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This course is the third in a four-part series devoted to mastering the premiere graphics creation application, Adobe Illustrator, version CS6. Industry pro Deke McClelland takes a project-based learning approach to the key features in Illustrator, including Recolor Artwork, transparency, masks, blend modes, strokes and fills, and dynamic effects. The course also covers techniques for creating custom gradients, designing logos, generating photorealistic neon text, and wrapping type around objects. Plus, Deke shows how to call up the most essential features by organizing your workspace and employing time-saving keyboard shortcuts, how to manage the color settings, and how to adjust a few settings to make the program work even better.
In this movie I'll show you how to adjust a few key preference settings so that you can get your work done more quickly and with less frustration, especially as you begin to assemble more complicated artwork. To get to the Preference Settings, press Ctrl+ K or Command+K on the Mac, and that will bring up the Preferences dialog box. And this first item, Keyboard Increment, is something that I'd like to modify. Now, by default it's set to 1-point, which means every time you press an arrow key, you nudge the selection by a point. But while you can always nudge by a greater increment by pressing Shift along with an arrow key, you can't nudge by a smaller increment, the way you can inside InDesign, for example.
So it pays when you're working in Illustrator to set the Keyboard Increment to something small in the first place. I find that 0.2 point works out very nicely. That is a fifth of a point. In that way, especially when I am nudging anchor points or curved segments around inside of an illustration, I can do so with precision. And if I want to nudge by a larger increment, such as 2 points in this case, I would press Shift along with an arrow key, and if I want to nudge by still larger increments, I can double-click on an arrow tool icon in the toolbox in order to bring up the Move dialog box.
You want to make sure your Constrain Angle is set to 0° as by default, otherwise you'll start drawing rectangles and ellipses and textboxes and all kinds of stuff at an angle. These checkboxes are set fine by default, but I do want to show you how Use Preview Bounds works. I'll leave it off for the moment and click OK, and then I'll go ahead and draw a rectangle here, like so, and I'll go ahead and draw another one below it. And I'll assign this second rectangle a thick Line Weight, such as 30 points. Then I'll press the V key to switch back to my Black Arrow tool and I'll Shift+click on the first rectangle so they're both selected, and then I'll click on a line up here in the Control panel--make sure the panel is set to Align to Selection--and then click on Vertical Align Top and that will go ahead and align the top segments in those two shapes.
And notice the Strokes aren't in alignment, but the paths themselves are. If you'd prefer to work the other way around, then you press Ctrl+K or Command+K on the Mac, and you turn on Use Preview Bounds, then click OK; and now notice if I go back to that exact same option, Vertical Align Top, and I click on it, that goes ahead and nudges the first rectangle upward so the two Strokes are in alignment. So what you're doing is you're aligning based on appearance instead of structure. So I'll go ahead and delete those two rectangles; they have no business in this artwork.
Our next option has to do with making selections. I'm going to go ahead and advance to this document here and I'm going to zoom in on this little Start menu icon that I drew, and I'll double-click on it as well in order to enter the Group Isolation mode. Now, this is a pretty complicated little piece of artwork here. And let's say I want to select this region of blue down below; if I end up clicking here, I select a little colorful window guys, and that's because they're casting a drop shadow. So in other words, I'm selecting based on the appearance of this artwork as opposed to, once again, its structure.
If I press the A key to get my White Arrow tool--and let's say I want to select a point, just an anchor point, somewhere on this blue circle. If I end up clicking inside the circle--well, in this case I still am selecting the drop shadow, so I need to get farther away from it, if I click right about here, let's say-- I end up selecting the entire shape because I clicked inside of its Fill instead of on its path outline. So I'd have to click off to deselect the artwork and then try to click more precisely right there in its outline. I missed again. This time I'll position my cursor where it needs to be and I'll press Ctrl+Shift+A or Command+Shift+A on the Mac to deselect the artwork, then I'll click, and this time I get the anchor point.
So it can get pretty gnarly when you're working in complex artwork, even something like this where it's a complex element inside of an otherwise pretty simple piece of art. So here's what you do. I'll press Ctrl+Shift+A or Command+Shift+A on the Mac in order to deselect my artwork, and then I'll press Ctrl+K or Command+K on the Mac to bring up the Preferences dialog box. I'll switch to this next option down here on the left hand side, Selection & Anchor Display, and notice this checkbox right there--Object Selection by Path Only. Now, if you turn it on, you're going to have to work more precisely inside the program, but you'll have more flexibility too; you'll be able to select through objects the way you do when you're in the Outline mode.
So I'll go ahead and turn this checkbox on, then click OK. Now if I click inside of this blue ellipse, I don't select anything, because I'm not selecting based on its appearance, there is nothing at that location. Whereas if I move my cursor over, at some point I'll see a little square next to my cursor, and that will show me that there's a path outline underneath, and I'll click. It doesn't select the entire shape this time, it just selects the segment that I clicked on, which allows me to then click on an anchor point in order to select it. Also, this is interesting, I'll press Ctrl+Shift+ A or Command+Shift+A again, and I'll move inside of this orange window right there.
Notice that I've got a square next to my cursor, that shows me that there's a path outline at this location, and if I click, it turns out to be the outline around the blue ellipse, which is exactly what I wanted. So you're selecting based on the structures of the paths and not their appearance, which I can tell you based on experience is a little tricky at times, but it's a more advanced way to work and you're not going to find yourself having to Ctrl+Click or Command+Click in order to select down a stack. There is an equivalent to that option that affects text.
So I'll go ahead and switch to my next document, this one that we worked with in Chapter 11 of the intermediate course. Now notice that clicking inside of the background image doesn't select it, even though it is unlocked by the way. And that's because I'm not selecting based on appearance anymore. If I want to select that image, then I'd have to zoom out and click on its outline, like so; which is actually great, because then I'm not accidentally selecting the image all the time. But let's say I want to select done dirt cheap right there and I click right about there, I end up selecting the word design, because Illustrator is taking into account where the descenders would be, as well as where the ascenders would be.
So even though you're clicking on what appears to be the h in cheap, you end up selecting the word design instead. If you want to get around that, then press Ctrl+K or Command+K on the Mac once again, and I'm going to go ahead and turn that Use Preview Bounds option off, because I prefer not to work with it, I just want you to see how it works, and then I'll click on Type over here on the left hand list. And notice that you've got this option, Type Object Selection by Path Only. If you turn it on and then click OK, now notice if I click on this h, I'm not going to select anything, because I'm not clicking on the baseline for either text object.
Now I have to click exactly on the baseline or this baseline here in order to select that text, and it doesn't matter if you have many text objects overlapping each other, as long as you can click on the text object's baseline, you'll select it. All right! Just one more item I want to show you, I'll press Ctrl+K or Command+K on the Mac to revisit the Preferences, and then I'll switch down to Plug-ins & Scratch Disks. If you want Illustrator to work as efficiently as possible and crash on you as infrequently as possible, then you want to adjust the Scratch Disks, which gives Illustrator a little more wiggle room when you're working on very complex documents that take up a lot of room and memory.
Assuming that you have multiple hard drives installed on your computer--and this is only for those of you with multiple internal hard drives--then you want to change the Primary Drive to not your Startup Drive. So in my case I'd change it to the D Drive. And then change your Secondary Drive to the Startup Drive, or if you've got another drive to work with, you can select it instead. I'm going to select the Startup Drive. Note that these particular changes will only take effect the next time you start Illustrator. So what you want to do is click OK and then go up to the File menu and choose the Exit command here on the PC or the Quit command on the Mac, and then relaunch the software.
Every time you quit Illustrator, it forces the program to save your preference settings; that way if you crash, you don't lose those settings the next time you start the software. And that's how you adjust a few key preference settings in order to achieve a more advanced and more efficient experience here inside Illustrator.
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