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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 show you how to change the color of selected anchor points inside of a gradient mesh from the Color, Color Guide and Swatches palettes, and I'll go ahead and communicate a couple of timesaving techniques for selecting points as well. I am still working inside that same Expanded gradient.ai file that I opened in the previous exercise. I have gone ahead and added some rows, I guess they really are, to this gradient mesh here. The quantity and the positioning of your columns and rows may vary, but that's perfectly okay, because we can all get different effects if we want and still have a wonderful time editing this background rectangle here.
All right, so I currently have a portion of the mesh selected and I have my Mesh tool active right here. Now notice that every single one of these intersection points is a smooth point essentially. It's actually kind of a double smooth point, because it's an anchor point right there in the center that has a pair of symmetrical control handles around it, as we can see right there. So it's got four control handles. It's a very special creature inside of the gradient mesh. And notice that I'm modifying these handles using the Mesh tool, which is entirely possible. You can reposition points and color points and select points and do all kind of things to the points and handles with the Mesh tool. However, I prefer to work with Wide Arrow tool, just because it's so easy to add and delete points with the Mesh tool if you are not careful.
By the way, just a little note here. If you happen to have a control handle on a way, for example, if I go ahead and click on this point in order to make it active and let's see that I want to create a new point right about there, but there is the control handle right there on my way as you can see. And so, I then have to my cursor over a little bit up or down in order to add the row line in the different positions and of course avoid that control handle, but what if you don't want to avoid control handle. You want it right there at that location. Well just go ahead and move to a different line, like so, and click at that location instead and you will put the point exactly where you want it to be. So, just you know a little FYI for you.
All right, now that we have got all these wavy lines going on and you can see that they can vary from the rectilinear at any point in time. Let's go ahead and grab that Wide Arrow tool, which just affords us a little more control. You can marquee points if you want to select multiple points like so. Then you can just go ahead and change there color for example appearing in the Color palette and all lift a blue, let's, say just so we can really easily see the modification that's being made there. You can change the color of the blue by adjusting the slighter values.
So, there is no need to do drag and drops. The way there is when you trying to introduce colors into an extended gradient, as we saw in the previous chapter. Though you can perform drag and drops if you like and I'll show you that in just a moment, but all you really need to do is as long as you have points selected, you can just click on Color Swatches. For example, I could go to the Swatches palette and I could say, no, you know what? I don't want them to be baby blue. I want them to be deep violet like so. Now, what if you want to change the color of an entire row? You can click on the points in a row, like so, click and Shift-click. This is fairly tedious thought, right. The reason I making this point is you can't really do a marquee, because the marquee is going to be an upright rectangle and it's not necessarily when we are working in an angled gradient like this. We are not necessarily going to get points that are in the same row or the same column or what have you. Look at that. I totally blew it. I went ahead and marqueed the central point right there, and as a result I lost my mesh, and this is the perfect opportunity to point out a trick I take advantage of all the time.
If you working inside of a rectangle like this, go to the Window menu and choose the Attributes command in order to bring up the little Attributes palette and turn off that center point, because all it dose is get in your face when you editing gradient meshes. All right, now that it's gone hopefully our lives will be a little bit merrier. Let's see if I can hover over something that will give me the Mash back or -- what the heck. I just meatballed the Mash item here inside the Layers palette, since it's right there waiting for me. All right, so, let's say what you want to do? Instead of marqueeing just a bunch of random points, you want to select the points inside of a single row only. Your best tool for this purpose is the Lasso tool. So watch this. Let's say I want to get the points in this row I'll go ahead and draw a Lasso around them, like so, and I'm being pretty careful about this actually. I think I just got the one row, and then I release, and notice now selected this point, this point, this point, this point, and this point. Awesome! Now, I'll set colors from yet a different palette. I'll go over to the Color Guide palette, and I can see some colors that are related to that violet I selected just a moment ago, because I'm looking at shades. Why don't we go ahead and change the color harmony rule to something different, like let's say High Contrast 2. It might work out nicely for me. Then I would just click on the color that I find to be desirable, for example, this orange right here.
Let's go ahead and give that a try and we end up changing the colors of all those points. Now, you can do drag and drops. So far we have done no dragging and no dropping. We have just done clicking, which I found it be a lot easier. But if you like your drag and drops and you want to do them while then you still can, you would grab a color for example this violet right here and you will drop it on to a point. Now you need to drop it on to a point. Notice it's going to say, hey yeah sure drop it there, baby. Because it's not giving you the Ghostbusters icon right, you can drop it in the middle of things, but this cursor is implying that yeah, you can go ahead and drop it right there on that column line if you want to over here on this row line. But if you do it, uh it's going to burn you. It's not going to do anything. It's just going to ignore yeah.
So, what you need to do is drag once again and drop on to the point and that will change the color of that point whether it is active or not. And even if you got multiple selective points active here. You can just change one of them. You can just grab this green for example and drag it and drop it on this specific point right there and you will change just that one point. So, a lot of different ways to work and actually I haven't even shown you all of them. I haven't shown you the best way to work, which is to use the Eyedropper as I'll explain in next exercise.
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