N.S.L: WEEK 96 – Adobe Illustrator CS6: Opacity Mask

I have this small notebook that I jot down “Never Stop Learning” ideas. Last week (wk.95) I needed a break from Adobe Illustrator so I skimmed through my book and found an old Adobe Photoshop tool I wanted to learn, Shadows/Highlights. While going through that list, I saw “Opacity Mask” for Illustrator. I knew I HAD to study up on it for this weeks project.

Fat Chance Crew text Adobe Illustrator
“Fat Chance Crew” text layout with Opacity Mask

I remember a customer asking me if I could create this type of effect for her t-shirt. I told her “No, that’s not how these programs work. In order to do that, I would need to use Photoshop” which was not possible because of the print method we were using at the time wouldn’t allow it. It’s because of incidents like this that I started this blog (there’s tons of reasons why =D). It’s not that the program couldn’t do it, the problem was that —> I <— didn’t know how to do it =D Now I let people know that the program might be able to do it, but “I” don’t know how. I don’t like “not knowing” So I keep learning and I tell people “I’ll find out and get back to you.” Then I STUDY-UP!!! It turns into a fun treasure hunt that I get to share here.


Text layout in Adobe Illustrator CS6
Text layout before Opacity Mask

First I got some nice FAT text setup in my document.


Distressed pattern in Adobe Illustrator CS6
Pixel based image for Opacity Mask

What’s really cool about this Opacity Mask business is that it really works like the masks you create in Photoshop. They are actually the same tool with a slightly different name. I didn’t even know that you could use a pixel based image to pull this off. I always assumed I would need to use some sort of vector shape. This distressed pattern you see is one I created with a scan of some paper. The trick for the Opacity Mask is to select the shapes you want masked as a group then have your Opacity Mask Object in the highest stacking level then click “Make Mask”


Editable distressed text in AiCS6
Still fully editable text

Finally when I thought I couldn’t like this feature any more, I realize that my text is FULLY EDITABLE!!! Whoa!!! If you don’t have parametric design in mind when you work, I see a lot of head ache in your future =D I NEED IT! If I did a cool distressed text design like this for a client to later say “We changed the branding” and now I gotta recreate from scratch??? Nope, because I keep my design as editable as possible =D


Above is a video of how I applied the Opacity Mask to my text


I got ALL of my info from Lynda.com:

Illustrator Insider Training: Seeing Through Transparency
Illustrator CS6 One-on-One: Mastery



#AdobeGrind #StayMuddyGetFly
If you look up #NSL96 you should be able to follow my week, all of the videos I studied for this one, and other Tweets related to this post.


3 responses to “N.S.L: WEEK 96 – Adobe Illustrator CS6: Opacity Mask

  1. Pingback: 手機殼

  2. Hello, Great Post! I was a Corel Draw user, and now already moved to Adobe Illustrator,
    but I am still learning and making Vector art for my WebSite using adobe illustrator.
    This guide help me to understand more about Opacity Mask in adobe illustrator. Thank you very much 🙂

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