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The Flare Tool

While we're working with this group of tools, let's take a quick look at the Flare tool. The flare in Flare tool signifies lens flare; those pesky reflections on a camera's lens that cause unwanted highlights. Photographers have spent thousands of hours trying to discover easy ways to remove these flares from negatives. And Adobe is giving us an easy way to add them. Cool, eh?

Task: Working with the Flare Tool

The Flare tool creates rather complex objects, and it works somewhat differently than the other tools with which you've just worked. Keep in mind that you'll always need a click-drag and another click to complete a flare.

  1. Select all and delete to clear your artboard.

  2. In the Toolbox, click on the Star tool (or which ever of the object tools is currently showing) and drag the cursor to the right to select the Flare tool.

  3. With the Flare tool active, click in the center of the artboard and drag a short way toward the upper-left corner of the artboard. When the paths that you're creating stretch almost to the edges of the artboard, release the mouse button as shown in Figure 3.11.

  4. Figure 3.11 When the artboard looks something like this, release the mouse button.

  5. With the cursor a short distance to the up and right of the center of your flare, click the mouse button once. This completes the flare, as shown in Figure 3.12.

  6. Hit the Delete (Backspace) button. That was just a practice flare.

  7. Click in the center of the artboard again, and drag as you did before.

  8. Before you release the mouse button, experiment with the Shift key and the Command (Mac) Control (Windows) key. Press them both and continue dragging. Notice that Shift stops the flare from rotating as you drag. The Command (Mac)/Control (Windows) key allows you to resize the flare in relation to its inner circle.

  9. Again, release the mouse button, move the cursor a short distance and click once. This completes the flare. It should still be selected on the artboard.

  10. In the Toolbox, double-click the Flare tool's icon to open the Flare dialog box, as shown in Figure 3.13.

  11. Figure 3.12 The flare is completed and it remains selected on the artboard.

    Figure 3.13 It's a complicated dialog box, with many cryptic sliders. Thankfully, it has a Preview option.

  12. Rather than attempt to explain what each variable is and what it does, just click on the checkbox next to Preview and we'll look at some basics. Move the dialog box out of the way if necessary by dragging its title bar.

  13. The first thing to do, perhaps, is to uncheck the Rings box and then recheck it. That shows you the two major parts, the flare and its rings.

  14. Change the amount in Diameter to 50 pt, and then press the Tab key (which moves you to the next field and tells Illustrator to accept the value you just entered). The Preview will update the look on the artboard. Click back in the Diameter field, enter 150 pt, and hit Tab again.

  15. You get the idea. Experiment. Have fun. See if you can figure out what each control does to the flare.

  16. When you're done experimenting, hold down the Option (Mac)/Alt (Windows) key and look at the upper-right corner of the dialog box. The Cancel button has changed to Reset. Click reset and see what Illustrator's programmers have decided a flare should look like. Click OK.

  17. Press Delete to send your flare to that place where professional photographers try to send real lens flares.

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