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Knowing the fundamentals of drawing and reshaping paths is only part of the story. In Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Advanced, the second of the popular One-on-One series, computer graphics expert Deke McClelland covers some of Illustrator's most powerful and least understood features. He shows how to merge simple shapes to create complex ones with the Pathfinder palette, as well as align paths to create schematic illustrations. Deke explains how to paint fluid, multicolor fills with blends, and the new and improved gradient tool. He explores seamlessly repeating tile patterns, blobs and brushes, and imported images. He also dives into one of the deepest features in all of Illustrator, transparency. Exercise files accompany the tutorial.
Recommended prerequisite: Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals.
Download Deke's customized keyboard layouts and color settings for Illustrator from the Exercise Files tab.
In this exercise I'm going to show you how to take a group of objects and align them with respect to the Artboard. So as I was telling you, here I'm working inside of that same piece of artwork Checkerboard art.ai and all I have done so far is move the central four checkers into alignment with each other just by dragging and snapping the anchor points in the place. Now, I was telling you that the Artboard measures 640 points wide and 640 points tall and that each checkerboard is exactly a quarter of those dimensions. So 160 points wide, 160 points tall. So what we need to do is to take these four central checkers and move them into alignment with the center of the Artboard.
And here is how we are going to do it. Go ahead and select all four like so just by marking through them with the Black Arrow tool. Then we have got these Alignment options up here in the Control palette or here in the Align palette you can work either way. What you want to do though is you want to make sure that you are aligning these objects right here with respect not to each other but rather with respect to the Artboard. So I'm going to go ahead and click on this down pointing arrow head in order to bring up this little pop-up menu of options and you can see you can either Align to a Selection and we'll see how that works, or Align to a Key Object, we'll see how that works because that's super powerful or Align to the Artboard which is what we want right now.
So mine is already selected that's the option that's selected for me, but for you it might not be. Go ahead and turn that on in any case, and you will see nothing whatsoever happened. Because all you have done is change the Preferences setting, you have changed the behavior of these icons right here. And just so as you now what you have is a collection of three Horizontal Alignment options, three Vertical Alignment options and then you have Vertical Distribution options and Horizontal Distribution options and we'll come to Distribution later. But typically when you are aligning you have to set both a Horizontal alignment point and a Vertical alignment point. So, let's say we want to align these objects with respect to the center of the Artboard. So we'd start with horizontal center and then move on to vertical center. So go ahead and click on Horizontal Align Center and you will make a mess of things, why? Well because Illustrator is aligning each one of my squares independently and then if I go ahead and request Vertical Align Center by clicking on that icon then I have put all the squares directly on top of each other. That's obviously not what I want, so I'll go ahead and press Ctrl+Z, Ctrl+Z, Command+Z, Command+Z, a couple of times there on the Mac. If you want to maintain the distribution or the alignment of a group of selected objects then they need to be grouped together.
So you go up to the Object menu and you choose a Group Command or you press Ctrl+G, Command+G on the Mac and now relative position of those objects inside of the group will remain exactly as it is. They will not be modified by any of the Alignment or Distribution options. Now notice we completely lost our Distribution options up here in the Control palette because there is nothing to distribute to. You need three objects at minimum in order to create some sort of distribution and we'll see how that works, later. But we just have one object at this point. All right, so I'm going to go ahead and click on Horizontal Align Center and that goes ahead and aligns this group of four objects with the exact center of the Artboard and now I'll click on Vertical Align Center and we put those checkers exactly where they need to be.
So now that we have got these four central checkers aligned the way we need them, we are ready to align the other checkers inside of our artwork and we'll see how that works starting in the next exercise.
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