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Covering a wide range of topics, from advanced masking to chart creation, Illustrator CS4 Beyond the Basics reveals a whole new level of power, creativity, and efficiency with Illustrator. Instructor Mordy Golding explores how to work with Live Paint groups, get the most out of the Live Trace feature, and take advantage of Illustrator’s wide range of effects. He also discusses advanced transformation techniques, powerful 3D functionality, and important color concepts. Exercise files accompany the course.
In Illustrator, the Extrude effect is also referred to as the Extrude & Bevel effect. So what we have done so far is we have actually explored the Extrude effect but we didn't talk about Bevel. So let's take a look at exactly what a Bevel is inside of Illustrator. I have a regular object here, a regular plain flat 2D object. I'm going to select it and then I'm going to the Effect menu and choose 3D > Extrude & Bevel. Now I'm going to click on the Preview button so we could see what we can do over here. Notice by the way you will always have to click on the Preview button. Illustrator does this as a precaution. Obviously, like we said before, Illustrator is doing real 3D rendering here, let's say by accident, you hit Command+ A and selected all the artwork in your file, and then you chose to open up the 3D Extrude dialog box, Illustrator would now wait forever basically to generate a preview for all that artwork.
So to prevent that from happening, the Preview checkbox is always turned off, basically allowing you to click on it manually to generate a preview. The reality is that the 3D effect was actually added back in Illustrator CS when computer power wasn't nearly what it's at right now. So if you do have a modern computing system, I don't think it's that much of a problem but still the Preview button is something you will have to manually check on each time you open the dialog. Now before we apply the Bevel effect, I'm actually going to change my Extrude Depth to about 200 point. I want to be able to actually see the depth of my extrusion here and that will give us a much better idea of understanding what the Bevel actually is.
Now in order to understand what a bevel is we have to really understand what is happening when this object is extruded. For example, if you take this shape right over here, I know that I have a regular flat shape here on the front and if I want to actually do this manually, what I would do is I would probably make a copy of this and actually bring it to the back and then connect the front and the back with straight lines over here in these areas. Actually, the Extrude effect is doing something very similar to that. But notice that over here the Bevel is currently set to None. If you look over here I have a straight line. Think of the line that connects this point and this point right over here as the Bevel setting. Since it's set to None, that is now a straight line.
What a Bevel is, is it's actually my ability to tell Illustrator don't connect these two points with a straight line, but connect these points with a different type of a line, maybe a curve line or some other line that has kinks it. For example, where it says over here Bevel, let's choose the Classic option. Notice that right over here, it looks like I have a little bit of chiseled edge on the front of my object and on the back of it as well. So instead of me connecting this over here from this point to this point with a straight line, Illustrator, it takes over here and look at the Classic line which is a little bit up and then straight and then a little bit down again.
I have the exact same thing here, a little bit up, straight across and a little bit down again. In fact, to get a really good idea of exactly what's happening when I apply a Bevel, let's look at my piece of artwork from a completely different angle. Let me set my Bevel back over here to the None setting and I'll change my position over here to be let's say from the Left. So now I'm looking at the left side of my object. Because my Bevel is currently set to None, you can see that the front and the back of my object are connected with a straight line. But I'm going to go ahead, I'm going to choose now the Classic option. Notice that now I have a line that goes up, straight across and then back down again.
In fact, it's easier to see it over here where I don't have a straight line connecting the ends of the object, I have a line that kind of comes out a little bit here, goes straight across and then back down again. Let's take a look at some of the other Bevel Settings that Illustrator has as well. For example, one called Complex 1. This is a straight line that then goes up and then back down again. If I choose Complex 1 here, I can see that exactly happens here on the shape. If I view it from Off-Axis Front again, I can see exactly how that Bevel applies to my artwork. Let's take a look at one of the other Bevel setting here as well. I'm going to choose this option over here called Complex 3. Take a look at that line that appears right over here. It, kind of, goes up as three humps and I can see that I now basically have three humps that apply in that area that is extruded on my object.
Again, if I look directly at the left side of my object, I can see exactly how that bevel is applied. It's a straight line before and now it's a line that curves in these three areas. Illustrator comes with 13 different types of bevels and I urge you to experiment with a lot of these. But one of them that I find that I use a lot is this one here called Rounded. Instead of a straight line Illustrator actually connects the front and the back with a round curve. This actually gives your shape a nice rounded edge. In fact, when I switch back over here to the Off-Axis Front setting here and instead of me having my Object Extrude at 200 point, I'll change it to around 30 point. In doing so, you can see that now it looks like the object has a bit of a rounded edge instead of a square edge.
So let's go back over here. My Bevel over here is set to None, has a pretty much of flat straight edge that's over here, but if I choose the Rounded option, I can see that I now have a much softer transition and a nicer shaped object here inside of Illustrator. In addition, because this surface is now rounded, I do see a nicer shadow and highlight area that I normally would not have on a regular object without a Bevel applied. So there are two other settings you need to know about when applying a bevel. The first one over here is the Height or how big the bevel is. Then the other option over here is do you want the bevel actually added to the actual shape itself meaning it makes the shape bigger, it takes the original shape and then adds the bevel stroke on top of that? Or do you want the actual bevel taken away from the object? Now with any of these settings at the end there is no right or wrong, it's simply a matter of finding what works best for your particular object in hand.
For example, I do find when I'm working with text, I find this particular Bevel option better because this option just adds too much weight, especially when I'm dealing with typefaces that have some kind of a serif in it. Now remember, one of the great things about working with 3D as a live effect is that you can make changes at any time. Because of the added complexity that bevels bring, for example, if I rotate the object, now you will see that there is a lot more pass in shapes than it were before working with bevels to get them to look just right may take little bit more of work on your behalf. Likewise, they will also take more time to render. But once you have got a bevel to look just the way that you want to, there is no question. It's definitely worth the effort.
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