Deke’s Techniques 048: Creating a Shooting Star in Illustrator

048 Creating a shooting star in Illustrator

This week, I shift back to Illustrator. In which I explore one of the oldest—not to mention, one of my favorite—features in that particular piece of software: blends. These things were introduced waaaaaaaay back in Illustrator 88 (which came out in 1988, when I was a mere child of 26 and Guns N’ Roses played its best hand with “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” not that I was paying all that much attention to the song thing because I was a nerd using Illustrator). Between you and me, blends were originally Illustrator’s bizarre response to FreeHand’s automatic gradients (which Illustrator didn’t add until a few years later). These days, you probably won’t use blends to make an everyday-average gradient backdrop. I mean really, what the feck’s the point? But blends’re useful as a sack of srewdrivers for creating all varieties of intermediate objects. Which are precisely what we need to fabricate this week’s topic, shooting stars.

Assuming you’re still with me, here’s the official description from

We’re reaching for the stars this week with Deke. Well, actually we’re making one beautiful glowing star that spreads its luminance across a dark sky. In this week’s free movie, you’ll see how simple paths and the deft application of blending in Illustrator can create an absolutely stellar effect. And you don’t need the latest and greatest Illustrator to play with this feature in your own projects. Although Deke is using Illustrator CS5 in the video, the tools involved have been a part of the application since 1988!

Deke starts with some simple paths, isolates them systematically, and then applies blending and some careful pen tool machinations to make them dance to your will. You’ll even see how Illustrator blends from completely opaque to altogether transparent. And along the way, you’ll find out how Deke creates this striking star trail:

The shooting star in Adobe Illustrator

Want to see more Illustrator illusion? Members of the Online Training Library can catch this week’s exclusive video here, in which Deke shows you how to automatically create the repeating effects of his gargoyle’s wings, the sarcophagus it protects, and the fence around the cryptic tomb.

Frankly, sometimes I find Illustrator a little mysterious. But Deke’s Techniques will give you stellar powers in under eight minutes. And if you want to explore Adobe’s vector-drawing powerhouse, you can check out the first course in Deke’s Illustrator One-on-One series here. Meanwhile, seasoned Illustrator explorers shouldn’t miss our deep-dive series—Illustrator Insider Training—with Illustrator commander extraordinaire, Mordy Golding.

And next week, Deke continues the galactic travels in Illustrator with a custom starburst (shown below). Every week, a free technique from Captain Deke!

A custom starbust in Adobe Illustrator

Whether you use Illustrator on a regular basis or not, these videos will rock your midnight world. Meanwhile, keep an eye out for my upcoming video course, Up and Running with Illustrator, in which I teach you how to come to terms with the world’s most powerful vector drawing program in under 3 hours. My sources tell me that it should go live this week.

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