The Create Web 2.0 Stickers and Shiny Buttons tutorials have been very popular. With their popularity came many requests for reflections, another attribute synonymous with the Web 2.0 style. Creating these reflections is simple. With Vertical Flipping and Opacity Masks you can have a reflection in no time! Moreover, Opacity Masks are versatile, easy to edit, and not just for reflections.
This tutorial was created with Illustrator CS3. But these features should be available in all CS versions.
Keyboard shortcuts are displayed in orange. ⌘ is displayed for the Command key (mac), with the Ctrl key being the Windows equivalent (not displayed).
I’m going to use the sticker created from the previous tutorial Create Web 2.0 Stickers. Select all the artwork and Copy (⌘c) and Paste in Front (⌘f). With the copied artwork still selected, Group (⌘g) the objects (so it is easy to select the artwork) and select Flip Vertical from the pop-up menu of the Transform Panel.
Now, cover the flipped sticker with a rectangle with the Rectangle Tool (m). Make the rectangle a Linear Gradient from the Gradient Panel and take off the stroke. As discussed in the previous post Quickly Change Fills and Strokes, another way to create a gradient is to press the > key when the artwork is selected, . Keep the gradient the default white and black swatches. With the Gradient Tool (g), select the top of the rectangle and drag half way down the rectangle.
In an Opacity Mask, the white of the gradient will reveal artwork and the black will hide the artwork. This is a basic, but important, concept to understand when dealing with an Opacity Mask. Again, White will reveal, Black will hide, and any shades in-between will vary the opacity. Continuing, with the rectangle and the flipped artwork selected, select Make Opacity Mask from the pop-up menu of the Transparency Panel. Change the Opacity to 60% in the Transparency Panel and you are done!
Editing Opacity Mask
If you are not happy with the reflection you can always go back and edit the Opacity Mask. In the Transparency Panel select Show Thumbnails from the pop-up menu. You can also select Show Options from the pop-up menu, but I have never used these option. If someone has found a use for them, please let me know!
Now, there are two thumbnails. The first is the artwork and the second is the mask. With the artwork thumbnail selected, you can edit the artwork without affecting the gradient. Conversely, you can edit the gradient without affecting the artwork when the gradient thumbnail is selected. You can tell the current thumbnail selected by the thick black outline around the thumbnail. Moreover, the Layer Panel will change when the mask is selected.
By default the mask is locked. You can press the link icon in the middle of the thumbnails to rearrange the artwork or mask. The Clip check box is also checked by default. Once this is unchecked, the mask will not clip the artwork. The other check box is the Invert Mask. Once the Invert Mask is checked, the gradient is reversed on the mask, reversing the hidden and visible parts of the artwork.
If you want to get rid of the Opacity Mask altogether, select Release Opacity Mask from the pop-up menu of the Transperacy Panel.
Reflections are just a taste of what Opacity Mask can offer. You need to experiment with multiple Opacity Masks, colors, or transparencies to get some different results. Below is an experiment I put together with the Opacity Masks and the Transform Tool.