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In this installment of Illustrator Insider Training, Mordy Golding shows experienced Illustrator users how to create transparency effects and ensure reliable printing results. This course reviews the history of vector transparency and covers features such as knockout groups, opacity masks, and transparency flattening. Mordy also shows how to establish a safe workflow when placing Illustrator graphics containing transparency in PostScript, PDF, and InDesign files. A free worksheet is included with the course.
Throughout this chapter we've taken looks at how to use the Transparency panel and some of the functions inside of it to create some really useful effects when you work inside of Illustrator. For example, we've used Isolate Blending and we've learned about what Knockout Group can do for us as well. Now, there's a third checkbox here called Opacity & Mask Define Knockout Shape. If the combination of those words alone don't confuse you, many people that I know have tried to actually turn that checkbox on for many different objects and have never been able to see any kind of results at all.
And the reason why is because this one setting here is actually very different than the two that appear above it. Now, if you remember when we spoke about Isolate Blending and Knockout Group, both of those settings only worked when you applied them to a group. So you might think of course that Opacity & Mask Define Knockout Shape would also be a setting that you can apply to a group. Well, not exactly. You see the Opacity & Mask Define Knockout Shape setting has to be applied to an object that appears inside of a group.
Meaning it actually gets applied to a single object within an overall group. But it goes beyond that. The object that you actually apply this setting to must also have both a blend mode and an Opacity applied to it. So in other words, in order for this setting to even make any sense at all, we have to first take a single object, we have to give that object a blend mode other than Normal, we have to give it an Opacity setting other than 100 and then we need to put that object inside of a group and then here's the kicker.
Then we also need to have that group have the Knockout Group setting turned on. So if you think about it, until we started looking at this course, how often have you used the Knockout Group setting? And even if when you actually do use the Knockout Group setting, how often do you have objects inside those groups that have both a blend mode and an opacity applied to it, and also had this Opacity & Mask Define Knockout Shape turned on? This is actually a great example of really how far sometimes Adobe engineers go to make sure that we have as many creative options inside of Illustrator as possible.
But here's the thing though. This setting, at least in my experience, has no useful function inside of Illustrator whatsoever. That's why right now you're looking at this file called opacity.ai. I'm using some really basic shapes because honestly, I could not find a real-world example to actually show you how you might want to use this setting. But for those people who can't sleep at night, you just need to know what every possible setting is inside of Illustrator, this video is for you. So here's what we need to do in order actually see some kind of results in using this setting.
First of all, I have a group here. This group has four objects inside of it. It's just a single box that has these three white boxes that appear on top of it. Now, I am going to double-click on this to isolate it and I'm going to hold down my Shift key, and click on this white rectangle, this one, and this one. Next, I'm going to change the blend mode from Normal to something like Screen. I also need to choose a different Opacity other than 100. So I'll type in 80% and hit OK. Next, I'll double-click over here to exit Isolation Mode.
So I've basically now taken some elements inside of a group and I've applied both a blend mode and also an Opacity value to each of those objects. Now I'm going to select the group itself and I'm going to turn on the Knockout Group setting. I have to actually click twice because the first time my click is going to use the neutral setting. I'll click again and we could see right now that those white boxes now knocked out the yellow in the area that appears beneath them. So now, if I deselect this, we can see that where the white boxes are I have this kind of semi-transparent white box that's set to the Screen blend mode.
That knocks out the yellow beneath it inside of that group. Already as you can see I don't need to know when I might use this, but work with me here for just a minute. Now I am going to take my Direct Selection tool and I'm going to select just one of these boxes. Let's say this one right here. Now, with this single object selected, this is one object within a group and this one object has both a blend mode and an Opacity applied to it, I'm now going to turn on Opacity & Mask Define Knockout Shape and when I do, I could see what happens here. The opacity of this basically now allows me to see this object right now as an object that has opacity, but I still see the yellow that kind of appears beneath it.
So it almost kind of negates the knockout for one of the objects within that group. Again, I can't think of a single real- world example of when you might want to use this feature inside of Illustrator. Even if you do find a way to actually use this in a real-world example-- and if you do, please send it to me-- I don't know if anybody else who might touch your file might know what to do with it. But all those things aside, you now have at least an idea about what this setting does, and most likely you can kind of put it behind you and perhaps you'll sleep just a little bit better at night.
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