This lesson is exclusive to members

Adobe Illustrator CC - Advanced Training

Class Project 11 - How to create lots of lines that blend together in Adobe Illustrator CC (Practise and master the blend tool)

Daniel Walter Scott

Download Exercise Files


You need to be a member to view comments.

Join today. Cancel any time.

Sign Up

Hi there, in this video we're going to make lots and lots of lines. We'll make them join up and do cool Geometry and Sign Graph looking things. Also lots of Gradients. All right, let's get started. 

To get started, open up ''. You don't really need to, all I got is a happy little whale along the corner there. You can do it with anything. So first up we need to understand how blending works. There's a couple of little principles to understand, and then we go off and make some really fun stuff. 

The first thing is I'm just going to grab the 'Ellipse Tool', and give it a Fill of 'none', and a Stroke of 'white' just so I can see it against my dark background here. I'll draw a circle, holding 'Shift'. And I want another one, I'm going to copy it, and paste it and drag it out, so I got two of them. Now what Blending does, it says you select all of them, and you say, I want to join these two. The way you do it, there's a Blending Tool over here, so click on this guy, and you click on, it's best to click on Anchors, you can click on anywhere but I want to blend that side to that side. I'll just click once, click twice, and it blends it. 

In our case, it's just done one step. To change how many steps are in between these blends all you need to do is double click the 'Blend Tool'. You got a couple of options. Smooth Color will kind of work when you got different colors between the two circles. Now the two, both of them are white. I can never seem to guess which color will work for me. The one that you'll use the most is Specified Steps. Specified Distance, you can say I want it to be exactly 4pts apart, so you might decide that-- we're going to use this one mostly in this course, Specified Steps. Let's turn it up to, say '8'. I'll turn my Preview on, and you can see, it kind of joins them up. You'll see, because the width of my Stroke are little different it kind of blends them as it goes out. 

Now this is an active effect. Like it's kind of applied the whole time, so you can turn it on and off by going up to 'Object', 'Blend' and you can say, you do 'Expand' to kind of stop it doing it, and give you all those circles, or you can 'Release' and say, go back to how it was. The other thing you might look at is - I'm going to undo that - is that there are still editable shapes. So I'm going to grab the 'White Arrow', and click on this outside shape here. Couple of things I can do, I can change the width. You can see, it's kind of updating as we work. You can also start dragging it around, and grab this side as well, and I don't know what I'm doing, but you get the idea, right? Both inner and outer shapes are editable. You might want to jump to 'Command Y' on a Mac, or 'Control Y' on a PC which is Outline Mode. Just to see. So long as it's easy, just to see it in here. And sometimes if you type in, we've typed in 8. If you're like, "Oh, we're typing in what looks like a thousand" prepare for your computer to roll over and die. It will handle small numbers fine, but really high numbers, it will struggle. 

So let's have a look at a couple of other fundamentals. Let's put this thing we've made. You're going over there, buddy. Never to be seen again. Let's grab this. Why is he white with the Stroke? I had it selected before by accident. So I'm going to give him a Fill color of one of these lovely Gradients. And I'm going to get rid of the white Stroke. And we'll bring him in. We're going to blend two fellows. So I'm going to have one guy, drag it, hold down 'Alt' key on my PC, or 'Option' key on a Mac. We're going to have two copies. Let's look at changing the Fill on the second one as well, pick any of these ones in here. The cool thing about Blending is that when you got different colors, it will do them for you as well. So 'Blending Tool', click a point, click the other point. Blends them not very excitingly. But if you double click the tool, specify the steps, so let's go to something like 10. Turn Preview on. It will blend the colors. 

There's two things we'll look at now. Is that there's actually a spine that is being created. You can kind of see it there, it's just kind of a light red line. Red line that runs through the middle. I can click on that and adjust it, that's the-- actually let's click off. So this guy is a little group, if I want to adjust them I got to double click them to go into Isolation mode. So I'm inside this blend, I can click on this guy once, just drag him down and when I'm ready to come back out, click this arrow until it goes away. Now we're out again. This gives me kind of a clear understanding of that spine. 

If I grab the White Arrow, and click on the spine, say this end here, you can kind of see that they're easier. You can adjust this guy now. A little bit easier than going inside. Other thing you can do is you can edit it. So Pen Tool, Curvature Tool, whatever tool you're good at you can start bending that spine. Then you kind of run into, not problems, you might run into a Style, or something you want to do where you're like "Actually I want that guy to be at the front, and that guy at the back." It's working probably the way I want it, but let's test that. With it selected, go to 'Object', and down to 'Blend'. And this is kind of all hard core stuff gets done. We want to go to the one that says 'Reverse Front to Back'. You can see, now this guy's at the front, and that guy's at the back. Click off, there you go. 

Last thing before we get into drawing cool shapes, is with it selected, if we go to 'Object', and go to 'Blend' we go to 'Blend Options' actually probably it's easy just double clicking the tool. It's this one here that didn't do anything, it doesn't do anything when there's a straight line but when there's a curved line-- turn Preview 'on', you can see it orients itself to the line, and kind of moves across. I like that and I'm going to change this one back to 'Reverse Front to Back'. Totally wrecking it. So let's leave our whale friend over here and let's start building some of those kind of nice fancy lines we saw at the beginning there. 

We're going to only introduce one more kind of idea from that. What you see lot on it, that kind of Sign Graph, kind of the front cover of an album. Ah, I can't think of it but let's do that. We're going to start with squiggly shapes. You can draw your squiggly shapes any way you like. I'm going to use the Pencil Tool. So the Pencil Tool, underneath the Shaper Tool. You could use the Pen Tool, or Curvature Tool. If we double click the 'Pencil Tool', and yank up the Smoothing and turn 'off' Keep Selected, and Fill-- make yours look like mine. It just helps your drawing. Now what we want is, I'm going to-- nothing selected, 'Drawing Tool'. I'm going to have a Stroke, no Fill. My Stroke is-- I've got Gradients in this file. If you're not using my file, you'll have to make your own Gradients. I'm going to start with this one, looks kind of cool. I'm just going to draw a top shape and a bottom shape and it's just a squiggly line. 

You notice, when I let go, can you see, it did a nice kind of-- it smooths my lines up, I don't want that curve for no reason other than it works with curves. Just I like it without it. And this bottom one is going to be more of a zig zaggy kind of one. Got some zig zags, Dan. More curvy. Let's just see where that point happens. So I've got these two parts now. Now all I need to do, same as before like our two whales, let's select them both and grab my Blender Tool. Click '2pts'. I'm clicking the ones that match, and they join this way. You can even undo and click this one, and the one over here. It does something different, it's trying to flip itself around and it looks kind of cool, we'll experiment with that afterwards. I'm going to go for the sure fire looks great way and again we don't have enough.   So we're going to double click this. Go to 'Specified Steps', crank it up. And hey, now we're talking. I love it. Done. 

What we can do first of all, I'm just going to select this one down the bottom here with my White Arrow and open up my 'Stroke', so I want the Gradient panel because what I'd like to do is, you my friend, I would like to kind of flip it over to kind of get that sort of effect. The kind of next thing will be extra addition that we're going to learn here is, the spine is kind of a nice straight line but what we're going to do is actually create our own spine, so I'm going to move this guy over and you can create anything, you can choose a circle, a square, I'm going to use my Pencil Tool and draw a thing. And now when I select these two, you can override that spine. You can say, under 'Object', you can go to 'Blend', and you can say, actually, 'Replace the Spine'. The one that you've made with the one I've drawn. You end up with bananas craziness, but this is where it gets kind of cool, right? It's kind of 3 Dimensional Sign Graphy stuff. 

One thing I might do is go and increase the spines. I'm going to go do that now, play around. Now you understand the kind of fundamentals, what I really like you to do is experiment. Experiment with colors, experiment with shapes. I'd love to see your experiments. So this is going to be set as a Class Project. Come up with as many as you like. At least one, to twenty, but I want to see them. Put them up here on the website, so everyone else can see. Also share them with me on Instagram and on Twitter. Remember, Instagram it's bringyourownlaptop, and on Twitter it's danlovesadobe. All right my friends go off and make awesome lines that blend together.