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This course is the third in a four-part series devoted to mastering the premiere graphics creation application, Adobe Illustrator, version CS6. Industry pro Deke McClelland takes a project-based learning approach to the key features in Illustrator, including Recolor Artwork, transparency, masks, blend modes, strokes and fills, and dynamic effects. The course also covers techniques for creating custom gradients, designing logos, generating photorealistic neon text, and wrapping type around objects. Plus, Deke shows how to call up the most essential features by organizing your workspace and employing time-saving keyboard shortcuts, how to manage the color settings, and how to adjust a few settings to make the program work even better.
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.
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