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In Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Mastery, the third and final part of the comprehensive Illustrator One-on-One series, author and industry expert Deke McClelland shows how to take advantage of the wide array of dynamic effects in Illustrator CS5. Deke explores Illustrator’s powerful Gradient Mesh feature, great for creating photorealistic airbrushing effects. He also covers graphic styles, the liquify tools, envelope-style distortions, the new Bristle Brushes, 3D text, and perspective drawing. Exercise files accompany the course.
In this exercise, I am going to show you the best approach to creating a tile pattern that will successfully serve as a side tile inside a pattern brush, and it hinges on the use of a few path operations, including one that I don't use very often because it's so darn static, which is a crop operation inside the Pathfinder panel. I've saved my progress as Big bad Zed.ai and we're going to ignore the fact that the Z over here on the right-hand side looks so appallingly bad, and I am going to have you scroll down to the bottom of the illustration and once again zoom in. And we are going to go ahead and take this object here, this group, and we're going isolate it by double-clicking anywhere on any of those selected path outlines.
Now what I'd like you to do is take this big rectangle right here and just get rid of it. Or if you like, you can just kind of move it aside for a moment and then grab the invisible rectangle, which will mean of course since it's invisible and hard to find that you might need to marquee, or you can go ahead and switch to the Outline mode to find it, what have you. And then once you've selected that invisible rectangle, go ahead and press the I key in order to get the eyedropper and click somewhere inside of that larger rectangle to lift its attribute. So we get this kind of washed-out purple color here, and then I'm going to press the V key to switch back to my Black Arrow tool.
I click on the outline to that big rectangle, and I will get rid of it because we don't want it anymore. All right, now we're going to crop everything for real, by the way; we can't mask it or any of that jazz. We need to do a real hard crop. In order to do that, apply a static pathfinder operation, we need to take these strokes and we need to convert on the path outlines. So all the objects that are stroked are stroked with the exact same color. That's the good news. So go ahead and select any one of them, like this circle right here. Then go up to this Similar icon in the control panel, click the down-pointing arrowhead, and choose Stroke Color in order to select all those objects that share that stroke color. Then go up to the Object menu and choose Path and choose Outline Stroke. Or if you've loaded DekeKeys, you can take advantage of that insanely, in my opinion, useful keyboard shortcut, if you can remember it: Ctrl+Backslash, or Command+Backslash on the Mac. And that goes ahead and converts all of those strokes to filled path outlines.
Now, what I want to do now, just to avoid some of the complexity here, is I want to join all of these new path outlines together. But they are not all the same color. If you try adding him by going over to the pathfinder panel, bringing it up--you can also choose Pathfinder from the Window menu--and click on that first icon, Unite, then you'll end up getting this effect right there, which is terrible. It looks kind of like an owl, but it's not something I want. So I'll press Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on the Mac to undo. Instead what we want is to just select the similarly filled objects, because right now notice we've got these dark, sort of violet interiors on some of these shapes selected.
So we need to get rid of them. I am going to click off the objects to deselect them, then click on any one of these sort of pinkish objects, and then I'll go up to this Similar icon, click the down-pointing arrowhead and choose Fill Color this time. And now I'll go ahead and unite them. This should work out beautifully, and it does. All right, here is the wacky part. Now we need to crop everybody, and in order to crop them, you need to move the thing that's going to serve as the crop to the front. But what I'd like you to do is just go ahead and take this rectangle here and press Ctrl+X, or Command+X on the Mac, to cut it.
That way we've got a copy of it in the clipboard. Now press Ctrl+F, or Command+F on the Mac, to paste it in front. Now if that's all we wanted to do, there's other ways to achieve that, if I just wanted to move that rectangle to front. But we need to copy in the Clipboard as well. Now that we have this object in front, I am going to go ahead and select all of these objects inside the group. And because we're in the Group Isolation mode, I could just press Ctrl+A, or Command+A on the Mac, and then with the Pathfinder panel still visible, I am going to drop down to the Crop icon and click on it, and that goes ahead and performs a perfect crop.
But you need to convert those strokes to filled path outlines before it's going to work. So that's why we had to outline the strokes first. I'll go ahead and press Ctrl+B, or Command+B on the Mac, in order to paste that item to the back of the stack, that initial rectangle that we copied a moment ago. Notice, by the way, that we ended up with a group, because Illustrator loves to create its groups, don't you know, and so as soon as we apply the crop operation we got a group. I don't want that group because we've got a group inside of a group; we don't need it. So I'll go ahead and meatball the group to make it active, and I'll go up to the Object menu and choose Ungroup, or press Ctrl+Shift+G, Command+Shift+G on the Mac.
Now click off the path outlines in order to deselect them, and here's the cleanup part. I am going to click on this thing here; what is this thing? Well, it's just a leftover of the crop operation, and it's totally invisible. It's a path that's serving no purpose. Hey, I bet if there is one path that's serving no purpose, there is a bunch of other ones. Let's go up to this Select Similar Options icon, click the down-pointing arrowhead, choose Fill Color once again. Look, there is a couple more. Big surprise. All right, so let's go ahead and press the Backspace key, or the Delete key on the Mac, in order to get rid of them. Now we are done. Press the Escape key in order to leave the Group Isolation mode.
Now I am going to go ahead and zoom out so that I can see more of my illustration at a time. I'm going to go ahead and grab this group. It's still a grouped object, or at least it ought to be. Let's go ahead and check out what's up here inside of the violet brush layer. Apparently this got ungrouped somehow. All right, well gosh! That's mysterious. We were working inside of a group. Why did that happen? Anyway, it did, alas. That's okay because these objects are easy to marquee, as I just did, and then I'll go up to the Object menu and group them. This is not an essential step to creating a tile pattern; they don't have to be in a group.
So I'll press Ctrl+G, Command+G on the Mac, in order to group them together, what have you. And then I'm going to go ahead and grab these guys, drag them and drop them into the Swatches panel, there it is. I want to rename this swatch. For me it's called New Pattern Swatch 28. Obviously I've been working in a background. But before I do so, I need to deselect the objects so I don't end up messing them up, and then I'll double-click on that new swatch and I'll call it violet side, because that's the purpose it's going to serve. Click OK and now let's bring up the Brushes panel once again. And actually for this--drumroll please here--we want to be able to see our big bad zed, because I am going to modify its test pattern brush.
I'll go ahead and double-click on that brush, inside the Brushes panel. The Z does not have to be selected. Let's go ahead and name this guy this time "Violet wedges brush" because I'm feeling so confident it's going to work, and I'll make sure that that Side Tile is selected. And I am going to switch it our for Violet side this time around, and then I'll click OK. Notice Preview is turned on. We get no preview, so that's not very helpful. Click OK, and then you'll get this alert that says, hey, do you want to leave the strokes alone? That would be absurd, of course, in this case. We want to apply our changes to the strokes.
So I'll click that button and yay, it works out perfectly. So we have this wonderful, seamlessly repeating tile pattern, and notice that it distorts to fit the path outline, and that is the big advantage to pattern brushes inside of Illustrator. In the next exercise, we'll add the missing tiles, which include the start, end, and the corners.
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