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Chapter 18. Transparency

In the earlier days of Illustrator, real transparency didn't exist. The reason for that was Illustrator was bound to PostScript, and PostScript doesn't allow for true transparency. Now, however, Illustrator is based on core PDF architecture (Illustrator's native format is now PDF and not EPS), which allows transparency to reign free and true in all facets of the program. So whereas the transparency in Macromedia FreeHand is just an illusion—kind of like the smiling magician who sticks a knitting needle clear through his arm while the audience squirms—the transparency in Illustrator is real. So be prepared to genuflect and show your admiration and respect.

Adobe has given us an amazing arsenal of transparency controls—everything from simple opacity changes to advanced blending modes to highly sophisticated opacity masking. Creating realistic reflections, liquids, smoke, clouds, and metallic effects has become a little easier. This chapter covers all the features of the Transparency palette, including opacity, blending modes, and special knockout options for controlling how transparency is applied. We'll look at the differences among adding transparency to objects, groups, and layers. We'll take another look at features we've already covered, such as multi-fills, brushes, and text to see how you can use transparency with them. And finally, we'll look at more of the technical aspects of transparency and certain instances where native transparency cannot be preserved.


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