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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 solve the problems that we saw in the previous exercise. That is, we could see the stumps behind the piano. We could see some of the strokes inside of Sam's jowls here. We also had some very low resolution Drop Shadows. So I'm looking at Final sans frame.ai found inside the 21_transparency folder. We are working inside of Illustrator. Go to the Layers palette, twirl open the Vectors layer right there. I'm going to go ahead and scroll down to the offending layer, which is jacket. It's the one that contains the stumps and the lines that would go through the jowls. So go ahead and meatball that layer, and then go up to the Transparency palette, notice our opacity mask, go ahead and Alt-click or Option-click on that opacity mask thumbnail, and then select our objects. I'm just going to marquee around both of them. And notice that they are set to a weak black, so we've got 100% black and nothing more.
Now were we to go ahead and export this illustration as a TIFF file from Illustrator, which we are going to do in the next exercise, then these values would work out just fine for us. But for some reason Photoshop is sensitive to the Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow values, and renders out things differently as a result. Which may mean we could run into alternate printing problems too. In other words there is some kind of output device that behaves like Photoshop does. Could happen, might not, but could, don't know. So why not avoid the problem entirely just by creating a super rich black? So I'm going to change the Cyan value to 100%, and Magenta, and Yellow. So we've got 100% all the way around.
Now, anybody who knows anything about printing is going to tell you that your total ink limit is going to be something like 280% for a typical press. And we're going up to 400%, so our inks are going to smear all over the place. No, they are not, because we are not printing the opacity mask. We are printing the actual artwork. So we can do anything we want inside of the opacity mask. These are just virtual objects that modify the behavior of the transparency. So 100% all the way around is going to work out just spiffy for us. Go ahead and click on the jacket icon right there inside the Transparency palette in order to switch back to your artwork. Then click off your artwork to deselect it.
So you won't see anything. It won't look any different here inside of Illustrator, but it will inside of Photoshop, as we'll see in the next exercise. All right, now to change the resolution of the Drop shadows. You do that by taking advantage of yet another command. I showed it to you when we were discussing printing back in the fundamental portion of this series, but I'm going to show it to you again. Go up to the Effect menu, and choose Document Raster Effect Settings. Then notice your Resolution value here. That's going to change the resolution of any effects that involves softness, which are your Feather effect, and your Gaussian Blur, and your Drop shadow.
Now what I recommend is you change it to Medium, you could crank it as High or even as higher if you want to by entering your own value like 600 ppi or something along those lines. But Medium is going to be good enough. Drop shadows set to Medium resolution are just fine. You can safely ignore the other options and just click OK, and then you're done. Now what you would do is you go up to the File menu and save your changes. And what I did is I saved my changes to a file called Rich masks.ai that's found inside the 21_transparency folder, in case you want to take advantage of it.
So that's where my changes reside. And then you would turn around and open that file inside Photoshop, or you could just go ahead and export this file directly to a TIFF file from Illustrator. And I'm going to show you how to do that in the next and final exercise.
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