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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.
There are many times in Illustrator when you need to distribute objects over a specific area. Let's take this case for example, I'm using this file called distributing_objects, which you will find in the Exercise files in Chapter 11, and I have here these several different body suits that appear spread out over this area. If I want to distribute these objects evenly, what I can do is select them all, go to the Window menu here, choose to open up my Align panel, and you notice that on the bottom section of here is something called Distribute objects. And I can distribute them by their centers, so now they are all evenly distributed amongst that space.
What Illustrator does is it takes the two far most objects, in this case the one the far right and the one on the far left, and now simply distributes all of them between that. Now they are already aligned, but just to give you an example, I'll press Undo. If I have one over here, let's say one here and one here, it won't align the objects, but it will distribute them evenly. So for example, I now choose that same option, they are distributed evenly, but I would then need to use the Align function for example, to also make them straight. There may be times whenever you want to distribute things not necessarily by the objects themselves, but you want to focus them out in the space that exists between each of the objects. Think of the white space between the objects, they are not the objects themselves. For example, the way my objects fit right now, there's a certain amount of space that is even now between each of these objects. But there maybe certain times that I want each object to be exactly a half-an-inch apart from each other.
Using the Distribute method that we just specified before, I would need to figure out the exact width of each of these shapes, and also calculate the number of shapes that I have, and then space the left and right most objects accordingly. Well, that's a lot of work. Instead, we will do it this way. We will use a function called Distribute Spacing. The first thing that I need to do in order to use Distribute Spacing command is specify a key object. Now we used the key object before when we were aligning objects, to specify, which object you want to align other objects too. Well when we have Distribute Spacing, let's for example focus on this one right here. I would need to specify, which object stays still, and then all of the objects would then distribute themselves according to that particular position.
So the first thing I'll do is, I come over here to where it says Align To, and choose the Align To Key Object setting. Now you will see over here that this object is currently the key object. Well, I want this one to be the key object, so I'll click on this one. Now that this is defined as the key object, I want each of these objects to have a distribution of exactly a half-an-inch from that particular object. So I'll specific over here, .5inches. And then I'll use this setting here called Horizontal Distribute Space. Now each of these objects are exactly a half-an-inch apart from each other. So when working with Distribute Commands inside of Illustrator, I can either use Distribute Objects, which means that I'll take two outside objects and distribute all objects between them, or I could use Distribute Spacing using a key object to determine how much white space exists between each object.
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