Mastering Illustrator: 10 Tips & Tricks to Speed Up Your Workflow | DKNG Studios | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

Mastering Illustrator: 10 Tips & Tricks to Speed Up Your Workflow

teacher avatar DKNG Studios, Design + Illustration

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Quick Save for Web


    • 3.

      Using Global Colors


    • 4.

      Creating Custom Guidelines


    • 5.

      Working with Live Corners


    • 6.

      Targeting Layers


    • 7.

      Giving Depth to Simple Shapes


    • 8.

      Creating a Custom Pattern Stroke


    • 9.

      Creating Vector Halftone Patterns


    • 10.

      Customizing the Blend Tool


    • 11.

      Using an Opacity Mask


    • 12.



  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class

Join DKNG designers Dan Kuhlken and Nathan Goldman for a 40-minute class revealing the Adobe Illustrator tricks of the trade they employ for a fast and efficient workflow.

Drawing on specific components of their work with Star Wars, Back to the Future, and SXSW, as well as personal design projects, this class covers everything from simple keyboard shortcuts to more complex visuals like pattern strokes and vector halftones, all the way up to the new "Live Corners" feature in Illustrator CC.

Whether you're just starting out with Illustrator or have been using the software for some time and just want to speed up your process, DKNG's 10 tips will unlock a better way to create, while keeping everything in vector form.

Please note: the examples in this class are demonstrated on a Mac. If you're illustrating on a PC, download this handy cheat sheet with keyboard shortcut equivalents.


Want to see Dan and Nathan teach different styles? Join 20,000 fellow students in their other three Skillshare classes: Illustration for Designers, Rock Poster Design, and Halftones for Screen Printing.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

DKNG Studios

Design + Illustration

Top Teacher

DKNG is a full service graphic design studio with a focus on the entertainment industry. We work directly with bands, venues, promoters and a range of independent and corporate clients.

Dan Kuhlken and Nathan Goldman were both drawn to music and design at an early age, but didnt combine their talents until 2005 when the duo founded a design studio with the goal of fusing these two creative avenues. The pair has found a niche in linking a personal and unique aesthetic to the worlds most talented musical artists.

With dynamically different skill sets ranging from fine art to film production, Dan and Nathan bring diverse talents and artistic perspectives to every project. DKNG strives to provide their clients with the image and recognition that they deserve. Their past client... See full profile

Level: Intermediate

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • 0%
  • Yes
  • 0%
  • Somewhat
  • 0%
  • Not really
  • 0%

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. Introduction: We are DKNG Studios that stands for DK, Dan Kuhlken; NG, Nathan Goldman. We're a design studio based in California. In this class, we're going to take a look at our 10 favorite tips, tricks, and techniques for Adobe Illustrator and how we use them to make our workflow more efficient. This is our fourth class on Skillshare. We have three classes prior to this, that are a little bit more on the longer side. But this one's a little bit more straight to the point. This class is for anyone looking to improve their ability to use Adobe Illustrator. Whether you're just getting started or whether you're a working professional, we're going to try to cover a range of different techniques that will help you in any aspect of vector design with an illustrator. In this class, you'll learn a range of techniques from simple keyboard shortcuts to create custom guidelines, all the way up to more complex techniques like creating three dimensionality and Adobe Illustrator and using opacity mask to create more realism in your work. For the project for this class, we're asking you to take a look at these 10 tips and tricks and pick one or more to try with your own work and then share with your fellow classmates. For each trick and technique in this class you can either apply it to a brand new project or apply it to your existing work. The idea is that once you learn these, they'll start to become second nature and you'll have them in your tool box to use for any project moving forward. We'll be sharing our approach to these tips and techniques, but we really want you to share how you're using these in the Project Gallery. Please share screenshots, images of how you're using these tips in your own work and if you have suggestions on how other students can improve their workflow or you have your own similar tips, feel free to share those in the Project Gallery as well. Our classes thrive on collaboration and this class is no different, so we encourage you to share your work and without further ado let's get started. 2. Quick Save for Web: So to kick things off, this first tip is a quick and easy one that will also help with sharing your progress through the rest of the nine tips in the class. For this, we're going to be looking at a project that you're ready to either share with a client, get feedback, or even share and post in the project gallery here. As you may know, one way to export drafts of a project from Illustrator is to use the Export feature. Unfortunately, that doesn't have a keyboard shortcut and it also requires you to specify your settings, your file type each time you use it. So, one thing we've started doing is using the Save for Web feature in Illustrator, and the keyboard shortcut for that is command, option, shift, S. It's several keys, but we'll show you how to do that. It brings up this dialogue box, Save for Web. You'll see you have several presets here that you can choose from. You can even create your own preset if you know that you want your image to be at a specific resolution each time you share it. So in this example, I'm going to use JPEG High. It's still a small enough file that I'll be able to email it to my client or share it on the Skillshare Project Gallery. So when I'm happy with my settings here, I'm going to hit Save, and this also gives me the opportunity to save an addition number. As you can see, I have this drafts folder with many, many drafts in it. So, I'm going to call this skillshare_1, save that out. Now, we're back to work in our file, and it was just that easy. I can now share this file online, in the class, or send it off to my client depending on what the case may be. 3. Using Global Colors: So, when working in Illustrator, let's say you're in the process of creating something and you need to change a color, one easy way to do that most people usually use is selecting something and, let's say, selecting the same fill color. Then you have everything selected and you would be able to change that color. An easier way would be maybe using the wand tool. Same thing, you get that color and then you can change it. But that could be a little bit tedious if you have, let's say, seven colors and you're going through trying to change each one individually. So, we've actually found out a even more efficient way to change colors and, let's say, you have in your file everything from a fill, you have something using a stroke, you have a gradient using these two colors, you have a custom pattern using the new color, you could even have things using transparency. What you would do, let's say, you're in the process of creating something that you're 10 percent done with, you can start to grab everything that you've created and go ahead and create a new color group in your Swatch palette. In this area, you can name it whatever you want but you have to make sure that the selected artwork is converted to global colors. What's going to happen is the folder's automatically created in your Swatch palette. So, after that, you actually can double-click these colors and change them on the fly. So, let's say, I want to change the screen. You just double-click it, turn on preview, and start changing. You can do it for every single color and it doesn't really matter how it's being used in your file. It could be a pattern. It could be a transparency. It could be in a gradient. You wouldn't be able to do that with the other process that I just showed you. Just to show you how we would use in our own files, coming from a screen printing background, we want to be able to not only limit our colors but be able to have the flexibility of changing them on the fly. So, in this illustration, we actually have a group already created using every single color and if I wanted to change the tan, I could just change it so that would be like the paper color, for example. If I wanted to change all the yellows, double-click the color and start playing around. Gives you a lot more freedom and you can do things a lot quicker. So, long story short, this is pretty much, as far as we know, the quickest way to change your color palette within a couple of clicks, whereas before, would've probably taken several clicks and much more time. This way, you can get your projects done much quicker. 4. Creating Custom Guidelines: So, we often use guidelines in our work as a way of creating structure and a grid, and the typical way to do that is to make sure you have your rulers activated. So, command R to make sure that rulers are turned on. Then, you can drag from either the horizontal or vertical ruler in order to add guidelines to your file. But there might be situations where you don't just want vertical or horizontal guides, you want to create something a bit more custom. In a file like this, which was a pair of geek posters for 311, we knew that we wanted to have some symmetry and the two sides of the poster mirror each other. So, one way that we check our work is, for example, I can grab this wave pattern on the right side and I'm going to use option and shift to drag that over to the other side of my poster, and then I'm just going to use the reflect tool to create a mirror image. Right now, I have this just as a shape floating in my file but what I can do is use the keyboard shortcut, command five, or it's also in your view menu, command five is make guides. As you can see, now, I have transformed that wave shape into a guideline and this is now a non printing element that I can just use to either draw a new shape from scratch, or in this case, use it to check my work and make sure that both sides of my files have a similar size and shape to them. One other thing to keep in mind with this tool is that once I hit command five, it did remove that shape when it turned it into a guide. So if you still want that shape to be in your file, make sure that you copy and paste it in place, which you can do with command C and command F. I can now take the copy of it, hit command five to make guides, and I still have the live shape living in exactly the same place. So, that's another way to make guidelines in addition to the typical horizontal and vertical lines if you ever want to work with a file with custom shapes and work with guidelines rather than the shapes themselves. So, this is an example of using custom guidelines as a way of creating a symmetrical design and checking your work, but the ways you can use custom guidelines are really endless. If you are making a series and you want to make sure that size and shape are consistent throughout the series, you can use your first design and then use that to create a set of guidelines for each subsequent shape. You can also use it for creating consistent grids that might not be a perfect 90-degree grid, various angles, even if you're getting into three-dimensionality like an isometric grid. This is a good way to create a very custom look and also make sure that it has consistency throughout your entire project. 5. Working with Live Corners: The new live corners tool in Illustrator CC is an improvement upon their rounded corner effect which used to be a way to apply rounded corners to every part of an object. But with this new live corners feature, we have a little bit more control and I'll use this logo we created as an example. You can see on the upper typeface here, it already has rounded corners applied to this typeface and for our subtitle below, we're going to apply a similar look. This text is still live right now, so I'm going to, in my type menu, create outlines which can also be done with the keyboard shortcut: command, shift, O. Just to show you an example of the difference between this new live corners feature and the old rounded corners effect, here in your Effects menu, it's under Stylize, Round Corners. If we preview it, you can see that it's going to apply that rounded corner to every corner in this shape and give us kind of a funky look and that's not exactly what we're going for. So instead, we're going to go in and start grabbing these corner nodes individually using our white arrow. You'll see that as we add more and more, it's adding these little target shaped icons next to each corner. What we can do now is drag these and that will round those corners but unlike the effect that we did before, this is only applying the rounding to the corners we selected so we can leave these internal corners in the counter of the A untouched. So, that's looking pretty good. So now, what I'm going to do is select these corners again, double-click this target, and it's going to bring up this dialog box about the corners. We can do different types of corners but it's also telling us the radius of this particular rounded edge. It's 0.02. So now, I'm going to go over to my next letter, the U, and also the S, and start selecting some of these exterior corners and what I can now do is click in, type in 0.02, and it's going to match that rounding effect to these corners. I can proceed through these letters using that technique until they all have the rounded look I want to match our other typeface. Even though we use this technique mostly for type, it can also be used in other areas. For example, this kind of paint dripping effect in this part of the logo was also created using these live corners, and just an example, I can show that this is how we started with these pointed triangles. But because everything remains live, it's easy to go in and adjust on the fly as we want to add or remove these rounded edges to our shapes. So as you can see, this is a very powerful tool. It's not just used for type, it's really anywhere that you want to dial in a specific radiused corner anywhere in your project. With this new tool, you have a lot more control in identifying just the corners that you want to effect. 6. Targeting Layers: So, targeting layers is a technique we use quite a bit when we're starting in a new Illustrator file. Our typical workflow is that we'll create a sketch first even if it's just internal. In some cases, we get a client to approve a sketch first, but in either case, that's going to be the first thing we do, is import that sketch into illustrator. In this case, this is a label for a bottle design. One method that we've used in the past that we found was not quite as efficient as what we were looking for, is by basically having our sketch on the top layer and having the sketch itself with the transparency of multiply, and then we start drawing on the layer underneath. The reason for doing this would be so you can see your work as you're creating it. So, for example, if I start drawing an orange building here, maybe put a green building next to it. I have my sketch on the top layer, which is allowing me to still see the sketch even when I create these shapes. But an issue that we sometimes run into, is let's say I want this green to be orange, and I just want to quickly use my eyedropper tool to select this orange. Well, unfortunately, since the sketch is there, it's now grabbing a color that's a combination of the charcoal color from the sketch, the orange from my vector file, and as you can see, we're getting this kind of muddy color, which is not what I was looking for. So, to solve this issue, we're going to use layer targeting. So, let me delete these and we're going to adjust our layers a bit. So, if you check out our layers palette, we're going to switch the order of these two. So, I'm going to take the art layer where I'm currently illustrating with vector shapes, I'm going to move that to the top and my sketch, I'm going to lock on the layer beneath. Now, what we're going to do is the targeting. So, with my art layer selected, I'm going to click this button on the right side, click to target. What that is now doing is selecting everything on this layer and everything that will be on this layer as I start drawing, and whatever I do, now that I'm in Target mode, will affect everything that I do moving forward. So, in this case now on Transparency, I'm going to select Multiply. What that means is, now when I draw objects on this layer, they're not going to multiply on top of each other, it's just the layer itself, is going to now multiply onto the layers below. So, now what I can do is select my original orange color and start drawing these buildings again. As you can see, we still have the same appearance where we can still see our sketch and our vector shapes at the same time, but the advantage to this method is since my vector shapes are now on the top most layer, I can still use my eyedropper tool. So, just by pressing eye, that selects the eyedropper, I can now select that orange even if I'm in a dark area of the sketch and it's going to select my true orange from the swatch rather than creating a new color based on interpreting the sketch. So, something like this will use and go through an entire sketch dialing in all of our vector shapes, and the end result is a final vector illustration such as this. We find this is a much faster approach than simply, either covering up our sketch or working from scratch, because the sketch serves as a roadmap for us and at the same time, we're able to make sure that all of our colors stay consistent throughout the whole illustration process. 7. Giving Depth to Simple Shapes: So, when working in Illustrator, one of the issues we have is obviously everything that we create is going to be vector, and a lot of the shapes that we create are very geometric and simple. But we like to challenge ourselves and make things look more three-dimensional and look more realistic. When you're dealing with just a bunch of flat shapes, that could become a bit of a complicated process. So, what we're going to show you is a way to use simple shapes in an easy way and make them look more three-dimensional. So, for example, this will be a planet in our rocketeer series and long story short, that's a circle, but it has a lot going on that makes it look more three-dimensional. That's just based off of using the same circle over and over again, and then simple line work in between. So, just to show you how something like that is made, you obviously want to start with a simple circle. Let's go ahead and use our color palette. So, once you create a simple shape like a circle and you want to create a shadow, one easy way to make the exact same shape and place it on top of itself is to do command C as in copy and then command F as in place on top. So, what that's doing is actually creating the exact same shape, placing it exactly on top of the other one, and now, we have options to play with. So, what I want to try to do is create a shadow on the outside here and I'm actually just going to hold down one of the anchor points while also holding option and that just makes it so that I'm just dealing with this axis right here. So, I'm creating an ellipse and I'm going to copy and paste the exact same shape behind it, so that would just be copy, paste. What I'm going to do for this particular situation is do minus front and what that's doing is creating those two sides that we just created. So, basically, the middle part was the part that got minused out. I'm going to go ahead and delete this side and all the sudden, we have a shadow. So, for example, there's a quick way of making a planet. You'll have to really stop there. You can keep going and making more shadow involved. So, I'm going to copy and paste, again, that's command C and then command F, the same exact shape on top and give it a little bit more depth this time. You don't have to use minus front for this kind of stuff. You can use divide, any other Pathfinder tool, based off of what you're trying to get out of this. So right there, I used divide and I really just made the exact same cutaways but I kept the old remnants for in case I want to use them for something else. I'm just going to leave them for now but basically, what I can do is do something like that where I have a midtone. You can continue using stuff like this. Let's say, you want to have a stripe going down the middle of this planet. You can create a variation in that stripe by grabbing everything you've created, copying and pasting that, then grabbing that new shape, and pushing divide. So now, we're dealing with these three new shapes and you can basically select the inverse. Now, we have more options. So, I can do is make a highlight, for example, but of the Death Star look. But basically, what's coming out of this is a final product that might look like this in the end. With this technique, you're able to use simple shapes and repeat the process of making those simple shapes using the Pathfinder tool and basically create something much more complex, all starting from, let's say in this case, a simple circle. 8. Creating a Custom Pattern Stroke: All right. So, right now we're inside the file how we created our playing card series. These are all the face cards here for our playing card deck. A simplistic way to tell you how these were made, it's geometric shapes plus custom pattern strokes. What I mean by a pattern stroke is all this stuff here, so like this heart and this dot, these dots here, this weird looking guy. They're all just created using the pattern stroke tool in the brush pallet. So, to show you how that's made, I'm actually going to create one from scratch. You can see how I've created a bunch here so far. So, let's say we want to create that heart pattern. This would be a good example of how we did it. So, I'm going to go ahead and use an existing heart shape and we want to have those two dots involved, for example. So, I'm actually going to build these out. I'm going to group them and align things. The idea is that we want the pattern to repeat. We want to basically have a look like that and in order to do that, we want to be aware of the spacing involved here. So, what I'm going to do is also create a transparent box that's encasing it. So, right now that's a red box, but what I'm going to do is make it transparent. So, if you just grab just these elements right there, then you go to your brush pallet and go new brush, you can create a pattern brush. Then, you have all these options here. This will change depending on what you're making. So, right now I'm just going to keep everything as is and I'm going to create a line and I'm going to pick that brush. So now, we have something like that and it's pretty much exactly what I was expecting. What's cool about this is actually it doesn't start with just simple line work. You can actually have it go around more complex shapes like a circle, for example. Just to give you an idea how that's used in our files, you can see stuff like that is actually curving around an area. So, normally you would think that creating these shapes going around another shape like a circle would be a complicated process. You'd have to copy and paste them and they would have to be specifically in these areas. But, with this process, we're basically creating a very efficient way to wrap any shape around any shape over and over again. So, the reason we use this pattern struck technique is based off of the idea of consistency. We're creating a deck of cards that all have the same style throughout. There's only a certain amount of colors, only a certain amount of suits and they're all using the same patterns. So, we want to create something that can just be used over and over again to create that consistency. As you can see after making plenty of pattern strokes, we're using it with every single face card. 9. Creating Vector Halftone Patterns: So, a lot of our work is primarily screen printed which means that we have to pick a limited amount of colors and there's no such thing as a 50 percent opacity unless you make ink transparent for some reason. So, when we want to create something that looks like a mid-tone, we basically have to decide if it's going to be a dot or a line and we repeat that pattern next to a solid shape, for example. So, the best way we know of to do that is in Photoshop. But not a lot of people prefer to use Photoshop. We're going to show you a way to do it in Illustrator with keeping everything completely vector. So, as you can see here, I created some simple shapes to create a halftone pattern. One really easy and quick way to create a halftone pattern is just to start off with a simple square. But now, I'm going to make it a transparent square. What you want to do is take the exact same square you just made and copy and paste it in place and change its color. So now, we have a green. Now I'm going to just grab one of its nodes and make it only half the size of the original square. So now, we have a transparent square behind a half square that's solid, and this can be turned into a halftone pattern. In order to do that, you just basically go to Object, Pattern, Make. We can see what the preview of that's going to look like. Go ahead and say Done. Now, if you create any shape, you can create a fill using that new halftone pattern that you created. Now, not a lot of people want to use up and down vertical line work, maybe they want to be 45-degree angles. One easy way to do that would be to get the Rotate tool, press Enter, and instead of transforming the objects, you're just transforming the patterns and make sure it's at 45 degrees. So, there's a custom fill that's using halftones. You can see that we've used that in this file, for example. So, this is a 50 percent opacity of this dark green which kind of gives it the illusion of being transparent. There's also the way of doing this with dots. This would be an example with lines. I'll show you the way to do it with dots. So, you want to start again with a transparent. Actually, for the sake of seeing it, let's just make it a color. Let's make a perfect square and then you're going to create circles on these corners. So basically, bring your mouse all the way to the corner hold down option, shift, and you're creating a circle based off of that node, and then you're just going to move that circle to every single corner. It helps to have smart guides on so you can align things more accurately. So, you can see the difference there. You also want to have one in the center, too. So, I'm going to actually bring that to the center. These all seem a bit big to me. If you want a 50 percent opacity, you want to have 50 percent dark green and 50 percent light green. So, what I'm going to do is actually make these smaller and redo that process just really quickly. I'm going to align to the middle square shapes. So basically, in order to do that, you grab both the circle and the square and click the square. That way, you can align to that exact shape. Then, we want to use the Pathfinder tool. This is where you click Divide. What that does, it's cutting up all this stuff. So, we don't need these outer areas. We just want to make that kind of shape. Technically, if we want this to be transparent, we don't even need this inner shape either. So, we're now just kind of deleting things and creating that look. Again, go to Pattern and Make, and you have a dot pattern. To show you how that would look, for example, you can fill it with these. These all are adjustable. Again, you can make the dots in here smaller by going to Scale and transforming just the patterns. So, you want to make sure all this is off. let's make it 10 percent of what it is now. I have a dot, and you can change the angle of it. Well, 45 doesn't help because that makes exactly the same. But you get the idea. Thirty. Don't stop there. You can make it with triangles, rectangles, any shape basically. The idea behind this is to create the illusion of transparency without actually using any transparent shapes. They're solid shapes spaced out in a way that makes it look like there's, you don't have to stop with 50 percent, you can go 10 percent, 90 percent. It depends on what shapes you make and how close they are with each other. This tool is really beneficial for creating the illusion of transparency and what I mean by the illusion is, all these things are still solid shapes. They're just using transparency that's fully transparent plus something that's fully opaque. So, for example, we have dot and then open space around it, and if you align them in a certain area, you can basically create the illusion of a 50 percent opacity if you make things small enough. This is how the printing process works with screen printing and pretty much all printing techniques. This doesn't have to stop with the digital world. You can actually make the look of a printed material using this technique and you don't have to use Photoshop to create it. 10. Customizing the Blend Tool: We often use the Blend tool in our workflow, and we use in a lot of different ways. One simple way is to create a shadow. For example, this X. We want to give it a drop shadow. There's a number of ways to do it. You can use the drop shadow tool, you could take the same exact shape and place it behind it and do something like that. But what happens is we're dealing with these weird gaps. Let's say, we want the shadow to be a little more seamless that it's actually connecting to it with a light source. In order to do that, basically, all you have to do is create that exact same shape behind it, copy and paste by doing command C, and then command B. What that's doing is creating a shape that's behind this yellow X, and I'm going to turn it to black. The reason we don't see it is actually because it is actually behind that yellow. So, I'm going to go ahead and lock this yellow shape, and what we're dealing with is two black shapes. We want to basically create them so that they look like they're seamlessly changing together, and these nodes are actually connecting. Quick and easy way to do that is using the Blend tool. So I'm going to go to the Blend tool by going to Object, Blend, Make, and you can see that it just creates a stair step, a look where there's only one shape in between. This is completely customizable. We go back to the Blend tool, and go to Blend options. You can turn on Preview, and say Specific Steps for example, and if you do like 255 steps, then it's seamless. Now, it doesn't really stop there. We can create something even more complex like a shape like this. The way to do that is, again, starting with two different shapes, actually, very identical shapes, you can do different shapes to have even more complex look, but I'm starting off with two groups here. If I click them, they all move together. If you click both of them, and you go to the Blend tool, and go to Blend Options, this is where you can be more customized. So, I'm going to do 20 steps. Then you go to Blend again, and Make. What's happening there is it's creating 20 different steps in between those two main shapes, and we're creating the cylinder look. You can see that it created a line in between it, so I can pull this line and move it to spread out. Let's say, I wanted to change the main shape of this. You can actually go to your Anchor Point Tool, and change, let's say, the angle. Now, we're having something like that. But we also can make it so it's moving along the axis of the shape. The way to do that, is to go back to your Blend tool, go to Options, and instead of the orientation being aligned to the page, you're aligning to the path. So now, we have a necklace of some sort. So, this shape, just to show you how it was used, we actually created these tubes that are going into the DeLorean for our back to the future gatefold. Like I said earlier, you don't have to use the exact same shape duplicated on either side with the Blend tool. You could start off with a bigger shape, and a smaller shape, and they could be different colors, they can be different shapes for for that matter. What we can do in the Blend tool is do five steps, for example, and Make. What that creates is a Blend with color and size. So, this technique is more or less limitless. We've shown you a very small amount of it, but it's already showing that there's so many things to do with the Blend tool, and don't just stop with what we shown you here, you can make anything you really want. 11. Using an Opacity Mask: So, this final tip involves working with style that's a bit more photorealistic, and we're going to be talking about creating an opacity mask. This is typically something that you might do in Photoshop, but, again, we do most of our work in Illustrator with vector objects and so any time that we can keep our workflow inside Illustrator is usually a time-saver for us. So, for this tip we're looking at this X-wing fighter that we did for a Star Wars project. On the right side of the artboard here, I have this kind of water cloud texture that I want to add into the file, but I don't want to add it universally throughout, meaning that I don't want it to have the same opacity throughout the entire file because I'm losing some of these planets I have in the top part of the file and I want to be able to fine tune it a bit more. So, what I'm going to do is use my transparency palette here and create an opacity mask. So, the first step is going to be to draw a rectangle on top of this file, and I'm going to apply a gradient to it. In this case, I'm going to have the black part of the gradient, the top, fading down to white at the bottom, and I'll be able to adjust this gradient later. So, by selecting these two objects in our transparency" dialog box, we now see that we have this "Make Mask" button that we can click on. As you can see, we're now applying that gradient as an opacity mask to this placed image. So, we have transparency at the top fading to full opacity at the bottom. The nice thing is that we can now go in and adjust this gradient as needed. So, back in the transparency dialog, unclick this link, and now we can work with the gradient directly. So, for example, in our gradient box here, we can adjust this midpoint slider and adjust how much or how little of the artwork we're seeing. So, in this case, I'm going to bring it down to about 30 percent because I want to keep the top half of this image basically completely transparent so I'm not obstructing those parts of my image. So, when you're happy with the gradient and how the mask looks, I'm going to head back to my transparency dialog box, click off for the mask, and onto my image itself on the left there. We can go ahead and close up the link so now the placement of the gradient is going to stay put with this piece of art. Now what it can do is move it back into my file. As you can see, I no longer have the gradient occupying the upper portion of the file, and it's a nice fade down to the bottom where I want that image to appear. Typically, something like this, as far as working with applying varying opacity, gradients to photos, is something that would be done in Photoshop, but since we do most of our work in Illustrator, it's nice, as far as efficiency goes, to keep everything within Illustrator. More often than not, if you were trying to manipulate an image like this and make changes to where it fades in and out, you'd go back to Photoshop make the change there, update the image in Illustrator. This step saves us the back and forth, so we can be a lot more efficient both as far as staying within one program and removing several steps from the process. 12. Conclusion: So, those are our top 10 favorite tips, tricks, and techniques using Adobe Illustrator. We encourage students to use at least one of those and present it in the project gallery on the website. We learned a lot of these tips just from working with each other, talking sharp with our peers, and we look forward to seeing how you apply these tips to your own work. Thanks for signing up for our class. We appreciate it. We look forward to seeing what you create.