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Adobe Illustrator has long been the most popular and viable vector-drawing program on the market but, for many, the learning curve is steep. In Illustrator CS3 One-on-One: The Essentials , author and leading industry expert Deke McClelland teaches the key features of Illustrator in a way that anyone can understand. He also goes beyond that, showing users how to get into the Illustrator "mindset" to make mastering Illustrator simple and easy. The training covers how to use the core drawing and shape tools, the transformation and reshaping features, text and gradients, and color management and printing features. Even if learning Illustrator has been a struggle in the past, this time it is going to make sense. Exercise files accompany the training.
In this exercise I'm going to show you how to join paths together, because what we have going at this point in time, and by the way I'm working inside of another catch up document here. This illustration is called Join me.ai and of course it's available to you inside of the 03_Line_Art folder. Now what we want to do is we want to take this line here and this line here and joining them together. We also want to take this segment and this arcing segment and join them together. Now why in the world do we need to join them together? Just to ensure that we have a smooth transition from one segment to the other because even though it looks pretty good on screen, there's the off chance that when we go to print this illustration, especially to high resolution image setter, there's a very good chance that these two lines won't exactly align with each other properly and we'll see some sort of gap or some sort of misalignment going on.
If we take the time to go ahead and join each pair of lines into one continuous line apiece than we won't have that misalignment problem. So here's what we're going to do. We're going to start off by grabbing these two guys and joining them together. And when joining points you need to select the endpoints, the endpoints and the endpoints only. So in other words if I were to try to select to both of these lines with the black arrow tool, it wouldn't work because I have all of the points inside both of the lines selected. So instead what I'm getting to do is I'm going to click off the lines in order to deselect them, and I'm going to switch over here to the white arrow tool. As I say I call it the white arrow tool because it's white and it's keyboard shortcut is A for arrow, for crying out loud. It's not D for direct selection.
And then for the black arrow tool your keyboard shortcut is V and that's for move by the way. So we've got the arrow tool and the move tool, or I just prefer to call them the white arrow tool and the black arrow tool. The black arrow tool selects entire objects at a time. The white arrow tool selects individual points and partial objects. So let's go ahead and grab that white arrow tool and then I want you to marquee around these points, like so. And that goes ahead and selects the endpoints of both of these lines as well as this guide intersection because I do not have my guides locked. And if you want to get rid of the guides for a moment so that they're no longer selected, just click the eyeball in order to turn them off. Oh. Now I'm arriving at a problem and if you're working inside of the Join me.ai file, then you're going to see this problem as well, which is I accidentally put this arc on the guides layer. I did that several exercises ago, I didn't notice it at the time, but you know, this kind of stuff happens. All right let's go ahead and turn that guides layer on again and I'm going to switch to the black arrow tool by pressing the V key. I'm going to click on this arc that's located on the wrong layer, and I'm going to drag that little orange square up to the Draw here later, so it's on the right layer now. Okay good. Now I'm ready to press the A key to return to the white arrow tool. I'll drag around these points, like so.
I once again got the guides selected. I can turn off that eyeball and now turn it back on and you can see that that went ahead and got the guides out of the picture there. All right we are now ready to join these two points together and we do that by going up to the Object menu, choosing Paths and then choosing the Join command or you can press Control+J on the PC or Command+J on the Mac, in order to join those two points into one. Now Illustrator's going ask you What kind of point do you want to join these points into? You're going to have just one point at this location now. Should it be a corner point? That is there's a nice corner at this location. Or should it be a smooth point? We have a nice arcing transition here. Well obviously, it should be a smooth point, so click smooth and click OK. All right, so that's now joined together, and you may see your spiral adjust ever so slightly. That's okay.
Now let's go over here and select these two points. We're not going to run into the guide problem this time. Select these two points, go up to the Object menu, choose paths and choose Join again or press Control+J, Command+J on a Mac. No dialog box this time. Why is that? Because my points are not coincident. You know what I mean by that? My points aren't exactly on top of each other, and to see what I mean I'm going to press Control and spacebar or Command and spacebar on the Mac in order to temporarily access my Zoom Tool, and I'm going to drag in a little tight drag around these points like so, and I'm going to zoom in even farther until I've zoomed into the maximum zoom level, which is 6400%, so 64 times normal.
And you can see there are my prior end points right there with a straight segment between them. I'm going to press Control+Z or Command+Z on the Mac to undo the join of those two points and you can see that I've got a tiny gap between those two points. The gap is so tiny. It's just a few microns. We're really way zoomed in here. It's about the size of a large bacterium, and when I say that I'm not joking. That is for real. It's bigger than a virus but it's smaller than your large bacterium. It's small, it's microscopic in other words. And I mention this because Illustrator's that sensitive, bless its heart. It's so, this is so, ahh, this is the way Illustrator's been for eons now. It's been this kind of really supersensitive program. So this goes back to the way old days.
And if the points are exactly on top of each other than it asks you what kind of new point you would like. If they're not exactly an top of each other, it goes ahead and joins the two points in a straight segment. So here's what I recommend you do. Go ahead and undo the joining of those two points. You're going to have to marquee around them once again to make sure that they're both selected independently of any other points inside of the illustration and it's important by the way, that you have that Object selection by path only preference inside the Preferences dialog box turned on, so that you can do this kind of drag inside of the stroke in order to select just those two endpoints.
So here's what you do. You can either do this in a couple of steps. You can go up here to the Control palette, and you can go ahead and align these points together by clicking on Horizontal Align Center and then Vertical Align Center, up here in the Control palette and that functionality, the ability to align individual points, that's new to Illustrator CS3. We didn't use to be able to do that. So that's one way to work. I'll go ahead and backstep a couple of steps there in order to return to my original placement of the points.
Another way to go is to go to the Object menu, choose Path and choose Average or press Control+Alt+J or Command+Option+J on the Mac, in order to display this little Average dialog box right here. Turn on Both and click OK to average both the vertical and horizontal locations of those two points, and then press Control+J and notice you get this Join dialog box or yet another way to work. I'll undo that averaging motion that we just did a moment ago. I'll reselect my points once again. And I'll press Control+Shift+Alt+J, or Command+Shift+Option+J on the Mac. All of those keys together and that will go ahead and join those points automatically. It'll fuse those two points. It'll move them and it'll average their locations and fuse those two points into a single corner point as it's done here. And just to confirm that that's the case I'll click off the point, click on them again and drag them and you can see I'm only moving one point at this location. So that's a function of pressing Control+Shift+Alt+J on the PC or Command+Shift+Option+J on a Mac. So just a ton of options that are available to you for joining points inside of Illustrator. However you decide to do it, it's important that you do it, so that you ensure that what looks like one line on screen, is indeed a single line and prints as a single line as well.
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