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Illustrator can be used to accomplish many different design tasks. For this reason, Illustrator CS4 Essential Training teaches core concepts and techniques that can be applied to any workflow for print, the web, or assets that will find their way into other applications. Mordy Golding explains the elements that make up vector graphics—paths, strokes, and fills—and shows how to use each of Illustrator's drawing tools. He demonstrates how to combine and clean up paths, and organize them into groups and layers. Mordy also covers text editing, working with color, expressive brush drawing, effects, and much more. Exercise files accompany the course.
One of the functions that we discussed earlier in this chapter something called Simplify. That command allowed you to take the number of anchor points and reduce them along a path. But there is also another thing you need to look out for when working with vector graphics and because the nature of object-base graphics it's possible that your file can get littered with other little pieces kind of lying around. You know very often you are chopping apart paths, you are cutting and pasting, you are moving things around, you are coloring things with some colors, then you are setting the color to None or to White or so on and so forth. So for example, if I look at this file right here and if you have access to the exercise files go ahead and open up the file called path_cleanup in Chapter 05.
It looks like I just have four elements here inside of my file, the surfboard, the bikini, the body suit and the little flip-flops, but there is really other artwork in here. In fact, the easiest way to see that is to change your Preview mode into Outline. I'm going to press Command+Y or Ctrl+Y on a Windows machine and you will see that I also have some other elements, let's say right over here and I have these kind of little Xs, which are actually just individual anchor points. If you just have a single anchor point Illustrator identifies that in Outline mode, it's just little x. So it is kind of sitting there.
Now they are not harming anybody right now, but as I work in my file, I'm going to go back into Preview mode, these are no longer here. I could accidentally click on it and select it not even knowing it; it has no Fill and no Stroke. It won't show up on a print out, but anytime you have these little things, they always find a way to kind of crop-up and just kind of get in the way and it can cause problems later on in your work-flow. So it's always best for you to basically keep a clean file. Don't have extra things lying around if you don't need them, and definitely don't have these little extra anchor points floating around, because sometimes they can cause problems as well. This is one example. We will talk a bit later in the next chapter about working with text, and sometimes you just have a regular text with one anchor point, but there is no text there.
Well, that typeface may still be referenced inside of that file. Even though there is actually no text that appears there, just that single anchor point may have a type face attributed to it and you get missing frontiers for example, things like that. So there are always things that it can crop-up, it's always best to keep a clean file whenever you can. So it's great about Illustrator that there is actually a function that can help you do that. So rather than you have to hunt down and search and see where all these things are because in reality sometimes your files are so complex, how do you know when you start going through them, what is and what is not important so on and so forth.
So there is a function inside of the Object menu, let's go to the Object menu here. Let's choose Path here and choose an option here called Clean Up, and that basically will go to my document and will allow me to identify stray points. Again, those are just anchor points that have nothing on them except just one anchor point and like we discussed before paths usually have a minimum of at least two. So Stray Points are single anchor points, Unpainted Objects, objects that have no Fill and no Stroke attributes on them, and Empty Text Paths, like I just discussed before. So if I click OK right now, it doesn't look like anything happen, but if I go into Outline mode, I see all of those other elements that were there in the document and now gone. So I basically have cleaned up my document of all these little things that could possibly make things go wrong.
So as mom always used to say to you, keep your room clean. We always used to say back, yeah, but I'm just going to be playing in the room again later. But you don't want to trip on stories and so on and so forth. Same thing really applies to Illustrator on that same conceptual level. You want to have a clean document, that way you always know where things are and you avoid any issues down the line.
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