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In Illustrator CS5 Essential Training, author Mordy Golding explains the core concepts and techniques that apply to any workflow in Illustrator, whether designing for print, the web, or assets for other applications. This course includes a detailed explanation of the elements that make up vector graphics—paths, strokes, and fills—and shows how to use each of the Illustrator drawing tools. Also demonstrated are techniques for combining and cleaning up paths, organizing paths into groups and layers, text editing, working with color, effects, and much more. Exercise files accompany the course.
Until now, we've been discussing two different types of attributes that you can apply as an appearance to an object; those have been a Fill and a Stroke. However, there is another kind of appearance attribute, something called an Effect. In fact, in Illustrator, we refer to them as Live Effects, because once you have applied an effect, you're still to make changes to that effect. For example, let's say I want to apply a soft Drop Shadow to this object. Well, I can click on it to select it, and then I can go over here to the Effect menu, choose Stylize and then Drop Shadow, and I'll just apply the default settings here and click OK.
Now, you can see that my object has a soft Drop Shadow applied to it. More importantly, however, if we look at the Appearance panel I now see that the Drop Shadow appears listed here as one of the attributes applied to this object. Now, remember everything in the Appearance panel always comes down to the stacking order in which they're applied. So, again, we read from the bottom. Illustrator first applied Opacity, then it created the Drop Shadow and then the Fill and the Stroke. Obviously, we want the Drop Shadow to be at the bottommost part of the object to give it its correct appearance.
Now, as I've said before, it is called a Live Effect because I can click on the word Drop Shadow here and then bring up that same dialog box and change some of its settings. For example, right now, I may feel the Drop Shadow is a bit too strong. So I may want to reduce that Opacity to around 40% instead of 75. I'll click OK, and now I can see that that Drop Shadow has been updated on the object itself. Another reason why we call this a Live Effect is because if my shape changes, that Drop Shadow also adjusts to fit the new shape.
So if I switch, for example, here to my direct Selection tool and I click on this anchor point right here and I click and drag, when I do so, the Drop Shadow also updates on that object. But I'll press Undo here to go back to its original shape, and I'll select the entire object again using the regular Selection tool. Now, when I apply the Drop Shadow I went up here to the Effect menu, and as you can see, there are many other effects that Illustrator has also. So, Drop Shadow is just one of almost a hundred effects that you can apply inside of Illustrator.
A shortcut, or another way to get this Effect menu, is directly through the Appearance panel. Notice the bottom here this little icon that says fx, and if I click on it I get the exact same menu that I saw above. It's important to remember that all the concepts that we've spoken about so far in regards to appearances applies, likewise, to fx. Remember how we were able to apply an Opacity value to only the fill of an object, but not the stroke of an object? Well, we can do similar things like apply effects to only one part of an object.
Let me show you what I mean. I'm going to take this black stroke right now, which is set to 20 points, and I'm going to change this color to like this color right here. Next, I'm going to create a duplicate of that stroke. In the past, we've used this button over here to add a new stroke, but I just want to show you if you already have an attribute selected, in this case here at this stroke, I can click on this button to duplicate it, meaning make a copy of it. I'll change the color of this to maybe this color right here, and I'll reduce its Stroke Weight to around 7 points.
Now, I may want to apply some kind of a rounded appearance to the thicker stroke here so I don't see it come exactly to a point here, but I don't want to apply that soft appearance to this stroke on top. So, what I can do is I can target the 20-point stroke, then choose to apply an Effect, and I'll go back to Stylize here, and I will choose Round Corners. There is a Preview button here, and if I choose a value of about 2%, I see that I've kind of rounded off, or blunted, basically, those corners on that stroke. But it hasn't affected any of the other attributes of this object.
If I click OK and I click on the twirl down now for this Stroke, I can see that a Rounded Corners effect has been applied specifically to just this Stroke. If I decide later I really want this Round Corners effect to be applied to all the attributes of my object, I can click on this right here and drag it out so that it appears above all the others. Now, it gets applied uniformly across all the attributes. Why? Because, again, if we read from the bottom up over here - let me close the Stroke here - Illustrator first applies the Default Opacity, it then paints the Drop Shadow, then it applies the Fill, the two Strokes, and then afterwards it applies around that Corners effect everything beneath it.
So, that's how Live Effects work inside of Illustrator. Now, as I said before, there are a tremendous amount of effects that apply here inside of Illustrator. We have things like 3D. We have Distort & Transform Effects. We have Rasterize Effects and a whole range of Photoshop effects, things like Gaussian Blur, and things like Mezzotint Effects. There is plenty here to experiment with, but as I said, the important thing to realize here about Live Effects is that they aren't necessarily applied to an overall object. You can apply them individually to different attributes within an object as well.
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