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Creating a perfectly centered star shape

From: Illustrator CS6 One-on-One: Advanced

Video: Creating a perfectly centered star shape

We are going to start things off by creating the base shapes for the shield. Specifically in this movie we are going to create the star, and we are going to make sure it's perfectly centered in the artboard. Now this is not necessarily an advanced operation and it has nothing to do whatsoever with Photoshop. So you can skip this movie if you like, but the idea is this: Illustrator does a very poor job of centering certain kinds of shapes, and a great example is a star. For example, if I Alt+Click or Option+Click on the shield layer here inside the Layers panel in order to select all the shapes--that is to say the central star and the four circles-- And then I click on a line up here in the Control panel and I change Align To, to Selection.

Creating a perfectly centered star shape

We are going to start things off by creating the base shapes for the shield. Specifically in this movie we are going to create the star, and we are going to make sure it's perfectly centered in the artboard. Now this is not necessarily an advanced operation and it has nothing to do whatsoever with Photoshop. So you can skip this movie if you like, but the idea is this: Illustrator does a very poor job of centering certain kinds of shapes, and a great example is a star. For example, if I Alt+Click or Option+Click on the shield layer here inside the Layers panel in order to select all the shapes--that is to say the central star and the four circles-- And then I click on a line up here in the Control panel and I change Align To, to Selection.

And then I click on Vertical Align Center, which you would think would center the shapes. It actually scoots the star downward and it scoots the circles up a little bit, which makes a mess of things of course. So I will go ahead and change Align To, to Artboard instead and I will try again that exact same option Vertical Align Center, and that goes ahead and scoots all the shapes down. So neither of those options does what we want them to do, and here's the reason why. I'll go ahead and click off the shapes to deselect them and then I will click on the star in order to select it.

Notice that it has this wonderful center point here. I created that manually, and what I am going to do is press the A key in order to switch to the White Arrow tool, click off the shape, and then click on that center point right there to select it. And then I will press the Backspace key or the Delete key on the Mac to get rid of it. And now I'll press the V key to switch back to the Black Arrow tool, and I will click on the star to select it. You can see now it has no center point. Then I will go up to the Window menu and I'll choose the Attributes command in order to bring up the Attributes panel. In order to see all the options, you may have to click on the Double Arrow icon a couple times. And then I'll turn on Show Center.

And hat will create a center point right there, which is not what I want at all. But that's where Illustrator thinks the center of the star is, and the reason it thinks that is because it's measuring the center of the bounding box. So if I go up to the View menu and choose Show Bounding Box, you can see what I am talking about. There is the big square around the entire star, and there is the center of the square. The problem is, a star like many shapes inside Illustrator, is not a square; and therefore it is not represented very well by its bounding box, which is why I invite you to go back to the View menu and choose Hide Bounding Box, because I find thing to be generally worthless.

Anyway, I am going to press Ctrl+Shift+A or Command+Shift+A on the Mac in order to deselect the shape, and I'm going to turn off the shield layer. Even though I have made a mess of it, it doesn't matter we are going to be recreating the shapes from scratch. So turn that layer off, and click on the new drawing layer to make it active. Now at this point I've got just one rectangle in the background on this locked gradient layer; and if I were to press Ctrl+Y or Command +Y on the Mac to switch to the Outline mode, you can see its center point, which is accurate because after all it represents a center of a bounding box, and a bounding box and rectangle are the same darn thing.

Anyway, I'll press Ctrl+Y or Command+Y on a Mac in order to switch back to the Preview mode. I just want you to see where that center is. Now let's create the star by clicking and holding on the Shape tool icon and choosing the Star tool from the flyout menu; or if you loaded Deke Keys, you've got a keyboard shortcut of Shift+T. Now you just want to start dragging from really any old location to create the star from the center outward. Now by default you get a five-pointed star. If you're not seeing a five-pointed star, you can press the Up or Down Arrow keys as you drag to change the number of points.

Once you get five points in place, then you want to press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac in order to constrain the angle of those points, and then also press the Shift so get an upright star. So you want to keep both the Shift and Alt keys down on the PC. You want to keep the Shift and Option keys down on Mac. Now I want this width value here that I'm seeing on screen to be about 180 points. And there I am very close at 180.07, which is good enough. Anything within a couple points of 180 points is going to work just fine.

Now by default you'll probably see a white fill in the black stroke like so, and I just pressed the D key in order to instate the default colors. But we don't want a stroke, so go ahead and click on that second swatch in the control panel and change the stroke to None in order to get this effect here. All right, now we need to create an accurate center point, and in order to do that where a star is concerned, we need to destroy the shape. So before you go destroying it, you might as well create a copy by going up to the Edit menu and choosing the Copy command or pressing Ctrl+C or Command+C on a Mac.

Now you want to switch to the White Arrow tool, which you can get by pressing the A key, and then press the Shift key and marquee of the central points like so. So you want to Shift+Drag around the five points in the center of the shape in order to deselect them. The outer points will remain selected, however. Then press the Backspace key or the Delete key on the Mac to get rid of those outer points. Now click on Align up here in Control panel, change Align To back to Align To Selection; click on Horizontal Align Center, and then click Vertical Align Center in order to amass all five of the points at the exact same location.

Now we don't really need five coincident points like we have now. So go ahead and Shift+Click on that point with a White Arrow tool to deselect the top one, and then press the Backspace key or the Delete key on Mac in order to get rid of all of the others. Now we still have a point. We just can't see a single point in Illustrator unless you press Ctrl+Y or Command+Y in the Mac to switch to the Outline mode. And there is it. Now go out to the Edit menu and choose Paste in Front or press Ctrl+F or Command+F on the Mac in order to paste back the original star.

Then Shift+Click on a central point in order to select it as well. We want to combine the two together, which we can do by going to the Object menu and choosing Group. But that's not really the most elegant solution. The better way to work, if you're just trying to combine an alignment point as we are along with the shape, is to drop down to Compound Paths and Choose the Make command, or press Ctrl+8 or Command+8 on a Mac. Now if I twirl open the new drawing layer, you can see I have a single compound path. I am going to go ahead and rename it star, just so I know what it is. Then I'll drag the star by its new center point until the point snaps to the center of the rectangle, like so.

Then press Ctrl+Y or Command+Y on the Mac to switch back to the Preview mode. Now the star is still selected. I want to dim it down just a little bit so we can create some bright highlights on top of it. So go your Color panel. If necessary, click this Double Arrow icon a few times in the color tab in order to bring up your CMYK values, and change K to 15 %. And you will get this effect here. I'll press Ctrl+Shift+A or Command+Shift+A on the Mac. You wouldn't think it'd to be that tough, but alas it is. That is how you create a perfectly- centered star shape inside of Illustrator.

In the next movie we will finish the shield by creating a series of perfectly centered circles.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Illustrator CS6 One-on-One: Advanced
Illustrator CS6 One-on-One: Advanced

118 video lessons · 14446 viewers

Deke McClelland
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 43m 9s
    1. Welcome to One-on-One
      2m 9s
    2. Introducing my custom keyboard shortcuts
      6m 52s
    3. Installing my dekeKeys shortcuts on Windows
      4m 46s
    4. Installing my dekeKeys shortcuts on the Mac
      4m 18s
    5. Remapping your Macintosh OS shortcuts
      3m 10s
    6. Adjusting a few key Preferences settings
      8m 13s
    7. Understanding the color-managed workflow
      6m 51s
    8. Establishing the optimal Color Settings
      6m 50s
  2. 1h 11m
    1. Illustrator's oldest dynamic functions
      1m 28s
    2. Creating a multicolor blend
      7m 12s
    3. Establishing a clipping mask
      5m 40s
    4. Reinstating the colors of a clipping path
      8m 1s
    5. Editing individual blended paths
      4m 44s
    6. Adjusting the number of steps in a blend
      7m 15s
    7. Fixing problems with the Blend tool
      4m 2s
    8. Blending different levels of opacity
      4m 45s
    9. Editing the spine of a blend
      5m 3s
    10. Adding a custom spine to any blend
      5m 5s
    11. Advanced blending and masking techniques
      6m 18s
    12. Blending between entire groups
      3m 2s
    13. Adjusting the speed of a blend
      3m 21s
    14. Rotating objects in 3D space
      5m 36s
  3. 1h 0m
    1. Illustrator's logo-making features
      1m 8s
    2. Customizing a single character of type
      5m 25s
    3. Combining a letterform with a path outline
      7m 48s
    4. Creating logo type along an open path
      5m 3s
    5. Creating logo type around a closed circle
      3m 57s
    6. Vertical alignment, orientation, and spacing
      4m 55s
    7. Warping logo type around a circle
      6m 56s
    8. Creating a classic neon type effect
      5m 39s
    9. Adding random neon brightness fluctuations
      5m 19s
    10. Creating neon "block outs" between letters
      7m 44s
    11. Adding neon blur and bokeh in Photoshop
      6m 16s
  4. 46m 19s
    1. Generating colors using harmony rules
      1m 31s
    2. Introducing the Color Guide panel
      5m 16s
    3. The 23 color harmony rules, diagrammed
      8m 16s
    4. Mixing and matching color harmonies
      5m 59s
    5. Color groups and custom harmony rules
      6m 18s
    6. Working in the Edit Colors dialog box
      7m 4s
    7. Expanding on an existing harmony rule
      6m 51s
    8. Constraining colors to a predefined library
      5m 4s
  5. 32m 44s
    1. Changing lots of colors all at once
      1m 2s
    2. Introducing the Recolor Artwork command
      4m 58s
    3. Recoloring with the help of swatch groups
      4m 35s
    4. Changing the color-assignment order
      6m 44s
    5. Reducing the number of colors in your art
      5m 7s
    6. Applying tints and shades of a single swatch
      5m 37s
    7. Recoloring artwork that contains gradients
      4m 41s
  6. 1h 15m
    1. Painting with path outlines
      1m 24s
    2. Introducing the Brushes panel
      4m 25s
    3. Applying and editing a calligraphic brush
      7m 34s
    4. Applying and scaling an art brush
      6m 12s
    5. Applying and editing a scatter brush
      5m 31s
    6. Formatting and scaling brushed text
      5m 45s
    7. Designing a custom art brush
      7m 35s
    8. Creating (or replacing) an art brush
      6m 42s
    9. Refining a brush to fit ends and corners
      4m 11s
    10. Expanding, filling, and stroking a brush
      7m 4s
    11. Type on a path vs. text as an art brush
      7m 3s
    12. Distorting text with the Width tool
      8m 49s
    13. Infusing your artwork with a tile pattern
      3m 13s
  7. 58m 24s
    1. The many forms of transparency
      1m 38s
    2. Creating translucency with the Opacity value
      4m 21s
    3. Darken, Multiply, and Color Burn
      6m 15s
    4. Lighten, Screen, and Color Dodge
      5m 8s
    5. Overlay, Soft Light, Hard Light, Difference, and Exclusion
      4m 59s
    6. Hue, Saturation, Color, and Luminosity
      5m 12s
    7. Combining the effects of multiple blend modes
      6m 42s
    8. Isolating blending and Knockout Group
      7m 37s
    9. Combining blend modes with dynamic effects
      7m 25s
    10. Exporting transparency from Illustrator
      9m 7s
  8. 1h 39m
    1. The Layers panel for dynamic attributes
      1m 4s
    2. Applying attributes in the Appearance panel
      6m 15s
    3. Creating depth using translucent strokes
      5m 37s
    4. Adding, layering, and offsetting strokes
      6m 12s
    5. Duplicating entire groups of attributes
      7m 55s
    6. Turning stacked strokes into editable paths
      5m 43s
    7. Simplifying a multi-stroke effect
      6m 31s
    8. Applying the Convert to Shape effect
      7m 47s
    9. Adding aligned patterns and shadows
      8m 16s
    10. Drawing with arrowheads and angled strokes
      8m 49s
    11. Employing overlapping gradient strokes
      8m 25s
    12. Drawing circular stroke elements
      10m 13s
    13. Outlining an entire multi-stroke effect
      8m 39s
    14. Creating seamless wood grain in Photoshop
      8m 11s
  9. 1h 12m
    1. The best features in Illustrator
      1m 38s
    2. Repeating a series of transformations
      6m 18s
    3. Adjusting and updating a dynamic effect
      6m 37s
    4. Applying a stroke to an entire layer
      6m 24s
    5. Improving the performance of drop shadows
      5m 40s
    6. Applying a single effect multiple times
      6m 10s
    7. Creating an intricate Spirograph pattern
      7m 10s
    8. Adding scalloped edges with Pucker & Bloat
      4m 40s
    9. Applying a dynamic Pathfinder to a layer
      3m 56s
    10. Creating beveled ornaments
      6m 50s
    11. Creating a sculptural type effect
      5m 59s
    12. Subtracting editable text from a path
      7m 6s
    13. Editing text inside a dynamic effect
      4m 25s
  10. 27m 40s
    1. Never remember anything again, ever
      1m 41s
    2. The pixel-based Effect Gallery
      3m 53s
    3. Copying effects from one layer to another
      4m 44s
    4. Introducing the Graphic Styles panel
      4m 11s
    5. Correcting previews in the Effect Gallery
      4m 36s
    6. Adjusting the resolution of your effects
      4m 0s
    7. Combining and saving graphic styles
      4m 35s
  11. 1h 13m
    1. Two powerful graphics programs combine forces
      1m 5s
    2. Creating a perfectly centered star shape
      6m 52s
    3. Precisely scaling concentric circles
      7m 47s
    4. Adding reflective highlights with the Flare tool
      6m 23s
    5. Two ways to rasterize vector art for Photoshop
      7m 37s
    6. Importing vector art as a Smart Object
      6m 47s
    7. Creating a lens flare effect in Photoshop
      7m 56s
    8. Photographic texture and brushed highlights
      6m 26s
    9. Modifying a vector Smart Object in Illustrator
      6m 33s
    10. Converting Illustrator paths to shape layers
      6m 27s
    11. Assign layer effects to native shape layers
      5m 55s
    12. Completing a work of photorealistic art
      3m 46s
  12. 1m 5s
    1. Until next time
      1m 5s

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