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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.
I have gone ahead and saved my progress as The Biggest layer ever.ai. So called, because I've managed to fill up nearly the entire width of the pasteboard with my repeating pattern. Now bear in mind, the pasteboard in Illustrator is more than 18 feet wide. So I think we've successfully proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that we can create a repeating pattern where these objects are concerned using just three objects and nothing more. So now, what do we do with that information? Let me show you. I am going to Shift+Tab back my palettes. I want you to see that just the Core Design layer is active. The others are hidden. Now I'm going to go ahead and zoom-in on my page to 100% is actually where I want to be.
I am going to go ahead and select three neighboring objects, which should include the star and then two of the three pronged hooks each at different angles. So just those three, nothing more. Then go up to the Select menu and choose Inverse in order to select everything but those three shapes. And then press the Backspace key or the Delete key on the Mac in order to delete everybody else. Now it might take a moment because this illustration was getting dangerously complicated by the way. So now that all those extraneous shapes are gone, these are the guys that really matter. Now what we want to do is we want to assign them Fills.
I would think if only for aesthetic reasons, that we want each of the three objects to be colored differently. So here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to go down to the bottom of the Swatches palette right there, and I want you to see how I have this grouped. That's called the Pattern group. It includes six different colors, and they're designed to be used either as a garish coloring and that would be orange and then violet and green or a more muted coloring scheme which would be these three colors right there, whatever the heck they are. I am going to start with the garish scheme and you can join me or go your own way. It's up to you. Now, I'm going to take advantage of that wonderful Alt or Option-clicking with the Eyedropper thing in order to turn the Eyedropper into a syringe, so that it colors objects. I'll show you what I mean.
Currently my Fill is active, good. None of my objects are active. That's fine. So I'm going to go ahead and grab green as my fill color. And then I'm going to press the I key to get the Eyedropper, and I'm going to press and hold the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac, and then I'll click on the Outline for the star to color it. Now, I'm going to switch to violet and I'm going to color one of these two guys, doesn't matter which one. Actually, it doesn't matter if you decide to color the star a different color either. It's up to you. I'll Alt or Option-click on this guy and then I'll get orange and I'll Alt or Option-click on the boundary of this guy in order to color it.
So now we have a group of three objects each of which is colored differently. Let's go back to the Black Arrow tool. I'm going to select all three and I'm going to go ahead and group them together. It's just going to make life a little easier if they're grouped, Ctrl+G, Command+G on the Mac. Let's go ahead and zoom out a little bit, so we can take in more of the art-board or at least the entirety of the art-board. I am going to drag my items outside the art-board. So it's not necessary at all at this point. Now that we've proven how this pattern works, it's not necessary to fill up the entire pasteboard. That was totally overkill, but I would like to fill up the entire art-board.
So I'm going to go ahead and grab this anchor point right there and drag it until it snaps into alignment with this one, press and hold the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac and release in order to create a clone. Then I'll press Ctrl+D on the PC or Command+D on the Mac a couple of times in order to fill out some more of the art-board. Now I'll go ahead and grab these three guys. I think it will do it for me here and I'm just clicking and Shift- clicking because after all, the objects are grouped together. So I can move them on mass. I'll go ahead and drag from this anchor point and drop into place here, after I press and hold the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac, and then I'll press Ctrl+D or Command+D on the Mac to fill out the bottom-left corner of the art-board, and this little group over on this side is really hanging off the left hand edge.
So why don't we go ahead and move it? We don't need to clone it. Let's just move it over into this area. I just want to make sure the entire art-board is covered with some portion of this pattern. Then I could just drag this guy by itself if I wanted to, and press the Alt key or the Option key in order to clone it to this location. Then let's move it down here, press Alt and Option to clone it to this location. You can see that every single time, no matter where I put it, as long as I put it in right place, everything is interlocking just perfectly. You know what, let's go ahead and move this guy up here just to make sure we have as much coverage as possible, press and hold the Alt or Option key in order to clone like so and this is looking good.
So we've now covered up the artboard, which is important if only because we want to make sure that we have enough of these objects here in order to represent a rectangular tile pattern. In the next exercise, I'm going to show you how to identify and add that rectangle. This is a very important but strange step, coming right up.
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