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Gradient Tip 1


Gradients…love them or hate them, they are still an important tool of a digital artist. They bring out more depth and realism when used. Sometimes they’re not used so effectively.

In this tip, I’ll give you several instances of how to use gradients more effectively.

1. Angle Position


The problem with image is that the gradient is all wrong and it should go at an angle instead of just going from top to bottom (0°). If you have slanted/sloped/steep object, you should be wary of the way you add a gradient to it. If your object is slanted, then when you add a linear gradient from that side, go at a 90º angle from its own angle to get a clean look. See pictures.

2. More Than One Gradient

Sometimes you want to use more than one gradient but you decide it make to easy and use a radial gradient. This is not a good substitute. To fix this problem, we’ll use one solid gradient and one fade-to-(insert color here). The fade-to-color gradient should be on top of the other fills/gradients as seen in the Appearance tab.

3. Ease of Use and Gradient Length

Surely, it’ll be a hassle to keep moving your mouse over to the gradient tab just to simply change a thing or two. But this problem can all go away if your press Opt+Cmd+G/Alt+Ctrl+G to bring up the Gradient Annotator. This shortcut can save you time by not having to move your mouse around so much. I don’t see many students use the Gradient Annotator probably since they don’t know about it.

The top image shows what happens when your gradient can be tool short. Unless you never know that you could drag the gradient tool around on object, you’ll be missing an important shortcut. With the Gradient Annotator on, you can easily adjust the length and angle of your applied gradient so colors can fade more softly.

4. Common Gradient

Surely there would be an easy way to combine gradients of multiple objects and just as you know it, there is. Simple select multiple objects and use the Gradient Tool (g) to draw a gradient through the multiple objects.

Will have more later.

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Vector Orb Tutorial Part 2


Here is Part 2, which will finish up with the Orb’s shadows (using clipping masks) and the orb’s reflection (using opacity masks).

You’ve probably seen these types of orbs around the web and now you have the chance to make your own stylish vector orb.

Steps:

8. A. Draw a gray oval and make sure to give this oval an opacity of 50 %. B. Add a Gaussian Blur of 5 to it by going to Effect>Blur>Gaussian Blur. C. Draw an object on top of everything and make it obstruct the orb and the “shadow’s” intersection (see picture). Then right-click this object and choose Make Clipping Mask.

9. A. Make a circle a same size of the orb and copy the M as well. Make the M black and the new circle gray. B. Make the M into outlines by right-clicking the text and choosing Create Outlines. C. Now group these objects. D. Now scale it down so it’s on the same level as our original shadow.

9-I E. Give this object a blur of 20. F. Give this object and opacity of 50%. G. Now move this object back onto our orb. H. Draw a circle of the orb’s size and make sure it’s above our dark object.

10. Option-Drag a copy  of everything besides the 2 bottom shadows.

11. A. Open a Transparency window if one is not open already. B. Double click the area to the right of our orb’s thumbnail (see picture) and uncheck the Clip check box. B-I. Now draw a circular mask about the same size as our orb (see picture). C. Now add a linear gradient to our mask. Be sure to make it fade to black downward where black of an opacity of 100% goes to black of an opacity of 0%. D. Now check the check boxes for Clip and Invert Mask.

11-I. A. Adjust the linear gradient by pushing the side with 0% black more to the 100% side so there is more of the fade showing.

12. A. Double click the thumbnail instead of the mask to exit out the Masking Mode. B. Move the reflection under our orb.

13. A. With the reflection still selected, go to the Transparency window/tab and click the chain so it vanishes. B. Now use the Reflect Tool (O) and flip our reflection horizontally. This way, our mask won’t be effected when flipping. C. Give the reflection an opacity of 75%. D. Apply a Gaussian Blur of 10 onto the reflection.

14. Now you should have made something as close as mine.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and will look forward to the next one.

Vector Orb Tutorial Part 1


It’s time again for another tutorial but this one will be another long tutorial so I will break it up into two. Part 2 will be posted tomorrow.

You’ve probably seen these types of orbs around the web and now you have the chance to make your own stylish vector orb.

Prerequisites: Illustrator CS4/5          Some experience with Illustrator

About: In this tutorial,  I’ll help you create a stylish vectored orb with highlights, shadows, blurs, and masks.

Steps:

1. A. Draw a perfect circle using the ellipse tool and holding shift to constrain its proportions and give it a radial gradient where the inside is white and the outside is black/gray. B. Give this circle an opacity of 50 %.

2. A. Add an inner glow effect by going to Effect>Stylize>Inner Glow. B. A window should pop up; choose white for the fill, choose screen for the mode, make the opacity 75 %,  make the blur .007, and choose the edge option. C. Add another glow effect using the same process and you won’t need to enter the values again since the settings will be saved until you change them.

3. A. Copy a circle of the same size as our orb and make another circle slightly bigger than it, also making sure that it is behind it and that they each have different colors. B. Use the Shape Builder tool (Shift+M, hold option to subtract parts) or use pathfinder to cut out the inner circle. C. Now with this shape, give it nice linear gradient that goes from black to white upward (90°). D. Move this object back onto our orb.

4. A. Use the type tool to create some text. I wrote M in respect to the Mac Lab logo but feel free to write some short text (initials maybe). B. Apply an Outer Glow by going to Effect>Stylize>Outer Glow. C. A window will show up; set the fill to black, set the mode to  multiply, set the opacity to 75%, and the blur to .08.

5. A. Draw a white oval near the top of our orb. B. Apply a gradient where it fades to white downwards.

6. A. Draw another white oval near the bigger one  so it’s adjacent to it. B. Set the small oval’s opacity to 50%.

7. A. Draw a short arc segment with a .565 stroke or any stroke that is about the same width of the small oval and make it have a round cap. B. Use the Width Tool (Shift+W) to shorten one end to a point by dragging the endpoint’s width anchors inward. C. Move this curve onto the orb and give a white stroke. D. Give this curve a 50% stroke.

Note: If lacking the Width Tool, just draw the shape as best as you can.

This is the end of Part 1. Part 2 will finish off by giving it shadows and reflections. Click here for Part 2.

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