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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.
All right gang. Now, it's time to put together one of these three pronged hooks and actually we're going to start by building just one of the three prongs that we'll use over and over again to build the other shapes. I've gone ahead and saved my progress as Six-pointed star.ai and we're working on a core design layer. We're looking at the template layer in the background. Now, none of these objects is particularly hard to draw. They are just free formed polygons, right. So we could just click, click, click with the Pen tool, if we wanted to. Problem is how do we ensure that we click at exactly the right points because after all these guys have to be exactly the same length and size and everything in order to interlock properly and if we get anything even slightly wrong, then everything goes kaflooey essentially. So we need this segment right there to be exactly the same length as this segment and this segment and this segment, and so on and each of the points has to be in exactly the right location. So how in the world are we going to do that? Well, one way to work of course would be to get the Pen tool and because we've got this template on screen here, we could go to the View menu and we could turn on Smart Guides, and then I could hover over each one of the points and click, and click, and click and so on, in order to draw this shape, right. Just like this. Look, I'm drawing it. It's exactly right. Thanks to Smart Guides and thanks to the fact that I'm tracing this tracing template.
The problem is what I'm doing folks is also known as cheating, because I've already done this in advance for you. This isn't the way you would really approach this project in real life, because you wouldn't have it all diagrammed and ready to go. If you did, you would just copy the shapes and use them. You wouldn't have to redraw them. You could be making this design up in your head, but more likely you found it on the web or you found it in a magazine, or you took a photograph of it, when you were actually in Saudi Arabia, something along those lines and now you've got to figure out how to construct it here inside of Illustrator. So let's get rid of the cheat shape right there and let's switch away from the Pen tool.
In fact, what we want is the White Arrow tool. That's the tool we're going to use and then I'm also going to go ahead and turn off Smart Guides and in fact I'm going to so turn things off, we're turning off the template layer people. We're not going to see that layer at all. We're going to do it without looking. And I'll tell you why, because we have everything we need in this six pointed star, because we were able to assemble a regular six pointed star. Every single, one of its segments is exactly the length we need it to be and we can generate those hooks and those prongs based on this object right here.
So I'm going to go ahead and zoom in like so and I'm going to click on this segment right there with my White Arrow tool and I'm going to copy it by pressing Ctrl+C or Command+C on the Mac and then I'm going to press Ctrl+V, or Command+V on the Mac to just go ahead and paste that guy to a different location and we'll just move over. We don't need it to be, right in the proper location yet. We'll take care of that later. But right now, we need to build the darn thing. All right, now, what am I going to do is I'm going to switch over to my Reflect tool and I'm going to Alt-click, or Option-click at this bottom point right there and I'm going to go ahead and reflect this item across the vertical axis so we are getting a horizontal reflection and I'm going to click Copy. And there's the bottom of one of those hooks and you can keep an eye on the hooks, here in the template. We're just not going to trace them. So it's as if we're viewing the design in the browser, or on a sheet of paper is something along those lines.
All right, the next thing we need to do is assemble a little tiny vertical segment right there at that location and as opposed to rotating this item, we could rotate it. Or I could just go get my White Arrow tool again, I could click on this vertical segment, copy it, by pressing Ctrl+C or Command+C, then press Ctrl+V or Command+V to paste it, and then drag it by its anchor point and snap it into position right there. Then let's go ahead and Alt-click or Option-click on this guy in order to select it. That is, select the entire thing with the White Arrow tool here. I'm going to go ahead and drag it upward like so and press the Alt or Option key to clone it, and then I'm going to drag it by its anchor point and snap it into position. So we're doing pretty good here.
Now, we need this segment. I'll go ahead and Alt-click or Option-click on it. Drag it, press the Alt or Option key before I drop it so that I create a clone. Drag it by its anchor point and snap it in the position right there. We are almost done. We almost have one of the prongs completed. You can see we've got this part right there done. Now, we need this long line, which is a combination of two of these guys. So go ahead and drag by the anchor point once again. Press the Alt or Option key, and drop it into position, once it snaps into alignment with this point over here, and then we'll go ahead and move this guy up, like so. Press the Alt or Option key once again, before dropping it in the place. Make sure it snaps in the position and you now have yourself one other prong.
Now, of course, the big problem here is that they're independent segments, they are not joined into a single path outlines. So let's go ahead and join them by doing this. I'm going to marquee these two points right there in order to select them, and then I'm going to press Ctrl+J or Command+J on the Mac to join them together. Make sure it's a corner point. Click OK. Now, marquee these two coincident points, press Ctrl+J, Command+J on the Mac. Make sure you're you are setting up a corner point. Click OK. Now, if you're not seeing that dialog box, it means you didn't snap the points into alignment properly. I'm going to marquee these two points. Ctrl+J, Command+J on the Mac, click OK, marquee these two points. Ctrl+J or Command+J on the Mac. Click OK.
Marquee these two points. Press Ctrl+J, or Command+J on the Mac and click OK. And then finally, what I would recommend you do in this case right here is just go ahead and kind of drag that point out of the way there, then get this point and drag it up, so it snaps into alignment with that guy. So that it's in the proper location and then Alt-click or Option-click on this line and press the Backspace key or the Delete key on the Mac in order to get rid of it. And we now have a single continuous prong.
Now, we need to go ahead and build this into one of the three pronged hooks and we're going to do that in the next exercise.
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