Illustrator Insider Training: Rethinking the Essentials
Illustration by Petra Stefankova

Bottoms up: Object hierarchy and stacking order


From:

Illustrator Insider Training: Rethinking the Essentials

with Mordy Golding

Video: Bottoms up: Object hierarchy and stacking order

Before we start drawing any artwork, there is one more concept that we need to know inside of Illustrator, and that deals with something called stacking order. Now, this is a concept that's actually unique to vector-based graphics. Stacking order refers to the order in which Illustrator actually builds or draws the artwork inside of each document. You know, you can think about creating a hamburger: First, you take one slice of the bun. Then you put down maybe some sauce. Then on top of that, you put the beef patty. Then you put some lettuce, some tomato, a couple of pickles, and then you put the other half of the bun on top.
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  1. 8m 22s
    1. Welcome
      1m 15s
    2. Exploring the Illustrator Timeline
      5m 12s
    3. Getting the most out of this training
      1m 30s
    4. Using the exercise files
      25s
  2. 16m 27s
    1. Starting off on the right foot
      27s
    2. Knowing the difference between structure and presentation
      4m 38s
    3. Understanding paths and attributes
      4m 56s
    4. Distributing stroke weight along a path
      2m 25s
    5. Bottoms up: Object hierarchy and stacking order
      4m 1s
  3. 51m 9s
    1. The all-important Appearance panel
      37s
    2. Understanding attribute stacking order
      6m 45s
    3. Targeting individual object attributes
      7m 32s
    4. Adding multiple attributes to a single object
      9m 31s
    5. Modifying appearances with Live Effects
      7m 11s
    6. Using multiple strokes to create a border design
      4m 36s
    7. Using multiple strokes to create a map
      5m 52s
    8. Using multiple fills to mix spot colors
      4m 59s
    9. Using multiple fills to create textures
      4m 6s
  4. 46m 2s
    1. Learning to live with appearances
      30s
    2. Basic appearance vs. complex appearance
      4m 27s
    3. Clearing or expanding an appearance
      10m 52s
    4. Controlling the appearance of newly drawn art
      5m 11s
    5. Saving appearances with graphic styles
      6m 54s
    6. Changing artwork by modifying a graphic style
      7m 39s
    7. Uncovering a treasure trove of graphic styles
      5m 1s
    8. Copying appearances with the Eyedropper tool
      5m 28s
  5. 33m 28s
    1. Why do we create groups?
      1m 48s
    2. Applying an effect to a group
      4m 38s
    3. Understanding the difference between targeting and selecting
      4m 44s
    4. Knowing the dangers of ungrouping artwork
      2m 21s
    5. Using Isolation mode to preserve group structure
      6m 59s
    6. Adding a stroke to a group
      6m 13s
    7. Adding a 3D effect to a group
      3m 36s
    8. Extending the concept of groups to type objects
      3m 9s
  6. 46m 34s
    1. Are you a layers person?
      33s
    2. Learning to use the Layers and Objects panel
      9m 27s
    3. Making selections and editing stacking order
      6m 38s
    4. Reading and using the target circles
      8m 43s
    5. Copying artwork and appearances
      5m 37s
    6. Adding effects to layers
      9m 56s
    7. Getting the most out of the Layers panel
      5m 40s
  7. 47m 19s
    1. It's more than just a drop shadow?
      48s
    2. Adding basic texture with Mezzotint
      7m 50s
    3. Generating custom textures with Texturizer
      12m 22s
    4. Adding a stroke to an image with Outline Object
      5m 54s
    5. Aligning text precisely with Outline Object
      6m 31s
    6. Adding callout numbers with Convert to Shape
      4m 36s
    7. Enhancing performance with Rasterize
      2m 30s
    8. Avoiding pitfalls when using effects
      6m 48s
  8. 31m 59s
    1. Asking yourself the "what if?" question
      33s
    2. Outlining artwork with Offset Path and Pathfinder Add
      5m 36s
    3. Adding captions with Convert to Shape and Transform
      7m 1s
    4. Creating a crosshatch effect with Scribble
      5m 44s
    5. Creating buttons with Round Corners and Transform
      13m 5s
  9. 25m 21s
    1. Working with other people's files
      36s
    2. Setting up a workspace that makes sense
      9m 43s
    3. Learning to "read" an Illustrator file
      5m 48s
    4. Controlling pixel resolution
      9m 14s
  10. 1m 2s
    1. Next steps
      1m 2s

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Watch the Online Video Course Illustrator Insider Training: Rethinking the Essentials
5h 7m Intermediate Feb 25, 2011

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Illustrator Insider Training: Rethinking the Essentials is the first installment in a series of courses designed to show experienced Illustrator users to how master core features and build art more efficiently. Adobe Illustrator has evolved dramatically over the years, and many creative professionals may be missing out on features that have been added to the latest versions. This course takes a fresh approach to core concepts, such as paths, attributes, object hierarchy, groups, and layers. Advanced techniques such as combining multiple effects and customizing textures are also included. Exercise files and a free worksheet are included with the course.

Topics include:
  • Targeting individual object attributes
  • Adding multiple stroke and fill attributes
  • Modifying appearances with live effects
  • Applying effects to groups and to layers
  • Understanding both selecting and targeting
  • Copying artwork and appearances from layers
  • Using the Outline Object effect
  • Enhancing performance with the Rasterize effect
  • Creating quick and easy captions and buttons
  • Setting up a meaningful workspace
  • Controlling the pixel resolution of effects
Subject:
Design
Software:
Illustrator
Author:
Mordy Golding

Bottoms up: Object hierarchy and stacking order

Before we start drawing any artwork, there is one more concept that we need to know inside of Illustrator, and that deals with something called stacking order. Now, this is a concept that's actually unique to vector-based graphics. Stacking order refers to the order in which Illustrator actually builds or draws the artwork inside of each document. You know, you can think about creating a hamburger: First, you take one slice of the bun. Then you put down maybe some sauce. Then on top of that, you put the beef patty. Then you put some lettuce, some tomato, a couple of pickles, and then you put the other half of the bun on top.

Each of those elements sit either above or below one other ingredient inside of that sandwich. Well, in Illustrator when you're drawing artwork, even though artwork doesn't necessarily overlap each other, they do exist in some kind of an order, meaning artwork is always above or beneath some other piece of artwork inside of your document; in fact, it's impossible for two pieces of artwork to actually be at the same level in the stacking order. Well, we'll actually see later on in the training that we could somewhat modify that statement. But for now let's take a look at two objects. I am just going to draw two rectangles right here. Maybe I'll fill one of them with yellow.

I am actually going to duplicate this one right here. I am going to hold down the Option key--I am on a Mac. Or if you are on Windows, you can hold down the Alt key to actually drag or copy of another shape. And I now have two rectangles in my document. Now, right now the second rectangle that I have created appeared above the previous rectangle of the stacking order. If I wanted to send this rectangle beneath the other one, I can go to the Object menu, choose Arrange, and then choose Send to Back. Take a note here of the keyboard shortcut for that command, which is Command+Shift+Open Bracket. Or that would be Ctrl+Shift+Open Bracket on Windows.

Notice now when I choose that command this rectangle now appears beneath this rectangle in the object's stacking order. Now one thing that's important to realize about stacking order is that things get a little bit more complicated when we start dealing with groups and layers. Now on a regular, standard Illustrator document, we always have one layer. Each object that you create sits within the stacking order of that layer. However, if you have a document that has two layers inside of it, the layers themselves have a stacking order-- meaning layers that appear towards the bottom of your Layers panel get drawn first and then layers that appear at the top of your Layers panel get drawn afterwards. And within those layers, the objects maintain a stacking order as well.

So when I choose a command like Send to Back, I'm sending it to the back of the stacking order within that layer. Likewise, if I create a group, a group also has its own stacking order, so if I select a single object within a group and I say send it to the back, that means I am sending it to the back of just that group's stacking order. But it doesn't necessarily mean that that object will go to the back behind every other piece of art that exists inside of my document. Now, the key thing to know about stacking order is that artwork in a document is always processed from the bottom first. So, if you want to think about it in a different way, if you send an object to the back, you're telling Illustrator that you want that object to be drawn first before other objects.

If you bring an object to the top of the stacking order, that means you're instructing Illustrator to draw that piece of artwork last. So at this point let's take a quick review of some of the core vector concepts that we've learned. We know that paths define the structure of our artwork, and we know that attributes define the presentation of our artwork. Paths themselves are actually defined by anchor points to control handles, and attributes consist of fills and strokes, and we can further modified those attributes by applying something called effects. We know that we can apply a weight, or a thickness setting, to a stroke and that, by default, Illustrator always aligns that stroke to the center line of the path.

And finally, we know that we have something called stacking order where objects are drawn in a specific order. With these key concepts in our back pocket, we're now ready to explore an entirely new powerful way to think about drawing artwork inside of Illustrator.

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