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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.
Over the course of this chapter, we are going to be working inside of this document right here. It's called Mish again.ai and it's a revamped version of the legendary Mishipishu character, this time rendered in beautiful gradients with all kinds of wonderful stuff going on. And what we are going to be doing eventually is we are going to be adding a Gradient Mesh Backdrop. So let me show you what that looks like just so you have a sense of where we are going with this. I'm going to twirl open the backdrop layer here inside of the Layers palette. You can see there is only three items in all inside of this backdrop layer. I'm going to turn off Path and that would reveal the final Gradient Mesh effect that we are going for once the project is finished.
And you can see that this is a gradient, by the way. This is a single object that's filled with what's known as a Mesh right there and this Mesh contains all the gradient information and it allows you to place points of color any place you want and then allow them to flow into each other. So it's a world apart from the gradients that we have seen so far. It takes us into a whole new realm. All right, I'm going to go ahead and turn that yellow path back on right there and I'm going to throw this thing that's called Group away right now so that we can build the gradient mesh together. But before we do, I want to tour you through a few special things that are going on inside the creature itself, where these next generation Illustrator CS4 Gradients are concerned.
So I'm going to go ahead and zoom in on the creature because I think you will find it pretty helpful. I know I actually personally learn a lot while I was infusing these outlines with color here. I'm going to go ahead and click on this large path that traces down the spines on the creatures back, down to the tail, along the tummy, and then across this forward Florida of leg right there. And what I want you to see is that this is a combination of a couple of gradients working together and what I did would not have been possible prior to Illustrator CS4.
So in the old days, we have been able to assign multiple gradient fills. That's nothing new but what I was able to pull off with a radial transparent fill, that is something new. All right, so I'm going to turn off the topmost of these two fills right there for a moment, so that we can examine just the bottom fill and I'll go ahead and click on it to make it active. Then I'm going to press the G key to get my Gradient tool, so that you can see how this guy is put together and you will see that this is a standard linear gradient and it goes from a lightish brown down here at the bottom, darkens up to this color stop, darkens up quite a bit to this third color stop that's close to the creature's neck and then right at the top here, we have a slightly lighter brown.
So once everything is said and done, however, it's just a standard, in this case, four color linear gradient, nothing really all that special going on. But then I decided what I wanted to do is create a little bit of shading on the creature's tummy underneath these two legs right there, the two forward legs, and I wanted it extend down into the Florida leg over here just slightly and so that's why I created this fill. And I'll go ahead and click on it to make it active here in the Appearance palette and turn it on so that we can see what's up.
It is a radial gradient that starts at a pretty dark brown. Now when I say it starts at a pretty dark brown, what I really should be saying is it's made up of two dark browns and that's it. So there is just two color stops, one of which is here, so pretty high up inside of the gradient and the other is right there at the very outside at the perimeter. They are the exact same color. It's just that one is opaque, as you can see if I double-click on it, so 100% opaque and then the other, if I double-click on it, is 0% opaque. So in other words, completely transparent. And so as a result the Gradient fades from here to here over the course of this area right there and I have also got the Fill set to the Multiply blend mode, 70% Opacity, and that means that we are going to get a shading effect, a nice integrated shading effect right there that extends down into the foot, you can see.
And notice that I was very careful to make sure that the Gradient ended right before this leg ends. So right at this point, the leg takes over and cuts across like so and same with this guy. The perimeter occurs before the end of that leg. Now why is that so important? Well, let me show you. Let's say I were to edit this Gradient right there, which is shared by the way by this leg, by the two forward legs that is to say, this one and this one right here. The same gradient is occurring inside of both of those legs, the same linear gradient. But let's say I were to modify it just slightly. I'll just go ahead and let's say drag this guy down a little bit like so. So not much of an edit so far.
And then just to make things even more obvious, I'll go ahead and drag this guy down as well. All right, now let's go ahead and switch to the Black Arrow tool for a moment by pressing the V key and notice now that we have some very obvious cutoffs where this leg and this leg are concerned. So somehow, before I made this modification, I had managed to make sure that this intersection right here between this leg and the background body shape and this leg and background body shape were completely seamless. We weren't seeing any color seams at all before. How is that possible given that we have got continuous colors flowing across these regions? Well, we have to make sure we have continuous colors flowing across the leg regions as well that match, and you do that like so. I'll go ahead and click on this rear leg and notice here in the Appearance palette that it also has multiple gradient fills going on. It has this base fill and it has got another opaque to transparent fill and you can see the contribution of the top fill by turning it off and notice what it's doing is it's coloring this foot down here.
Then I'll turn it back on and I'll switch to the Gradient tool by pressing the G key and I'm going to click inside of this fill. It's already selected, good. I just want to make sure it's selected so I can see right gradient because notice the difference. If I click on this fill, I'm going to see a completely different gradient line because this is the line for this gradient and this is the line for this gradient. So the Gradient tool is always going to show you the line that's applicable to the active gradient. Anyway, this one goes from this location right there, right there at the tip at 100% Opacity to the exact same color once again, but this time 0% Opacity at the top. So fairly simple drop-off effect right there.
Anyway, what we want is we want to isolate this fill because that's the one that's shared with a background body, so make sure to click on it. And this is why we have to do one leg at a time. What we are about to do. Get the Eyedropper tool and then click on the outline for the body and notice that completely solves the problem. Isn't that nice? Then press the Ctrl key or the Command key on the Mac to temporarily get your Black Arrow tool. Click on this forward leg right there. Make sure that its rear fill is selected because it has a different thing going on. Notice this. It's got light gradient so that we have a bit of lightness down here at the foot, just for variety's sake.
Anyway I'm going to switch over to this lower fill like so and then I'm going to click the background body in order to match the gradient and we then have a nice seamless transition once again. So that's how you achieve that effect. And finally, I want you to see the eyes. Notice these little eyes that I have got setup underneath sort of the dome of the creature's head. Now this took a fair amount of work actually. What I have got going is this big head shape right here that's filled with a radial gradient as you can see. It also has a linear gradient that's going from light to transparent up here in the horns.
But most of the work is being taken by this Radial gradient. So I set another Radial gradient right there that's matching the position of the outside one. And I'm afraid in order to really make this work I had to do a little manual finessing. If I get Gradient tool, you will see that I have drawn this radial gradient from here. Actually, if we go further out, you can see that the center of the gradient is right about here at some place. And then I drag the origin point, the first color in the gradient down a bit. So it's offset,and I have to make sure we set the same for this coverup shape as it was for the outer head shape like so.
Oh, right, now we are looking the wrong gradient. This is the right gradient. All right, so that they are the same. Here I'll go ahead and select both shapes so you can see what I'm talking about here, if I can manage to do that, there we go. So I have got one gradient bar sitting directly on top of the other one and I couldn't really just drag in order to get them set the same. I had to adjust each one independently. So that was a little bit of a bear frankly, but the advantage that it afforded me -- I'll go ahead and switch back to the Black Arrow tool-- was that in the background right there, there is this shape here and it just has a standard fill, nothing special.
And then it's got this Drop Shadow, and the Drop Shadow effect, if you go ahead and click on it, is the eyes. This is what's creating the eye effect right there. So if I turn on the Preview checkbox, notice that I have the Mode set to Screen and the Color, instead of set to Darkness, I have it set to a Color, and it's a fairly light color as well. And if you want to change that color, you would click right there on that little color swatch and you'd dial in a different color. I went ahead and gave it a Cyan 10%, Magenta 40% and Yellow 70% with 0% Black right there. Cancel out. But notice the difference if I were to set to this to Multiply. What happens to the eyes is we get these dark eyes right there or darkish. That's why I wanted them screened. So it's sitting there in the background. It's behind that Radial gradient shape that's covering it up.
Therefore we are only seeing this portion of the eyes right there that's popping out of this side. You can mess with these settings if you want to but I'm going to cancel out. Just to give you a better idea, I'll go ahead and click on this coverup shape and I'll delete it for a moment by pressing the Backspace key and those are the eyes right there. That's an ellipse. That's sort of an elliptical shape with a Drop Shadow effect. That's what's creating the eye effect right there. We will go ahead and press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on the Mac. The fact that I have got this coverup shape enables me to carve away these portions of the eyes.
So I just want to give you a sense of the many amazing things you can do with gradients here inside of Illustrator. Plain, standard, old, wonderful, Illustrator CS4 gradients. In the next exercise, I'll show you one way to create a Gradient Mesh.
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