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Illustrator Insider Training: Rethinking the Essentials is the first installment in a series of courses designed to show experienced Illustrator users to how master core features and build art more efficiently. Adobe Illustrator has evolved dramatically over the years, and many creative professionals may be missing out on features that have been added to the latest versions. This course takes a fresh approach to core concepts, such as paths, attributes, object hierarchy, groups, and layers. Advanced techniques such as combining multiple effects and customizing textures are also included. Exercise files and a free worksheet are included with the course.
So at this point of the course, you should be pretty comfortable with adding multiple effects to a single object inside of Illustrator. I wanted to take an opportunity here to kind of pull together a lot of the things that we have learned and create something pretty complex here. I want to create some buttons that we might use for a web site, but I want to do something little bit different. I want to create a series of buttons, but depending on where those buttons appear in my user interface, I want them to have rounded corners, but only on one side of the object. So, just to give you an example, if I were to take my Rounded Rectangle tool here and quickly just draw out a shape like this, I would want to create some buttons where maybe the buttons that appear on the far ends have rounded corners on one side, like on the left here, but not on the right.
And over here, this button should have a corner on the right side but only have squared-up corners on the left side. And of course the middle button shouldn't have any rounded corners at all. Now, I also want to do that with a nice and sophisticated appearance. So let's see how we can use appearances to kind of build that kind of artwork, and do so in a way where I can easily make changes to my text as I am working. Now, I am starting up in this file called fancy_buttons, and I will select this text over here. And the first thing I am going to do is I am actually going to set the fill of characters to None.
So, I am just going to come up over here, go to the fill indicator, set it to None. That's because I am going to be adding additional fills to my type group to give it the appearance that I am looking for. So, I will start here in the Appearance panel by adding a new fill, and I will change the color of that fill to this color right here called Foliage. We will come back to this fill shortly, but I would like to start building the background as well. So I'm going to create now another fill, and I will change this fill over here to, let's say, a light gray color for now. And again, I'm doing this because I want you to be able to see exactly what we're building.
So I will take this light gray fill, I will target that fill, and then I'll choose a Convert to Shape effect. So I am going to choose Convert to Shape, and I will change this to a regular rectangle, not a rounded rectangle, but a regular rectangle. And I'll choose the Relative option, with an Extra Width of about 20 pixels and an Extra Height of really only about 4 pixels. We don't need more than that. Remember, if you hit Tab again, you will have to make sure that you check the Relative button to make sure that option is chosen, and then click OK. Now this gray box now, the gray fill that we have just created, actually appears above that other fill that we created.
So I am actually going to drag this beneath, so we can see exactly what we are creating. Now this is going to be the first button, which is going to appear on the far left. So I want rounded corners now to appear only on the left side of this object. Now in Illustrator, we know that we have a Rounded Corners effect. We can actually see, if I go to be Effect menu here, that I have something called Stylize > Round Corners. However, that's going to apply round corners to all four sides of my object, and I don't want that. So what I am going to do is I'm going to take this here exact fill, I am going to select it, and I am going to duplicate it to make a copy of it.
So, now I have two fills. Both have the Rectangle effect, but I am going to target the topmost fill and I am going to choose over here a darker gray. Again, I am doing this because I want you to see the difference between the two shapes that we are working with here. So, I have a dark gray rectangle that appears on top of a light gray rectangle, and of course, I have the word Start, which appears with this fill. Now, I am going to target the dark gray fill right here, and instead of a rectangle, I am going to click on that and change it to be a rounded rectangle. I am going to leave it set to the Extra Width of 20 pixels and Extra Height of 4 pixels, but I am going to change the Corner Radius to something like maybe 12 pixels.
So again, I'm making sure that the Relative option is still checked. I am going to click OK, and if I deselect my artwork, you can see what happened. I now have rounded corners on the dark gray object, but I can see the light gray object kind of peeking out from behind. Let me zoom in just a bit over here, so we can see this artwork a little bit better. Now, I am going to select this and we are going to actually apply a Transform effect to kind of move, or shift, one of these fills over so that we actually get the appearance of rounded corners only on the left side of the object. So, I'm going to target the darker gray fill.
I am now going to go to the Effect button over here, and I am going to choose Distort & Transform > Transform. Let's click on the Preview button, so we could see what we are doing. And I really want to keep everything the same, but where it comes to horizontal, I actually want to move it back a little bit here. I am actually going to choose to move it around -20 pixels. I am going to click OK and you can see what we've done. We've pushed just that one fill, the one that had the rounded corners, a little bit to the left. So, if I deselect my artwork here for a second, look at the overall shape that we've now created.
It has a straight corner on the right side over here because that's the other fill that I have kind of peeking out from beneath. But on the left side, I now have the rounded corners over here. Now I know this doesn't look anything at all like a button, but we are going to change that very shortly. The only thing that I want to ensure right now is that this text is centered nicely inside of this button. You see, because we went ahead and we shifted this fill over around 20 pixels to the left, I need to move the Start text back a little bit as well. In fact, in order for it to be centered, I will need to move it 10 pixels backwards.
So, I will select my artwork again. I will target this fill right here. Let me twirl it down, so we can see the settings inside of it. And I am going to, from the Effect button, choose Distort & Transform > Transform and in the Transform effect dialog box, choose to move it -10 pixels horizontally. I will click OK, and now you can see that Start appears visually in the center. Notice if I highlight this, because I have Smart Guides turned on, I see where the Start text really is, but in Appearance, I've now moved it back just a little bit.
Now that you have a clear understanding of exactly what we've done with the multiple fills here, let's actually set the fills with the right colors that we want to use. We certainly don't want to use different shades of gray here, but I have a really nice gradient that currently exists inside of this document. So, I am going to click on this light gray fill, and I will change that to this gradient here called Foliage Gradient. And in the Gradient panel, I am going to rotate that -90 degrees. Now, I am going to do the exact same thing for the dark gray fill. I am going to target this fill, let me change it to that same Foliage gradient, and I'll rotate that -90 degrees as well.
So now, I actually see one united button. It has rounded corners on the left side, but it has squared-off corners on the right side. The text also appears as if it's centered, even though you and I both know that we had to use multiple fills to achieve this kind of an effect. Now, to really kind of make this interesting, I want to add a few other additions here. Maybe we will add some drop shadows to give it a nicer appearance. So I am going to select this element here and I am going to target the topmost fill that has the text itself, because I want to add some kind of drop shadows.
So again, with just this fill targeted right now, I am going to go to the Effect menu. I will choose Stylize > Drop Shadow. I will click on the Preview button, but I don't want to use soft shadows here. I want to make it look like this is kind of chiseled in, or kind of embossed into the button itself. Unfortunately, Illustrator doesn't have an Emboss effect. However, I am going to simulate it in the following way. I am going to set my Opacity here to 100. I am going to set the X Offset to 0 pixels and Y Offset to just 1 pixel. The Blur setting controls how blurry or soft the shadow is, but here is a little secret: if you change your Blur setting to 0, and then you hit the Tab key, you actually get a hard-edged drop shadow.
Now, I actually want this part of the drop shadow not to be black but to be white, so where it says Color, I am going to click on this little square that brings up the color picker. I am just going to choose over here white all the way on the upper left-hand corner and click OK. And I don't see anything right now because, by default, Illustrator's drop shadows are set to the Multiply blend mode. If you multiply white, you get absolutely nothing. So, I am going to change the mode here to Normal. Now, you can see I have that little bit of a white highlight now on the bottom part of the text. I am going to click OK, and I have successfully added now one part of the drop shadow. But again, I really want to go ahead now to add a little more of an embossed effect, so I want to have a darker part of this text kind of appear toward the top of the text.
So, here's what I am going to do. I am once again going to target that same fill that has the text that I am seeing right here, and I'm going to add another drop shadow effect. I am going to choose here Drop Shadow again from the top here and here, Illustrator will give me a warning, because normally, you wouldn't think that you would want to have two drop shadows, or two of the same effect, applied to the same fill--and ordinarily, I probably wouldn't. Illustrator is probably right. But in this case, I know exactly what I'm doing. I want to apply a new effect.
Now, in this case here, I'll click on the Preview button so I can see what's happening. I will leave my Opacity set to 100. I am going to leave my X Offset set to 0, but my Y Offset I will change to -1. I will leave the Blur set to 0, but now I am going to change the Color to black. So, when I click OK, you can now see that I have created something that looks like that the text is kind of embossed, or kind of chiseled out of that button. You can see now a tremendous amount of information that appears inside of this Appearance panel. And this is really quite incredible, especially when you consider the fact that if you go into Outline mode by pressing Command+Y or Ctrl+Y, all you're seeing here is some text.
Let's go back with the Preview mode, and let's add an overall drop shadow to the entire object. So I am going to click on the word Type, just to ensure that I am now targeting the entire object. I want the object as a whole to get one unified drop shadow. I will now go to the Effect menu. I will choose drop shadow. And in this case, I actually do want to have a soft drop shadow, so I am going to set the Blur here to around 2 pixels--or maybe even just 1 pixel. Nice little soft shadow here. And I will set my Y Offset to 1 pixel. Let's change the Opacity here, kind of dial it down to maybe around 70%, and click OK.
So, if I zoom out a bit over here, I get a really nice-looking button. It has a nice little soft shadow around it. It's got rounded corners only on the left side. It has some chiseled text inside of it, and I now have created the first of the three buttons that I need. The good news is, of course, is that I don't have to start from scratch when I start creating another button. Let me zoom out just a little bit more here. I am going to take this object and simply Option+Drag it-- I am holding down the Shift key as well-- to come all the way now to the right side. I've now created a copy of this artwork, and I am going to double-click on it with my Arrow tool to change the Type tool, and I am going to select all my text.
By the way, if you have a cursor blinking in a text object, pressing Command+A or Ctrl+A will select all that text. And maybe I'll type in the letters End. So, now I have created the End part of my button. Now here I just need to flip the rounded corners from the left side over to the right side, so let's make a few of those changes. I am going to click on this element right here to select it, and then I am going to look for the fill that has the rounded rectangle applied to it, which happens to be this fill right here. Now I don't want to change the rounded rectangle at all, but I do want to change how that rounded rectangle was transformed, or moved.
So, I am going to click on that Transform effect for this specific fill. I will click on the Preview button, so I can see exactly what I am doing here, and you can see that the Horizontal setting is currently set to -20. Well, I want the rounded corners to be on the other side, so I will just get rid of the Minus sign here and make the value 20. See now how the rounded corners appear on the right side of the object. I am going to click OK, and the only thing I have left to do here is the actual text that says End is not centered correctly inside the button.
That's because it's still shifted over to compensate towards the left, but I need to shift that over now towards the right. So, I'll look at that fill, which is the top fill right here. I'll click on the Transform effect for that fill, and instead of -10, I'll have that set to 10, and click OK. Great! We now have the Start and the End buttons. All we need to create now is the middle button. So I'll take this object here, hold down the Option and the Shift key and kind of drag it over here. Again, if you're on Windows, that would be the Alt and the Shift key.
And here, I don't need a rounded rectangle at all. In fact, the easiest way to kind of work with this is to look at the Appearance panel, find the fill that has the rounded rectangle, and just completely turn it off. I also don't need to compensate for centering the word End here, so I am actually going to come over here directly to that Transform effect in that fill and just hide that Transform effect. Now, I am going to double-click on the word End and change it to say Middle. And take a look at that. I have now created three buttons: a Start, a Middle, and an End button.
The buttons themselves are dynamic, meaning they'll actually change to fit the size of the text. And depending on where these buttons fit in my overall design, some of the buttons have rounded corners only on the left side and some have rounded corners only on the right side. All of this is made possible by the Appearance panel. By applying multiple fills, multiple effects to those fills, we have been able to create an incredible appearance, and it's all being applied to simple text elements inside of my document.
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