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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'm still working inside the Ping-pong paddle.ai file that I opened a couple of exercises ago. The only change I've made to this illustration is to add the red color that was already assigned to this ping-pong paddle cushion right here. I added it to the default White to Black gradient, in order to produce this monstrosity that you see before you right now. Now, bear in mind, we're going toward this final effect, so things are going to look much better than they do right now. In the meantime, we're learning. In this exercise, I want to show you how to work with the options inside of the Gradient palette. Now, we've already seen these guys right here. You can click this down pointing arrowhead to choose from the gradients that you've saved to the Swatches palette for this particular illustration.
Next door to that option is an option called Type, and you can select between two types of gradients. This has not changed since Illustrator 5, which is when gradients were first introduced into the program. We only have two types of gradients. One is Linear, in which the colors go in a linear order, that is to say you're going to fade from white to red, and then to black in our case, either horizontally or vertically, or at some other linear angle inside of the selected object. Or you can fade in concentric circle or concentric ellipses now inside of Illustrator CS4 by selecting Radial.
So notice these are our concentric circles right there. We start with the color on the left hand side of the gradient bar, which in our case is white. That's the color that's right there at the center of the gradient. Then we create these rings going outward until we get to red, at this location right about there, and then we keep going outward, all the way to the color on the far right side of the gradient bar, which is black in our case, which appears by default along the perimeter of the selected object. Now, as I say, we have concentric circles right here, they could be concentric ellipses inside of Illustrator CS4. You can change this circle to an ellipse by changing this value right there, the Aspect Ratio value.
So let's say I change it to 25% and then press the Tab key, you're going to get this effect right here. Now, it looks terrible right now, we'll see how this can be a terribly useful function in later exercises when we take a closer look at Radial gradients here inside Illustrator CS4. But for now I'll tell you what, I'm going to go ahead and press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on the Mac in order to undo those last couple of modifications. Actually, you know what? I'll press Ctrl +Shift+C or Command+Shift+C on the Mac in order to step forward to my Radial gradient. I do want you to see one other thing. If the colors appear in the wrong order, in other words, you want black on the inside and white on the outside of this gradient, then you have this new options right there, Reverse Gradient, here inside Illustrator CS4. One of the more humble new options inside of the program, but still you can reverse a gradient just by clicking on it, like so.
Pretty darn useful. So I'll go ahead and press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on the Mac a couple of times to restore that original Linear gradient there, which is what I want. You can change the angle of the gradient if you want to, by clicking on this option. You can enter a value of course if you know what value you want to enter, or you can click this little right pointing arrowhead and then you can adjust the slider, like so, and that's going to change the angle of the gradient inside of the object. Now, this isn't the only way to work, everything that we've seen so far, except for the switch between Linear and Radial, you can also accomplish using the Gradient tool, which we'll investigate in more detail in a later exercise.
Right now I just want to tour you through the palette here. All right. Let's restore this value to 0, and let's take a look at these guys, these are the gradient stops right there. So you can click on the white stop in order to change its color, here inside the Color palette if you want to, and also to change its position. So you can drag this color stop to a different position, like so, in order to make it occupy more of the object, as we're seeing here. You can change that Location value. So you could say, you know what? I want it to appear 20% the way into the gradient, like so. Then I could click on this red stop and say you want to be not 50 .9% but exactly 50%, something along those lines and so on.
You have control over the Opacity. So you can create gradients with translucency. Something we've never seen before inside of Illustrator, now available to us inside of Illustrator CS4. I'm going to restore this white color stop to the far left side, to this Location of 0.455, apparently that's as far over to the left as I can go. Now, we have these little diamond icons right there, notice that they appear midway between each pair of color stops, between the white and the red and the red and black. What they do is allow you to control the drop off of colors.
For example, if I drag this diamond over to the left, then I'm going to quickly transition from white to midway between white and red, and then slowly transition from midway between white and red to red. So in other words, it ramps up very quickly at first and then very slowly later on down the line, so that you can emphasize one color over another using what is known by the way as the Midpoint Skew. Now, if at anytime after fooling around with it, you decide you want restore the Midpoint Skew to exactly in the middle of the two color stops, then you would change that Location value back to 50%, like so. Those are the options that are available to you.
Now, a couple of other things that I want you to know. You can select a gradient stop, like this one, in the center, and you can click on the Trashcan icon to delete it. So that's an option. I'll go ahead and press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on the Mac to undo that. I could even click on this black stop by the way and delete it. But once you're down to two color stops, you can't delete them anymore, so you can't have any fewer than two color stops, you can have many more if you want. I'll go ahead and undo the deletion of that guy as well. Another way to get rid of a color stop is to drag it down like that, which is perhaps an easier way to work. I'll go ahead and press Ctrl+Z.
You can add a color stop at any location just by clicking like that and then you can define what that color is here inside the Color palette, or in a variety of other ways, as we'll see in the next exercise. You can even clone a color stop. Check this out. If I want to create a copy of this red color stop right there, I would Alt+Drag it or Option+Drag it on the Macintosh side of things. So there you have it, a variety of different ways to work inside of the Gradient palette. In the next exercise we are going to establish the gradient as we really want it to appear inside of the Ping-pong paddle cushion.
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