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In Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Advanced, author and industry expert Deke McClelland teaches how to take advantage of the wide array of dynamic features in Illustrator CS5. This course demonstrates how to apply these features to paths, groups, and editable text to create professional-quality artwork. The course covers Live Trace, Live Paint, and Live Color, as well as symbols, gradients, exporting, and integration with Photoshop. Exercise files accompany the course.
In this exercise I am going to show you how to take this collection of repeating objects and define it as a tile pattern. Now as you may recall even though it doesn't look like it, we have an area that repeats inside of a rectangle. So in other words, the top of this guy's head, for example, in the upper right-hand corner of the rectangle, will continue on into his body over here in the upper left-hand corner of the rectangle, and down here in the bottom-right corner, this guy's face descends into the bottom of the rectangle and it reappears at the top of the rectangle along with his arm.
So everything is going to repeat exactly right, knock on wood, but how in the world do we define this thing as a tile pattern? Well, it's kind of weird the way it works, because it goes against a few rules that we've learned so far. I was telling you that if we were using a rectangle to create a clipping mask, this back in a previous chapter, why then that rectangle has to be in front of everything. Well, for this rectangle to define the tile pattern, it needs to be at the back of the stack. Also, very important, it can have no fill and no stroke.
If any of those things are not true, if it's at the top of the stack, or the middle of the stack, or it has a stroke, or it has a fill, that's going to ruin everything, and basically Illustrator ignores the rectangle and just creates this big area of white around our pattern and we don't get a seamless repeat. So here's what you do. Go ahead and grab that rectangle right there, make sure both Fill and Stroke are set to None. So our Fill is None but our Stroke is not. Click on the Stroke icon up here in the Control panel, change it to None.
Next, what you need to do is right-click anywhere inside the illustration window, choose Arrange, and then choose Send to Back, or you can press Ctrl+Shift+Left Bracket, Cmd +Shift+Left Bracket on the Mac, and now the rectangle is in back. All right, now we need to select the entire contents of this layer, and the easiest way to do that is to go over to the humanoid layer and click that little black wedge in the upper right-hand corner, and that goes ahead and selects everything, including that rectangle; very important. And now couple of different ways to work. One way is you can just go ahead and grab this colossal group of objects here and drag it and drop it into the Swatches panel, but if you do that, notice that Illustrator will assign an automatic name, in my case New Pattern Swatch 5.
For you, it might be New Pattern Swatch 1. It really doesn't matter. That's not the way I want to go. So I will press Ctrl+Z, Cmd +Z on a Mac to undo the creation of that new tile pattern. And instead, I'll go up here to the Edit menu and choose the Define Pattern command. So you go to a totally different location. And this has a lot to do with the fact that this is a very old feature inside of Illustrator. Tile patterns were first introduced in Illustrator '88. So way back in 1988. And back then we didn't really have panels like this and so this command is kind of a leftover. But anyway, go ahead and choose it.
You get the New Swatch dialog box and then you go ahead and name the swatch, and I am going to call it Troglodytes even though it's kind of weird word but that's how it's spelled, and then click OK in order to create that new pattern. Now let's see if it works. I am going to scroll up to the top of my layers panel, I am going to turn on that test shape layer right there. I am going to click on the boundary of that white rectangle, and I am going ahead and assign this Troglodytes swatch, and we'll see if it repeats properly, and sure enough it does. So thanks to the fact that we drew that rectangle and we drew it properly, and we got rid of its fill, and we got rid of its stroke, and we sent it to back, and the whole number, we ended up getting an exactly properly defined tile pattern that repeats seamlessly throughout any path outline.
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