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Illustrator can be used to accomplish many different design tasks. For this reason, Illustrator CS4 Essential Training teaches core concepts and techniques that can be applied to any workflow for print, the web, or assets that will find their way into other applications. Mordy Golding explains the elements that make up vector graphics—paths, strokes, and fills—and shows how to use each of Illustrator's drawing tools. He demonstrates how to combine and clean up paths, and organize them into groups and layers. Mordy also covers text editing, working with color, expressive brush drawing, effects, and much more. Exercise files accompany the course.
When working with your artwork, it's quite often when you want to have objects that align with each other. After all, you are working with a computer, you don't want to just eyeball things, you want things to be perfectly straight. Now many people what they do is, they go to the Rulers and they actually drag out Guides and they try to snap objects to Guides. And while that certainly works it is very time consuming. Instead, it's better to use some of the Align functions inside of Illustrator. Now if you do have Smart Guides turned on, as you click on an object and move it around, Guides will pop up and let you know when they align to other objects that appear on your screen. For example, right now, I can see that it snaps to the top of this particular object here and if I move up high let's say over here, I can see where it might snap to the top of the surfboard that's there as well. So that does help you align things without really having to do any extra work, but again, it depends if you have many objects in your file, you may see those Guides pop up in so many places it may not be that useful.
So let me go ahead and just press Undo to, kind of, come down over here. I'm actually working in the aligning_ objects file, which you will find inside of Chapter 11 in the exercise files. I'm going to turn off Smart Guides, the keyboard shortcut for that is Command+U or Ctrl+U on Windows, and what I'll do is I'll go to the Window menu and open up the Align panel. The Align panel gives me the ability to quickly align objects as needed. And what's really cool about the Align panel is that I have several different options available to me. For example, let's say I want to select and align all these objects; we can align them all by their tops. If I simply select then all right now, I press Command+A, these are each individual groups right now. So whenever you group objects together, from the align perspective Illustrator treats each of those groups as if they were one whole object. So it will align all those groups together. Again, this is one of the benefits of creating groups inside of Illustrator. If I decide that I want to align all the tops to each other, I can choose where is says Align Objects and choose here Vertical Align Top.
In doing so, you will notice that right now all the objects are aligned to each other but they are aligned to the artboard here, and that's because there is a certain setting here called Align To, and this setting is actually very important setting because as we start working with objects, there are many different times when you want to have different settings for that Align. I'm going to press Undo for now, and the first thing I'll choose here is a setting here called Align To Selection. So when I go ahead and I do that and I choose now Align To the Top, right now I have all four objects selected and then when I choose Align To the Top here, it aligns to the tops of the selection but it aligns it to the surfboard here.
Let me explain what happened, I'm going to press Undo for a second. Right now, since I choose to align all the objects to their tops, one of these shapes is already at the top, which is the surfboard here. So Illustrator in trying to be "efficient" decides that one of these objects is already at the top, so I'll simply move the other three objects to match that. But if I wanted to align that particular shape to the tops of a different shape; for example, I wanted them all be aligned to the top of this shape that would be something separate, which we will get to in a moment. Now when I choose to, let's say, Align to the Bottom, notice what happens here.
They all align to the bottom of this shape here of this wet suit, and the reason why that happens is, again, because Illustrator identifies that this shape is already at the bottom of all the other selected objects, so it moves the least amount of objects necessary. You can think of Illustrator, in this case, being somewhat lazy, it's only doing the work that it has to do. I'll press Undo one more time because you also have the ability here instead of choosing Align To, to choose Align To Key Object and the great thing about this is that you don't really need to even choose that because there is a way for you to access that directly on the artboard. I'm going to leave it set to Align To Selection right now. I'm simply going to ahead and click and drag to marquee select all my objects. Now let's say I want to align all the objects by their bottoms but I want it to align it to the bottom of the bikini bottom right here. So what I'll do is I'll now click once on the bikini. Now see how the bikini becomes highlighted? I didn't Shift+Click on it because Shift+Click would actually remove it from the selection. I just clicked, again, once I have selected all my artwork, I clicked again on the bikini and now that highlighted the bikini.
This identifies this is being a "key object" inside of Illustrator. In fact, the icon here now identifies the fact that I have already chosen that key object. Now when I choose to align all objects vertically aligned to the bottom, they align to the bottom of that Key Object. So that's how it works inside of Illustrator, if I don't specify, which object I want to align to, it uses the one that is the most easiest to get to. For example, if one is already at the bottom, it aligns all the other objects to the bottom. Let me press Undo for a second here; I just want to show you, again, how easy it's to do this if I select all my artwork, and I want to align everything to the top of the flip-flops right here, I click again on this -- notice now this is highlighted, I now choose Align to the Top and now they all align to the top of that of that particular object.
So that's how the Align Objects command works inside of Illustrator. Now, again, when I'm aligning objects, I also have the ability to choose to align to an artboard, which becomes very important when I'm using multiple artboards, because then I have the ability to easily center objects or align objects specifically to an artboard. For example, if you have a background and you want it to snap just to the edge of the artboard, you can very easily align thing directly to artboards by using this particular function. I'll also point that that you don't even need to go to that Align panel at all. In fact if you have the Control panel open at top of your screen, you will very often find that a lot of those buttons are actually available here including the option to choose from Align it To Selection or artboard. Remember the Key Object setting happens automatically as soon as you click again on another object. Oh! One of the thing also, as you are aligning objects and you realize, "Oh! You know something? I didn't want this object to be the key object, I want this one to be the key object." Simply click on that one, the last object that you click on, is the one that becomes the key object.
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