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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 so far as Linear gradbackground.ai, found inside the 15_gradients folder. You can see that we've made quite a bit of progress toward our final goal, as represented by this document Final gradient effect.ai. Now, among other difference between the two illustrations are the gradients that I've assigned to the wood portion of the paddle. So we have one gradient assigned to the right hand edge of the handle, another to the left edge of the handle, and a third assigned to the forward edge of the handle, as well as the wood paddle in the background there.
All of these gradients run at exactly the same angle, the angle of the paddle itself. This is something you can do with a Gradient tool, although it's not obvious by any means as you will see, but is a really powerful feature. I'm going to switch back to Linear gradbackground.ai. I've gone ahead and created these gradients in advance and saved them at swatches for you. So here is what I want you to do. Select the right hand edge right here, with your Black Arrow tool. Then go the Swatches palette, go ahead and scroll down and you will see this gradient right there, Gradient side 2. That's your final gradient, go ahead and click on it to assign it. Then click the left hand edge, and I want you to assign this gradient, Gradient side 1.
Then I want you to click on the bottom segment right here that's associated with a handle, and I'll select this big handle shape right there, and then I want you to Shift-Click somewhere along the rounded portion of the paddle in order to select that background shape. Then this is the gradient I want you to assign. It's called Big Gradient. Now, the interesting thing about these gradients is they're all running at an angle of 0 degree, so they're going back and forth. That is horizontally I would imagine. Let's check that out by switching to the Gradient tool, see what we've got, and sure enough, both of these gradients, the gradients that are assigned to the two selected shapes are running horizontally.
Now we need to add the other shapes to the mix. So I'm going to press the Ctrl key or the Command key on the Mac in order to get my Black Arrow tool on the fly. I'm also going to press the Shift key, so I have both Ctrl and Shift pressed here on the PC, on the Mac you would press Command and Shift, and then I want you to select the right hand edge and the left hand edge of that handle, like so. You don't need to worry about the top edge. It's fine. So these are the four shapes you should have selected. Now release Shift and Ctrl and you will see four different gradient bars inside of your illustration window. So now, how do you go about rotating them all at the very same time, what in the world do you do, because after all the Gradient tool is really setup to rotate each one of these and modify each one of these gradients bars independently. So what you end up doing if you start working on each one of them independently, you end up making an absolute mess of things.
Everybody is running in different directions, and you've got all these gradient bars on top of your illustration, you can't tell what's going on, and oh my goodness! What you can't do is press the Shift key. That doesn't work. Pressing the Shift key does not select multiple gradient bars at the same time, nor does it edit all of the gradient bars that we're seeing at the same time, or anything along those lines. What it does, if you press the Shift key while you're rotating, you will constrain the angle of your rotation to an increment of 45 degrees, which of course for our purposes is useless.
Here is what you do, you start over again, by which I mean you just go ahead and ignore all these lines that you're seeing inside the illustration window and you drag with your Gradient tool in order to set the direction of all the gradients at the same time, like so. Then when you release, you will see that all of the gradients are being modified together. Now, if you want to modify your gradient at this point, you can go ahead and drag this end point, for example, in order to change the length of the gradient. However, if you want to change the angle, you're not going to be able to get your little rotate cursor, so you're going to have to just draw the gradient once again to change the angle to whatever angle you prefer.
In my case though, I'm just going to go ahead and get this guy out of the way, go away you. I'm going to draw a new one from this anchor point right there at the bottom of the handle up to about this location near the top of the handle, and then I'm going to go ahead and release. You should get an angle value here inside the Gradient palette of about 51. Something high degrees right there, about 52 degrees, if you were to roundup. And this is the effect you will see. Then we'll go ahead and switch to the Black Arrow tool and I'll click off the shape in order to deselect it, and this is our effect, accomplished so easily.
So just remember, if you've got multiple gradient selected inside the illustration window, you grab your Gradient tool, don't start editing every single one of your gradients independently, because you will make a mess of things, just start again, drag with the tool in order to create a new direction for all of your gradients at once.
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