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Adobe Illustrator has long been a popular vector–based drawing program, but for many the learning curve is steep. In Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals, author and leading industry expert Deke McClelland shows users how to get in to the Illustrator mindset and overcome this learning curve. He covers the application's key features in a new way, making it simple and easy to master Illustrator. Deke teaches viewers how to use the core drawing and shape tools, the transformation and reshaping features, text, and the Pen tool. He also explains how to export and print. Even if learning Illustrator has been a struggle in the past, this training can help make sense of it. Exercise files accompany the course.
Now, one of the brilliant things about Illustrator is that it has custom guides, which is just fantastic. It means anything can turn into a guideline. Like a circle could be a guide and you would snap to every single point along the outline of the circle, and it's just a fantastic thing. It's very easy to create a custom guide, as you will see. We are going to fill in the missing guide up here, in the upper left quadrant, and here is how that works. I'm going to switch over to this guy right there, the Rectangle tool, which has a keyboard shortcut of M, which is odd. You may recall, I was telling you that the whole reason the Selection tool has a keyboard shortcut of V is because V is a last consonant; not even the last letter, the last consonant in the word Move, and you move things around with the Black Arrow tool. Why didn't they use the first letter in Move? I mean, they could have made a lot of other decisions here, but why not give it M, which is the first letter in Move instead of Rectangle tool, which doesn't have an M in it, what is the rationale there? I mean you are going to be drawing a lot of rectangles inside the program, right? So here's the thing.
Speaking of M, a long time ago, they decided that all the applications were going to be in concert with each other; and this is relevant by the way, and they were going to take their marching orders from Photoshop. So Photoshop was going to be the lead application and the others were going to follow. So in Photoshop, this tool is called the Rectangular Marquee tool, and so it's an M. So just so you know. So think Marquee, because you are drawing a Marquee with this tool. One way to think of it anyway. So anyway, I'm going to select the Rectangle tool and I'm going to draw from this corner right there; drag from this corner, down to this corner, and notice that I'm snapping into alignment; if I draw in this direction, I'm snapping into alignment with the corners of the preexisting guide, the ones that were already there.
Now, I happen to be drawing this shape with Smart Guides turned off. Notice my Smart Guides command is turned off right there. If I were to turn it on, or press Ctrl+U or Command+U on the Mac to turn it on, and I'm going to go ahead and delete this rectangle I just drew, I could actually start over here if this darn thing wasn't in my way. Let's move you over there for a moment. I could start up in the upper left hand corner, because I could see where the intersection lines are. Then I could drag down to snap into position with the center of a few different objects. You can see that it's highlighting the circle inside of the iris as well. It told me that I'm in the center of that shape as well.
Smart Guides are really great. They really give you a lot of wonderful, intense feedback, but as I was saying before, Ctrl+U. It's nice that they have a keyboard shortcut too. That you can press Ctrl+U or Command+U on a Mac to turn them off, because they do kind of have a habit of getting in your face. In a complex illustration, you start seeing them all over the place. So I went ahead and turned them off for now, because I don't need them for what I'm doing. All right. So this is an actual rectangle. This would print. Guides don't print. They are not really part of the fabric of the illustration. They are part of the structure of the illustration, if you will. So if I click off of this shape I just created with a Black Arrow tool, for me, it totally goes away, and that's because my Stroke and Fill are both set to Transparent so I can't see it. It is actually there.
Notice if I move my cursor over the perimeter of where the shape should be, next to my arrow cursor, I can see this little block, and that tells me there is something there, and if I click, then I can get it. If I click Off again, you can see that I deselected it. But the idea is that Illustrator is capable of turning your cursor into a kind of divining rod. So as soon as you see it, ah, there it is. It's telling you there is water, right there. Click on it and you will get it. In this case, it's really shape, not water. You can also see that it's the top Path in this layer.
All right. So let's go ahead and give it a black Stroke, let's say. I'll switch this Stroke to active here; inside the Color palette is where I'm working. You could also work with these icons way here at the bottom of the toolbox. I'll click on this second one here in order to make the Stroke active. Stroke is as same as Outline, and I'm going to click inside of this little black Swatch in order to make the Stroke black. Then I could also go with something really thick. Let's go with like an eight point Stroke, something not subtle in the least. The reason I'm doing this is because I want you to see what happens when you switch this to a guide. So right now it's an actual printing object.
So I'm going to go up to the View menu and choose Guides, and then I'm going to choose this command right there, Make Guides, or you can press Ctrl+5, Command+5 on a Mac and that will convert that item into a guide. Now if I click off of it, notice it is a guideline just like the other ones. I could also grab it and I can move it down with the others ones if I want to. It should -- there we go. We get some auto-scrolling action if you drag it to the right location. You don't want to drag it down on to the Page icon because that will make a new one of it. You want to drag down here so you invoke an auto-scroll. Then I'm just going to drag it into a location along with these other guys.
So we have four guides in a row now. If I were to press-- remember that keyboard shortcut for showing and hiding the guides? Ctrl+;. That hides them all. Ctrl+; brings them back. That's Command+; on the Mac and Command+; to bring them back. So we now have all of our guides in place, and we now have a framework for the drawing that we are about to create. So you got your perpendicular ruler guides and you have your custom guides. Anything can be a guide in Illustrator.
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