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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 we're going to do two things. We're going to save off our new gradient as a swatch, so we can reapply it later if we want to. Then we're going to add some texture to this paddle cushion in the form of a tile pattern. I've gone ahead and saved my progress so far as Gradient cushion.ai and I've gone ahead and selected the cushion object right there. Now, inside the Gradient palette, you can click on the down pointing arrowhead right there and then you click on the floppy disk in order to save off the gradient, if you want to, to the Swatches Library, but if you do that, you won't be able to name the swatch as you create it, instead it will just come up with some default name, like New Gradient Swatch 1 or something along those lines.
So your better option is to go to the Swatches palette, and this is something you could do in the old days as well as the new days here inside of Illustrator. I'm going to make my Swatches palette a little taller. Notice that I have my Swatches set to Large Thumbnail View right there, just in case you're curious, which I find very helpful when working with gradients because otherwise you can't see what the heck you're doing. Then you want to go ahead and click on the little New Swatch icon and go ahead and name this swatch Paddle red or something like that, and then click OK. Now, from this point onward you will see Paddle red listed as one of your options down here at the bottom of this drop-down list right there.
If you want to change its position there inside the list, then you can just drag that gradient to a different location. Like I could drag it before the white to black radiant right there, and now if I click on the down pointing arrowhead, I'll see Paddle red right at the top of the list. Now, to make the list go away incidentally, you don't click on this icon again, you press the Escape key. Now that we've saved our gradient as a swatch, in case we want to use it in the future, let's go ahead and also add a little bit of texturing in a form of this tile pattern right there, Confetti, but don't click on it. If you just click on that Confetti swatch, you will replace your gradient fill that you worked so hard on with this ugly Confetti pattern right here. That we don't want. Not by itself anyway. So go ahead and press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on the Mac to undo that modification.
Let's switch over to the Appearance palette, why don't we. The paddle cushion still needs to be selected, so that same object still needs to be selected there. Go ahead and click on Fill in order to make it active, and let's go ahead and create another fill by clicking on this little page icon. You could also add another fill by clicking on the Add New Fill button right there. Either way is going to work in this case. So I'll click on the Page icon, we have a new fill right there. It went ahead and duplicated the previous fill, so it's another copy of that exact same gradient. Why would you want such a thing? Well, you can merge gradients together using blend modes if you like, and I'll show you how to do that later, but right now we're going to add the Confetti texture. So I'm going to replace Fill with Confetti, and I could do that by clicking this down pointing arrowhead and then clicking on the Confetti swatch here inside of this drop-down palette, and now I have that swatch, this tile pattern right here, applied as a second fill in front of my original gradient.
Now what I'm going to do is I'm going to click down here in this region on the word Opacity, and I want to merge this Confetti along with the underlying gradient. So I want to keep the darkness, these little dark flex here, but I want the white to drop away, and the means we want the Multiply blend mode. Now, we're going to be learning more about blend modes when we take a look at Transparency inside of Illustrator. A whopping big useful chapter coming up at the end of the Advanced portion of this series. I think you will find it very beneficial. But in the meantime, just know that Multiply is great for preserving the dark portions of your fill or your object or what have you, and letting the light portions drop away. So when I choose Multiply, white becomes invisible, black stays nice and visible, and we now have this mix of texture and gradient working together.
Now, I think we have too much texture at this point, so I'm going to back off the Opacity value to 50%, like so, press the Tab key in order to invoke the change, and we now have two different kinds of fills, a tile pattern and a gradient, working together inside of this Ping-pong paddle cushion.
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