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In Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Mastery, the third and final part of the comprehensive Illustrator One-on-One series, author and industry expert Deke McClelland shows how to take advantage of the wide array of dynamic effects in Illustrator CS5. Deke explores Illustrator’s powerful Gradient Mesh feature, great for creating photorealistic airbrushing effects. He also covers graphic styles, the liquify tools, envelope-style distortions, the new Bristle Brushes, 3D text, and perspective drawing. Exercise files accompany the course.
Now let's take a look at a fun creative technique that you can pull off using Actions and this one is pretty darn satisfying. Basically, the idea is this. This is something I hear from freehand users all the time, which is in freehand I could scale and rotate and clone an object and then power duplicate the heck out of it, and that's not something I can do in Illustrator. I have already showed you one way to do it in the Illustrator using the Transform effect, but you can gain even more control over the situation by recording your operations as an Action and then playing them back.
So here I am working inside Musical-review.ai. It's found inside of course the 30_ actions folder. Notice these hands here, these long hand elements that are rotated and repeated the total of four times on either side. Well, if you go to the layers panel and I am going to go ahead and increase the height of my layers panel. Notice that I've moved the Actions panel into the right-hand list just so that it's not cluttering up my screen. I am going to go ahead and unlock the top layer, the border layer and I am going to click on this left-hand hand right there, and I'll go to the Appearance panel.
Notice that I've got a Transform effect applied to this group, and if you want to take a look at that Transform effect then go ahead and click on it and you'll see that I'm moving each one of the arms here -33 points horizontally, that is 33 points to the left. Then I'm rotating each one of the arms 1 degree at a time. There is three copies of course, 1, 2, 3 and that's it. Now I am not performing any scaling, but I could have if I wanted to. We will in this action. I am going to cancel out. Instead of performing the sequence as a dynamic effect, we are going to do it using static transformations recorded as an action.
Now you may say, well, why would you do that? I mean, a dynamic effect is better than a static transformation. That's true, but let's say I want each one of my arms to be sequentially less opaque. That's something I can't pull off using the Transform effect. So what I am going to do is I am going to grab Transform and just throw it away. We are going to start by recording one action here and then we are going to tweak it so that it works on right-hand side of the illustration. So I will grab this big long arm there, and we need to create an action, of course.
It might as well be in the successSet I figure. So I am going to create a new action and I am going to call this one Arms left just because it's fairly specific to these arms. I might use it for something else one day, but right now this will remind me of where it came from. Click on the Record button. Next, I will go ahead double-click on the Arrow tool; the Black Arrow tool in order to bring up the Move dialog box and I do want to move this guy -33 points, I know that. But if I enter a Horizontal value of -33 points and click Copy, then Illustrator ignores me.
Not only did it ignore me here inside the Actions panel, the operation did not get recorded, but Illustrator didn't do the thing I told it to do. Notice up here in Edit, I could undo something in the Action panel which would be the creation of this Arms left action. I don't want that. So here's the problem. I will make sure this is active just so I am recording right thing. Here's what you need to do. This kind of stuff happens every once in a while and you are just going to have to investigate to figure it out. I am going to double-click on that Black Arrow once again.
You may recall I entered -33 points. It did not pay attention to me. -33 Tab is what you have to do. You have to invoke the preview by pressing the Tab key. Then you click Copy and then you are good to go. Notice that the operation was recorded. I will go ahead and give the Actions panel a little more room. So I Move to sight him. Horizontally -33 points, that is to the left, Vertical 0 and copy Yes. All right, awesome! Next thing I am going to do is double-click on the Rotate tool or if I wanted more precision, I could grab the Rotate tool for example, and I could Alt+Click or Option+Click at a specific transformation origin point which gives you more control than you normally get from the Transform effect.
But in my case, I just want to rotate around the center. So I will go ahead and double-click on that tool, change the Angle value to 1, make sure to press the Tab key to invoke the Preview, click OK. Let's go ahead and scale as well, because that's one of the big things with power duplication back in freehand is you can perform a bunch of transformations in a row and have that all be compiled as one thing to duplicate. So I will go ahead and double-click on the Scale tool and let's go ahead and scale the arms uniformly by 94%. I will press the Tab key just to make sure we're getting a preview on-screen, click OK.
Everything is getting recorded just fine. This is awesome! Now I am going to go up here to the Opacity option in the Control panel and I am going to change the mode from Normal to Screen. That gets recorded. I could twirl that open to see what in the world got recorded and it was changing the Blend mode to Screen. Then I am also going to change the Opacity value say to 50%. That I am going to have to go back and manually change, if I want incremental differences between each one of the arms. Because I can't say, well, subtract 20% opacity time.
That's not an option. So I will just change that Opacity value to 50% and I am done. So if I twirl that open, there it is Transparency 50%. Awesome! So we will go ahead and collapse these two guys, click on the Stop button right there in order to stop recording. And I have myself a wonderfully creative action. I am going to go ahead by the way and change the Opacity value. I will up at to 80% for this arm, just because that's where I really want it to be. Now I am going to go ahead and grab Arms left right there and I'll play it, and we get another arm.
Look at that, check that out. I'll change its Opacity to 60% this time and then click Play again, and we get another arm. That is I think extremely satisfying. I will change its Opacity to 40% and then press Ctrl+Shift+A, Command+Shift+A on the Mac in order to see what I have wrote. It happened so quickly, very easy action to put together. So you have any and all varieties of power duplication available to you here inside of Illustrator. In the next exercise, I will show you how to take that action and turn it into an action that will work for the right-hand arms.
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