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Adding lens flares in Illustrator with the Flare tool can be a lot of fun, but there may be times when you are trying to apply a lens flare that you get some result that you may not expect. I'm going to give an example of what I mean. I'm going use my Flare tool here. Let's say I want to make it as if like on this mountain range over here, there is some kind of metal or piece of glass here that's reflecting something from the sun. So what I want to do is I want to simply click-and-drag to first start my flare, so be right about over here and define the center of it here. And I'm purposely making it large enough so that it extends beyond the boundaries of my artwork. I'm going to release the mouse. I'm now going to go ahead and let's say come out over here and add the rings of my particular flare right about over here and release that and now you could see that when I have created the flare, I'm going to de-select it here; even though within the boundaries of my artwork I'm seeing the effects that I expect, when I go outside the boundaries of my artwork I start to see all these weird gray shapes in other areas and why is that happening.
The reason why is because some of the blend modes that are being used to define the flare need to have a background. For example, things like the Difference blend mode. Now obviously, this is going to be a problem. When I'm working with my file I don't want to be able see those areas. So in order to get around this, what I'm going do is create a mask. By masking out those particular areas, I don't have worry about seeing those areas of the flare, but instead of me actually creating the flare first and then adding a mask after the words, I'm going to define a layer mask which will basically enable me to define a flare in any way that I want to without having to even worry about or think about the mask layer.
So I'm going to show you exactly what I mean. I'm going to select a flare here and just delete it. We are going to create new one from scratch. I'm going to move my artwork about here in the center of the page. I'm simply going to go over here to my Layers panel and twirl down the arrow here so you can see that everything right now exists within one group inside of that layer. What I'm going to is create a layer mask that's basically going to go ahead and allow to me mask anything within a layer by the boundaries that I define. So I'm simply going to use my regular Rectangle tool here. I'm going to click-and-drag to simply define a rectangle, which is the same size as the artwork. Now I really don't care about the fill, the stroke attributes because those are going to disappear once I turned this into a mask. In fact, I can de-select the object altogether.
I am now going to come here to the Layers panel. Click on the Artwork layer to highlight it. I'm now going to turn on the Toggle to create that mask. Over here, I'm going to click on the Make/Release Clipping Mask button. In doing so now, the path that I created just before the rectangle now becomes a mask for anything else in that layer. Right now the only thing in that layer is the group of artwork that I have here but when I define my flare, that flare is also going to be added to this layer. And in doing so, because that layer is already is masked, I won't see the parts of the flare that extend beyond that boundary. So now that I have created the mask, I'm going to repeat the same steps as before when creating my flare. I'll go over here and I'll choose the Flare tool. I'll click-and-drag here to define where I want my flare to begin. Notice over here it does extend beyond the artwork, but I don't see anything there because it's being masked. I can now click-and-drag over here to add the Rings, release the mouse and I have created the flare that I wanted, but I don't see any of the areas that are extending beyond the piece of artwork.
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