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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.
As you begin working with more complex artwork inside of Illustrator you will find it necessary to work with groups. On a superficial level it makes sense to work with groups because it makes it easy to edit your artwork. However in this video I want to focus on some of the core concepts of what a group is, because when we start to understand that we see that there is a far more deeper meaning in using groups. In fact, we will find that we will create groups to help create the kind of artwork that we need. Let's take a closer look. I have this file open here called defining_groups; you can find it inside of Chapter 09 of your exercise files.
I basically have this background that I created, which is locked, so we can't select it. Then I have these two local elements. They are all made up of individual elements. For example, some text, some copy that's been outlined, a couple of shapes here, and an overall white shape in the background. If I go ahead and I click on them to select them, let's say marquee select them to select them all, I see that it can move them around as all as one element. Then I would just press Undo for that. However, I can't just click and drag to move, because then only one of the elements go, so that means that I have to make sure that I select each of the elements when I move this. If I accidentally leave one of the elements behind, that may be of course problematic when I'm working my design.
While it's easy in this case here, where I have locked my background to simply marquee select all these elements, this is a really small design element and in an overall design it may be difficult for me to easily select it; surely to select all the individual elements for that matter. So what we do is we create a group to make it easy to have all elements that are within the same design that work together to be part of one group. For example, in this case here where the constructs are all the same, I'll simply select all these, go to the Object menu and choose Group. Now when I go ahead and I just click once and drag it they all move as an individual unit.
I'll press Undo over here because I want to show you now that there is really a deeper meaning to what a group is. From a purely conceptual standpoint a group is actually a container that contains the pieces of artwork inside of them. To better illustrate this concept, imagine if you had a meal that you were serving at a particular table, and you didn't have any plates. So you took all the elements of your meal; maybe the steak and the vegetables and the fries, and just had them all sitting on the table itself. Now, besides the fact that this would be somewhat messy, imagine if you now decide that you want to sit on the other side of the table and eat your meal.
You couldn't simply pick up your meal itself, you would have to pick up each individual element, as messy as it were, and move them to the other side of the table. Now imagine you had a plate. If you had your entire meal sitting on one individual plate, if you wanted to move from one side of the table to the other, you simply pick up your plate, where all the elements of the meal are on the plate, and move that across the table. Well, when you create a group inside of Illustrator it's a same thing as taking all the elements in your design. In this case here the blue and the red shape and the text that you have here on the white background, and putting them all onto a plate. While this is all very nice from a conceptual standpoint, the reality is that inside of Illustrator when you do create a group you are also creating a physical entity, you are actually creating that plate where all these elements sit on top of. The only thing is though we don't see it. But let me show you an example of how you could easily understand this concept right here inside of Illustrator.
We now have since we have created a group here with the exact same design elements, although the ones on the left here are not grouped, but the ones on the right here are grouped together. Let's apply an effect like maybe, for example, a Drop Shadow to these and see how that particular effect could give a very different appearance based on the way that these graphics are structured. For example, I go ahead and I'll choose to select all these elements here. Remember, these are individual elements. In fact, let's take a look at my Appearance panel. Open up the Appearance panel. It says here right now my selection or my target actually consists of mixed objects. I'll go ahead now and I'll choose Effect, Stylize, and I'll add a Drop Shadow. I'll just use the default setting. You could see now that each individual element that I had selected got its own Drop Shadow.
Now, that may be the effect that I might want to look for but most likely it isn't. I probably wanted a Drop Shadow to apply to the entire element as a whole. Well, let's focus on the group right now. If I go ahead and I click on the group, take a look now what the Appearance panel shows as my target. My target is now my group, not mixed objects. The real meaning of a target is, when I apply any kind of an appearance, the appearance goes onto the target, not to the individual objects that I have selected. Kind of take that out of your mind for a second here. Whenever you create something inside of Illustrator you want to add an effect, like a Drop Shadow for example, or a 3D effect, or so on and so forth. Those are always applied to your target, not to the objects, not to what you have "selected", but to what you have targeted at the moment.
Now remember, before when I had all these elements selected, my target was mixed objects or all individual pieces, however now my target is simply my group or going back to the example we used before, its the plate that all these particular elements are currently sitting on. So now if I go to the Effect menu and I choose to apply that exact same Drop Shadow, the shadow applies to the overall group, or in this particular case here its being applied to that plate. So the plate itself has the Drop Shadow, but not the elements inside of it. That's the beauty of working with groups inside of Illustrator.
To further illustrate this concept let's again take another look at these elements. If I go ahead now and I use my Direct Selection tool to select just this shape right here, this blue shape. Notice that my Appearance panel says my target is my Path, and currently that particular Path has a blue fill, it has no stroke, but it also has a Drop Shadow applied to it. Using the same Direct Selection tool I now click on this particular shape. This again is my Path is my target, I have the same fill and stroke, but there is no Drop Shadow on this object. I never applied a Drop Shadow to this object, however this object is currently sitting on a plate or within a group that has a Drop Shadow on it. In fact, Illustrator is helping me out by letting me know that this path right now, which is my target, is currently sitting within another group that is sitting on top of it in the object hierarchy.
To further illustrate this point, if I take this exact same shape right now and I copy it and I go through a new document and I paste it, there is no Drop Shadow on this particular shape at all. This shape was simply living inside of a group before that had a Drop Shadow. By pulling it out of the group and putting it somewhere else there is no Drop Shadow that's applied to it because the Drop Shadow only belonged to the group. Let me close this document here; I'm not going to cut and save it. Go back to where we were before, and I want to show you one more important concept of how this works. I'll use my Selection tool to once again select this entire group. Now you can see that my target is my group and here I do see that the Drop Shadow is applied to it.
Let's say I decide now that I want to ungroup this particular shape because maybe I want to pull some parts out of it. I'll go ahead to the Object menu and I'll choose Ungroup; the keyboard shortcut is Command+Shift+G or Ctrl+Alt+G on Windows. But now look what happened, my Drop Shadow went away. That's because I threw away the plate that had the Drop Shadow on it, so now the Drop Shadow is gone. Again, further illustrating that the object itself don't get the Drop Shadow, the target gets the Drop Shadow. While in this case over here on the left the target was the mixed objects, meaning that the Drop Shadow on the objects themselves, in this case on the right we apply the Drop Shadow to the group. When we got rid of the group the Drop Shadow went along with it.
So now that we have this core understanding of what a group is inside of Illustrator let's learn a little bit more about how we edit these particular groups, which we will talk about in the next movie.
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