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Illustrator Insider Training: Rethinking the Essentials is the first installment in a series of courses designed to show experienced Illustrator users to how master core features and build art more efficiently. Adobe Illustrator has evolved dramatically over the years, and many creative professionals may be missing out on features that have been added to the latest versions. This course takes a fresh approach to core concepts, such as paths, attributes, object hierarchy, groups, and layers. Advanced techniques such as combining multiple effects and customizing textures are also included. Exercise files and a free worksheet are included with the course.
You know, when you take a look through the Effect menu, sometimes you find some things that don't seem to make a lot of sense. For example, when I first kind of started perusing through the Effect menu, I saw this setting here called Convert to Shape, and you can convert objects to rectangles, rounded rectangles, or an ellipse. I thought to myself, you know, if I really wanted a rectangle, why don't I just draw a rectangle to begin with. Why would I create some other kind of shape and then convert it to a rectangle as an effect? However, when I really started to understand the uses for effects, and more importantly, when I understood that the effect was simply modifying the presentation or the appearance of artwork, I realized just how valuable this effect can be.
For example, what happens if you use the Convert to Shape effect to text elements? In fact, that's what we are going to do right over here. I have a nice little image here, and I have some numbers. Sometimes you need to label some artwork. You know, I have to put some numbers here, so that I can reference those somehow. So maybe I have here this number 1, which I can maybe drag till say the leaf, and then maybe the number 2 would come down here and identify maybe this flower. The problem though, is that when I first look at this, it's hard to read those numbers. And yeah, I can maybe knock it out in reverse or something, but then it depends on the contrast, the background.
I'd much rather have some kind of shape maybe that will contain these numbers inside of them. Now I could draw little circles and put the numbers inside of them, but then again, I'm starting to deal with multiple objects that I then have to maybe group together, always make sure that they resize and move around together. If there was only some way where I could actually incorporate some kind of a background into the numbers themselves. Boy, that would save me a lot of time. In fact, that's just what we are going to do now in this movie. So I am going to start out by first selecting the number 1 right here. Now if we look at our Appearance panel, I see that I have a type object that's currently targeted.
I know I have characters inside of that because we already know that our type elements are like groups inside of Illustrator. But I want to create like a white circle that appears behind this number. So I am going to start out by adding a fill to this group. Right now, this fill is colored black, but I am going to change that to white. Let's change it to a white fill right here. And you can see that I basically have now a white number 1, which I could've done just by changing the color of the object itself to white, but this is now a secondary fill. However, we're going to change the visual form of that fill, which right now looks like a number 1, and we are going to convert it to a shape.
So with the fill targeted, I am now going to go to the Effect menu, I am going to choose Convert to Shape, and I am going to convert this to an ellipse. Now the Shape Options dialog box comes up here. Let's click on the Preview button, so we could see what's happening. I can either choose to set the actual size of that ellipse to be relative to the object itself--meaning that as the object gets bigger the circle gets bigger-- or I can deal specifically with absolute sizes. In this case here, I actually want to create a circle that's going to be consistent and always absolute.
So I am now going to type in a value of-- let's try around maybe 24 points, or 24 pixels in this case here. I hit the Tab key, and that looks pretty good to me. Now I just want to make sure--this is interesting about this Shape Options dialog box. Notice I hit 24 pixels, then I hit Tab. I hit 24 pixels and I hit Tab again to accept that value, but doing so made this field now active, which automatically now turned on the relative option. So, I don't know if it's a bug or if it's just kind of bad design for the dialog box, but after I hit the Tab key, after entering the height, I just need to go back and make sure that I'm actually using the absolute value and not the relative value.
So now I am going to click OK. So now what I've done is I've taken that number 1 and I've converted it into a circle. Now if we look at the stacking order for our artwork right here, I see that Illustrator first paints the character-- which is the number 1--and then it paints the white circle on top of it. Well, that's not going to work because I can't see 1, so I am simply going to take this fill and drag it beneath the characters in the stacking order. So let me deselect this right now, and we could see that I've now created a number that automatically has this white circle behind it. No matter where I move that number inside of the file, that white circle will always move with it.
Now I want to apply it to this number 2 as well, and of course I can use the Eyedropper tool for that. So I'll select this number 2. I'll select my Eyedropper tool, and click on this 1 right over here, and I've now applied that same exact appearance to that number. So I've now used an effect inside of Illustrator to actually convert one of the fills of my text objects into a physical shape. It's a great technique, and I hope it inspires you to learn a little bit more about this Convert to Shape effect as well.
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