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Covering a wide range of topics, from advanced masking to chart creation, Illustrator CS4 Beyond the Basics reveals a whole new level of power, creativity, and efficiency with Illustrator. Instructor Mordy Golding explores how to work with Live Paint groups, get the most out of the Live Trace feature, and take advantage of Illustrator’s wide range of effects. He also discusses advanced transformation techniques, powerful 3D functionality, and important color concepts. Exercise files accompany the course.
We know that you can save a tremendous amount of time and become more efficient when you start using graphic styles inside of Illustrator, and you also know that to apply a graphic style to a piece of artwork, you can simply select any path and then click on a graphic style to apply it. For example in this document I have a style that I have created called Train Tracks. And you could see that over here if I click on the Main Roads here, I could actually have them become Train Tracks instantly with one click of a button. Now I'll go ahead and I'll make this back to Main Roads and I'll click on this one right here which has the Train Tracks applied to it and I'll make that one a Main Road as well. The real question then you have here is how do you actually define the graphic styles to begin with? So let's actually start from scratch, let's create a Train Tracks graphic style for this document.
I am going to start over here by actually de-selecting this artwork. I'm going to drag out my Appearance panel and also my Graphic Styles panel, which I'll snap to the bottom of it. I'm actually going to close this dock here for now, and kind of bring this right over here. I'm actually going to expand the Appearance panel a little bit. By default in Illustrator's Essentials workspace, the Appearance panel and the Graphic Styles panel up here are grouped together, which means you can only see one at a time. However, when you really understand what a graphic style is you will realize that you really need to see both the Appearance panel and the Graphic Styles panel together, and in fact I use them together all the time.
For example, if you want to actually see what comprises of any graphic style, you can click on the Graphic Styles panel and the Appearance panel updates and shows you the settings for that particular style. The reason why is because a graphic style is simply a snapshot of your Appearance panel. When you go ahead and you select a piece of artwork and you add some kind of a complex appearance to it. If you now want to apply that Appearance to other pieces of artwork you don't have to start from scratch. You can capture that appearance as a graphic style and then simply apply that graphic style to other pieces of artwork. So all the graphic styles really is, is it's memorizing what you have actually selected or applied in the Appearance panel. So knowing that we can easily create our own appearances. So I'm actually going to click on this object right here, which currently has this graphic styles called Main Road applied to it. I can see that here easily, I have path with a Main Road and I want to start from scratch here.
I am actually going to go to the Appearance panel to the panel menu. I'm going to choose an option here called Reduce to Basic Appearance. That's going to take my object right now and kind of bring it down to its most basic fill and stroke, so before it had multiple strokes on it, now it only has one stroke on it. Notice that this one also no longer has any graphic style applied to it. I'm also going to change a stroke weight down here 1 point. So now that we know that let's take a look at how we can actually define a new graphic style for this particular path. I wanted to have the appearance of Train Tracks, so in order to do so I'm going to use multiple strokes to get that effect. I'll actually zoom a little bit closely here just so we can get a better idea of what's happening to this path as you make changes to it. Now the first thing I'm going to do is I'm going to change the actual stroke weight here.
Let me do something like for example around 10 point. So now I have a 10 point stroke. Now what I want to do is I want to first create the two rails, the left rail and the right rail that kind of go along the track itself. Let's forget about to actual ties that go across them let's focus on the actual outer edges here. So what I want to do is I want to actually create now an additional stroke that I'll put on top of this. So I'm not going to go over here and choose to create a new stroke, but I'm going to change its stroke weight to 8 point instead of 10. Right now with color black and I have two basically black strokes on top of each other. So I can't really see any of a difference here, what I can do is change this top stroke over here to be called white.
Now in doing so, I can now see what I have done. I have taken a black stroke that was 10 points in weight. I have now applied an 8 point white stroke on top of it so I basically get 1 point black edge on this side and this side of my stroke. So now what I would like to do is actually create the ties that go across this. You can actually rotate a stroke to go on a different direction that a stroke goes. So I'm going to use a Dash stroke to actually give the appearance of the ties on these train tracks. So once again I'll come back to the Appearance panel, I select my path targeted. I'm not going to add a third stroke. Now I want the ties to actually extend beyond the edge of this particular part of the black stroke so it needs to be heavier than 10 points.
If I wanted to extend just 1 point or 2 points beyond that I could choose to increase the value from 10 to something higher. So first what I'll do is I'll change the color of that stroke to black. Next I'll change the stroke weight to be a little bit higher. For example, let's start with 12 and if you want we can always experiment doing more than that. Well, that simply means I'm now going to have one extra point on this edge and one extra point on that edge. I'm going to click on the stroke itself and turn on the Dash Setting. So now let's see what we have created here. By default Illustrator chooses a 12 point dash. If you don't choose a Gap Setting it just simply repeats that as the original value that you have here. So this means that I currently have a dash of 12 and a gap of 12. So my stroke right now basically is little bit bigger then the one that was over here. It's sitting on top of the two original strokes and because it has dash pattern I'm basically seeing through the areas that are here.
Now, in reality you may want to create some kind of a stroke style that shows a border or a boundary of a certain area, which is fine. This might work just as well. But in order to make these look like ties on Train Tracks, I wanted to match the weight that I'm seeing over here. So I really want my Dash also to be 1 point. So I'll change this to a 1 point dash and notice that they have the space they are also 1 point apart. May be I want to go ahead and I want to space it out just a little bit more, I'll change my Gap to 2 points. So now I have created this complex appearance basically for particular path, which is made up of 3 strokes. If you look at the Appearance panel here I have a black stroke of 10 points in the bottom, I have an eight point white stroke that sits on tip of that and then I have a 12 point Dash stroke which gives the appearance of the Train Tracks.
Now in reality I can actually say this is a style but there is really one thing that bothers me about this. The background of my artwork right here is actually a different color, it's not white, and in fact the Train Tracks go over water or go over other areas as well, so I really want the middle of this Train Tracks here to be truly transparent, not necessarily white. But unfortunately, the dilemma here is because if I make that white transparent I'm going to see the black stroke that appears beneath it. So to actually make this work I'm going to use the setting that most people overlook in the Transparency panel. I am going to go back to my stroke here, which is colored white. I'm actually going to change its color to black. It doesn't even need to be white at all.
What I'm going to do though is I'm going to use that particular stroke and sets its Opacity value down to 0, which means that I can't really see it right now. But like I said before I still have the problem that I'm seeing the 10 point black stroke that sits at the bottom of the stacking order of this path. So what I really wish I could do is find some way to have this 8 point stroke actually subtract itself from the 10 point stroke. That would leave that area truly transparent. It just so happens to be that inside the Transparency panel there is a setting that allows you to do that, and the way that it works is that it looks for transparent objects and it allows you to knock out all transparent objects that appear within the same shape. So before I apply those, take a quick look at what we see here in my Appearance panel. I have a 10 point stroke, which is colored black. I now have an 8 point stroke, which is colored black but has an Opacity set to 0.
Finally on top of that I have a 12 point black stroke that has a Dash Setting, which gives Appearance to the ties in a Railroad Track. So now what I'm going to do is I'm actually going to click on the path because what I want to do is I want to target the entire path. I want to target all the attributes here. I am now going to click on the word Opacity here to open up the Transparency panel and click on this option here called Knockout Group. Right now it has Lines tool, but I want to make it that actually there is a check mark through it. See what happened here? The actual stroke here which is 8 points which have an Opacity's value set up 0, now was instructed to knockout the object beneath it, not simply just appear if they were transparent. So you can easily see there right now the Train Tracks blends in with whatever background that goes over.
So great, I have now applied a real cool complex appearance to a particular path to make it look like train tracks. But I want to use that to easily apply that to other paths as well. So now that I have defined my Appearance, I'm ready to create my graphic style. Now let me zoom out for a second here just we can see everything in our document. There are three ways to define a graphic style inside of Illustrator. One way is to actually click on the artwork and drag it right into the Graphic Styles panel. I'm going to press Undo. Another way to define a graphic style is to click on the New Graphic Style button on the Graphic Styles panel. If you hold down the Option key or the Alt key on Windows when you click on this button, it actually brings up the Graphic Style Options dialog box that you can name that style as you apply it.
Now there is a third way to define a graphic style, which personally is my favorite and preferred method. If you take a look at the Appearance panel you can see that there is a top most area here, I have something called Path. This is my target, and to the left of the target, I actually see what we refer to as a thumbnail for that appearance. I can actually click on that thumbnail and drag it into the Graphic Styles panel to define that as a style. The reason why I like that method best is because it really gives you this connection in your brain between the Appearance panel and the Graphic Styles panel. You are actually taking all the settings for your Appearance panel and you are bringing it and capturing it as graphic style.
Now I'll go ahead and I'll double- click on this to give it a name and let's call this railroad tracks. I'll click OK and now I can simply click on any other path in my document and with one click apply that particular style. So defining your own graphic styles is easy and simple and once you start doing so you will finally become far more efficient working inside of Illustrator.
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