Real-world blending modes
Real-world blending modes
Over the course of this chapter, we re going to be talking about the Opacity Value, Blend modes, Knockout Groups and Opacity Masks. But before I go into the specifics, I want to address what seems to be an extremely common concern for a lot of people when they're wandering into Transparency inside Illustrator and that is, is it going to print? Because the last thing you want to do is spend a ton of time working on a highly complex illustration that goes nowhere, that's ultimately unprintable and then you have to sit there and delete bits and pieces and see what's causing problems and all that stuff, and believe me I've been there.
But thanks to the fact that you can rasterize a graphic as we discussed in the previous chapter. This question is largely moot because you can take the most complex illustration imaginable ultimately and you can convert it into a collection of colored pixels. And then you can evaluate whether it's successful or not. If it isn't, you can fix the problems. If it is, you can hand off the image to a commercial printer or an art director or a client or whomever. And be convinced that it's going to workout as you see it. So what I thought we do upfront here is go ahead and work through what I considered to be a real-world blending scenario.
Nothing too complicated, we are going to be taking this graphic right here, Blue green.ai and we are going to be converting it into this finished illustration which is called Finished lightbulb.ai. And then in the next exercise, we will go ahead and rasterize the graphic. We will see what can go wrong and I'll show you a surefire solution. So I'm going to go ahead and switch to this graphic upfront. Now the objects here inside of this light bulb, the star and this little highlight, sort of crescent shape as well as the circle. They'll have a nice highly graphic quality but I want to soften the transitions a little bit so that we have a more naturalistic looking piece of artwork and I'm also going to apply a Blend mode in order to achieve a glow effect.
And that blend mode by the way is already at work inside of this illustration. If you click of a light bulb with the Black Arrow tool in order to make it active, this big light bulb path, go over to the Appearance panel and then click on Outer Glow in order to see how this Outer Glow Effect is put together. And notice that the mode which is the Blend mode just like the Blend mode here inside the Transparency panel which we will see in just a moment. That Blend mode is set to Screen and that's the default behavior for Outer Glow by the way, that's the default setting. You have a bunch of other blend modes to choose from as we'll discuss but Screen is Illustrator's suggested method for achieving a great glow effect and for good reason, it does achieve a wonderful glow and you should take that into consideration when you're creating your own glow effects that aren't dependent on the Outer glow dynamic effects.
So I am going to Cancel out of here and I am going to use Screen in order to convert these shapes to something that more closely resembles a glow. So I will click on the big star there and then I will Shift+Click on the crescent and the circle in order to select them as well. And I'm going to switch over to the Transparency panel. There's a few different ways to get that panel. One is to go up to the Window menu and go all the way to the bottom here to Transparency or you can press that keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Shift+F10, Command+Shift+F10 on the Mac. You can also go up to the Control panel and click on the word Opacity and that will bring up a pop-up version of the Transparency panel.
Now you may look at this guy and think, well he is awfully tiny compared to this big panel and the reason is because this panel here is collapsed. So if you click on that little up- down arrow icon, you'll cycle through the various different ways to display the Transparency panel. Right now, we only need to see the Blend mode over here on the left-hand side. So I am going to switch it from Normal which is essentially as we'll be discussing no blend mode at all. And I'm going to switch it over to Screen and we are going to create a glowing effect, that is we are creating an interaction between the objects and the background that is ultimately lighter than either.
So we are ending up with a cumulative lightning effect. Next, I am going to deselect this circle by Shift+Clicking on it, so that I still have the crescent and the star shapes selected. And I am going to change the Opacity value here in the Transparency panel to 50%. So you can change the opacity along with blend modes to achieve all kinds of different variations. I will go ahead and press the Enter Key or the Return Key on the Mac in order to accept that modification. Now I want to soften these shapes using a dynamic effect known as Feather. So I am going to click off the shapes, click back on this crescent, go up to the Effect menu, choose Stylize and choose the Feather command right there.
And I am going the change the Feather Radius value to 2 points and turn on the Preview check box to see what happens. Looks good, click OK. Next, I am going to go ahead and soften that star shape by clicking on it, going up to the Effect menu, choosing this second command at the top of the menu or you can go ahead and press Ctrl+Shift+ Alt+E, Command+Shift+Option+E on the Mac. And this time I'm going to change the Feather Radius value to 4 points and these are just values I discovered through trial and error. And I click OK in order to accept that modification. And next, and get a lot of this, this is really cool actually.
I'm going to go up to the Effect menu, choose Distort & Transform and choose a command that we've already seen a couple of times now Pucker & Bloat. And notice what happens if I turn the Preview check box on, and I increase the Bloat value then I'm getting this kind of double tiered effect. So basically instead of one star point, I'm getting a pair of star points at each one of these anchor point locations. I am going to take this value all the way up to 150% and press the Tab Key and I achieve this effect here. Click OK in order to accept it.
Then we are going to completely and utterly transform this circle in the center here and notice that I want to ahead and gave this circle some extra anchor points. So I took a standard circle that had four anchor points, four smooth points. Then I went up to the Object menu and I chose Path and I chose the Add Anchor Points command, which has a keyboard shortcut if you have loaded the dekeKeys of Ctrl+Alt+BackSlash or Command+Option+BackSlash on the Mac. And what that does is it adds an extra anchor point in the middle of each one of the segments. So we go from having 4 anchor points to 8 and that gives me more Pucker and Bloat options.
For example, I will go ahead and choose that second command under the Effect menu again or mash my fist E in order to bring up this command. And right now this value is set way too high for this circle, so I'm going to take it down to about let's say 15%. But you can see here that I get a bloat at each and every segment, so that's why I needed those 8 anchor points instead of just 4, so we had more bloat action. Anyway notice that you can go to town on this effect if you want to or back it off.
I'm going to take it to 15 % and then I will click OK. And now, we need to soften that effect too, so I will go up to the Effect menu, choose Stylize and choose Feather. And I will take the Feather Radius value all the way to 32 points and click OK. And you achieved this effect which I think is quite nice. Now the final thing I want to do is I want to create kind of a gradient shadow and if you take a look at the final version of this illustration which is this one right here, Finished lightbulb.ai, the shadow down here at the bottom looks kind of like it's a gradient, a gradient that goes from opacity to transparency.
And you could work that way if you want to but then you would have to make sure that the shape of your gradient exactly matches the shape of the ellipse which is kind of a pain in the neck. Whereas, if you just soften this shape right here, I am back inside Blue green.ai, you do the work very quickly. So I will go ahead and select this shape, I'll go up to the Effect menu, I will choose that second command or Ctrl+ Shift+Alt+E, Command+Shift+Option+E on the Mac and I will change the Feather Radius value to 8 points. And you can always preview this effect if you want to and then click OK to accept the results, and you end up with this effect here.
So in the end, we have a combination of some occasionally reduced opacity values, the Screen Blend mode and a couple of dynamic effects working together inside Illustrator.
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