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In Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Mastery, the third and final part of the comprehensive Illustrator One-on-One series, author and industry expert Deke McClelland shows how to take advantage of the wide array of dynamic effects in Illustrator CS5. Deke explores Illustrator’s powerful Gradient Mesh feature, great for creating photorealistic airbrushing effects. He also covers graphic styles, the liquify tools, envelope-style distortions, the new Bristle Brushes, 3D text, and perspective drawing. Exercise files accompany the course.
In this exercise, I'm going to show you how to create a custom pictograph using what Illustrator calls graph designs. And to give you a sense of what a pictograph is, I've gone ahead and opened this Moku Ka'alikai.ai file, that's found inside the 27_graphs folder. I've zoomed in on that charting element on the left side of the illustration. You can see that instead of representing the data using fairly boring rectangles, I've switched out the rectangles for these custom, sort of hummingbird-in-flight elements. Each one of them features a differently colored hummingbird silhouette atop of gradient that is scaled according to this sliding adjustment factor, and you'll see how that works shortly.
But in the meantime, I'm going to show you how to create the most basic design element, which is just the hummingbird silhouette itself. I've saved my progress as Designer graph.ai, again found inside that 27_graphs folder. If you scroll over to the right side of the artboard, you'll find a variety of hummingbirds ready and waiting for you. Go ahead and click on the green hummingbird for starters here to select it. Using the Black Arrow tool is fine. And then go up to the Object menu, choose Graph, and then choose Design. Fairly laborious process. We're going to have to do it more than once of course.
Then you click on the New Design button. This is a creaky old feature. If I haven't made that clear about graphs in general, they are from Illustrator 5 I believe. Not CS5, but rather 5 back in the dim old days of the program, and graphing has really never been updated since then. So you click on the New Design button, and the reason I say it's so clunky-- now you have a New Design. You can see what it looks like. However, notice that it comes in as New Design. Now you need to rename it in a separate step, and you can't rename the design just by double-clicking on it. You have to click on the Rename button, and then that brings up yet another dialog box.
Let's go ahead and call this one Bird 1 green, just so that we can keep strict track of what's going on. I'll click OK, and then I'll click OK. Now I go ahead and grab the second one. So I'll grab that guy, go up to the Object menu, choose Graph, and then choose Design. Now the great thing about it is each one of these designs is saved inside of your illustration. Go ahead and click New Design, click Rename. Go ahead and name this one Bird 2 orange and then click OK. Click OK. Grab this guy right there, the blue one.
Go to the Object menu, choose Graph, choose Design. Click on New Design. Click on Rename. Bird 3 blue this time around, and then click OK. Click OK. We'd now established our base design elements. I'm going to go back to the graph here. As you might imagine, because what we're going to do is we're going to apply these design elements to the graph parametrically-- in other words, using Illustrator's automatic graphing features-- everything, all of our custom stuff, is going to go to heck again. We're going to lose the placement of the legend, and all that stuff.
I ask you just to bear with me. If you're working along with me, just go ahead and let that stuff happen. We'll come back and fix it later, because if you keep micro-fixing it, then you're going to keep breaking it. So I might as well leave it alone for now. You need to go ahead and grab that Group Selection tool once again, and then I'll go ahead and zoom in here. You may recall that I've applied a Transform function. So the green rectangle that I'm seeing isn't the actual green rectangle. So I'll go ahead and marquee, like so, and that grabs it. So now I've selected it properly.
I'll go up to the Object menu. This time you choose graph, and you choose Column. To create your design, you choose the Design command. In order to apply the design, you either choose the Column command if you're working inside of a column or a bar graph, or you choose a Marker command if you're working inside say a line graph. Anyway, I'm going to choose Column. Notice that you're going to see potentially a bunch of different column designs, especially if you have that Moku Ka'alikai.ai file open. That's because you can trade designs between open documents. The thing is, all the ones that are part of the Moku Ka'alikai.ai file show Moku Ka'alikai.ai inside parentheses.
The once we just created appear without any parentheticals. So what I want, because I've got the green item selected, I want Bird 1 green. I'll go ahead and select that. I don't want to vertically scale that. If you do that, you'll just squish the bird inside of this space. And of course, we don't want that at all. What we want is Uniformly Scaled. I'll explain what's going on with Repeating and Sliding shortly, but in the meantime, choose Uniformly Scaled. This is the legend. We don't want to rotate the bird. We don't want a bird on its side. That would make any sense. It can make sense for certain sliding design.
But for what we're doing, absolutely not. So turn off that check box and then click OK. You should see this hummingbird inside of this little box. That's good news. The entire chart becomes selected. That's bad news. So click off of the chart, and then click on the orange rectangle right there inside the legend to select it. And then we've just got to repeat the step. You go up to the Object menu, you choose Graph, and you choose Column, and you're going to see a list of everything in the open documents. Select Bird 2 orange. It shouldn't be vertically scaled. It should be uniformly scaled. The Rotate Legend Design check box should be turned off. Click OK.
Go ahead and click off the chart and click on the blue rectangle right there that's part of the legend. Go up to the Object menu, choose the Graph command, choose Column, and then inside the dialog box, select Bird 3 blue. Make sure the Column Type is set to Uniformly Scaled, and turn off the Rotate Legend Design check box. Click OK. So, the deed is done. I'm going to go ahead and zoom out a little bit, so that we can see that we now have these wonderful hummingbirds that are about a mile away from the text that describes them. That's the way it is for now. Tell you what. There is one more thing I want to do.
I'm going to go ahead and marquee these hummingbirds. Thankfully, they completely lost that dynamic effect. Remember, that I applied the Transform command in order to reduce the size of the rectangles to 50%. Well, this time, I actually want to make the hummingbirds larger. I'm going to do it the same way, using the Transform effect. So I'll go to the Effect menu, choose Distort & Transform, and then choose Transform, or press Ctrl+E, Command+E on the Mac. Let's go ahead and increase both the Horizontal and Vertical values to 150%. Turn on the Preview check box, just so we can see what that looks like. That's probably good enough, although I'm going to go ahead and select the bottom-right point in this reference point matrix right there, and then click OK in order to apply the modification, and we get this effect here.
Not perfect, of course. There's all kinds of problems going on inside the legend. But it does give you a sense of how to create a few graph designs and employ them at least inside the legend. In the next exercise, I'll show you how to apply the graph designs to the columns themselves.
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