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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've gone ahead and saved my progress as The head revealed.ai. What I would like you to do is go over to the jacket sublayer right here and meatball it to make sure it's active. Now, notice that I'm seeing my selection outlines. If you are not, you can press Ctrl+H or Command+H on the Mac to bring it back up. Now I already told you how Clip and Invert Mask, those guys, work. But what I want to give you a sense for few basic ways to work with opacity masks inside of the Transparency palette. Notice over here, inside the Transparency palette, you see two icons. One represents the selected objects themselves, those are the printing objects inside of the illustration and this thumbnail over here on the right that represents the opacity mask itself, assuming Invert Mask is turned off.
Wherever you see black, that's going to be a hole and wherever you see white, that's going to be relative opacity. That is relative to the original opacity of the objects inside the sublayer. Now let's say that for some reason you want to turn-off the opacity mask for a moment. Then you Shift-click on that opacity mask and notice that you then get an X through it, now you can see all of those anchor points and partially filled objects that are overlapping Sammy's face right there. To turn the mask back on, go ahead and Shift-click on it once again. If you want to view the opacity mask independently of the objects inside of the illustration, then you Alt-click or Option-click on this opacity mask and notice that not only goes ahead and selects the object, it hides everything else inside the illustration. Everything that's not part of the opacity mask, that is to say. You will see nothing but the opacity mask objects here inside the Layers palette.
If you twirl open that item, you'll see the single silhouette path. Now we'll be adding more paths to this opacity mask in the future exercise, but for now the head is all we got. To switch back to the illustration itself, you either Alt-click inside of the opacity mask icon right there, so that's one way to work. I'll go ahead and Alt-click again in order to hide, that's an Option-click by the way on the Mac, in order to show and hide the illustration or you can just click inside of the illustration to switch over to the illustration and see all of its elements as well.
You'll see those various objects populate the Layers palette. Now, what if you want to be able to witness the illustration? Look at the illustration and modify the mask at the same time. Why? Then you go ahead and click on this mask object in order to make it active, so don't do an Alt-click or Option-click, just click on that mask thumbnail and you will notice that now you're just seeing the mask elements here inside the Layers palette. The Layers palette even reads opacity mask just for good measure. You should see the selected head here inside the illustration window. Now try dragging the head to a new location and notice it serves as another traveling hole inside of Illustrator. So, again think of ring go inside the submarine, back when we are discussing pathfinder operations but this time the head is coming through an entire layer full of objects at a time.
All right, I'm going to go ahead and press Ctrl+Z, Ctrl+Z a couple of times in a row. That's Command+Z, Command+Z on the Mac and then I'll switch back to my illustration by clicking on this little jacket thumbnail right there. So those are just a few basics for working with opacity masks inside of Adobe Illustrator.
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