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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.
In the previous chapter, we've already explored the ability to convert text into some other kind of a shape using the Convert to Shape effect. We actually did that to turn text into a circle so we can easily call out certain areas on top of a photograph. However, that was using numbers. Let's say we actually want to include some kind of caption or a label. And let's say instead of just a circle, we actually want a little bit more of a sophisticated shape. Well, when we start combining different effects together, we can actually do some pretty amazing things. Let's take a look at this example here. I am working in a file called captions.ai, and I'll select this text here.
It's just called caption, and I'll move it into a position here where I would like it to go. As we know, I really can't read that very well, so I want to put some kind of a background behind it to make it more readable. If I look at my Appearance panel, I'll see now that I have a type object. It's my target, and I am going to start off by first adding a new fill to this object. So I am going to go over here inside of the Appearance panel. Let's add a new fill. And I'll change the color of this fill to white. I am actually going to go ahead and make this Appearance panel just a little bit bigger because as we're soon going to see, we're going to need to see a lot of information inside this Appearance panel.
Now, the next thing I want to do is I actually want to convert this white fill now to a shape. However, before I do that, I want to move the fill beneath the characters in the stacking order, so that my black text will appear on top of this white shape. So I am going take this white fill right here and drag it so that it appears beneath the characters in the stacking order for this object. Great! I am now going to target the white fill. I am actually going to click on the triangle here to reveal the contents of that white fill, because we're going to start making some changes here and I want to be able to see all those clearly here inside the Appearance panel.
Now, I am going to start by first going over here to the Effect menu. And I am going to choose Convert to Shape, and let's choose Rounded Rectangle this time. Now, you can see what happens here. Illustrator now took the word caption, and converted that to a Rounded Rectangle. It did so by adding 18 pixels to the width and to the height. Now this is using a setting called Relative, which means that as the text would change, that rectangle would also change to match the size of the text. If I were to choose Absolute, for example, that would mean that no matter what I do with the text, the box will always stay the same size.
But I actually want the actual shape itself to change with the size of the text. However, going with 18 pixels of extra width and extra height is way too much here, so I am going to change the Extra Width to be only about 8 pixels. I'll type in 8 and hit the Tab key. And then as far as Extra Height, I'll change it to only 1 pixel. And then for Corner Radius, I am going to type in a value of 4. Now if I hit Tab, remember about this issue now, I automatically advance now to the Absolute setting here, so I just want to make sure that I am clicking on Relative before I click the OK button.
So I am going to click OK, and now if I take a look at what I see on my screen, I see a very nice little button that has a little kind of round rectangle behind it. However, I want to add a little bit more to this. For example, in order to give it little bit more of a modern appearance, and also to help me identify exactly what I am pointing to in the image, I am going to add some kind of an arrow feature to this caption. Now, I don't have to worry about going to the Pen tool or Shape tools and start working with elements here. I want all this to be a part of the caption itself. So once again, I am going to select the caption here, and I am actually going to do this by yet creating another rectangle for this object.
Now, we already have a fill that was converted to a rounded rectangle, so instead of me doing all my work over again, I am simply going to duplicate the effect that I already have. So I am going to target this fill, and then at the bottom of the Appearance panel, I am going to click on this button which allows me to duplicate the selected item. So now that I've done this, I have two fills: both of them are white and have a rounded rectangle. But I am going to change now the settings for the one that's on top. You know before I do this, I am actually going to change this to like a gray color, because I want you to be able to see exactly the settings that we're doing, so that you better understand what we're trying to achieve.
If I leave it white, as you make settings here and changes to this appearance, it'll be difficult to actually see what we're doing. So I've changed it to a gray color. And now I want to change that Rounded Rectangle effect to be somewhat different. So I am going to click on the Rounded Rectangle effect here to bring up this Shape Options dialog box. And this time I actually want to create an absolute shape. I don't want it to change with the actual text itself. I want to create one rectangle that's always going to be consistent. I also don't need a rounded rectangle, so I am going to change this here to regular rectangle, and I'll change the Width and Height over here to be exactly 18 pixels.
Now remember, I just hit the Tab key again, so I am going to go back and make sure that I check Absolute. It's set to 18 by 18. And take a look at what we've done. We've created this gray square over here as a separate fill. It doesn't really look that great, but hang on just a minute, because we're actually going to move that rectangle using a Transform effect. So let's click OK over here. We now have two separate fills that we've added to our text object. One has been converted to a white rounded rectangle; one has been converted to a perfect square that right now is colored gray.
Let's go ahead now and target that gray square. So I have that fill targeted. I am going to go to the Effect menu, and I am going to choose Distort and Transform, and this time we'll choose Transform. This brings up the Transform Effect dialog box. Now in order for us to see what we're doing, I am going to click on the Preview button. And the first thing I want to do is I want to rotate this 45 degrees. So you can see now that it kind of has this kind of triangle appearance here, or a diamond shape. But it's all contained within the actual shape itself. I actually would like this to kind of move down, so that it looks like there's an arrow pointing down at the bottom of the white rectangle.
To do that, I am going to look at these Move sliders. I don't want to move this horizontally, but I do want to move it vertically. I'll type in a value here of about 6 pixels. And you could see now that the triangle part over here is kind of extending beyond the boundary of the white rectangle. So now I am going to click OK, and now that you've seen exactly what we've done with these two fills, I am going to change this gray fill back to white. See now, it doesn't look like it when we first are staring at our document, but there are actually two fills there with different Convert to Shape commands.
But combined together, they give me the look of this caption. And the beautiful thing about this is that because we've used the Relative effect for the rounded rectangle, as I change my caption, the background will actually change accordingly. Let me show you what I mean. I am going to take my Type tool and I'll change the word "caption" to "leaves." Now I'll take the word "leaves" and I am going to Option+Drag to make a copy, or Alt+Drag on Windows. And now I'll double-click to edit the text, and I'll type in the word "flowers." So you can see now that the actual size of this white rectangle will grow or shrink depending on how large my type is.
So now what I've created is a more modern appearance, but I've applied that directly to my text object. So I can make easy edits, and of course, I can save this all as a graphic style. So once again, we see a clear example of how efficient we can be when we think about combining different effects into a single appearance.
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