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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.
Let's draw some shapes. In this video we are going to focus on drawing closed path shapes. Mainly the shapes that can be drawn with these tools over here are grouped with the Rectangle tool, Rectangle tool, the Rounded Rectangle tool, the Ellipse tool, Polygon tool and Star tool. To be honest with you I am not really sure why the Flare tool is here, but we're going to focus on these other five tools in this movie. Let's get started first by creating a new document. I will create a new print document and I will just make sure that it's a wide orientation just so it fits the screen little bit better here and we can get started.
Now when you have the Rectangle tool selected you will see a little crosshair that appears on your screen. This defines the point of where your rectangle will get started from when you start drawing. For example, if I click now and drag my mouse out you'll see that I am now drawing a rectangle but I started from that point where I clicked. It has become now the upper left-hand corner of the rectangle and I'm dragging down and towards the right to define the actual shape. Once I release the mouse, I've now created that rectangle on my screen. By the way you don't need to start in the upper left-hand corner and drag down towards the right. I just do so because it feels natural to me but you can actually click on any point and then drag up to the left or up to the right or even down to the left for example. Whatever feels most comfortable to you.
Let me delete this rectangle for moment and I will delete this one also and I want to spend a moment talking about how the modifier keys work with the Rectangle tool. Now remember the key to drawing inside of Illustrator and using the modifier keys is that I click on the mouse and I start to drag and I do not release the mouse button. In this way the modifier keys that I press on the keyboard can control the shape on the middle of drawing. However once I release the mouse, I've committed that shape to the artboard and the modifier keys no longer work on it. We will start with the most basic modifier key, which is the Shift key.
As you click and drag, if I now also hold down the Shift key on my keyboard I constrain my shape to be even on all four sides. Since I am using the Rectangle tool, that means that every shape that I draw will now be a perfect square. If I let go of the Shift key on my keyboard you'll see that I could create a rectangle but if I have the Shift key down I can only create a square. I will let go of the Shift key for a moment. I remember that when I started drawing the shape I clicked over here and I started dragging it down to the right. So the origin point or the first point to my rectangle is the upper left-hand corner, but what I am now going to do is hold down the Option key on my keyboard. I am on a Mac here so if you are on a PC that will be the Alt key and notice that now the origin point to the point that I clicked with the mouse has become the center of my rectangle.
So I am drawing out the shape from the center point instead of the upper left-hand corner. If I wanted to draw a square out from the center, I would hold down at the same time the Option and the Shift keys to create a square drawn out from that center. I will let go the modifier keys and you will see I am back to drawing like I was before. Now you may start drawing a shape and then realize, I really want that shape to be positioned somewhere else on your artboard. Now I could actually release the mouse, create my shape, switch to the Selection tool and move the rectangle to position that I want. Or I can actually use a modifier key to change the position of the rectangle while I am drawing it.
I'll delete this rectangle and show you what I mean. I am going to click and drag with a mouse to create my rectangle. Again without letting go with the mouse button, I'll now press the Spacebar on my keyboard and notice that now if I move my mouse, the rectangle itself is kind of frozen in place as far as its dimensions and I can now reposition that rectangle anywhere else in my screen. Once I let go the Spacebar it goes back to allow me to change the dimensions that shape in its new position. So when drawing this rectangle I was using the Shift key to constrain it so that is always a perfect square, the Option key would allow me to draw it out from its center, and the Spacebar allowed me to reposition that art as I was drawing it.
In this method I was using the Rectangle tool to simply draw a shape on my screen. I was kind of eyeballing it. However if you want to draw artwork to a very specific dimension it is possible for you to draw shapes numerically. The way to do that is to simply position your cursor anywhere on the screen and then instead of clicking and dragging to draw a rectangle just click and release the mouse. A Rectangle dialog box appears, prompting you to enter the width and height that's desired for your shape. Now remember all the measurements that you have inside of Illustrator can be changed on the fly. Every single field inside Illustrator is kind of like a miniature calculator.
So if I wanted to create for examples some kind of outline for a business card, which is 3.5" x 2", I might specify a width of 3.5 and then type in IN for inches. Hit the Tab key on my keyboard to advance to the next field. Illustrator now automatically converted my inches into points and then for the height I specify 2in, again hit Tab to accept that value, click OK and now I have created the rectangle. By the way the reason why I had my document set to points as a default setting is because I started this document using the Print profile, which uses points.
Notice by the way that Illustrator took the place where I clicked on my screen, which is right here, and used that as the origin point of that rectangle. So it took my dimensions and created a rectangle from this point out this way. However if you want a rectangle to be drawn out from its center, you can do that again using the Option key. Let's see how that works. I am going to hold down my Option key now and you can see now that my cursor changes to look little more like a square. This is the center cursor and now if I click let's say right over here I can enter the same values for my rectangle but when I click OK, notice how that the rectangle was drawn out from that point as its center point.
So just clicking once with the mouse brings up the Rectangle dialog box and uses that as the upper left-hand corner of your rectangle. Option or Alt clicking with the tool allows you to specify values for your rectangle and draws out the rectangle from the center. The techniques that we have just covered here in drawing rectangles applies also to the other shape tools that we are now going to go through. However, because they're different shapes they may have a few extra options above and beyond what we've seen of the rectangle. Let's take a look. I am now going to switch to my Ellipse tool. The Ellipse tool allows me to click and drag to create ellipses.
If I want to have a perfect circle, I will hold down the Shift key if. If I want to draw my circle out from its center, the Option key does that. Option and Shift together allows me to draw a perfect circle out from the center and like we discussed before, the Spacebar will allow me to reposition where that circle starts from and upon releasing the Spacebar you can go back to drawing that shape. Upon releasing the mouse I have now committed that shape to my artboard. If I have specific dimensions in mind, I can just click once on the artboard to bring up the Ellipse dialog box or Option+Click any where on the artboard to draw out that ellipse from the center point.
Now there are some other drawing tools here as well and these actually use a few more modifier keys to help draw the shapes. For example, I'm going to select the Rounded Rectangle tool and I will start clicking and dragging to draw a rounded rectangle. It acts very much in the same way that the Rctangle tool does, but if I wanted to adjust the radius of the rounded corners itself as I am dragging the shape, I can use the up arrow my keyboard to increase the radius or the down arrow on my keyboard to decrease the radius. I don't know how often you will actually be drawing rounded rectangles here.
As we will see later on in a different chapter Illustrator has an effect that allows you to apply rounded corners to any shape after the fact. More importantly you can always make changes or edits to those rounded corners as needed. Still, if you know that you want to create a rectangle with rounded corners, this is a quick and easy way to do it. Notice by the way, as I delete this shape that if you click once with the mouse, you get the same dialog box but this time we have a value for corner radius. Let's take a look at some of the other tools that are here, for example, the Polygon tool.
As you click and drag with the Polygon tool, it creates a shape that has a certain number of sides. If you want to add more sides, as you're holding the mouse button down and dragging, tap the Up Arrow on your keyboard. Each time you tap the Up Arrow it adds another side to your shape. One thing to note about the Polygon tool is that all the sides in your shape always going to be equal in length. If you want to remove sides, tap the down arrow on your keyboard. In fact the easiest way to draw a triangle inside of Illustrator is to tap the down arrows that your polygon only has three sides. Hold down the Shift key as you are drawing and you'll always get a perfect equilateral triangle.
As we discussed before, the Spacebar will allow you to reposition that as you move it around your screen and by holding down the Shift and the Spacebar, I can move that perfect equilateral triangle anywhere in my document. There is one important thing to note about working with the Polygon tool and really all these drawing tools inside of Illustrator. And that is there is no easy way to reset the tool back to its default setting. Notice that right now I have just created a triangle. The next time that I click and drag to draw a polygon with the Polygon tool, it's going to have the same settings. The only way to reset a tool back to its default is to actually quit and re-launch Illustrator.
So we have drawn a few polygons here. Let me delete these and now I want to create a shape using the Star tool, which is probably the most fun out of all these tools. As I click and drag with the Star tool, you can see that now I have five points on my star. Using the Up Arrow on my keyboard, I add points to my star. The Down Arrow removes points from my star. The shift key will help constrain my star. It aligns a star to a baseline and the Option key does something, which is called Align Shoulders.
It basically makes these parts of the star here line up with each other. Notice that now that I have released the mouse I can no longer add more points to my star, as I've committed the shape, but there are additional modifier keys that come into play when using the Star tool. For example, I click and drag to create a new star. I can also hold down the Command key. When I hold down the Command key I make an adjustment to the difference between the first and second radius of the star. What do I mean by radius? Well, I am going to release the mouse for a moment. Imagine if you were to draw a circle to connect all these inner points with each other. Now imagine that you draw a second circle that connected all of these anchor points on the outside of the Star.
That would create two circles. Each of those circles would have their own radius value. The way that Illustrator calculates a star is it determines the first and the second radius values and then it determines how many points you want in that star. You can see this clearly by just clicking once with the mouse on the artboard to bring up the Star dialog box and here you can see you can specify a value for radius one, radius two and the number of points in the star. Let me click Cancel here and I will delete the starts for moment and I'll show you one more I guess what would be considered a whimsical keyboard shortcut using the Tilde key modifier. Remember the Tilde key is that little squiggly key that appears in the upper left- hand corner of your keyboard.
While drawing any of the shapes inside of Illustrator, if you click and drag and then hold down that tilde key modifier key while you drag, it creates duplicates of your shape. The result is a lot of stars, not just one of them. Again, this works with really any shape inside of Illustrator. If I use the Rectangle tool for example, as I click and drag with a Rectangle tool I can hold on the Tilde key and I continue to drag and I get lots of rectangles. Why would this be useful? I will leave that up to your creative minds, but here's is a great overview of how to use the shape tools for creating closed shapes inside of Illustrator.
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