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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.
This exercise serves two purposes. First of all it's a kind of quiz. So you can see if you are able to anticipate which pathfinder operations to apply when. And then I'm going to offer you a little bit of troubleshooting advise, what to do when the pathfinder operation that you thought you should apply goes wrong. So I have gone ahead and saved my progress so far as Ball & chain.ai and we are going to be doing a couple of things. Toward the end of this exercise we are going to be using this heart here to cut a hole in the chest. And the reason we are doing that at the end is, because that's the troubleshooting part of this exercise.
Down here at the bottom though, this is the quiz part, we are going to be cutting away the extra bits of leg here, and we're going to be putting the grid lines inside the shoes. So let's start with the grid lines, why don't we? In order to set the grid lines inside the shoes, this is just like setting the grid lines inside the cape, which means we apply the Crop operation of course, but that also means, that we need to make sure that grid lines are converted to shapes, closed shapes that are filled with black, as opposed to open paths that are stroked with black, which is what we have right now.
So go ahead and click and Shift-click with the Black Arrow tool on each of one of these grid lines like so. I might as well grab these guys as well, because they are going to need the same treatment. And then go up to the Object menu, and choose Path, and choose Outline Stroke or press Ctrl+Backslash or Command+Backslash if you loaded Dekekeys. All right, and we'll get this effect right there. Then what I want you to do is click on each of the shoes. That is, click on one and then Shift-click on the other to select them. Copy them by pressing Ctrl+C or Command+C on the Mac, and then click off the shapes in order to deselect them, and press Ctrl+F or Command+F on the Mac in order to paste copies of those feet in front of everything else.
All right, now I'm going to click on one of the sets of grid lines here, actually I'll go ahead and click and Shift-click on these various grid lines. And then I'll Shift-click on the foot path as well. So the foot and the grid lines are all selected at this point, and then I'll go over to the Crop operation and click on it. And we've now gone ahead and cropped these grid lines inside the shoe. The other shoe you just do the same thing. So click on one of these grid lines. Shift-click on each of the other four and then Shift-click on the foot as well, or the shoe or what have you, and then go over to the Crop operation, click on it, and you are done.
All right, what about these legs? Now these legs currently are signaling into the viewer of my artwork that I'm lazy, and then I didn't get around to drawing the entire underlying skeletal structure of my robot. Now I had no intention of doing that in the first place, but I don't want the viewer to know that. I want these legs to end right there at that point. So what do you do? Well, this is classic divide and unite territory. So go ahead and click on the smock there, in order to select it. This is the translucent smock. And then it includes all of the other smock elements going up northward inside of the artwork. Then Shift-click on each of the two legs here with the Black Arrow tool once again. Then you go over to the Pathfinder palette and click on Divide. And that divide things up. Now it looks down here like you've messed up the transparency, you didn't know. Because we can still see that the translucency is intact up stairs in the artwork. So everything is hunky-dory. Then we don't want to leave them stroke like that. So here's what you want to do. You want to go ahead and press the A key to get the White Arrrow tool, click off your artwork in order to deselect everything and then I want you to Alt-click or Option-click on this path outline right there, which actually goes up and over like so.
And then Shift+Alt-click or Shift+ Option-click on each of these little wedges right here, and I suggest you Shift+ Alt-click or Shift+Option-click on the bottom segments because that's the unique segments where these little guys are concerned. And then you want to unite these paths together, these three paths that are selected, by going over to the Unite option and clicking on it. It's so beautiful. I have done a brilliant job at this point. Now then what about the heart? Well, it would seem that the heart is a really easy thing to work with here. I'll go ahead and click on the Black Arrow tool in order to make it active, click on this top chest shape right there and then Shift-click on the heart.
Now before we go any farther, I want you to note, let's see. Let's work up the stack. I think I just passed the heart, I think I saw it just go wizen by there. Unfortunately I went by too fast, me demonstrating what not to do now, that is not really traditionally my role, but there is the heart, all right. We can see it's selected. And that heart Path is pretty far up the stack. It's much farther up the stack than this group here that represents his chest, which is right there. And what's going to happen if you apply any pathfinder operation to two or more selected objects? Everything is going to jump up the stack to meet the top object, which is the Valentine, in this case the heart, and that means we are going to wreak havoc on the stacking order inside of our illustration, and I don't want to do that.
So what I really want to do, we'll go and click off the artwork for a moment. I'm going to click on the heart to select it, Ctrl+X, Command+X on the Mac to cut it to the Clipboard, click on chest to make it active, and press Ctrl+F or Command+F on the Mac. So that the two are right next to each other here inside the Layers palette. All right, then I would Shift-click on the Group right there in order to make it active. So we have got heart and chest selected, now, how do we turn the heart into a hole. Well, and by the way, we want to make the heart a hole, because he has no heart, he has got a hole where his heart should be, which is part of the reason for his anguish.
Now we can see right there on screen. So how do we make that happen? Well, this is the classic doughnut technique, right? It's just that the interior of the doughnut looks like a heart instead of a circle. And so that means we should be able to go up to the Object menu and choose Compound Path, and choose Make, but that's not going to work. Well, I'll show it to you. Just turns it into a Compound Path that serves no purpose whatsoever and everything turns opaque on us. So boo to that, all right, so go ahead and Undo, press Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on the Mac. Instead what we want probably, hopefully, is a good old application of Minus Front. That should do it.
So let's go ahead and click on Minus Front and that just killed everything, my goodness, we're left with one item right here. One path somewhere, of this leg. Somehow this leg got selected, oh that's right, because it became part of the larger group because we applied the Divide operation to it. So it's just the only thing that's left over, because all of the front objects got deleted from that rear most object that was selected. So that's what happens with Minus Front. It minus all the things that are in front of the one lone leftover object in the back. Oh gosh, I'll go ahead and Undo, Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on the Mac.
So what do we do, the White Arrow tool is your friend. So go ahead and grab that White Arrow tool. Click off the paths in order to deselect them. Alt-click or Option-click on just the chest, then Shift+Alt-click or Shift+Option-click on the Valentine, so that we have part of this group selected and the heart, and at this point you can try to go up to the Object menu, choose Compound Path, and choose Make, but Illustrator is going to get all grumpy with you and tell you that, no, you can't do that. What are you thinking? You can't make a Compound Path of objects that are within different groups. Which is so funny, because that's what it's about to do in just a moment using a different function.
So I'll go ahead and click OK, and the truth of the matter is yeah, you can, Illustrator, why don't you work with me? But anyway click OK, you go over here instead, you go over to Minus Front. You click on it, and watch what's happening right here inside of the Layers palette. I'll click on this option, and sure enough it went ahead and took this chest out of the Group, when it had extracted out of the Group combined it with the heart as a Compound Path. So apparently it can't do it. It just can't do it using the Compound Path command. So there we have it, nice. In the next and final exercise of this chapter we are going to assemble this Ball & chain here, using a couple of Pathfinder operations that we have only had, just an introduction to you so far, exclude and intersect.
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