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Adding callout numbers with Convert to Shape

From: Illustrator Insider Training: Rethinking the Essentials

Video: Adding callout numbers with Convert to Shape

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.

Adding callout numbers with Convert to Shape

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.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Illustrator Insider Training: Rethinking the Essentials
 
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  1. 8m 22s
    1. Welcome
      1m 15s
    2. Exploring the Illustrator Timeline
      5m 12s
    3. Getting the most out of this training
      1m 30s
    4. Using the exercise files
      25s
  2. 16m 27s
    1. Starting off on the right foot
      27s
    2. Knowing the difference between structure and presentation
      4m 38s
    3. Understanding paths and attributes
      4m 56s
    4. Distributing stroke weight along a path
      2m 25s
    5. Bottoms up: Object hierarchy and stacking order
      4m 1s
  3. 51m 9s
    1. The all-important Appearance panel
      37s
    2. Understanding attribute stacking order
      6m 45s
    3. Targeting individual object attributes
      7m 32s
    4. Adding multiple attributes to a single object
      9m 31s
    5. Modifying appearances with Live Effects
      7m 11s
    6. Using multiple strokes to create a border design
      4m 36s
    7. Using multiple strokes to create a map
      5m 52s
    8. Using multiple fills to mix spot colors
      4m 59s
    9. Using multiple fills to create textures
      4m 6s
  4. 46m 2s
    1. Learning to live with appearances
      30s
    2. Basic appearance vs. complex appearance
      4m 27s
    3. Clearing or expanding an appearance
      10m 52s
    4. Controlling the appearance of newly drawn art
      5m 11s
    5. Saving appearances with graphic styles
      6m 54s
    6. Changing artwork by modifying a graphic style
      7m 39s
    7. Uncovering a treasure trove of graphic styles
      5m 1s
    8. Copying appearances with the Eyedropper tool
      5m 28s
  5. 33m 28s
    1. Why do we create groups?
      1m 48s
    2. Applying an effect to a group
      4m 38s
    3. Understanding the difference between targeting and selecting
      4m 44s
    4. Knowing the dangers of ungrouping artwork
      2m 21s
    5. Using Isolation mode to preserve group structure
      6m 59s
    6. Adding a stroke to a group
      6m 13s
    7. Adding a 3D effect to a group
      3m 36s
    8. Extending the concept of groups to type objects
      3m 9s
  6. 46m 34s
    1. Are you a layers person?
      33s
    2. Learning to use the Layers and Objects panel
      9m 27s
    3. Making selections and editing stacking order
      6m 38s
    4. Reading and using the target circles
      8m 43s
    5. Copying artwork and appearances
      5m 37s
    6. Adding effects to layers
      9m 56s
    7. Getting the most out of the Layers panel
      5m 40s
  7. 47m 19s
    1. It's more than just a drop shadow?
      48s
    2. Adding basic texture with Mezzotint
      7m 50s
    3. Generating custom textures with Texturizer
      12m 22s
    4. Adding a stroke to an image with Outline Object
      5m 54s
    5. Aligning text precisely with Outline Object
      6m 31s
    6. Adding callout numbers with Convert to Shape
      4m 36s
    7. Enhancing performance with Rasterize
      2m 30s
    8. Avoiding pitfalls when using effects
      6m 48s
  8. 31m 59s
    1. Asking yourself the "what if?" question
      33s
    2. Outlining artwork with Offset Path and Pathfinder Add
      5m 36s
    3. Adding captions with Convert to Shape and Transform
      7m 1s
    4. Creating a crosshatch effect with Scribble
      5m 44s
    5. Creating buttons with Round Corners and Transform
      13m 5s
  9. 25m 21s
    1. Working with other people's files
      36s
    2. Setting up a workspace that makes sense
      9m 43s
    3. Learning to "read" an Illustrator file
      5m 48s
    4. Controlling pixel resolution
      9m 14s
  10. 1m 2s
    1. Next steps
      1m 2s

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