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Adobe Illustrator has long been a popular vector–based drawing program, but for many the learning curve is steep. In Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals, author and leading industry expert Deke McClelland shows users how to get in to the Illustrator mindset and overcome this learning curve. He covers the application's key features in a new way, making it simple and easy to master Illustrator. Deke teaches viewers how to use the core drawing and shape tools, the transformation and reshaping features, text, and the Pen tool. He also explains how to export and print. Even if learning Illustrator has been a struggle in the past, this training can help make sense of it. Exercise files accompany the course.
In this exercise, we are going to draw the first three circles in the center of the calendar here and the name of this illustration representing my progress so far is Circles.ai. And as we draw these circles I'll give you a sense of how it works, a few tips and tricks along the way. So we are going to start by selecting this guy. The Ellipse tool and you can get to this tool by pressing L for Ellipse, and I'll grab that guy, and then I could start just dragging in order to create an ellipse, and I think it's pretty straightforward there. You can also, by the way, press the Spacebar, in order to move the shape on the fly, like so.
If you want to constrain the shape to a circle, I'll go ahead and release the Spacebar, you would press and hold the Shift key and that constrains the shape as you can see. Release Shift and you go back to an Elliptical shape. If you want to draw from the center outward, you press and hold the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac. All right, so let's put that to use. I'm going to Backspace that shape away. Let's start from the center. We'll align our cursor with the intersection of those two guides and I'm going to begin dragging, and then as I drag I'll press and hold the Shift+Alt key, it's Shift+ Option on the Mac, and then I'll get one circle aligned to the other circle there. So the circle that I'm drawing aligned to the circle in the Circles Template layer, and then I'll release the mouse button and then I'll release the keys. It's important that you keep the keys held until after you release the mouse button.
Now, notice that we have a shape that has white fills, so we are covering up the template. I'm going to go ahead and change the fill to transparent. And you can do that, if I go to the Color palette here, either by making sure the Fill is active and then clicking on this None icon, or I can get to the None icon from the keyboard by pressing the Slash Key. Now this slash, which is the exact angle of this None bar right there, that diagonal line, makes the Fill None. So it's very much like that keyboard shortcut we saw on the previous chapter where we could use backslash to get the Line tool which leans up into the left because the transparency icon leans up into the right; it's the slash key.
Okay, anyway. So we have now drawn this circle. I'm going to change this Stroke here to 2 points thick and that looks pretty good to me. Now let's draw a few other shapes. This time I'm going to draw from arc to apposite arc. So I'm going to position my cursor right about there in order to begin drawing the shape and notice as I draw, we are moving away from the arc. So the point at which we started drawing is not a point on the ellipse at all and the location of my cursor is not a point along the outline of the ellipse either.
So it's a little difficult to position things properly when you have to work that way. A better way to work I think is to actually align the arc to the beginning of your drag and you can do that as you are drawing the shape by pressing the Ctrl key or the Command key on the Mac. Look what that does and then I would also press the Shift key in order to make sure that we are drawing a circle, not an ellipse. So that's Ctrl +Shift on the PC, Command+Shift on the Mac, and then I'll draw the shape as big as it needs to be like so. Release the mouse button and then release the keys, and then finally, another way to work here is to click with a tool, if you want to as opposed to dragging with it.
And if I clicked, like I'll click up here or something along those lines, and notice it's telling me how big the last shape that I drew was, that's cool. So I know what's exactly that size. I'm going to change the Width value to 238 points because that's the diameter of this next ellipse that we are drawing, the next circle. And then in order to duplicate that value into the Height value right here, so duplicate Width and Height, you just click on Height, and that gives you the exact same values for both options and then click OK.
Now the problem is that this is kind of just located in a weird position; that's not what I want. So it's basically aligning the top-left corner of the imaginary bounding box that surrounds this circle to the click point. And that's not what I want. I want things aligned to the center, actually right. So I'm going to press the Backspace key or the Delete key to get rid of that shape and I'm going to Alt-click or Option-click right there in that center point. I'll accept the same values here 238 and 238 click OK, and now that goes in and centers the shape exactly where I want it to be.
All right, so few different ways to draw our circles using the Ellipse tool here inside of Illustrator. In the next exercise, we'll check out not only drawing a few more circles, a couple of more, but we'll also take a look at Illustrator's extraordinary and fairly mysterious alignment function.
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