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Knowing the fundamentals of drawing and reshaping paths is only part of the story. In Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Advanced, the second of the popular One-on-One series, computer graphics expert Deke McClelland covers some of Illustrator's most powerful and least understood features. He shows how to merge simple shapes to create complex ones with the Pathfinder palette, as well as align paths to create schematic illustrations. Deke explains how to paint fluid, multicolor fills with blends, and the new and improved gradient tool. He explores seamlessly repeating tile patterns, blobs and brushes, and imported images. He also dives into one of the deepest features in all of Illustrator, transparency. Exercise files accompany the tutorial.
Recommended prerequisite: Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals.
Download Deke's customized keyboard layouts and color settings for Illustrator from the Exercise Files tab.
In this exercise we are going to take that single prong that we created in the previous exercise and we are going to duplicate it a couple of times in order to create a three-pronged hook. Then we're going to take three-pronged hook and we're going to duplicate it five times in order to create our precise interlocking design. I've gone ahead and saved my progress as One interlocking prong.ai. I'm going to go ahead and zoom out a couple of clicks here. I'm going to select this guy by Alt-clicking on it with a White Arrow tool and I could just as easily use the Black Arrow tool, but anyway here we go.
Now I'm going to switch over to the Rotate tool right there, and I'm going to Alt-click or Option-click somewhere in this general area. We don't have to get this exactly right at this point, so just Alt- click or Option-click above the prong like so. Now we need three prongs in all this, one down, one up into the right, and one up into the left over here. I'm just gesturing over this tiny little template thumbnail in the lower right corner of the screen. So there's 360 degrees in a circle. If we have three items, each one of them is rotated a third of 360 degrees away from the other one so that is 120 degrees. Or I believe, let me try something here, I believe I can do 360/3. Yes, I can. So I can have it do the math for me. Did you see that? Once again I'll just go and show you. Let's go ahead and angle it zero here for a moment 360/3, press Tab and it goes ahead and does the math, then click the Copy button like so.
Then I'll press Ctrl+D or Command+D on the Mac in order to create another duplicate. So I'm taking advantage of that Power Duplication feature inside of Illustrator. Now let's go back to the Black Arrow tool. What the heck! Click on this shape in order to select it, drag by the anchor point until it snaps into alignment with this anchor point there. And then do the same with this guy, drag it by its anchor point until it snaps into alignment with this anchor point. With any lock everything is exactly where it need to be.
Let's go ahead and test the waters here with the White Arrow tool. I'll go ahead and marquee two coincident points and press Ctrl+J, Command+J on a Mac. Corner point is what I want, click OK. Then I'll marquee two points, press Ctrl+J, Command+ J on a Mac. I get the dialog box. That's a good thing, so far so good. Click OK. Now we might not have these guys totally in alignment, because even if the alignment is a hair's breath of, which it probably is, just because it's impossible to get things exactly, exactly aligned.
So if these two points here that I'm about to marquee are even slightly off from each other, we are not going to see the dialog box. So let's see what happens. I'll press Ctrl+J, Command+J on a Mac. Sure enough I didn't see the dialog box. There must be some tiny infinitesimal little gap between those guys. I'm going to press Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on the Mac to undo that modification, because I do not want to have that an extra little segment in that position there. So I'm going to click off the shape to deselect it and then pressing Ctrl+Spacebar at the same time. This is Command+Spacebar on a Mac. I'm going to do a tiny little marquee like this and then we are going to zoom in and let's go ahead and marquee these points and see what's up.
Oh, gosh! They sure look like they are right on top of each other. This is the maximum zoom level here, 6400% and I cannot see any gap between those points. Oh, well! Let's go ahead and select just one of them. I clicked off those shapes by the way in order to deselect them, and now I'm going to drag one of these points. This is the one I want to drag. I want to drag this guy upward. I don't want to move the vertical segment at all. So I just wanted to separate to those guys from each other, and then I could drag them back on top of each other like so, if I wanted to and then try marqueeing and pressing Ctrl+J or Command+J again or let's try out something different.
Instead, I'll just make sure that this point is selected. I'm going to go ahead and zoom out so I can keep track of everybody else. I just want this point and only this point selected and I'm going to press a Backspace key or the Delete key on a Mac in order to get rid of it. Then with all the points selected I only have one pair of end points now. So I'll press Ctrl+J or Command+J to select them with a single straight segment. We now have something that's worthy of calling an accurate interlocking object here inside Illustrator. So I'm going to ahead and grab my Black Arrow tool now, and I'll drag by this new point right there and actually, no, that's the wrong point, sorry. I would need to align this area right there to the point and there is no point there.
So I'll drag from this anchor point and snap it into alignment with that inner corner of the star. And we have our first three-pronged hook ready to interlock with all of its neighbors as we'll see in the next exercise.
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