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In Illustrator CS5 Essential Training, author Mordy Golding explains the core concepts and techniques that apply to any workflow in Illustrator, whether designing for print, the web, or assets for other applications. This course includes a detailed explanation of the elements that make up vector graphics—paths, strokes, and fills—and shows how to use each of the Illustrator drawing tools. Also demonstrated are techniques for combining and cleaning up paths, organizing paths into groups and layers, text editing, working with color, effects, and much more. Exercise files accompany the course.
We know that the Align panel allows you to align objects, but there's also another function available inside the Align panel, something called Distribute Objects. That allows you to distribute objects evenly across a certain area. For example, I'm going to take some of these icons and kind of get them a little bit closer to each other. And I'll move this one right about over here. I want all of these to be evenly spaced amongst each other. So what I can do is I can click and drag to select them and then use this button over here to distribute them by their centers.
Notice now all the objects have centers that are evenly distributed across the selected area, or the bounding area. You see what Illustrator does is it takes the two objects that are the furthest away from each other and uses those as something called Key Objects and then takes all other objects that are in between them and distributes their centers evenly. This feature is kind of nice, but sometimes you want to have a very specific value that appears in between each of the objects. For example, maybe I want exactly a quarter of an inch of space in between each object, how would I do that? Well, I kind of have to figure out exactly how much space each of these pieces of artwork take up, and then I have to figure out how much quarter of inch spaces I would need in between each of those objects.
And then I have to find out a way to position these two outer pieces of artwork so that it all comes together. Well, there's a much easier way inside of Illustrator, and you can find that through the Align panel by clicking on the flyout menu and choosing Show Options. This gives us two additional incredible settings called Distribute Spacing. There is one for Horizontal and one for Vertical. In this case, we're going to be using the Horizontal option. I'll start first by selecting all of my artwork here. Next, I'm going to define a Key Object.
The Key Object is where I want to start measuring all the space from. Now, remember what I am about to do right now is not specify distribute settings for the objects, instead I want Illustrator to calculate the exact space that appears in between each of those objects. So, if I type in here in this value, .25in for a quarter of an inch, and then I click on the Horizontal Distribute Space option, I'll now see that every single piece of artwork has exactly a quarter of an inch of space between them.
Just to make things a little bit neater, I can also align them by their tops here. You know I'll be honest with you, many times I use a Distribute Spacing feature with a value of zero. This allows me to align the objects so that they are all exactly touching each other, and it's a real quick and easy way to very precisely line up objects just as you need them.
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