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Illustrator can be used to accomplish many different design tasks. For this reason, Illustrator CS4 Essential Training teaches core concepts and techniques that can be applied to any workflow for print, the web, or assets that will find their way into other applications. Mordy Golding explains the elements that make up vector graphics—paths, strokes, and fills—and shows how to use each of Illustrator's drawing tools. He demonstrates how to combine and clean up paths, and organize them into groups and layers. Mordy also covers text editing, working with color, expressive brush drawing, effects, and much more. Exercise files accompany the course.
Way back in the beginning of this video title we discussed in the key Illustrator concepts chapter about the different types of Fill properties you can apply to an object. We discuss that there were Solid Color Fills, something called the Gradient Fills and then Pattern Fills. Well, until now all we are going to applying so far through all these particular chapters have been solid colors, each of the objects have a flat level of color that's been applied. However, now we will take a look at the Gradient feature inside of Illustrator. In fact, there are two types of gradients. Gradients can either go in a left-to-right type of paradigm, which are called the Linear Gradients, and Gradients can also go from the center and then radiate outwards that are referred to as Radial Gradients. A Gradient basically allows you to fill a particular object not with just one flat color over the color that's smoothly blends into another color.
Let's start by applying just a regular plain Gradient to this object. I'll go ahead and I'll select this file, by the way it's called Gradient Fills, you will find in the Chapter 10 of your exercise files. I come over to my panel here and expand this just so we can see the Gradient panel right here, and I can go ahead and let's say click right here and apply that particular Gradient. There is actually a little pop-up menu that displays all the gradients that currently are available inside of your file. These are gradients that also appear, directed over inside of your Swatches panel. So let's start off first by quickly looking at the Gradient panel itself, but as we'll soon see now inside of Illustrator CS4 I have the ability to make edit to my gradients directly in context on my screen, which is what we are going to focus on. But for now I basically see that here I can switch between the Linear and Radial Gradient types. Again, here we'll focus on Linear. I have the ability to choose an angle of what that line should go on. So obviously you can see that my Gradient starts in the left and goes to the right. But you can specify that it starts in the bottom and it goes to the top or it starts from one corner and it has an angle up towards the upper right-hand corner.
A Gradient is basically made up of what we call Color Stops. This is a Color Stop over here and this is a Color Stop over here. They look like little boxes with little triangle on top and this is referred to as our Gradient Slider. Every particular Gradient is made up of at least two color stops, if they have one color where it starts with and then one color that it ends with. Over here on the top of the Slider there is little diamond, this is what we call the Mid Point Indicator. It identifies the exact location of where each of the colors are exactly half way. By adjusting these particular sliders and color stops you have the ability to adjust how your Gradient is going to look in your document. There is no limit to how many colors you could actually have on a Gradient, for example, simply by putting your cursor underneath the Slider here a little arrow with a plus (+) sign appears. If you click a new Color Stop is added, of course you now have two Mid Point Indicators.
There will always be a Mid Point Indicator for each color combination, and one way to simply change the colors of these colors stops is to go to your Swatches panel, click-and-drag a swatch right onto the Color Stop itself. But let's take a look at where the power really lies inside of Illustrator when editing gradients using the Gradient tool. I go up here to the Tool panel and I'll choose the Gradient tool. Notice that right away a line appears right inside of this surfboard here. It's over here, and it's over here, in fact there is a circle on this end over here, which identifies where the Gradient begins and then there is over here a little diamond shape, which in the case where the Gradient ends. Just as I saw in the Gradient panel itself there are these icons that appear towards the bottom of this particular line here and those are the color stops.
The Mid Point Indicators are also here as well. In fact, this little User Interface element, which is new to Illustrator CS4 is what is referred to as the Gradient Widget. It basically allows you to edit your Gradient in context. Let's see how it works. First of all the Gradient tool can be used to simply click on any location to define where the beginning of that Gradient is. For example, if you wanted a Gradient to start about over here, you can click once here and then drag, and now I'm defining the direction of that Gradient. The Gradient, remember is linear. So it starts here and I can stretch it to go about over here.
It's important to note that I don't need to have the Gradient take up the exact width of that particular object. For example, if I release the mouse now then my Gradient starts here. So I have Solid White basically up until this point, then here is my Gradient, my Gradient ends in a black swatch. So I have now solid black for the rest of my shape. Likewise, I don't need to click inside of a shape for Gradient either. I could start my Gradient here, stretch all the way down to over here and then only the middle part of the Gradient is visible inside of my particular shape, but I can start it from anywhere outside the shape as well. Let's go ahead and just have the Gradient actually start from here and then kind of straight to here till the end.
When working inside of Illustrator I could use this Gradient Widget to edit my gradients. For example, as I mouse over it again I'm using the Gradient tool to make this happen, if you are using the Selection tool you won't see the Gradient Widget appear at all in your artwork. In order to see that you need to have the Gradient tool active. As I mouse over it you will see that I now have the sliders that are here. Notice if I position my cursor over here I see that icon with a plus sign, which allows me to add a Color Stop. For example, if I wanted to add now a new color here to this Gradient I could simply click and add that color. To change the color of any Color Stop using this particular Gradient Widget you just simply double-click on the Color Stop.
A dialog box pops-up, which looks just like the Color panel that we see inside of Illustrator. I can adjust the sliders that choose things from this particular Gradient as well, or I can click on this button to access all of my swatches that I currently have saved in my document. For example, I go ahead and I'll choose this color, and now that color has been assigned to that Color Stop. One of the coolest things now about gradients inside Illustrator is I also have the ability to assign an Opacity Value to each Color Stop. For example, I could even make this Color Stop completely transparent, and doing so my Gradient now goes from white to blue but then to completely transparent, and then back to other colors as well.
You can actually see the transparency over here inside the Gradient panel where you can see that we have that checkerboard pattern behind that particular area. Let's come back for a moment here to the Gradient Widget. Notice by the way that anytime that you have an Opacity Value applied to Color Stop a little button appears in the bottom of that Color Stop. See how it's got a little added part over here that you don't see in the other ones that identifies that Color Stop is having an Opacity Value, again, just a way to help you see where that Opacity setting might exist inside of your file. You can of course click-and-drag on the Mid Point Indicators as well to adjust to how that Gradient blends from one color into the next, and alternatively, I can come just to the end over here of this Gradient, I see a little Rotation icon up here. Clicking-and-dragging allows me to rotate that particular Gradient as well.
Once I'm done editing a Gradient I really want to capture that Gradient so that I can use it again, I could simply come here and click on this swatch, drag it into the Swatches panel and now I have saved that as particular Gradient. It's probably a good idea to name a Gradient otherwise you'd have things like New Gradient Swatch 1, New Gradient Swatch 2, which aren't very descriptive. So now that we have an idea of what a Linear Gradient is, let's take a look at the other type of Gradient something called a Radial Gradient.
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