Adobe Illustrator CC - Advanced Training

Class Project 12 - How to make 3D gradient lettering blends in Adobe Illustrator CC (Create a 3D gradient blend design)

Daniel Walter Scott

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Hi there, in this video we're going to make this kind of effect where it's kind of 3D and Gradients happening. It's very retro, very in. I don't even know what to call it. We'll do a couple of things we'll look at some of the more advanced usage and we'll add kind of a cool Grain to it as well to kind of grunge it up. All right, let's go do that now in Adobe Illustrator. 

Let's get started. I've opened up 'Blending 2' from the 'Exercise Files'. You really don't need to open it because it's just a grayed background. I have added some Gradients, which you might want to do. Regardless, let's start. We need two kind of things. We need our Gradient kind of line, and then the shape that it's going to follow. So let's draw the Gradient first. We're going to draw an Ellipse. And I'm going to fill it with one of the Gradients I've got in here. Make sure it's got no Stroke; looks a bit weird with Stroke. 

So a Fill, any kind of Gradient, doesn't have to be this one. I'm going to make a duplicate of it, then I want to blend it. We'll be using different tools in this course. Let's go out for a shortcut time. 'Command-Option-B' on my keyboard. If you're on a PC, it is 'Control-Alt-B'. They will do the blending just automatically. Let's double click the 'Blending Tool', and switch out the steps. Don't worry too much about how many steps you do here. We'll go high enough, let's go to '80'. That looks quite nice, you can start to see the bending, it's okay. Don't worry too much about it at this stage because when we attach the line, we're going to have to adjust it quite a bit afterwards. So don't worry too much about it. And I want a couple of copies. I have a little copy over there, maybe a couple of copies. 

Now we need the Shape for it to follow. I'm going to use my 'Pencil Tool', it's underneath the Shaper Tool. I've double clicked my 'Pencil Tool', cranked up the Smoothing and turned 'off' Keep Selected. Let's click 'OK'. Just helps with the flow of it. You could use the Curvature Tool, the Pen Tool, anything you like. I'm going to draw a squiggle. I have no Stroke on. So whatever Strokes you can see, my amazingness. Now I'm going to get this to follow, I've set to select both of them. Go to 'Object', go to 'Blend'. Let's go to 'Replace Spine'. It's kind of cool like that, right? All you need to do is increase the steps. So double click the 'Blend Tool'. And we're going to have to go quite high. We may have to play around with how much you want, or don't want of these little dots. If you want it to be super smooth you have to go quite high. The only trouble with that though is that you do run into potentially stressing your poor machine out. 

How high can I go, and what my machine does? A thousand, it turns out. Let's click 'OK'. So you probably, maybe-- I drew quite a long line. What you might do is draw shorter lines, so those 1000 steps work fine. I've practiced loads on this one and it always comes up better than that. Felt like we failed there. You can also do hand drawn Type. So let's' quickly do that and we'll look at some of the extra options like we saw at the beginning. 

So 'Pencil Tool', 'Stroke', I'm going to pick white. It doesn't have to be one continuous line. I wish I had my Wacom with me today. I'm stuck at home, it's snow day today. So that's why the audio sounds a little different because I'm stuck inside, or stuck in my home office. That's as good as this is going to get with a mouse. So there is one, two, three, four different ones. So for this to work we need four of these in total. Come here, fellas. And I'm going to go-- I'll keep a backup. I'm going to pick a different Gradient. At the moment it's really hard to adjust, because they're kind of stuck in a blend. 

What you can do is you can double click these guys to go inside. Inside this blend, and I'm going to pick the first and last guy. You don't have to have the same things, they can change over time. Let's see what that looks like. So we'll change this first one to this kind of bluish green one. We'll see what these two different changes do. To come out, double click that arrow a few times. Now I don't want you guys, I want this new fella. So I'm going to duplicate one, use our shortcut, it's 'Command D', or 'Control D' on a PC, to duplicate it. Doesn't really matter where they are. And you… let's blend them. Go to 'Object', 'Blend', 'Replace Spine'. Now, also what you might do, this guy here is a bit big maybe. So you can change it now, and he can have a--

So this is kind of like your Stroke Weight. Let's go again. 'Replace Spine'. Also what we're going to have to do, is with this guy selected let's go to, double click the 'Blending Tool', and 'Specified Steps'. You can go Specified Distance and go-- actually I want this to be just 1pt away, click 'Preview'. Freak it out a little bit, and it will just kind of keep them 1pt away rather than the amount of steps. Do make sure you expand this at the end because it's an active effect, and kind of stress everything out. It's already. My fan's already come on. A few things that we can do to make this-- actually I'm going to fast forward now to have the whole Dan thing done. So let's go fast forward it now. 

All right, you're back. A couple of things I want to show you to kind of tidy these things up. Is with this selected, often you want to play around with 'Object', 'Blend', and who's at the front, and who's at the back. If you reverse the front and back-- that's kind of more what I was looking for. I'm going to select all of these guys. Do I like that? I'm not sure. These are all kind of trial and error here. So 'Object', 'Blend', 'Reverse Front to Back'. Bits of what I like, bits of what I don't. 

Other things you can do is you can edit it. I like to go to 'Command Y', or 'Control Y' on a PC. You can edit a couple of things, the Splines and the kind of circles we're using for blending. I'm going to grab my White Arrow, my 'Direct Selection Tool'. And let's say that I want this kind of work to be a lot bigger. I want maybe a Pen Tool, I'm getting a little bit-- The curvier, I know, the curvier the better, but you can spend a bit more time here fixing these up. Also, these guys here. Now I've got a beginning and ending shape, right? So actually let's go 'Command Y'. So we've kind of fixed that one. You can play around with the beginning and ending shape. I'm going to zoom in. I'll grab my 'White Arrow' tool, I click on him. I'm going to try and click on one with my 'Black Arrow'. I'm going to double click on him till I go inside of him. And that guy can be a lot bigger. Let's have a look. 'Command Y'; they don't have to be the same size there. Kind of-- let's say it's clever. Looks like a neon kind of color. 

What else can we do? Sometimes what I like to do is, see this bad one here, like it's not my favorite but what I'd like to do with the Gradients-- let's go inside this one, so I'm going to double click the edge. Double click it, and come back inside the Blend, I can see the Fill here. What I'd like to do is, go to 'Fill', 'Gradient Options' and maybe just tuck that in a little bit, right?, and add another one, so just click, just drag that one, then click somewhere down here, that makes a new Swatch. I want to double click that Swatch and go to my favorite, Hue, Saturation, Brightness, and just drag down this a little bit. See this happening here, it gets rid of—

I find, sometimes it just needs a little bit of that, to kind of get the depth right. Is it better? It's not much better but it's got a bit more 3D shininess to it. You can add a little bit of highlight on one side, just a really slim bit of white. That can look quite cool. When you're finished double click this arrow here. My machine is struggling. The fans are going. Now, the other thing, I'll just talk about it. Doesn't have to be circles, right? We can use squares, triangles, stars. Better if they have to be the same at both ends, one could be a circle, one could be a star. We get some really cool effects. 

One last thing I want to do is, I want to show you some kind of Grain. This one here. Now, if you're finding, like mine is stressing out, and you're happy with it, you're like, "Man, that's the kind of thing I wanted to do" You can select it all. Can you remember where to go? 'Object', 'Blend', and we're going to go to 'Expand'. And is it better? What happens is, it's lots of shapes but it's going to be less stressful on this computer than the Blend mode trying to do it. The only trouble is it's not kind of editable like it was before. It's just zillions of little shapes. Cool. 

So adding a bit of Grain height to some of the bending. This looks kind of cool, it's the Film Grain type of thing. And we do it this way. So I'm going to grab the 'Rectangle Tool' and we're going to draw a rectangle over the whole thing because I wanted it to go across the gray as well. I'm going to fill it with white. I'm going to have no Stroke. And it's an effect up here called 'Effect', down to 'Texture', then go to 'Grain'. Mine is kind of set from when I was practicing before. Mine's 40 x 50, it really depends on the size of the box. You can use like, what kind of Grain you want, intensity, I'll crank it up. You can see, kind of gets a bit more grainy. Depends on the kind of look you're looking for. You can play around, what kind of Grain, there's all sorts of stuff you can do. Let's click 'OK'. Doesn't quite work, right? You've got just this big white box but remember, our Color Blending modes. Remember, pop quiz Where is it? Click on 'Opacity'. Or if you're on an older version, go to 'Window', 'Appearance'. Click on 'Opacity', and here, 'Normal'. 

Probably we'll do Multiply; everything works on Multiply, right? Play around with this for once, but this just gives-- I've overcooked it, I totally have, but you get the idea there. I really want to go back and change this. The cool thing about it, it's in Active effect, so I can click on 'Grain' and go back and say-- actually Dan, what if it was kind of cool, so I'm messing it up. Let's have a look. I feel like that's kind of a happy medium. Maybe you're still a bit much but adds a little bit of texture to your really strong vector. 

So it is class exercise time. It's going to be a pretty easy one to understand. I want you to make your own name and add all the shapes. I want to just see some 3D blobby goodness. Maybe some caterpillars. I'd like you to share it on this website here as a project, but I'd love to see it on Twitter and Instagram. Instagram is bringyourownlaptop, and Twitter is danlovesadobe. You've probably got this burned into your heads now. All right, I will see you in the next video. Bye now.