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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 we are going to take a look at how to best go about aligning letters inside of Illustrator. In our case specifically we want to take these colored letters and exactly align them inside of the black outlines. I have got ahead and saved my progress as Teen slaw baby.ai and you may recall that all of these letters are individual pieces of point text. Now our final document is not going to say Teen Slaw Baby 2009. This is a world jumble that we are going to assemble over the course of the next few exercises and create something that makes a heck of a lot more sense.
But in doing so we need those colored fills to be exactly inside of their black outlines. Now this is a function that we're working with this wonderful font Rosewood Standard here, which you may or may not have on your system. It's included along with several skews of the full Creative Suite. But notice that this font comes in two different styles Regular which is how I have it set right now and Fill which is how all the colors are set and the Fill Style is designed to fit inside of the Regular Style. So, for example, I would go ahead and grab this T if only I could. Oh My God! It's so hard to get to because of the way that Illustrator is set to select Text by default, which I hate and you are going to have a lot better time if you change a setting right. Now I would like you to join me by pressing Ctrl+K or Command+K on the Mac in order to bring up the Preferences dialog box. Switch to Type right there and turn on this check box, Type Object Selection by Path Only which will allow us to select the text by clicking on its baseline and nowhere else, so that we are not accidentally selecting the wrong letters all the time, now you are going to have to be more careful in selection habits this way, but it's a much more accurate way to work.
All right go ahead and click OK once you come to terms with that, of course and so here is what you do. In order to select anyone of these letters you are going to have to click on its baseline and only its baseline and you will be able to tell that you have a baseline underneath your cursor because next to the black arrow you will see a little black square. All right so now if I click right there I'm going to be able to select this green T right there which is set to the Fill Style for Rosewood Standard. So this is all editable text at this point. Now to select this regular, guys, you don't click at the bottom right there and notice I don't have a square next to my cursor. You have to click on the baseline, which is located at this position right there. All right now what you ought to be able to do because we have point text, you should be able to drag the point that's associated with one block of point text into alignment with the point for the other block of point text and they should exactly snap into alignment with each other, but that function is broken and has been broken for the last few versions of Photoshop.
So even if you go to the View menu and make sure Snap to Point is turned on, which it is. I'm going to go ahead and hit Escape out of there, I should be able to just grab this guy right there and drag its point, so it snaps into alignment with the other point, but I'm not seeing any snapping occurring. So I'll go ahead and drop that letter at a random position for a moment. I'll press Ctrl+Y or Command+Y on the Mac in order to switch to the Outline mode here. And what that allows me to do is see the point that's associated with this point text right there. So if I click on that point, I'll actually select that text so it's now selected as you can see I can move it to a different position. So I should be able to grab this guy right here and move it into alignment with this guy right there and I can see that one is almost exactly on top of the other or exactly on top of it, but I don't know because I'm not going to get snapped. So I'm not insured that I won't get some sort of gap between my letters. At this point they are not necessarily registered with one another. I really want Illustrator to help me out here, but it's not going to when I'm working with point text because as I said that function is broken. Back in the old days it used to work great.
Anyway now press Ctrl+Y or Command+Y on a Mac in order to return to the Preview mode here. So, what's the solution? The solution is to convert your text to outlines. So what you need to do is select one bit of text, Shift-click on the other so that they are both selected, go up to the Type menu and choose the Create Outlines command. Press Ctrl+ Shift+O, Command+Shift+O if you like and that will convert the text to outlines. Now click off, then click on the green letter and I'll drag it by its corner point and I'll snap into alignment with its corner point right there and now I'm ensured that the green fill is exactly fitting inside of the black outline as it was intended to do. But you have to convert all of your text to outlines.
So you know what, let's go ahead and do that. Let's go ahead and make sure all of the text is converted to outlines by going over to the letters layer and Alt clicking or Option clicking on that layer right there in an empty portion of this layer to select all of the objects that are inside this layer like so. And you don't have to have this T selected because it's already converted to outlines, but it's not going to hurt anything. So go up to the Type menu and now choose Create Outlines or press Ctrl +Shift+O, Command+Shift+O on a Mac and you now have outlines everywhere, for all of the letters. Now you would be able to exactly align all of the letters with each other and that is something that I'm going to do for you in the background. There is no reason for you to do it for each and every letter. You have seen how it works. I'll just a few more so you get a sense. If you want to do it along with me you are more than welcomed.
Go ahead and click on this blue E right there and drag it into the black E like so. Then I'll grab this E for Teen and this one as well. Drag it by corner points, very important that you drag it by a significant point that has a corresponding point inside of the black letter and then I'll do the same for this guy, like so. Look, I can drag the black letter to align to the colored letter if I want to. So you can work in whichever order you want to. If you have got a curved object like the S, let's go ahead and drag this guy here.
Then just find a significant point. In other words this point or this point is going to have a corresponding point inside of the larger S as well. So make sure you drag from an anchor point, that's the important thing and then drop it into position as soon as you see a snap occur and so on and so on and so on. So as I said, I'm going to go ahead and do this for you in the background so that you don't have to watch paint dry here inside of this movie. So, everything will be right ready to go and waiting for you, but of course in the very next exercise.
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