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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.
I have gone ahead and saved my progress so far as One Group aligned.ai because the central group of four checkers is aligned, exactly aligned to the center of the artboard, and what we are going to do in this exercise I'm going to show you how to distribute all the remaining checkers with respect to the artboard. And this has something that works out beautifully if your artboard and your checkers are designed to work with each other and designed to fit as ours are. Of course because after all everyone of the checkers are exactly the 16th of the area of the overall artboard meaning that they are designed to fit exactly four across and four up and down.
If your checkers weren't designed to fit exactly that way then you need to take advantage of a different method which I'll explain to you in the next exercise. All right, so here is what I want you to do. First of all go to the Align palette if you got it up on screen and make sure Align To is set to Align to Artboard. Very important. All right, next I want you to go ahead and select this second row of checkers right there. So you are going to get this violet checker the group in the center and then this sort of tan checker over here on the right hand side. All right, so this group of three and then I'm going to go to this option Horizontal Distribute Center or it is also located up here in the Control palette, either way go ahead and click on that option and you will exactly distribute the checkers where they need to be. Horizontally. That is to say not vertically, just horizontally. And what Illustrator has gone ahead and done is made sure that the centers of each one of these objects is equidistant from one another and of course with respect to the overall Artboard as well.
Now, it is easy to get impatient with this process and decide to select too many objects at a time. I'm going to go ahead and press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on a Mac. For example, you might be temped to select all eight of the squares like so and then apply this option, but if you do that, things will not distribute properly because now what Illustrator is trying to do is make sure that this center point is the same distance from this center point as this one is from the overall where this group is concerned which is the same distance from this guy as from this guy and so on. So you need to make sure you select only so many objects at a time, you can only distribute one row or one column at a time is the idea.
And we'll investigate distribution in more detail later just so that you have clear idea of what's going on because at this point it's potentially a little difficult to wrap your mind around. Anyway I'll go ahead and press Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on the Mac. So we'll select this row like so and then click on this icon. Then select this row and then click on this icon. Now what's wonderful, what's just beautiful and ducky and excellent about aligning objects to the Artboard is that nobody has to be in alignment in the first place like that Center Group of 4. For example, if I were to grab this bottom row of squares and I were to click on this icon right there, every single one of the square moves into the right position horizontally, vertically they are still off, but horizontally they are now properly aligned and each one exactly touches the other one. So we have perfect registration at this point. I'm going to go ahead and select these guys as one. Now, I just selected too much stuff so I'm going to Shift-click on the central group of 4 to deselect it and then I'll click on this icon once again.
All right now we are ready to align the columns vertically. So, I'm going to go ahead and grab this column right there, I'll select it and I'll click on the Vertical Distribute Center option right there and then I'll select this column and click on that same option and I'll select this column like so and click on the same option and then select the first column and click on this icon yet again. And now all of my checkers are exactly where I need them to be. Now that's a function of having design my checkers the right size in first place. So, I have got an Artboard that is 640 points wide and 640 points tall and I have got each one of these squares 160 points wide and 160 points tall.
So, everything fits exactly the way it needs to. Now, what if you had not done that in advance is probably incredibly rare that you would put together such a design in the first place. More likely your checkers and your artboard and have nothing to do with each other, so how do you align and distribute checkers in that environment? Well I'll show you how to distribute according to a Key Object in the next exercise.
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