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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.
In the exercise we are going to talk about drawing polygons and stars here inside of Illustrator using the Polygon and Star tools. I have gone ahead and saved my progress so far inside a document called Stars.ai found inside the 05_geometric_shapes folder. I have chosen to call it Stars.ai even though it's obviously a bunch of circles because we are going to be drawing stars. So here is what I would like to do. Go ahead and turn on the calendar layer, in case you turned it off. Make sure it's active. And then let's go ahead and set up the stars layer right here as a template layer. So I'll meatball the stars layer after making it active and then I'll go up to the Opacity value, change it to 50% and then I'll lock it.
All right, so now let's go back to the My drawing layer right there and let's go ahead and draw some shapes. I'm going to start by grabbing the Polygon tool just so we can see how these tools work here. Let's go ahead and drag my illustration off to the side. So here I'm out in the pasteboard. The pasteboard by the way is sort of light gray color, especially by comparison to the white page, because I have Overprint Preview turned off. If I were to turn on Overprint Preview up here in the View menu, which allows us to see how the various inks are mixing together. Of course, mash your fist on the keyboard and press Y. That's your keyboard shortcut. Ctrl+Shift+Alt+Y or Command+Shift+Option+Y on the Mac.
Then the background appears white as well so you get rid of that sort of artificial grayness to the background there. All right, now I'm going to draw a polygon with the Polygon tool, got it selected, and you can see it always draws from the center outward, it draws a regular polygon meaning that every side is the same length and it's a symmetrical shape and you are just changing its angle. But here's a couple of things you can do, you can press the Spacebar to drag it to a different location, okay, so that still works. No sense pressing the Shift key because it's already always symmetrical, no sense pressing the Alt or Option key because it always draws from the center outward.
However, you may find it useful to press the Down Arrow key in order to reduce the number of sides as low as a triangle, it can't go any low in a triangle, three sides is a minimum. Or you press the Up Arrow key to increase the number of sides; we now have eight sides for an octagon. If we go too high, it just ends up getting like a Bucky ball here. I mean it's practically a circle after a certain point. All right, so I'm going to reduce the number and look you can press and hold too on the Arrow keys like this, like that. Okay, so that was pressing the Down Arrow key there at the end, of course.
The other thing you can do, go ahead and release, Backspace that guy to get rid of it. Click, and then you can specify the radius of the shape and the number of sides, and of course, it tracks the size of last shape you created. I could say you know what, I want it to be a 120 point radius and I want the number of sides to be 5, fine, all right, click OK, there it is. And notice it's nice and upright. Oh! I said there was no sense in pressing the Shift key. What a lie that was! Wait a sec, let me show you. If you are drawing the shape and you press the Shift key, then it's going to constrain the shape to upright so that it's sitting on the bottom of the shape, at least in the case of this pentagon is perfectly horizontal. So there is a point to pressing the Shift key after all.
All right, now let's take a look at the Star tool. Star tool works same way, draws from the center out, you press the Shift key, you get alignment, so it's upright, you can also press the Spacebar to move it around on the fly and I went ahead and released the Shift key there. You have the option of adding points by pressing the Up Arrow key or reducing points by pressing the Down Arrow key. Again, you are going to get a triangle if you go all the way down. Here is another thing you can do, by the way. Let's say we have got a bunch of different sort of spikes going on.
If while you are drawing you press and hold the Ctrl key, you are going to lock the inner points and you are just going to move the outer points so it contains the spikiness of the spikes. You can even move it the other way so the outer points become the inner points or vice versa. Okay, so how do we apply that to our illustration? I went ahead and undid that shape, let's go back here and do a little bit of tracing, just so we get a sense of how this works. I'm going to draw the big shape first, like so, and notice that I'm starting from the center, of course, and I'm keeping my cursor aligned to this horizontal guide and now I'm going to press the Down Arrow key until I end up with just eight points like so and I need to align the inner points first.
Okay, so I'm just dragging till the inner points are aligned, you can see how they are aligned with the green shape. That's serving as our tracing template. Then I press and hold the Ctrl key or the Command key. And we are pressing during the drag. It's not a Ctrl+Drag. Press Ctrl or Command during the drag in order to change the degree of spikiness here, so that we get absolute alignment and then release. Great! All right, so there we have it. We have got an eight-point star that exactly lines up with the outside shape. What if you want to draw a star numerically, like we want to draw this inner star by the numbers? We can do that in Illustrator but we need to be able to measure what those numbers should be and I'm going to show you exactly how to do that in the next exercise.
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