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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.
Now let's take a look at a few practical applications of pathfinder operations inside Illustrator. I would like you to go ahead and open Ghost robot.ai, found inside the 13_pathfinder_ops folder and for those of you who were with me in the Illustrator CS3 One-on-One series, you may be looking at this and thinking, "hey, that's that exact same Ghost robot.ai file that I have seen in the past." No it's not. I have modified the color scheme inside of this illustration. I have changed some of the text around as well but ultimately at it's core, we still have the very same Ghost robot illustration, all be it differently colored, as I said, and here remains this amazing work of pathfinder operation madness.
Much of what we are seeing here is hinging on the icons and the options that are available to us here inside the Pathfinder palette. So what we have is a magazine cover from the year 2174 and of course, that's fairly hilarious because the very idea that there will be print publications in the 2174, I think is absolutely preposterous but still. And it's a combination of all kinds of live type effects and some transparency effects as well, all kinds of stuff that we'll seeing in later chapters but the core drawing, as I say, the objects that make up the robots, are a function ultimately of some of the geometric shape tools and the pathfinder operations working together.
Notice over here in the Layers palette we have a sequence of layers. I'm going to go and turn off the Type layer, which contains all those type elements. Then I'll turn off Pathfinders and I'll turn off Frames in order to reveal this image layer that I created inside Photoshop and then places inside of my illustration. If I turn that off, this Backdrop layer right there, you will see in the background that we have these Ghost vectors right here, which are my primitive objects that I'll be using in order to build-up the final Ghost robot and then in back of that is the Ghost template rendered in orange and I'm going to show you how I created that template in the next exercise, just so that you have sense of how you can use Photoshop in order to clean up and colorize your templates and make them as easy as possible to trace here inside of Illustrator.
But if I were to turn Ghost vectors back on for a moment and turn Ghost template off, like so and then I'm going to go ahead and zoom in on some of these primitive objects here, notice that most of them were draw with the Ellipse tool. So we have a ton of rotated ellipses and a few circles going on inside of this illustration. We also have a few items that I drew with the Pen tool, the most complex of which is probably this valentine heart right here. And in case you are thinking well gosh, this must have been hard to draw these fingers right here so that both outlines of the fingers, both the left and right sides are exactly parallel with each other. Well that's really a function of that Outline Stroke command that we saw earlier in this series. Let me show you what I mean. I'm going to go ahead and grab my Pen tool right there and I'll just draw a very simple path on the right layer. Go ahead and switch over to the Ghost vectors layer here so that I can draw and I'll go ahead and click-and-drag here and click-and-drag here and I'm showing you how to draw a finger incidentally. And I don't like the location of that point so I'm going to press and hold the Spacebar as I move it into a better location like so.
Then release the Spacebar and drag that control handle into a better position. Notice this. We have got a white fill and a transparent stroke. So I'm going to go ahead and switch it my Black Arrow tool, click on a path to select the whole thing so that I get the right options up here in the Control palette and I'll change my Fill from white to None and then I'll go ahead and change my Stroke to Black if I like and I'll increase that stroke value to about 6 points and then I also want to go ahead and create a round cap. So I'll go to the Stroke palette right there and I'll turn on the Round Cap option. The Join option doesn't really matter at this point because we don't have any corner points inside of this little line and then I'm going to go up to the Object menu. I'll choose the Path command and I'll choose this guy right there, Outline Stroke, and now we have a nicely outlined stroke. I can go ahead and switch my Fill and Stroke icons right there so that I have a black stroke, along with no fill and we end up getting the results that we are seeing down here inside of the robot's finger.
So that's all that went on there, not very hard to do. My big point though here is that all of these primitive objects that I created so far, very easy to throw together, just the function of drawing some geometric shapes, the occasional path with the Pen tool. If you take a look at him, most of these paths don't have more than a couple of points a piece, I think. Like this guy right there. It's just two points as you can see with control handles coming out of them. That's the extent of it. So very, very simple stuff here and yet we can assemble these primitives into a complex illustration using pathfinder operations as I'll explain in upcoming exercises.
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