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In Illustrator CS5 Essential Training, author Mordy Golding explains the core concepts and techniques that apply to any workflow in Illustrator, whether designing for print, the web, or assets for other applications. This course includes a detailed explanation of the elements that make up vector graphics—paths, strokes, and fills—and shows how to use each of Illustrator's drawing tools. Also demonstrated are techniques for combining and cleaning up paths, organizing paths into groups and layers, text editing, working with color, effects, and much more. Exercise files accompany the course.
In addition to being able to apply different colors to strokes, and also in addition to changing its stroke weight and some other alignment settings, we can also use a setting inside of Illustrator to turn a regular solid line into it dashed line. Let's take a look at how that works. I'm going to focus in, just zoom in on this part of the flower right here. I'll select this path. Notice that right now, I have a solid appearance of that stroke. The stroke applies to every part of that path. However, if I come to my Stroke panel, there is an option here called Dashed Line.
I'm going to turn that option on. That will activate this part of the panel right here. I have here something called dash and gap. I see that there are three sets of that. So dash and gap appears once here, a second time here and a third time here. Basically, the dash setting refers to the part of the stroke that's turned on. The gap is the part of the stroke that's turned off. So you might think of this as some kind of a broken stroke, where I can see parts of it, but part of it I can't see.
Now, Illustrator allows me to define three sets of these dash and gap settings. So, for example, right now, I'm telling Illustrator at the start of the path, begin by turning on 18 points of the stroke, then turn it off for 6 points. Because I haven't specified anything else, Illustrator simply repeats that value over and over again. So this is the same as seeing 18-6, 18-6, and 18-6. However, I could do a dash here of 2 and then 6.
Now, if I take a look at my dashed appearance, I see an 18-point dash, a 6-point gap, then a 2-point dash, another 6- point gap, and then it starts over again. For this example, however, I'm going to use a dash setting of around 10 points and a gap setting of around 4 points. I'm going to hit the Tab key and just type 0 for these others. Now, as you can see, there are two buttons that appear here, right above, something here called Preserves exact dash and gap lengths, or this one that says Aligns dashes to corners and path ends, adjusting lengths to fit.
So, let's choose this first option. You can see that as the stroke is applied to the path, it does not necessarily appear uniformly across the path itself. In fact, to make it easier to see this, I'm going to change the stroke weight to around 4 point. As you can see, each corner is not necessarily the same. However, if I choose this option here, Illustrator automatically aligns everything. It basically adjusts and stretches the dashes and gaps ever so slightly, to ensure that every single corner of that object appears consistent.
You'll notice that there is a nice, solid dash at the top of each part of this path as well. Now, it's important to realize that you can actually work with some of these settings over here like Cap or Corner settings, and also Dashed Line settings to get different appearances. For example, if I change my Cap setting here to be Round, I'll add a little bit more of a Gap setting here, maybe around 8 point. You can see that each of my dashes have rounded edges. Sometimes, you want to create a perfect dotted line with little circles inside of them.
Well, if you set your dash to a value of 0, then you get perfect circles. Again, this happens only because I've set my Cap to the Round setting. So, there's plenty here to experiment with, but as you can see, applying strokes and using dashes to your strokes can be a great way to adjust the appearance of your artwork.
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