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Deke's Techniques is a collection of short Photoshop and Illustrator projects and creative effects that can be completed in ten minutes or less. The series is taught by computer graphics guru Deke McClelland, and presented in his signature step-by-step style. The intent is to reveal how various Photoshop and Illustrator features can be combined and leveraged in real-world examples so that they can be applied to creative projects right away.
Hey gang, this is Deke McClelland. Welcome to Deke's Techniques. Today, we're in Illustrator and I'll be showing you how to create a precise, schematic drawing in which everything aligns with everything else exactly the way it should using Illustrator's grid. Now just so you have a sense of what's going on with this sample file, it documents the pen tool inside Illustrator. So we're seeing all the various pen tool cursors and how they describe the path drawing process. So, it starts off with one of the green cursors. Either you click with the inactive cursor to start a new path or you click with this other cursor in order to wake up an existing open path.
Then you draw, draw, draw with the active cursor and it's little variations here convert, insert and delete. And then finally, you stop the path drawing process by connecting to an existing open path outline, or by closing the path that you're working on. Just so you know, what it is your in for here. Now, in this movie, we'll be drawing these boxes against the grid. You probably can't see the grid from this distance which is why, I performed a manual zoom so you can see that the box is exactly aligned to the grid, here.
Let me show you exactly how it works. Alright, here's the final version of the artwork, just so you can see it on screen. We'll be starting off inside of this document, which contains the text. But as you can see, the artboard isn't even the right size. Now the first step, when you're working with a grid, is to go ahead and make it visible. Which you do by going to the View menu and choosing Show Grid. Next, you want to decide how big that grid is going to be. By default, it's 72 points in size. That is, each one of these blocks is 72 points tall and 72 points wide. And then we have as many as eight subdivisions Depending on how far you are zoomed in.
I want to finer grid, so I'll press Ctrl+K or Cmd+K on the Mac to bring up the Preferences dialog box. And then I'll click on Guides and Grid. And by the way, this is a Global Setting that's going to affect new documents. I'm going to change Gridline every to 24 points and then I'll change the number of subdivisions to just four, and I'll click okay. Now, what we want to do, is re-size the artboard so it fits the grid. So, I'll switch to the artboard tool, which is located low it the toolbox, you also have the keyboard shortcut of Shift+O.
And then, what you want to do is drag one of the edges here. For example, the right edge to the right to make it bigger. But then notice the width value up here in the Options bar is some crazy value. It's not a multiple of 24 points, which it should be. Because, the zero, zero point for the ruler is the upper left corner of this document. The reason is, just because you turn the grid on, doesn't mean that Illustrator snaps to the grid. You have to do that in a separate step, by going up to the View menu and choosing Snap to Grid.
And then, with that function on, you should be able to snap to the grid like so. Now, if you find that you're still not snapping, that you end up getting some weird values here and there. It may be because the Smart Guides are turned on, which can sometimes get in the way of Snap to Grid. So, I recommend you go ahead and turn that command off, once again inside the View menu. Then I'm going to go ahead and drag this edge over quite far here, until the width value up here in the control panel is 1584 points. And then I'll go ahead and drag this guy down a bit.
Until the height value is 840 points, which it is now for me. And you can see that the grid boxes now fit evenly inside the artboard. Once you get the artboard figured out, go ahead and press the Escape key in order to return to the Standard Drawing mode. Then next, what you want to do is grab the Rectangle tool. And we want to draw a rectangle starting two grid increments down and two to the right here. And over like so, but we don't really know how big we want it to be at this point so just make it really whatever size. And I want this object to appear on the bottom layer, the boxes layer that I've created for you in advance.
So, I'll go ahead and drag that little green square there, that represents the selection all the way down and drop it on the boxes layer so that the box appears at the back of the text. And I'm going to change to the fill which is this first swatch in the Control panel, to none. And I'll change the stroke to this bright green, and then I'll take the line weight up to three points. Next, what I did, was switch to my Black Arrow tool, which you can get by pressing the V key, and drag this bottom left point.
And by the way as always, I've got the bounding box turned off so that I can drag the paths by their corner handles. And I'm going to go ahead and drag this guy down to this location. So notice it's two grid increments into the right and two up from the bottom. And then I'll press the Alt key or the Option key on a Mac and release in order to duplicate that rectangle. And I'll change its stroke color to this deep green, which is the swatch that I've created in advance. So, obviously, these two guys overlap each other. So, what I need to do is re-size them. And I'm going to do that using the White Arrow tool. So I'll press the A key to switch to the White Arrow. Then I'll click off the path's outline, and then I'll click on this top edge of the bottom most rectangle.
And notice now, if I press the down arrow key, instead of moving the segment down one point as is the default keyboard increment. Instead I'm moving the segment in grid subdivisions, because, once again, I've got Snap to Grid turned on. Otherwise, I would just be moving this segment in one point increments. Now, because I've been talking to you and telling you this story, I haven't been keeping track of how far I moved that segment down, which is what I was going to do. But that's okay, I'll just press the V key in order to switch to my Black Arrow tool.
And then I'll click on this top rectangle and I'll delete it by pressing the Backspace key. And I'll go ahead and drag this guy up like so and snap it into alignment, two grid increments in and down. And I'll press the Alt key or the Option key on a Mac in order to create a copy of it. And that looks like I have exactly the right placement I'm looking for, because I want the bottom edge to be one grid increment below the text. I don't know if I have the width right though. So we'll figure that out in time. Anyway, I'll go ahead and change that stroke color back to the bright green. Now, let's grab both of these guys here.
So click on one, Shift+click on the other. Drag the top left point two grid increments down and two grid increments into the left from the right hand edge, like so, and press the Alt key or the Option key on a Mac in order to make a duplicate. Now press the A key to once again switch to the White Arrow tool. Click off the path outlines, click on this guy, and Shift+click on this segment in order to select both of them. And then press Shift+right arrow as many times as it takes to get the segment right here. That is one grid increment over to the left from the text.
That happens to be one, two, three, four, five, six. And the reason I'm keeping track of this is because I have to do the same thing with these edges right here. So, I'll click on this segment, Shift+click on this one and press Shift+left arrow this time. One, two, three, four, five, six times in order to make sure that all the boxes are properly sized. Now, I'll press the V key to switch to my Black Arrow tool. Click on this path outline to select it. Change it's stroke to this deep red swatch and then click this bottom right rectangle and change its stroke to bright red. And we end up with this effect here.
Alright, now I'll switch back to the final image. We need to add these vertical bars right here. Which indicate the points of which the Pen tool process begins and ends over here on the right hand side. And I will do that once again using the Rectangle tool. So I'll just switch back to my image in progress, I will select the Rectangle tool, I'll go ahead and drag like so in order to snap that guy into alignment. And if ever you want to make sure you've got things exactly the right size, then you can click on the word Transform up here on the Control panel and notice that we have even values all the way around.
So, the width of this rectangle is 24 points, which is the same size as the grid, and height is 336 points, it would be a problem if we were seeing decimals but the way things are, everything is in good shape. And now I'll press Shift+X in order to swap the fill and the stroke, so that we have no stroke and I'll change the fill to that bright green. And now I'll go ahead and duplicate this guy like so just by dragging him down and pressing the Alt key and changing its fill to deep green. So you can see that the grid makes quick work of these sorts of graphics.
I'll go ahead and select both of the bars, drag them over, and press the Alt or Option key on a Mac in order to make duplicates of them. Click off, click on this guy to select him, change its fill to deep red. And then grab this guy and change its fill to bright red. And we end up with this effect. Alright, now to draw the big central black box. I'm going to take a different approach to this one. Of course I'll use the Rectangle tool to draw the thing in the first place. What I'm going to draw, it's officially big to fill in this entire area between the existing rectangles. And then I'll press the I key, to grab the Eyedropper, and I'll go ahead and click in one of these rectangles to lift its attributes, and then I'll change the stroke color from, in my case, bright green to black. And now we want to move things in here, incrementally.
So I'll grab the White Arrow tool, which you can get by pressing the A key, and I'll marquee this top edge. And I know I want to move it four grid increments down, I also know that each one of the grid increments is 24 points. With the White Arrow tool selected, I'll press the Enter key or the Return key on a Mac to bring up the Move dialog box, whatever last move you applied is what you're going to see. Which is probably going to be a bad thing. So, for starters just change both the horizontal, and vertical values to 0 point. Turn on the Preview check box so you can see what you're doing.
A positive vertical value results in a downward movement. So I'm going to change this value to 24 points and press the Tab key. And I can see that moves that segment down one grid increment. I want to move down four. So I'll click after 24 points and enter asterisk four, in order to multiply that value times 4 and I'll press the Tab key and now I see 24 times 4 is 96 points. More importantly, I have moved this segment down one, two, three, four grid increments. Now click OK. And I'm going to do the same thing, only the opposite way with this bottom segment. So I'll marquee it, with a Wide Arrow tool and press the Enter key or the Return key on a Mac in order to bring up the Move dialogue box. I'm seeing my last movement.
So I'll just go ahead and take that vertical value and change it to negative 96, and that will move the segment upward, four grid increments as you can see here. Now I'll click OK. And now we need to do something similar with the right edge, I'll marquee it. Press the Enter key or the Return key on a Mac. We want to go ahead and zero out the values again, just so we're not getting confused. And this time, I'm going to change to a horizontal value to 24 points. If I press the Tab key, you can see that moves that segment the wrong direction, so apparently, I need to enter a negative value.
And I want to move this segment in two increments, so I'll click after the value and enter asterisk two, and press the Tab key. And I end up with this effect here. Click OK. Marquee this left hand segment. Press the Enter key or the Return key on a Mac. Get rid of the negative sign before the horizontal value. Press the Tab key and I can see I've got exactly the effect I'm looking for. And now I'll click OK in order to accept that rectangle. So I'll go ahead and press the Tab key, in order to hide my panels.
And then I'll press Ctrl+0, or Cmd+0 on the Mac, in order to fill my screen with the artwork. There you have it, a total of five precisely aligned rectangles, thanks to the power of the customizable grid here inside Illustrator. If you're a member of the lynda.com online training library, then I have a total of two, count them two, followup movies. In the first one I show you how to draw these precision arrow heads here, the green ones and the red ones. And in the second movie, I show you how to trace arrow heads around a closed path outline, specifically this black rectangle.
And it's really important information. Because, know what's going on here. We've got this red arrowhead cutting into a different path and we've got the black arrowhead cutting into itself and that's a function of applying multiple arrowheads and precisely aligning and scaling them on a single path outline. If you're waiting for next weeks free movie, I'll show you how to draw the pen tool without ever once using the pen tool. Deke's Techniques each and every week. Keep watching.
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