside of the circle so it is the mask. However, if you look here in the illustration window, there is no indication that any masking has occurred. The thing is that the mask is currently hidden so it's inactive. As soon as you click to bring up its eyeball right there, then we assign the mask to the artwork and that results in putting Sammy inside of a kind of circle, so he looks like a little weeble or something along those lines. Anyway, as charming as that is, that's not the effect I want, so let's say you want to swap that mask out with a different mask. Well, here is how you do it.

You drag your new mask into place, for example, this boundary I'm going to go ahead and put it at the top of the stack, so whatever you are going to use as a clipping mask has to be at the top of the stack at the outset and I'll show you what I mean by at the outset in just a moment. But anyway, put it at the top there. Again the icon is dimmed because the wrong thing is active, go ahead and click on the Vectors layer to make it active instead and then notice that the Make Release Clipping Mask icon is available. Now why is it call Make Release Clipping Mask because if you already have a clipping mask going, then when you click on it, it's going to release that clipping mask and notice what happens, as soon as I click on it, the circular clipping mask goes away. And in fact, the name of that circle switches from clipping path back to path and now we are seeing white on white instead white on gray.

Now then, drop down here again and click again in order to make that boundary path, the clipping mask, just like so and notice now boundary is the clipping mask and everything fits inside of it including the portions of the bench that were previously extending outside of the rectangle or the portions of the keyboard that were previously extending outside and so on. Now then, what did I mean by the fact that the path has to be at the top of the layer at the outset? Well, from this point on, you can move it to any location you want. Now that you have assigned it as the clipping mask, you can move it down the stack. You need to keep it inside the layer but you can move it to a different location if you want. And that location can be all the way at the bottom of the layer. It can be all the way to the top of the layer. It can be anywhere in between. And that, my friend, is how you assign a clipping mask to an entire layer inside Illustrator.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Advanced .

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Q: In the lesson on pressure sensitivity, exactly what kind of Wacom tablet is the instructor using?
A: The instructor is using a Wacom Intuos 3 tablet
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