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Adobe Illustrator has long been a popular vector–based drawing program, but for many the learning curve is steep. In Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals, author and leading industry expert Deke McClelland shows users how to get in to the Illustrator mindset and overcome this learning curve. He covers the application's key features in a new way, making it simple and easy to master Illustrator. Deke teaches viewers how to use the core drawing and shape tools, the transformation and reshaping features, text, and the Pen tool. He also explains how to export and print. Even if learning Illustrator has been a struggle in the past, this training can help make sense of it. Exercise files accompany the course.
In this exercise, I'm going to demonstrate how to align a group of objects to a single key object from the Align palette and this is an amazing feature, very, very useful. You would never discover it on your own in a million years. And even if you did accidentally discovered, you wouldn't know what it meant. So I think you are going to find this to be a valuable exercise. I am still working inside the Circles.ai file that's found inside the 05_geometric_shapes folder and I have drawn four concentric circles. I just have one more to go. I have got my Ellipse tool selected.
So let's say I decide to click in the center here in order to bring up the Ellipse dialog box. I know that the size of this specific shape, the diameter of the circle is 420 points. This time I'm going to select the Height value and change it to 420 and I'll click on Width and that will load the Height value into the Width value. That's nice and then I'll click OK, so we've spelled directions, in other words. Click OK and oh! I didn't Alt-click. That's my problem. I should Alt-clicked right there or Option-clicked in order to center this circle at the right location. But you know what, I'll take advantage of alignment instead, in fact, let's really goof up everything. Let's just drag these guys all over the place.
I'm just going to move the circles to completely ad hoc positions like so. I will go ahead and turn off the calendar and circles layers so we can just focus on the My drawing layer and I want to show you a great way to turn off multiple layers at the same time, instead of clicking on one and clicking on the other on those eyeballs, so turn them off. Click and drag over them, so if you just drag over a bunch of eyeballs, you are going to turn off all the ones you drag over. Then if you drag them on, you can also do that, see, so you can drag many layers on or you can drag many layers off, pretty cool function.
All right, so you've got all these guides that are in all kinds of different positions right there, only this dude is aligned properly, it's the only one that's aligned to the intersection of the two guidelines. So what I want to do is I want to select everything on this layer, all five shapes, and the easiest way to do that, I told you how you can target a layer by clicking on its meatball, but that targets the entire layer. That doesn't just get the shape. But it also grabs the layer as a whole. That's not what we want, so I'll click off the shapes to deselect them. We just want to select the independent shapes. That is, the shapes independently of the layer and I'm going to do that by Alt-clicking or Option-clicking somewhere inside of this area of the layer, like so. That will go ahead and select everybody. You don't want to Alt-click or Option-click on the meatball. There is sort of an empty area there.
Then check this out. If I went out to the Align control right there and clicked on it, that brings up the Align palette. I were to say Align To, it's going to say Align to what? Well, let's Align to the Selection, right. All of the selected shapes, we will align them somehow. If I were to say okay, let's align them horizontally. So that is, align their horizontal attributes so we have a vertical assembly of shapes here. You can see that they have all moved, so everything has been average. And as a result, none of them are aligned properly. They are not aligned to this vertical guideline at all.
Okay, so let's undo that, we don't want that obviously. Let's undo that modification. We need to set one of these guys as the key object and you do that with your object selected, you click on one of them a second time, notice that. This is what I'm saying. You would never discover this on your own. You don't even hold the key. You just click on it the second time, then it gets this thick outline, which is why you wouldn't know. If you did accidentally discovered this you would go, what's that? Why did that happen? The reason is it's now key object for an alignment.
So now you go up to the Align palette there, you bring it up by clicking on that link. You check out Align To and make sure it's set to Align To Key Object, good. Automatically it is, once you click there, so that's good. Then we will click this little control here, the horizontal attribute, so it aligns the objects in a vertical formation. It keeps the key object in place, it doesn't move it and it aligns everybody to that key object. Then you go to this guy right there, Vertical Align Center and you click on it and everybody is aligned perfectly. So there you go. That's how you align objects to a key object inside of Illustrator.
It's all about selecting your objects and clicking a second time on one of the already selected shapes to make it the key object. Then if you don't want it to be key object anymore, you click again and that goes away; weird interface, I think, but a very useful feature here inside Illustrator CS4.
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