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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.
The concept of area text closely matches that found in applications like PageMaker or InDesign or QuarkXPress for that matter. Rather than text just free flowing on its own, text conforms to the shape of an overall frame. Let's take a look. In this file specifically, this body text that I have over here, if I click on it, it is actually created as area text. Notice, overall I have a frame that appears around all this text and the text is contained within it. Let's scroll down somewhat. You will see that I also have these boxes that appear in the upper left-hand corner and the lower right-hand corner and that also identifies this as being area text.
Let's first see how we create area text and then we will see some of the benefits that are involved with using area text. I'll come here to the side of the screen. I'll take the same Text tool that I was using before. But rather than just clicking once, I'll click and drag to draw a rectangle or in this case a frame. When I release the mouse, I'll get a blinking cursor inside of that frame and now I could start typing. Notice, that as soon as I type the word there, it automatically re-flows to the next line. That's because the frame determines the balance for where the text can go. As I type more for example, I'll see that a little red plus sign appears meaning that there is more text, that no longer fits inside of that frame and I could either delete text, resize the text to make it smaller or enlarge the size of the frame.
Let me delete this object from in here, since we have this area text we have created in this part of the file. We will focus on looking at some of the benefits of using area text with this one. For example, when I click on this right now, I'm actually going to go back to the View menu. I'm going to turn my bounding box back on again. Now, I have the handles that appear all the way around here to resize the frame. Notice that when, now let's say, I click over here and I resize this, Illustrator automatically re-flows all the copy to now fit within the new width of that frame. If I want more text to appear for example, I can click and drag and see how that a preview appears when I do that, when I release the mouse, that's how the new text reflows within that frame.
It's important to realize by the way that area text can be of any shape. I could take a circle or a star shape for example and put text inside of it as well. A way to turn an existing shape into area text is again using the Text tool. Let me show you how that works. I'm going to take my Regular Shape tool, for example my Ellipse tool, click and drag. I'm now going to go to my Type tool here and you notice that if I click and I hold my mouse button down, there is something called the Area Type tool. When I choose that text option, I mouse over an object, I can click on it and now when I type the type falls into that particular object. That is another way to create an area text object out of an object that already exists.
Once again, let me delete this object and we will focus once more on some of the other benefits of working with area text. I'm going to click on this to select it. I know that I can resize the re-flow my text. But maybe I want this to flow in may be two or three columns of text. I'll go up to the Type menu and I'll choose this called Area Type Options. Here I'll get a dialog box that allows me to turn on a preview and specify the number of columns that exists inside of my text. Now, I have three columns of text; notice that the text automatically re-flows in that particular area. I could also change number of rows, which almost creates little bit of a table, although it's not really a table that you might find inside of InDesign for example, like a Table Editor there. But it does allow you to put text basically using rows and columns. I'll go ahead and set this back to 1 row over here and 3 columns.
I could also choose Inset Spacing, which would basically indent the text to kind of be a little bit of a border, its inset from the actual edge of the frame itself. So for example, if I choose let's say an eighth of an inch there, I see that now the text doesn't touch the exact edge of the frame. This allows me to either maybe apply a stroke to the actual text frame itself or maybe to align it to other objects so on and so forth. I can choose where I want the first Baseline to start and I also have the ability to choose how my text flows when I'm using rows and columns. So for example, if I add a few rows here, does the text flow from here to here to here then to the next one, the next one, the next one or if I choose this option, the text flows from this to this one, to this one, down here and up in here, so on and so forth.
So those are some of the additional benefits you get of working with area text. You have the ability to of course create columns; you cannot create automatic columns using just regular point text. Again, based on your design needs you would choose between using either point text or area text. Now that we understand the different types of text objects that exist inside of Illustrator let's learn how to make that text look the way that we want it to look.
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