A Time To Shine / Illustrator Tutorial
We haven't done any tutorials for a while - to be honest, we've just been soooo busy with work that we haven't had a chance. However we do like to give a bit back to the community from time to time and so we hope this tutorial, although a long time coming, may help our fellow designers both professional and amateur. We are going to look at a popular trend of making design elements "shiny" - and in particular, the 'Opacity Mask' options in Adobe Illustrator.
First of all we need to get some shapes. We will be working with 2 for this tutorial. The first shape is going to be an oval so we will need to select the Ellipse tool from the tools menu (hot key "L"). Click and drag on your art-board until you get the oval you desire.
Tip: If you hold down shift whilst dragging you will get a perfectly proportioned circle, hold down alt and you get the circle growing from the centre of where you initial clicked.
Lets give it some colour in a gradient. Hit "V" (the hotkey for the selection tool) and select the oval. We will need to make sure that the correct windows are available. Hit F6 for the colour pallet and option F9 for the gradient toolbox. Now a colour from the colour pallet and simply drag it onto the gradient window on-top of an existing colour. For the purposes of achieving a shiny effect in this tutorial you will need these colours to be subtle in their tones.
Now we are going to put our gradient at an angle. We could do this manually via the gradient tool box, but being visual people we normally like to select the gradient tool (hot key "G"), and click and drag the angle of our desired gradient. This gives us complete control over how the gradient looks.
This oval, will form the basis of the object we are going to make 'shiney'. To give a further depth to it we are going to add a subtle drop shadow. Hit "V" (the hotkey for the selection tool) and select the oval. Now go up to the top menu - select Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow, and give the object a subtle drop shadow as demonstrated below:
Ok, now for our shine shape - this shape gives a "glint". Select the Ellipse tool again from the tools menu (hot key "L"). Click and drag on your art-board until you get the oval you desire - this one wants to be slightly different from the previous oval we have drawn, it needs to be smaller and less wide in proportions. For example see below:
We now need to duplicate the oval shape we have just drawn. Use the selection tool (Hot key "V"). If you select the oval and while your mouse click is still down hold down the "alt key" and drag - then release the click and "voilà", you have a duplicate shape. We are now going to increase the size of the new oval slightly. Whilst it is selected, move your cursor over one of the corner nodes and stretch if you hold down shift this will happen proportionally.
We are now going to knock out the larger oval shape from the smaller one. To do this the shape which we want to be deleted needs to be on top. To make sure the shape to be selected is on top, select it using the selection tool (hot key V), and then bring it to the front (option found in top menu, Object > Arrange > Bring to front or by using the hot key, "option ]". Select both shapes (make sure you have the selection tool selected, click one oval, hold down shift and select the next one.) Go to the pathfinder window (Hotkeys: "shift, option F9"). Select Shape modes > Subtract form shape area (second option along). Now select "Expand".
This is going to become the "shine" on our original oval. Lets put it in position - select it (yes hot key "V" again!) and drag it into its desired position - also make it white.
Now we have a problem to solve. We want the shine to gradient from white to nothing. Currently, Illustrator doesn't allow us to add a gradient from white to nothing - so we have to use another technique using whats called an 'Opacity Mask'. Before we get on to that though we need to add a gradient to the shape. Select the rectangle tool (Hot key M) and draw a rectangle. Give it a gradient of white to black.
Place the gradient rectangle over the "shine" shape we created earlier. We now need to select the area we want to mask out the gradient. Go to outline view (Menu > View > Outline - hot key "Y") and with the selection tool select the shine shape and the gradient rectangle as below:
After they are selected go back to Preview view (Menu > View > Preview - hot key "Y") and open up your transparently pallet (shift option F10). At the top on the right hand side there is a little "further options" icopn. When you click it another window will open and you will be able to select "Create Opacity Mask" from a drop down list. This will create your opacity mask.
You may want to "invert" it to get a better effect as below:
5. Conclusion / a time to shine
So thats it basically! You should now have a nice shiny oval. This technique obviously has many applications and can be adapted and used to create some stunning graphics. We have an example of this below:
For more information on how to use Illustrator masks read this article from Adobe.
You should experiment and master these techniques. If you do you will find there is always a time to shine, even if you have a tight deadline! So there we are, if anybody has anything to add - or any questions - please leave a comment below. Remember - there is always time to shine... Enjoy!