Join Von Glitschka for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating with opacity masks, part of Drawing Vector Graphics Laboratory.
- [Narrator] Welcome to Drawing Vector Graphics Laboratory. Vector art work is known for sharp, precise shapes, but at times you need diffused edges and motifs to create the look and feel needed, and when that task comes about, opacity masks are a great way to handle certain types of detailing. So in this movie, I want to take a look at several examples of how you can pull this off. Now, a few years ago I did this illustration for Adobe and it was to demonstrate opacity masks, so I want to walk through this and explain to you one way you can handle an opacity mask.
Now for this art work, this is the background of it, I have this kind of foggy existence, which is represented by this shape here, and as you can see, it's a hard edged shape. And so, what I've done to kind of push it away from that, is I've applied a gaussian blur using the appearance panel to that shape. It's turned off right now. We're just going to toggle it on here, and you can see when I deselect how it already pushes it away from that distinct vectorness of a hard edged shape, and it's kind of created this nice feathered motif.
And so what I've done is we'll turn on a few more layers here, is I have this character, like a Bigfoot character, and I want to, when it's all said and done, have him emerging from kind of this fog, and it is going to be best suited to pull that off using an opacity mask. And when people think of opacity masks, most of the time they think of taking a shape, such as elliptical shape here, and drawing some shape with it. In this case we'll draw a giant oval here, and I'll select this character, focus on it by holding option down, and then go to a line and I'll line this elliptical shape to the character.
Now, in order to turn this into an opacity mask, is you have to select the shape, and in this case we'll give it a radial blend from black. If we go to the gradient tool over here, you can see it blends from black to white. Anywhere in white is going to be transparent once the mask is applied. Anywhere black is going to actually mask out what you don't want to see, and so if you keep that in mind, that's how opacity masks in general apply to art work that you're using the mask on, and in this case, we'll go to transparency palette.
We have this mask shape selected. We'll select our art work underneath it, and you can see both are selected here, and then you got the option of just clicking make mask, and that's all we're going to do here is I'll click that. I'll deselect, and you can see what it's doing. It's showing through that opacity mask. It's showing through the areas that are white, and it's diffusing the areas that are masked in black. Now this is a pretty sloppy one. I'm not going to use this. I just wanted to demonstrate that really quick. So let's undo that by Command Z, and we'll get back.
We can go ahead and toss this one. We're not going to use that. We're going to create a better opacity mask for this context, and that is using the same principle, but a different shape. This shape is more in line with the contour of our overall illustration. Obviously, it's not perfect. It doesn't have to be, because what I'm going to immediately do is I'm going to colorize this white first, then I'm going to go up to effect, I'm going to pull down to blur, gaussian blur, and we're going to gaussian blur this quite a bit. Let's see maybe 48.
Let's see what that looks like. And that looks good. So we'll go OK. So we've diffused the edge of our, our mask now, with this gaussian blur. We'll select it, but I want it to actually blend from a white to a transparency of white, and so we'll just go ahead and click this same fill and we'll go to the gradient palette and we'll change this to linear and then we're going to change our black to white by dragging white down in here, and then on this white it'll change to, it'll blend to that is.
We'll go 40% opacity. So you can see how it's going from white to 40% opacity. We'll select the gradient tool. We're going to adjust our gradient within this mask shape, and here it is, and pull this down, pull that up, and so I just want it to be white, blending out into nothing. Maybe pull it up a little more. I think that one's probably going to work. Now once you've applied a gaussian blur to a shape, it's actually out here in terms of its shape, so it's really hard to select this shape underneath it, because of that.
So this is where layers come in. So we'll just toggle this layer off really quick, select our Sasquatch character art, turn our opacity mask layer back on, then select that opacity mask. Then if we go to transparency, you can see both are selected. We'll click mask, and then deselect, and you can see how it looks very authentic now. It has that feeling like he's emerging from the fog, and now I've added other elements to this illustration to really pull that off if I turn those on.
And so that's how you can create your own custom mask. Utilize gaussian blur just to make it more effective in terms of what it's actually masking. Let's take a look at a couple more. This specific design, this is the background to it, and what we're going to do is we're going to just take simple strokes, all these are are just white strokes. You can see here if we go to the strokes palette, they're just one point strokes. We'll select these two and we're going to do a shape blend, and the shape blend tool is right here, and so we'll just select that, and we're going to click one end of each line.
So we'll click this one first, and then this one, and you can see it creates a blend. We're going to double click into this tool, and let me drag this over here, and right now we've got an absurd amount of blends from one shape. We only want about, I don't know, let's see what 120 looks like, and that actually, that looks pretty good. So we'll go with 120, and on this one, I think I want the line a little thicker. Yeah, that looks way better like that.
And then the next thing I want to do is I want to add a nice, I was thinking of adding a blend to this, but you know what? I think I'm going to leave it white. Now, when it comes to opacity masks in Illustrator it's not just vector. You can use this principle using images, raster images specifically. So if I turn on this layer, here's a raster image. I created this so long ago where I saw a photograph of this character in the background, but he's kind of blurred, so I captured it, and then I just messed with it in Photoshop to create this really obscure looking face.
But the same principle applies. Anywhere white will be transparent, and anywhere black is going to mask out what we don't want. So if I select this, and I select this linear text, and then I go to transparency, and I click make, you get a really, really cool effect. I mean it just looks nice and authentic, and if I zoom in on this you can see the effect you get. You get this really cool, kind of high tech scanner effect, and that's kind of what inspired this design.
I'm going to turn on in our blend mode on top of this. I just, I created this with a simple inner glow, and just on this shape, which is filled white, and then I just turned on color burn above it, and then you can drop in some text. So really easy to pull off certain kinds of effects, if you just think on different ways you can use an opacity mask. So this is a fun one that you can work with, so you can create all kinds of crazy compositions in Photoshop, bringing it in to Illustrator and use it to mask vector art really effectively.
So we're going to take a look at one more here, and this is, once again, another illustration I did for Adobe, but I just wanted to demonstrate, once again, why it's so nice to use opacity masks. Because you can get some effects that most people only associate with Photoshop. So we're going to take this shape. It's just a free form vector shape, and we're going to go ahead and fill this white, and then we'll go ahead and go to effects. We're going to go to blur. We're going to go to gaussian blur.
I don't know, let's see what 48 looks like. We'll go even more. We'll go 56. We'll try that, and then on this one, we're going to select this, with the background art. Both are selected in transparency palette. We'll hit make, and you can see the nice effect you can get using this type of opacity mask effect. These are just a handful of ways you can use opacity masks in Illustrator. Using this methodology in your design's detailing can help you achieve authentic results.
So take the time to experiment with it, and familiarize yourself with it, and you'll discover new ways you can work. Thank you for watching DVG Lab. Until next time, never stop drawing.
Skill Level Intermediate
Q: Why can't I earn a Certificate of Completion for this course?
A: We publish a new tutorial or tutorials for this course on a regular basis. We are unable to offer a Certificate of Completion because it is an ever-evolving course that is not designed to be completed. Check back often for new movies.