Join Nigel French for an in-depth discussion in this video Making the blend, part of Designing a CD Cover.
Okay here is what we are going for, a Bridget Riley-inspired meditative pattern created using an Illustrator blend. I am looking at the finished version here in InDesign. Let's switch over now to Illustrator, Where we will create the blend, So I am going to start with a new document, Cmd+N or Ctrl+N and I want the size of the document to be 4.75 inches x 4.75 inches. Firstly, I am going to choose my Line tool and outside of my artboard on the left I am going to create a straight line holding down the Shift key and drawing with the Line tool.
I will then change the weight of that line to 0.25 pt, or quarter point. I am then going to come to the Effect menu and choose Distort & Transform > Zig Zag. With the preview turned on, we can see what we are going to get. What we want is not corner points, but smooth points. We want a few more ridges than that. I am going to have 8, and I don't want them to undulate quite as much as that, so I am going to bring the size down to 4 points. Click OK; I am now going to duplicate this over to the right-hand side, again, moving slightly beyond the bounds of my page.
The next step is to create a blend between these two zigzag lines. With the Blend tool, click on your starting point and then click on the equivalent point of the other object, and there we have a Stepped blend. If you want to increase the number of steps or decrease the number of steps, double-click on the Blend tool. Specified steps, and I think we want more than this, how about we have 100. Now as well as creating a Blend between what are currently two identical shapes, I'm going to selects the line on the right- hand side, I am using my Direct Selection tool here, and to make sure I get both anchor points selected, I am holding down the Alt key when I click on that line, and this is a quarter point in weight.
I think I will change this to a three- quarter point rule, so that we get the gradation of white as well, and I'd also like to change the Blending Color. I am going to choose the color theme from Kuler. I come to the Window menu and to Extensions and Kuler. I am just going to use one of these predefined color themes, but you can use any that you like. You can search based upon Most Popular, Random etc.
You could also search by keyword. You could also using Color Guide make your own color theme, but I am just going to use one these that's already defined, and I want a fairly muted color palette here, so I am going to choose this one, nothing else, and add that to my swatches by clicking on this icon at the bottom of the Kuler panel. I can then dismiss Kuler, and let's make my Swatches panel a bit bigger; in fact, I am going to pull my Swatches panel out, so that I can see it more clearly.
I will now go back and select the first of my lines; again, working with the Direct Selection tool, holding down the Alt key so that it selects the whole line and then making sure we have the Stroke property chosen. Let's change the color of that, and we will go from that color, and then I will come to the equivalent over here, choose the line on the right-hand side to that color, or maybe that color. There we go, so we now have a blend between those two colors and those two different stroke weights.
What I'd like to do next is maybe mix the blend up a bit so it's not quite as uniform. I think I will add a few more steps before I do that, so I am going to select one of the points of the Blend, double- click on the Blend tool, and we will go up to maybe 125 steps. But if you'll remember from the previous movie, I am after something a little bit like this, so that we just mix up some of the uniformity of the lines.
To do this, I am going to need to use the Liquify tools. Now if you are new to Illustrator CS5, you may find it difficult locating your Liquify tools, and that's because they have been hidden under this tool space, the Width tool. So I am going to click and hold down on that, and I am going to tear off this panel. What I am after is the Warp tool. But before I can apply the warping tool to my blend, I must first expand my blend. Rather than having two points with the blend simulated between those two points, I need 127, in this case separate lines, which I can manipulate.
So I will need to come to my Selection tool and make sure I have the whole blending shape selected, and then come to my Object menu and choose Expand Appearance. Having expanded the appearance, I will then need to come back to the Object menu and choose Expand, and I will accept these options the way they are, click OK and we see that I now have each of those lines currently selected. It's going to be a little bit tricky, doing what I am doing with the selection outlines showing, so I am going to come to the View menu and choose Hide Edges.
Then I am going to choose my Warp tool. Now my paint brush is currently way too big, so if I hold down my Option key or my Alt key, I can make that smaller and if I want to keep it as a circle, I am also going to hold down my Shift key, and I want it to be quite small. As your mousing over the lines, you will see that they appear to be selected; these are our smart guides, which at the moment I don't think are doing us any favors, so I am also going to turn those off, okay.
I am going to check the Warp tool options as well by double-clicking on that. Now if you are not working with a Pressure Pen or a Wacom Tablet and Stylus as I am or equivalent brand, you might want to take the intensity down, less than 50%, maybe 20%. I am going to check Use Pressure Pen and then click OK, and now just to slightly unravel these things, I am going to gradually paint over them like so, and we can see we will get this sort of effect.
And I want it to be pretty subtle, just this slight undoing of the uniformity of all of these lines. I think that's enough, so I am now going to save this as an .ai file, native Illustrator format file, and I am going to call that blend1. Now back in my InDesign document, I will start with a simple Compact Disc one page document, using 9 pt, or 1/8th of an inch margins, on all four dimensions, one Column, and then I am going to place that file, place or Ctrl+D or Cmd+D, and I am going to drag that from bleed guide to bleed guide over my page, and just to experiment with how this might look on a solid background, I might then draw a rectangle on top of this, which I would fill with Black and then send that behind, Cmd+ Shift and the left square bracket.
I think I prefer on the white, it's a little bit more calming, and it's a bit too much of a vibration I think on the black. I don't know. It's growing on me. I am not sure, which is why I am going to leave that in there, and I would show my client two separate versions; one without, one with. But rather than run the blend all the way to the top and to the bottom, I have a field of white space at the top and the bottom into which I can put the name and the title of the CD.
So I will turn the black square back on for a moment, and let's go to Create Guides before I do that, I will turn my guides back on by pressing W. Create Guides and as before we will have a 6 x 6 grid with a 6 pt Gutter Space fitted to the margins. I will now select the frame in which we have the blend, and I will pull that down by one grid square from the top, and I will put it up by one grid square from the bottom, and of course, I will need to do the equivalent with the field of color that is behind it, and then I can create a text frame for the band name.
And in my finished comp here I am using a font code P22 Bayer, it's a typeface designed by Herbert Bayer, or it's a revival of a typeface designed by a Herbert Bayer who was a prominent figure in the Bauhaus, and I am using this because it's got a very sort of minimalist, somewhat techno feel to it. If you don't have that, and it's not a font that comes with InDesign, you could use Myriad Pro or Helvetica or some relatively minimal Sans Serif like that, Gill Sans, Futura perhaps.
Double-click on the bottom of the text frame to fit the frame to the content. Let's size that by Cmd+Shift or Ctrl +Shift, and pulling from its corner and then dock that into position. Let's apply a color to it, and I went with a hot pink in this case, and then duplicate that, Alt and pull away from it and then same type size and style for the title of the CD itself.
So there is our forth comp, two different versions of it; one on a field of black and one on a field of white.
- Working with templates
- Combining type and images
- Selecting and preparing images
- Experimenting with color and transparency
- Designing with a grid
- Applying consistent formatting with paragraph, character, and object styles
- Laying out the track listing
- Creating a logo
- Making a print-ready PDF