Simulating an Adjustment Layer in Adobe Illustrator

Deke's Techniques by Deke McClelland

In this week’s free Deke’s Techniques, Deke shows you how to get around the complete and total lack of adjustment layers in Adobe Illustrator. (What is with that, btw? I don’t know either!) Specifically, how you can nondestructively lighten (for print) or darken (for web) an illustration (for output) without permanently changing it.

The key is adding a white or black layer over the entire illustration, setting it to the Soft Light blend mode, and changing the Opacity level to 25%. So you can take this illustration:

An Illustrator illustration getting ready for output

And add a giant white rectangle over the entire thing to lighten it. And it works in almost exactly the same way as increasing the Gamma value would do in a Levels adjustment layer in Photoshop:

A white layer used to simulate a Gamma adjustment

The same goes for filling said rectangle with black. Which has the effect—again, were we in Photoshop—of reducing the Gamma value in a Levels adjustment layer.

A dark layer used to simulate a Gamma adjustment in Adobe Illustrator

Deke’s Techniques: The only episodic tech thing that occasionally poses the question, “Why is Santa lecturing me?”

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