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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 introduce you to the Blob Brush, which allows you to paint filled paths that glom together with each other to create essentially as few paths as possible inside your illustration. I have gone ahead and saved my progress so far as Beautiful lovehorse.ai and we have got this beautiful rendition of Eunice going now and Bob is in worse shape than ever, as you will see. It's looking just terrible, so is this prairie dog, and the problem is we change that brush on him and he just suffered immensely for it.
So we could fix him a little bit by pressing Ctrl+A to select all of the visible objects here, and that's Command+A on the Mac of course, and then I'd switch over to the Brushes palette and click on this new brush, 9 pt Bob, which will solve our problems. It actually returns Bob to his former, still not very good state. I just don't see things working out between Eunice and Bob quite frankly. Right now, she loves him to tears, but what's she going to think of him in the future, especially after he crushes that startled prairie dog there.
Well, I'd say we draw somebody new for Eunice. So I'm going to turn-off Bob, I'm going to switch to the Eunice layer, I'm going to Alt-click or Option-click on little page icon down here at the bottom of the Layers palette and I'm going to change the name of this layer to Edwardo. And that way, his name even begins with the same letter as Eunice. That's so important, and then go to Color and change it from Blue to Gold, like so, and click OK, because Gold is the color of Edwardo. All right, I'm going to go ahead and grab my Blob Brush tool. You can get to it by pressing Shift+B as opposed to be for the Paintbrush. We got Shift+B for the Blob Brush and then notice that it's already set to work with the last brush I selected, which is 9 pt Bob. And this is a pressure-sensitive brush, so I can just go ahead and paint with my pressure -sensitive Stylus in order to get some interesting wacky results at this stage in a game. So I'm just going to paint a few brush strokes in a place, like so. Notice all the while what's happening here is that Illustrator is connecting these paths together and if I press the V key to get my Black Arrow tool and click on the outline of one of these paths, you will see that they are joined together.
Now the reason this guy is not part of the other group is because they are not quite connected, see that. We have got two different paths in the making right now and if I were to twirl open Edwardo, you can see one's a compound path because it's got a little hole in it and the other is just a standard path outline, but they are both filled with black as opposed to stroked path outlines. I am going to go ahead and press Ctrl+ A, Command+A on a Mac, delete those, because I want to change some settings around and I'm going to change those settings from the Blob Brush tool options.
So double-click in the Blob Brush tool here and then what I want you to do is if you are working with a pressure- sensitive tablet, which you may or may not be and because I am, this is what I'm going to do. I'm going to switch Size from Fixed to Pressure and I'm going to increase the Variations value to 10 pt. So I have as much variation as possible. I'm not going to worry about the Angle or the Roundness here. I'm done painting calligraphic brush strokes. I just want pressure sensitivity and I'll click OK. Notice now, you have a round 10 pt brush and there is no brush selected inside the Brushes palette any longer.
So let's begin to draw Edwardo, but you know what, I want a rich black and I didn't bother to save the swatch, so I'm just going to enter it manually, which is going to be 50% for Cyan, Magenta and Yellow and 100% for Black, because I think the rich black suits Edwardo. So he needs to look pretty good. Boy, he has got big ears. I didn't expect him to have such big ears. But notice as I paint, that I do have pressure-sensitivity and I'm going ahead and creating some awfully long hair for Edwardo. He is just such an amazing creature here. I'll go ahead and paint this nice, wonderful, luxurious tail, because he is tail-proud of course and he has got some ripped glute muscles I would think, don't you? All right, those look pretty nice there and then we'll go ahead and give him some nice haunches to work with here because he is just geesh, what a ladies killer, if you are a horse that is.
Now what the Brush tool has a habit of doing. This is true for both the Paintbrush and the Blob Brush, so both of them do this. They go ahead and smooth out your brush strokes. So even if you paint some pretty lousy stuff, once you get down releasing the brush, or that is releasing the stylus or the mouse or whatever you are working with, then Illustrator will go ahead and smooth out your brush strokes for you, and that's a function of one of those options I'll show it to you in a minute inside of the Blob Tool Options dialog box. All right, he wants a big huge jaw of course and a nice chin and he is not a smiler.
He is too cool for that, and then we'll give him some sort of cool eyes. I think ultimately he has got to have some bling because he is just exuding machismo, so we'll just give him some chains to work with there. This is looking pretty nice. Well obviously, he is a sailor, so we'll go ahead and give him this anchor tattoo. That's looking pretty good. So we have got ourselves an Edwardo and the interesting thing I think about him, besides he is just so stunning, is that if I click on him with the Black Arrow tool, that much of him is one big huge path outline as you can see right here, and then some of the other stuff is separated and that's plenty okay, and if we painted over him some more, I bet we could paint him into a single path.
But let's look here. We have got one big compound path, we have got this path down here for his face, and then we have got just a handful of additional paths where things are not connected. So you know what, just for larfs, so I'm going to click off him for a moment to deselect him, press Shift+B to switch back to the Blob Brush and I'm going to see if I can connect some of these brush strokes together. Now, I'm not having-- well, let's see, was that some of the stuff that was disconnected before? Let me check out. Oh no, that just connected the head and the larger path outline. We have got the glute paths right there and then we have the tip of that anchor.
All right, I'm going to press Ctrl+Shift +A to deselect things, paint that just a little bit, so that goes in and joins on too. Now all we got left, the only thing that's separated from the major compound path there, are the glute paths. They want to be separated; they look good. All right, so there you have it. That's the basics of how the Blob Brush works. It's just sitting there painting filled paths and connecting those paths together as they overlap. In the next exercise, I'll show you some other ways to use to the Blob Brush here inside Illustrator CS4.
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