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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.
We know that we can apply two different kinds of attributes to artwork inside of Illustrator, those being fills and strokes. Many of us assume that I can apply just one fill and one stroke to each object. However, another benefit that we get by using the Appearance panel is that we can apply multiple fills and multiple strokes to a single object. We've seen in the past that I can take a single object, have just the fill be transparent but not the stroke, and you may've thought that we needed to create two different paths or objects to get that effect, but we were able to do it with just one path.
So by using the Appearance panel, we were being more efficient in how we created our artwork. As we'll soon see now with multiple fills and multiple strokes, that concept is going to get magnified. We can actually be far more efficient with how we create our artwork in this way. For example, I have this shape over here, and it has the yellow fill with a 20- point dark blue stroke. Let's say I wanted to create more of an interesting kind of border around this piece of artwork. I'll go to the Appearance panel, and in the bottom left-hand corner, I am going to click on this button that's called Add New Stroke.
By the way, another way to get to that command is to go to the flyout menu of the Appearance panel and choose Add New Stroke. You'll notice now that inside of my Appearance panel I have my path targeted. But I can see that I have one fill and two 20- point blue strokes applied to my object. Now the object doesn't look any different because both strokes are stacked directly on top of each other. Remember how important the attribute stacking order is here. I can only see the topmost stroke because the one that appears underneath it is kind of hidden by the first one. So you may even ask yourself, why would I even want to create two different strokes? What's the value of it if I can't even see it? Well, remember also that I can modify each setting for each attribute individually by targeting just that one attribute.
So if I were to come here to my Appearance panel and I were to target just the topmost stroke, I could change its stroke weight to something a little bit less--like maybe 7 points--and I can also change its color to maybe red. Take a look at what you see on your screen now. Now, I have a single yellow fill, but I have two different strokes that have been applied to that same object, and I am able to see both of those strokes because I've made different changes to them. In fact, you'll notice that the word stroke appears with an underline here inside of the Appearance panel. Now as we've discussed before, we have many different settings we can apply to strokes, like cap endings, or even dashed Lines.
So you wanted to have a little bit more of an interesting kind of effect here, and you wanted just that red line to be a dashed Line. I don't have to go hunting for the Stroke panel; I can click on the word "stroke" right here, and I can access all the settings for the Stroke panel directly from the Appearance panel. So in this case here, I am actually going to turn on the dashed Line and maybe I'll set the dash to about 18 points and the gap to around 4 points. So now I have this interesting dash line that I've applied, and I'll click outside the panel here to hide it. You may think that it really doesn't take too much effort to take a single object and then copy and paste in front and give it a second stroke, so working with two objects here wouldn't be in the end of the world.
But I want to show you, again, where this whole efficiency concept comes into the place, how powerful appearances can be when you're editing artwork. I'll switch to my Direct Selection tool, and I'll click on this anchor point right here, so that I can now see its control handles. Now, say I wanted to modify the curve on the shape. I can click on the control handle and make a modification to this. You'll notice something very interesting here: both of the strokes were both modified at once. This is actually a limitation of Illustrator, had I created two separate paths and apply different stroke settings to the two different paths.
You'll see inside of Illustrator, you can only move the control handle of one path at a time. So if I had actually created two different paths here, I would have to modify one path first, make a change to its control handle location, and then select the other path and make the exact same edit to that control handle. It's very difficult to do that, and of course takes twice as much time, whereas here inside of Illustrator I am only dealing with one path. The structure is the same, but what I've done is I've modified its appearance.
I've modified its presentation by creating two different strokes. Let's press Undo here because we've just now added two strokes to our object, but we can also add multiple fills to a single object. So once again, I am going to use my regular Selection tool to select the entire object. I'll come down to the bottom of the Appearance panel, and now I'll click on this button, which allows me to add a new fill. Notice, by the way, that Illustrator added this fill to the top of the stacking order. So now this fill actually appears on top of both of those strokes. See how it kind of hides the inner sections or the inside part of those strokes as well.
You may ask yourself, sure, I understand the value of applying multiple strokes to a single object because, as we've just seen, we can apply different settings to those strokes that we see now. But a fill always basically fills up the entire area of the object, so the topmost fill will always completely obscure the fill that appears underneath it. So what's the value in having more than one fill in an object? Well, remember that we can apply separate settings to individual attribute. So, for example, I might set an Opacity value to the topmost fill, or I might even specify a fill that already has opacity built into it.
For example, I might take this yellow fill right here at the top and change it to some kind of transparent gradient, so I can see through the topmost fill to the fill that appears beneath it. Now, I am actually going to change the fill back to yellow for a second here because I want to talk for a minute about stacking order. As we've noted over here, if you look from the bottom up, Illustrator first applied the yellow fill, a 20-point blue stroke, an 8-point red dashed stroke, and then a yellow fill on top. But I can take this fill here and move it down in between the two strokes. And if we take a closer look at this--I am going to zoom in on this part here of the artwork-- you can see that this yellow fill is obscuring the inner portion of the 20-point blue stroke.
I can't see the inside part of it here. However, because the red stroke, which is the dashed line that appears at the top of the stacking order, I can see the inside part of that stroke as well. So we could actually build really complex appearances just by working with multiple fills and multiple strokes. Now, I'll change this topmost fill back to a gradient again here, and I'll zoom out a little bit because I want to talk for a minute here about how we use the Color panel, or really the other parts of the user interface that show us where our fills and strokes are. For example, we look over here inside of Control panel or over here on the bottom of Tools panel.
I had discussed before, in the case of Opacity, that I don't really trust these indicators because they don't tell me the full story. Only the Appearance panel gives me that information. Well, take a look at this, for example. Say you had received this logo from a coworker, or from some other person. You're now working on their file, and you need to make some kind of modifications to this. If you're not paying attention to your Appearance panel, you may have a very difficult time making edits or changes to this artwork. For example, just by opening this file, you may right away assume that there are multiple objects in this file, all stacked on top of each other-- maybe some kind of a multicolored gradient, maybe multiple strokes.
But really this is all being built by one path inside of this document. Say, for example, your job is to change that yellow color to a different color. Maybe you want to change that yellow color on the inside to be green. Well, you've been using Illustrator for quite some time, so this should be no problem at all for you to do. You click on the object to select it, and you're looking to see, well, this object is filled with a gradient. In fact, you can see that right here. But you don't know where that yellow part is coming from. It's entirely possible that that yellow is actually in the gradient itself. So you open up the Gradient panel, but you find that right away that there is really just black and transparency there. Oh! That kind of gives you a clue.
They are probably is just a solid yellow shape somewhere at the bottom of this object. So you go ahead and you try to find it, but any time you click somewhere, there's just one object here. In fact, you might think there is a group of objects, because if you go to Outline mode by pressing Command+Y, or Ctrl+Y, you just see one path that's right here. So maybe the user actually grouped these elements together. But if you go to the Object menu, you'll see that Ungroup is grayed out. That means that a group does not exist in this document whatsoever. So you're baffled. You have no idea where that yellow color is, and more importantly, how to change that yellow color to the green.
The only answer to this problem is by looking at the Appearance panel. With the object selected, you can now see, Oh! I see that very clearly. This object has two different fills. One is a transparent gradient; the other one is a yellow fill. If I wanted to change that yellow fill, I can come here, click on this button, change it to green, and that's how I can make an adjustment to my artwork. Now there's an important thing to note here, because not everyone uses their Appearance panel. And Adobe does a really good job on trying to get people to understand how this artwork is actually being built.
If you look over here inside of the Control panel, a little warning symbol applies because right now the current fill that is targeted is not the topmost fill. If I click on this button over here, that'll actually rectify the situation, and select the topmost fill, which will again leave me down the path and figuring out exactly what's going on inside of my artwork. So we're quickly seeing that the Appearance panel is not just a way to add some kind of cheesy effects to our artwork, it's a way for us to build more efficient artwork, and it's also way for us to figure out how artwork itself was built.
You know, speaking of cheesy effects, let's actually talk about that. In the next movie, we're going to cover specifically how to add all different kinds of effects to modify the appearance of your attributes using the Appearance panel.
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