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I'm looking at a file called Mishipizheu CS5.ai, found inside the 22_transparency folder, and if you've been working through my Illustrator series in the past, for CS3 and CS4 here at the lynda.com Online Training Library, then you may very well know, my obsession with this illustration. I'm constantly fiddling with it and I've been working on some form of this artwork for like the last eight years when I came across this Ojibwe drawing on the side of a cliff, about a couple hundred years old I think and sought in Ottawa, Canada for what that's worth and it featured pretty much everything we are seeing here.
This Sun and this canoe full of guys chasing this big mythical Ojibwe creature. And so what we are looking at now is the most recent version of that illustration, with more carefully rendered guys in the canoe. For what little that's worth. Now there's a lot going on inside this document. For example, if I grab my White Arrow tool and I hover over round about there and click, you can see that I filled the background using a Gradient Mesh. And we haven't talked about Gradient Mesh as yet but basically what's going on is every single one of these anchor points represents a point of color and then Illustrator blends between those points along the segments.
I will be devoting an entire chapter to the topic of Gradient Mesh in the mastery portion of the series. But for now, we are going to be running through the Opacity value first and then the various Blend modes that are available to you in Illustrator. And for starters here I am going to switch to my Black Arrow tool and I am going to click on the creatures head, let's say, like so and then I'll go over to the Transparency panel and I'll change the Opacity value. Now you probably, already have a fair understanding of how Opacity works but if I change the value to 50% and then press the Enter key, let's say or the Return key on the Mac, then I am going to get a 50-50 blend of this head and everything in back of it, which includes the neck and this little line that's showing through.
Meanwhile, the things in front are still opaque like the creature's forehead. So it doesn't really make any sense. I suppose I could go into some territory by modifying the opacity of each object independently, but what if I want to control the opacity of the creature as a whole? Well, I will press Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on the Mac, and then I'll go over to my layers panel here, and I will meatball the layer. Don't select the entire contents of the layer by clicking on that upper right wedge or Alt+Clicking on the layer because that will just select all of the independent objects, and then I will press Ctrl+H, Command+H on the Mac to hide the edges, so we can see what we are doing.
Then if I change the Opacity to 50%, notice that we get this crazy interaction of the various objects, that's not what I want at all. So I will press Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on the Mac. Notice up here in the Control panel, it's telling me that path is active. It means paths, because there is a ton of paths that are active, but if I want to apply the Opacity Modification to the entire layer as a whole, then I'd meatball the layer, and then I would see up here inside the Control panel that layer is active. Now if I change the Opacity value to 50%, then I end up giving this effect here, which obviously is a lot more acceptable.
Now again, what I'm getting is a 50-50 blend. So 50% of the active object, in this case, a layer, 50% of the background which would be the Gradient Mesh. If I want to favor the Gradient Mesh, I will reduce this value to say 25% and then we have 25% of the beast layer mixed with 100%-25%, so 75% of the background. If I want to switch that around, I could increase the Opacity value to 75% and then we have 75% creature and 25% background.
Now at the risk of laboring this, the idea here is that we've got a kind of formula. So what we're doing when we are changing the Opacity value is we are saying, mix X amount of the active object with Y amount of everything below it. So if you imagine that Opacity, is that very simple formula. I will go ahead and change the Opacity value back to 100%, incidentally you don't have those keyboard shortcuts for modifying the Opacity of objects on the fly, the way you do when changing opacity inside Photoshop.
I should just mention that for those of you who are Photoshop users, but if you'll imagine that Opacity is a kind of very basic formula, why then the Blend modes represent other formulas. And I am not going to go into the math behind these Blend modes but I just want you to know that's what's going on and they all result in some form of translucency, that is altogether different from both Opacity, although you can combine opacity along with them to get different variations and each one of the Blend modes creates a unique effect as well.
The only option that's not really truly a Blend mode is Normal. Normal turns the Blend mode off, everything else produces an effect. Now the problem with the Blend modes, I think, they are really, really powerful by the way, but when you are first trying to learn how they work, they are a little bit obtuse, because of the naming conventions. Now Darken is fine because Darken does produce a darkening effect as we'll see. Multiply though, what does that even mean to multiply a layer on to the rest of the contents of the illustration? That doesn't even make any sense and so on throughout the list.
Well, the good news is A) I am going to tell you how each and every one of them work and B) they are grouped logically. So this first group of Blend modes from Darken down to Color Burn, use the active object to darken the stuff below it. The next group, the Lightning effects, go ahead and use the active object to lighten the stuff below it. Overlay through Hard Light are the Contrast modes so-called because they extensively increase the contrast of an illustration, but you can end up decreasing Contrast as well. And then we have the Difference mode, which is a kind of Inversion mode as you'll see, Exclusion is a variation of it, and then these modes break up the color inside of an illustration into the Hue, Saturation, and Luminance components.
And then Color by the way is a combination of Hue and Saturation working together, and then they reassemble the artwork to produce a handful of different effects as we'll see. So those are the basic Blend modes inside of Illustrator. I'm going to walk you through exactly how the darkening and lightning modes work in the next exercise.
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