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Despite the fact that they were introduced more than 20 years ago, Blends and Masks continue to rank among Illustrator's most powerful and flexible capabilities. Blending permits you to design custom Gradations, and Morphings, in which one shape or group of shapes steadily transitions into another. Masking permits you to place those gradients or any other collection of objects inside a path. The beauty of both Blends and Masks is that they are forever editable. Change the color or shape of a blended path and the entire blend updates immediately.
You can even change the path of a blend, so it slows down, speeds up, or curves on its way from one shape to another. Plus, you can blend between groups of shapes, blend both Fills and Strokes, blend between Opacity and Transparency, and specify the exact number of steps between shapes. Where Masks are concerned, you can edit both the mask and its contents anytime you like. Frankly, it warms my heart to see these 20-year-old features hold up better than many half their age.
Here's hoping I'm still relevant when I turn 20.
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