Thanks for the encouragement, everyone. I haven`t been very good at reciprocating, only showing-off! I think most of you know more about the correct use of the software; I lean on my painting & drawing background.
I can`t apply (or even understand!) a lot of the non-Mac technical suggestions. I invested last year in a big Mac and a big monitor and CS2 (and a big scanner) so that I could do more traditional art and rely LESS on the computer, except for tweaking art and delivering it digitally. The current set-up lets me trust the on-screen results a bit more, as long as I at least TRY to calibrate the monitor. But as it has developed, I am doing a lot of logo work in Illustrator as well as web graphics and page layout (for print).
The gold-leaf effect is different every time, Craig, but the principle is based on color vibration. You need to have "holes" in the gold layer, whether via selecting and dropping out specks of color (try Adding Noise and/or Sharpen More first), using a textured brush, or even finding a sandstone-type texture and making your gold out of that. The underlying dark-blue has to show through without really being noticed. Not by opacity or blending, but, as I called it and as it is indeed in painting, "dry-brushing" the gold over the blue. In actual painting, I do have the specific color mix written down here somewhere, but it`s for tempera pigments. Then, when it`s looking close to what you want, add gradients of light & dark, and highlights to trick the eye. Very intuitive and visual, not technical and systematize-atory-able(!).
Alberts Illustration & Design