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Knowing the fundamentals of drawing and reshaping paths is only part of the story. In Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Advanced, the second of the popular One-on-One series, computer graphics expert Deke McClelland covers some of Illustrator's most powerful and least understood features. He shows how to merge simple shapes to create complex ones with the Pathfinder palette, as well as align paths to create schematic illustrations. Deke explains how to paint fluid, multicolor fills with blends, and the new and improved gradient tool. He explores seamlessly repeating tile patterns, blobs and brushes, and imported images. He also dives into one of the deepest features in all of Illustrator, transparency. Exercise files accompany the tutorial.
Recommended prerequisite: Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals.
Download Deke's customized keyboard layouts and color settings for Illustrator from the Exercise Files tab.
So as I was saying in the previous exercise, when I stumbled across this pattern online, it was black and white precisely like it is here. I mean I knew I really liked the design but I had no concept of how I was going to color it and repeat it because I don't know what the repeating objects actually are. So what you need to do at this point is to start assembling the puzzle. You know it goes together; you just don't know how it goes together. We're going to kind of go out on the limb and test things out and see what we come up with. So I've gone ahead and saved my progress as Six hooks & a star.ai and I know there is a certain symmetry to this illustration and I imagine it follows the same symmetry as the hooks.
So the hooks have a symmetry of 120 degrees. That is to say you can go down into the right and follow this hook right there, or you can go down unto the left and follow this hook or you can go straight up and follow that hook. There may be more too it than that. You may be able to go up into the right or up into left or straight down. I'm not sure. I'm going to have to give it a try and see what happens. So first thing I'm noticing is that there's a shape like this right over here. There's an opening that I'm tracing with my cursor. That opening matches this contour right there going across into this hook. So it follows the star and this hook together. So I think maybe I could repeat these items down into the right. So let's go ahead and give it a try.
I am going to marquee these three objects like so using the Black Arrow tool. I don't think this is in front right there, this anchor point. I think if I click there, I'm going to end up grabbing this hook right there and I don't want that. So I'll press Ctrl+Shift+Right- Bracket or Command+Shift+Right-Bracket on the Mac just to make sure that these three objects are in front. Then I'm going to drag from this anchor point like so, and I'm going to drag it down to this location. Look, it fits in the place, awesome. Then I'm going to press and hold the Alt key or the Option key, and release in order to create a clone at that location.
So then we've got something going on down here and that looks like it falls the contours of this area. All I'm doing folks obviously I have done this before, so I sort of know what's coming. But I'm running through exactly what I did when I was trying to figure this out and trying to make sense of the whole thing. Sometimes by the way, I didn't get it right. Like for example, I'll go ahead and Shift-click to deselect this object right there, and I'll try that. I'll try putting this in this location, and I'm still missing something when I do that.
This does fit down here, but there's something else that goes down here with it because I have got a gap over there to the left. So anyway, I'll press and hold the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac and release in order to create a clone down here. So the thing that's missing is something that shaped like this and where would I find such a thing that shaped like this I wonder. I was telling you, I have this already figured out. I have done it before. But I'm stymied, I'm like sitting there going, I don't know what goes there. This I think does, right? That is this hook right there, I think it is. So I'm going to click here and Shift-click on the star because I keep wanting to duplicate that star. I know it always know where the star fits. The star is not so easy to isolate as these hooks are because they have a lot more edges going on.
So I'll go ahead and drag this guy from this point over to this location. Sure enough the star fits, awesome, and I'll press and hold the Alt key or the Option key on a Mac in order to create a duplicate at this location. Then I'm looking for something that will fit right there, would it be this right next door, does this guy go in there? Is the symmetry that close? In other words, that I can afford to go ahead and repeat just this guy right there if I can manage to select him of course, there he is. I'll go ahead and grab the star, what the heck. Let's press Ctrl+Shift+Right-Bracket or Command+ Shift+Right-Bracket on the Mac to bring that to front, so that I can grab it more easily, and I'll drag it up to this location, press and hold the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac and clone it into this new position. Ensure enough it does fit and the star does fit and all that jazz, so I can keep just building this out like at this location right here, I could just put the star.
Now this is dangerous what I just did by the way. Just dragging the star by itself is not something I recommend you do when you're trying to build out these patterns because if you just drag a single object, you can very easily get it wrong. You can put something like the star in any number of positions here, and they might not be the right position. So it's a really good idea to grab something along with that star. So let's go ahead and do that. I'll press Ctrl+Z a couple of times. Let's go ahead and grab this guy. So these two are selected and then I'll go ahead and Alt or Option+Drag this to a different location and then I'll just drag it in a place so that we get some snapping going on like so and that looks good. So it is fitting.
You know what? It looks like you could go right there as well. So let's go ahead and try to drag it from this position. That didn't work, because somebody else is on top there. I'll press Ctrl+ Shift+Right-Bracket again after selecting these guys, Command+Shift+Right- Bracket on the Mac, drag this over to this location, press and hold the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac and release in order to drop it into place. Then let's go ahead and grab these two guys, press Ctrl+Shift+Right-Bracket, Command+Shift+Right-Bracket on the Mac, drag them up into this location. So I'm sort of thinking ahead as I'm seeing different patterns form here. And press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac and release and so on.
So I'm going to zoom out here for a second and just kind of take a look at this mangled mess of junk that I've got here. Notice if I grab these three guys right there, they seem to represent everybody. If you look at these paths, you'll notice that there's a star, and of course the star is getting repeated here and here and here and here and so on. But then there's this one sort of hook that's over on its side like this and that matches this hook and it matches this hook, and I presume it would match this hook up there.
Then you've got this guy who matches this hook and this hook and so on, and he matches this hook down there, and this hook. So there's only two different ways that the hooks are aligned that they are oriented inside of this graphic. That's the pattern that is emerging to me as I'm working on this. Just to test it out I'll drag this group of three here up into the left, press and hold the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac, and drop it right there into place and it fits like a dream, and I bet I could do it again. I bet I could just go ahead and drag it like so and press Alt or Option and drop it into place and over and over and over.
That is locking quite successfully, and I imagine that I might be able to do the same thing in a different direction here. So I'll drag this one to this location. That is, I'll drag this point to this location, and press Alt or Option, and drop it into place. Then I'll drag up this direction and press and hold Alt or Option and drop it into place and then I'll press Ctrl+D or Command+D to duplicate it out that direction, and that works out beautifully as well. Look, this hole can accommodate this guy, and then this hole can accommodate this guy. I can build this entire structure now just using these three shapes over and over again.
Once you figure something like that out, once it dawns on you, what in the world the pattern is, that's when you can decide how you want to color your objects. We only have three objects that are getting repeated over and over again inside of this illustration here, inside of this pattern. And just to really test it out because at this point you might be thinking well, maybe. I don't know. It could be, it could not be. You do seem to be doing some stuff up there, but you've got these weird holes that you're forming over there, Deke. So let's get rid of all this junk, everything except these three shapes right down there. Even though we spent all our time with doing the symmetry, doing the rotation all that jazz, we need to test out whether this is right or wrong.
So I've got these three shapes and that's it and now let's see if we can duplicate it. I might drag the wrong point. Let's go ahead and drop that into place. And then I'm going to do it again, Alt or Option+Drag, drop it into place, press Ctrl+D a few times in order to go ahead and duplicate that out. Then select all of these guys because they're all built on those core three shapes right there. Then let's go ahead and drag by this point, Alt or Option, drop it into place, press Ctrl+D a few times, Command+D on a Mac in order to fill out the shapes in that direction and then I'm just going to take all of these shapes and move them over and obviously I can do anything I want with those three shapes.
As long as I continue to duplicate those three shapes over and over again, I'm going to create a pattern forever more, Ctrl+D or Command+D on a Mac in order to duplicate in that direction and so on and so on. So I can keep doing this. I told you this was just so much fun. I'll go ahead and press Ctrl+A or Command+A on the Mac in order to select everybody at this point. And let's see who looks like they're going to fit. Let's see if we can make these guys fit right there and sure enough, notice that's an entire hole right there into which this entire block fits like so.
I'll press and hold the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac in order to perform that duplication, and then I'll press Ctrl+D or Command+D a few times in order to just fill this entire huge world. Look! How far we're zoomed out. We're now zoomed out to 8.33% actually. Let me press Ctrl+A or Command+A on a Mac to make sure I've selected everything. Then I could do this number. I'm not sure I'm going to get much of a snap this far out because I'm so very far out from my graphic. Then I'll press the Alt or Option key on the Mac and then drop it into place in order to go ahead and fill out that area. Then I'll press Ctrl+D or Command+D in order to fill out that area and so on.
So I have proven, I think beyond a shadow of the doubt, complete overkill at this point now, that all we need in order to make this work is these three shapes repeated over and over forever more. Now, that we have that knowledge, what in the world do we do with it? And I'll show you in the next exercise.
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