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So we know how to design a repeating print, both using Illustrator's pattern repeat tool and doing it manually - but there are some interesting other tools you can use to develop your print even further. With the popularity of dip dye, colour blends and gradient prints in the last few years - the ability to fade out colours and prints is important to be able to show accurately on a CAD.


Using an Opacity Mask - which I'm going to show you below - can easily be used to fade out both colours, textures or prints. Instead of blurring one colour to another, like a gradient does, this blurs a fill with transparency, allowing the background to show through. Colour gradients can have transparency in them, but it's when designing with prints that this method really comes into it's own


1.    Fill shape with your print

To do this - particularly if you have a base colour you want to sit underneath the print - hit the drop down on the Appearance panel, and Add New Fill. This will allow the print layer to sit on top of the coloured base layer.


2. Duplicate the shape & fill with a gradient

Copy & Past In Front (Cmd + C and Cmd + F), open the gradients panel, and fill with the default Black & White gradient which should appear automatically in the panel.

The Black area will be the section that is faded out on your print.


3. Hit Cmd + X

This will copy your shape to the clipboard, and delete it at the same time!


4. On the Transparency panel, hit Make Mask

Make sure your original print-filled shape is selected, open the Transparency panel & click on the Make Mask button.


5. Select the right-hand square in the Transparency panel

***This is really important. The right-hand square represents the mask layer and the left-hand side represents all your original artwork. To edit the Mask the right-hand side has to be selected. When it is, there'll be an orange box around it as shown below.


6. Hit Cmd + F

This will paste your gradient-filled shape back in place, but this time it will appear in the Opacity Mask layer you have just activated. Your original print filled shape should now fade out and appear transparent where the Black portion of the gradient is. 

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7. Click back on the left-hand square

*** This is also really important. Once the CAD looks correct, you must click back on the left-hand side square in the Transparency panel. Otherwise you will not be able to select or continue to work on the rest of your design. 



 Q :  I'm stuck in the Opacity Layer and cannot exit to work on the rest of my tech pack!!!!

     A :  See the final step, 7. You need to click on the square on the left hand side of the Transparency panel to get back to regular editing. If not, the          Opacity Mask mode remains active and you'll only only be able to make changes to that part of your Illustrator document. 

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