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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.
Creating your own symbols is incredibly easy. I'm working in a document here called defining_symbols, and if you have access to the exercise files, you'll find it inside of Chapter 13. There are basically two ways to define a symbol in Illustrator. You can either take artwork directly from the artboard and drag it right into the Symbols panel, or alternatively- I'll click Cancel here- you can tap the F8 key on your keyboard. Illustrator immediately brings up the Symbol Options dialog box, and you want to give your symbol a name that you can remember. I'll choose Groundswell logo. Now there are some options that are here, but in reality these options are only important when you're taking this symbol, and then moving it into the Flash application.
If you are already doing Web designing, you're working with Flash, then you might decide if you want to now define that as a graphic or a movie clip symbol. You want to know if you can also set your Flash registration, or where Flash can recognize the origin point for that particular symbol, and whether or not you want to take advantage of 9-slice scaling as well. But for this case here, since we're staying inside of Illustrator, these settings really mean nothing at all inside of Illustrator. You can choose any of them; it makes no difference. These settings again only come into play once this symbol has been imported into Flash. So I'm going to go ahead and click OK, and now just to find a symbol, which now shows up in the list here.
You can go to the flyout menu, the Symbols panel, and if you like, you can choose to view things as a list, instead of as a little icon. I happen to like this way a) it matches a little bit more the way that symbols do appear inside of Flash, and alternatively allows me to see the name of the symbol, which sometimes is far more descriptive, than what it looks here inside of the little thumbnail. It's important to realize that anything at all can be turned into a symbol, again with the exception of a place linked image. For example, this artwork right up here has a Drop Shadow applied to it. It's a whole group of many different objects, it actually has some live text in here, but just by tapping F8 on my keyboard, I can call this one Highway symbol, click OK, and now I've created that particular symbol to use as well.
If you think that creating symbols inside of Illustrator is easy, wait to see how easy it is to actually edit or change some of these particular symbols. We'll cover that in the next movie.
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