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Illustrator can be used to accomplish many different design tasks. For this reason, Illustrator CS4 Essential Training teaches core concepts and techniques that can be applied to any workflow for print, the web, or assets that will find their way into other applications. Mordy Golding explains the elements that make up vector graphics—paths, strokes, and fills—and shows how to use each of Illustrator's drawing tools. He demonstrates how to combine and clean up paths, and organize them into groups and layers. Mordy also covers text editing, working with color, expressive brush drawing, effects, and much more. Exercise files accompany the course.
So we know that area text lives inside of some kind of a frame. The text basically flows to fill the shape of that frame. Now sometimes you may have a lot of text and you want to have that text flow, not just inside of one frame but maybe along several frames. In an application like Quark for example, you have a concept of a text box and you can link several text box together to have one story flow across those text boxes. In InDesign, the same concept applies using multiple text frames. When you have a single story and you then flow that story across multiple text frames that is referred to as a thread of text. So let's explore how we create text threads here inside of Illustrator. We are going to start off simply by talking about creating an empty text thread and then what we will do is we will deal with the actual text that we have in this particular document right here.
I'm just going to move over here, use the Hand Grabber tool to just basically move to this side of the screen here. Let's start with just some blank area here. I'm going to take this regular Type tool and click and drag to create a text frame like we have done in the past before I get the blinking cursor, that's fine. If I switched to my regular Selection tool, I see that I have the handles on the corners, which is something that I see because I had the bounding box turned on. But I also have a box on the upper left hand corner here and a box in the lower right hand corner. I would like to call these things little big boxes because they are bigger than the corner handles that you would find on the bounding box. But there are still little and that's where they are.
So what are the uses for these boxes? Well, the real names for these boxes here are Ports. In fact, this one is called the In Port; this one is called the Out Port. Text flows into a frame, through its In Port and then flows out of a frame through its Out Port. Now just to show you how you can manage a text thread, I can take my regular Selection tool and click on that particular Out Port, that's right here. You see this loaded gun icon appears. If I click and drag now to draw a second text frame, my result is a thread of text. So if I now select both of these here, you will see that I have two frames and the two frames are connected here and this is what I call a thread.
So let's talk about now how you apply that with text itself inside of it and then we will see how that works. We will also take a little closer look at the icons that appear in this particular corner. So we don't want to get in any situation where we have just empty objects lying around our screen. I'll go ahead and I'll delete those. I move it back to this part over here and I'm going to let's say, decide that I want to maybe have two columns of text here and I don't want to use the Column feature that you have for area text because maybe I want the columns to be uneven in width. So, for example, I have one column here like this. Now if I look over here in the top left I have that In Port, but that In Port itself right now has no fill inside of it. In fact, just to make things little bit easier to see, I'm going to go to the View menu and Hide the bounding box. This really can focus on just the actual ports that appear here.
So notice that there is no icon here, it's empty, it's hollow. Whenever you see an empty In Port, that is indicative to you that my text thread, or where my story begins, starts right here. There is no text that comes before this. This is where the text actually starts in my thread. Now if I go to the Out Port here, I see there is a red plus sign. The red plus sign indicates to me that there is over set text or right now there is more text that belongs to this story but the text frame itself is not big enough to hold it so right now that text is not visible anywhere. So what I can do is create now another frame and then flow the text now from this frame into that frame and I'll do that by just taking my regular Selection tool. I'll click on that Out Port, which currently has a red plus sign, I get this loaded gun icon, I click and drag to draw a new frame and my text now flows from this frame into this frame.
Now let's take a look at the In Port on this frame. Notice that it's not empty anymore, it has an arrow. That arrow means to me that this text doesn't start here, it actually flows in from another source, that other source as I see from the connecting line is this Out Port and before there is a red plus sign, now there is an arrow here, which means that there is text now flowing out of this frame, and going to this one. If I go ahead now and I click on this plus sign, I draw yet now another one; I have created now yet another thread. In fact, what I'm going to do is I'm going to move over just a little bit more, I want to make sure that all the text is placed there. So notice now as I draw my frame that the Out Port that's over here is now empty. That means that there is no more text involved at all in this particular story. So using the icons here that appear inside of the ports, you can very quickly identify where your particular thread begins, where it ends and how it moves.
What's great about the way that Illustrator works with threads though is that I can easily manipulate these threads. If I decide that this frame over here, I want to get rid of it, I could simply select it and hit the Delete key on my keyboard and the text automatically reconnects itself over here as if that never existed. If I decide that I want to now add a new frame right over here as well, I could click over here on the Out Port, even though it's currently connected to this frame here, I can click here, get that same loaded gun, click out and that gets inserted inside of that text thread as if I just inserted it there. I'm just going to go ahead and delete these particular frames here and move back to what we had over here in this particular document. It's important to realize that I could also go to the first In Port to the start of my story, click on that and then create a frame and then start my story one frame earlier.
So there is really no limit to how you can work with these threads inside of Illustrator, in fact, I just clicked with the loaded gun and made another frame there. But you can see very easily that working with threads, you can take one story and then have it flow across multiple frames. What's great about Illustrator also is that in this particular case, I can also have text that flows between different shapes of frames. So I could have text that goes from a rectangular frame into a circular frame and elsewhere. In fact, I'll show you now that inside of Illustrator there is really one other type of text object, which we haven't discussed yet, and that's the ability to actually put text along the path. So in the next movie we will see how that works.
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