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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.
As we know inside of Illustrator we can classify paths as being either open or closed. In this movie, I want to talk about some of the basic primitive tools that you can use to draw open shapes. They are grouped here with the Line Segment tool and cover the Arc tool, the Spiral tool, and kind of hybrid tools because as we'll soon see this creates a combination of both open and closed shapes, the Rectangle Grid tool and the Polar Grid tool. But we will start with a Line Segment tool and I will create a new print document. I will just go ahead and make sure that it's set to a landscape mode just to make it easier to fit in my screen, and I will click OK.
To draw a line that's very simple, simply click and then drag in the direction you want that line to go. Now, you can use modifier keys to adjust the shape as you draw it. For example, holding down the Shift key constrains your line to an angle. I don't want to say that the Shift key allows you to a draw straight line because the line is always going to be straight from the point that you start to the point that you end. In other words, it's not a curved path, but the Shift key does allow you to constrain to an angle of 45 degrees. Notice as I move my cursor around here, my line is always going to be drawn on one of those angles. I can also use of course the Spacebar key to reposition that line and I could use the Option key to draw that line out from the center as well. If you know the exact dimensions of the line that you are trying to create, you can simply just click once on the artboard to bring up the Line Segment Tool Options dialog box where you could enter the exact length and angle of the line that you are trying to create.
I want to take a moment here to stop and talk about this dialog box because there is a very helpful feature that you have inside of Illustrator that many people overlook. You see right now the values that are being displayed in this dialog box are the values of the shape that I've just created. This can be helpful where sometimes you want to create a shape just by eyeballing it and you like that shape and you want to know exactly what settings it was. Simply click once to bring up the dialog box for that tool to see those settings. This really by the way works for all shape tools inside of Illustrator.
So as an example if I click Cancel right now and I hold my Shift key down and I drag upwards just like this to basically draw a line on a 90-degree angle, now if I launch that dialog box by clicking on my screen,I see that the line that I've just created is 85 points and was drawn at 90 degrees. It's just something to keep in mind when you are working with other tools inside of Illustrator as well. Let's click Cancel here. I'll delete these shapes and we will take a look at the next tool here which is the Arc tool. If I click and drag with the Arc tool, you can see that I create an arc. I can use the Modifier keys the up and down arrows on my keyboard to increase the radius of that arc or decrease it.
In fact I can also make a convex and concave, although I will tell you there is an easy way to simply flip an arc to be convex or concave and that's by tapping the X key on your keyboard. Finally, even though this is technically an open shape, you can type the C key on your keyboard to create a closed arc if you'd like to. It's almost the wedge of a pie chart for example. Though if you wanted specific dimensions remember you can always click once with the mouse and define that arc numerically. We will tell you, however, that later on in our training in this video title we will cover different ways to draw shapes inside of Illustrator and there is a method called shape building.
It's a way of drawing complex shapes in Illustrator by combining very simple shapes and using tools like the Shape Builder tool and a group of functions called Pathfinder. I only mention it because don't worry about creating shapes exactly with these tools right now. We may find it easier to create these types of pie wedges or other shapes using alternative methods. I'll delete this shape for now and let's now go back to the Tools panels and take a look at creating spirals. Almost as fun as using the Star tool, you can click and drag to create a spiral, use the up and down arrows to add or remove segments in your spiral, and you can control the decay of that spiral by using the Command key or that would be the Control key on Windows.
Release the mouse to commit that shape to be artboard and remember that you can always just click once to bring up the Spiral dialog box to draw spirals numerically. Now let's take a look at the two grid tools that come with Illustrator. Those are the Rectangular Grid tool and the Polar Grid tool. We will start with the Rectangle Grid tool and I will click and drag to draw it as if were creating a rectangle. Remember that I could use the Option key to drag out from the center. I could also use the Spacebar key to reposition it. But let's focus on the grid itself. As I hold the mouse button down, I can use the following modifier keys to adjust the grid. The up and down arrows will allow me to add or remove the number of rows in my grid and I could use the right and left arrows on my keyboard to adjust the number of columns in my grid.
I can also use the X and the C keys to skew the number of columns to the left and right of my grid and I can use the F and the V keys to skew the number of rows towards the top or bottom of my grid. Once I release the mouse however, I can no longer adjust the number of columns or rows using these methods. Again if you really know in advance how many rows and columns you need and exactly what size you need to create them at, just click once with the mouse anywhere on your artboard and specify the values numerically. We can use the same keyboard modifiers to create some really cool Polar Grids.
I'll choose the Polar Grid tool, I will click and drag to draw, and notice now by using the up and down arrows, I can add more concentric circles. The right and left arrows allow me to add more divisions. And I can skew all of these settings by using the X and C keys or the F and V keys. Releasing the mouse commits the shape to your artboard. So now that you know how to create the basic primitive shapes inside Illustrator, you can start drawing shapes inside of Illustrator. Remember that all these shapes automatically create the anchor points and paths for you and you're already well on your way to creating more customized shapes in Illustrator as well.
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