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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, I'm going to show you how to round off the corners in this canoe to create a more organic shape inside of our illustration using the Round Corners function, and what that's going to do is it's going to allow us to take advantage of a drawing model that is not normally available to us inside of Illustrator, and that's the Spline Curve model. All right. So having set that up in a way that you can't possibly understand quite yet, you will. I would like you to go ahead and make sure you have a straight-sided version of your canoe up and running here. And if you want to join me inside of this progress document, it's called Straight-sided canoe.ai found inside the 09_pen_tool folder.
Just make sure that you have some portion of your path outline selected. It doesn't matter if you select the entire thing with the Black Arrow tool or you just select portions of our brave warriors for example right here. These five sticks right here are the warriors. So you can just have some of the points selected. Then I want you to go up to the Effect menu actually, you know what, let's zoom-in a little bit, so that we can see our warriors in full detail and of course regalia. I'll go the Effect menu, and I'll choose Stylize and then choose this command right there, Round Corners. And you will get this dialog box. The Radius Value for me anyway is set to its default of 10 points. Now, what does that mean? Well, basically Illustrator is trying to append a quarter circle to every corner inside of the shape, and that quarter circle has a radius of 10 points.
So that's what's going on there. Obviously, if you raise the radius value, you are going to get more curvature. If you lower the radius value, you are going to get less. It's hard to know what to do here, unless we turn on the Preview check box. But when we turn on the Preview check box, nothing happens. Why is that? Is it the dialog box is broken? No, actually that's not it. The reason that we are not seeing the curvature, the roundness is because Round Corners is a live effect, and you cannot see live effect in the Outline Mode. You actually see the core path in the Outline Mode. So there is no way we can see a preview, unless we go back to the Preview Mode.
So there is no sense in doing anything here except clicking OK. Just say oh, all right. Fine, get back to you. It is a live effect. So we can come back and change it. So click OK. Then I want you to go ahead and press Ctrl+Y, Command+Y on the Mac to switch to the Preview Mode, and now you can see the curvature of our brave warriors. We can't see the underlying tracing template of course. So why don't we just go ahead and get rid of the fill. The fill happens to be active for me down here at the bottom of the toolbox. Make sure it is for you too. Then you can just press the Slash key in order to make the fill transparent as we are seeing it here. I'm going to go ahead and zoom-in a little bit even more, so that we can see what we are doing with a little more clarity.
All right. I'm going to switch over to the Appearance palette. Because, you might think, okay, at this point, we want to change the roundness, right? Now, we can preview the roundness and now we can decide how much roundness we want to apply. So what you do? You go up to the Effect menu, and you choose this Round Corners command right there or choose this Apply Round Corners or do you go down to Stylize and choose this Round Corners, what in the world? Well, if you choose any of those three options there, you are going to get slapped on the hand. You are going to get this warning here that says this will apply another instance of this effect. To edit the current effect, double-click the name of the effect in the Appearance palette. That's why I was going for the Appearance palette a little early right there.
You could say Don't show again. Obviously, you don't want to do this. You don't want to create a second incarnation of the Round Corners Effect. You could say Oh! Okay, I get it. Don't show again. Do not select that check box. That's my recommendation to you. Reason being this is a good warning to see, because it's a constant source of confusion when you are working with live effects inside Illustrator. So I would just say Cancel. And duly noted, now let's go over to the Appearance palette, there is our live effect listed right underneath the Path, showing us that we are applying rounded corners to the entire path, not specifically to a stroke or a fill for example.
Go ahead and click on Round Corners. That's all you have to do. And it's a little live link there, so that brings up the Round Corners dialog box. Now, turn on Preview, and notice if you start reducing the value, you are going to reduce the curvature of this path as well. So you might think something like, you know 5, or 4 is looking pretty good. And it is where the brave warriors are concerned, but it's not looking so good along the hole of the ship here, along the bottom of the canoe. So we really have to go with a value that's going to work for the canoe, with a big value. Because we can always make the path less curvy, as I'm going to show you, but we can't make it more curvy than it is with round corners.
So what I'm going to suggest we do is take this value up to 14 points, and then I'll press the Tab key to invoke that preview. And you can see now that we have a nice, smooth hole. Of course, our warriors are too smooth as well, but we'll take care of that. So click OK in order to apply that effect. Now, we are going to take advantage of the Spline Curve Model that I was telling you about. I'm going to Shift+ Tab away my palette, so I can see more of my canoe at a time, and then I'm going to grab the Pen tool right there. What you can do is you can add points in order to diminish the curvature. So basically what's happening here, let me say this. Illustrator is well known as being a Bezier Curve editing program. So it uses the Bezier Curve Model. It does not use spline curves except when we are working with this Round Corners function.
Bezier Curves are much more accurate. However, they are little harder to use as well. That's why I'm showing you spline curves to start with. A Spline Curve is just curving toward each and every one of the points. So every point is tugging at the curvature of this path evenly basically. So if you want less curvature, you have to add more points. So I'm going to click here. Don't click so near to an anchor point that you are going to delete it. Just click pretty near to it like so, and you will diminish that curvature, notice that. So I'm just going to click along that tops of the warriors heads in order to sort of clip them off a little bit, so that they are less rounded, and then we'll edit them in just a moment, and I'm going to add some points down here at the bottom too in order to make this area a little less curvy like so.
So you can either click above the points or to the left or right of them. It's up to you how you want to work here. But definitely put points at all these various locations. I'm not too worried about the front of the ship or the rear of the ship. I'm mostly concerned about the warriors themselves. Then now that I have set all the points in there that I need, I'm going to go ahead and switch over to the Direct Selection tool, the White Arrow tool, and I'm going to start dragging my points around. Now, this guy just needs to be dragged down to add more curvature to the canoe, and notice, as you drag these points, right, you are just dragging the curve away here. You are not actually dragging a point on the curve, which can be a little confusing.
So if you accidentally click off the path and you deselect it, it can be a little hard to find where that path outline is. So if you click exactly on a segment, I'm not selecting it, as you can see right here. So you need to keep an eye out for that little square that's going to tell you that's where the actual path is because the actual real path is still very angular. All right. I'm going to drag this guy down a little bit, and then I'm going to starting on these. And you basically want them to be in sort of little corner positions here like so in order to get the right results out of them.
It's a little bit of work to put everybody where they need to be, but thank golly, this isn't the most realistically rendered boat full of soldiers on earth. So you may find yourself just sort of taking some shortcuts here and there. I want to be forgiving in our first foray into the Pen tool. So I'm just dragging these guys around, having a ball This is nice, I'm enjoying myself quite a bit. Now, every once in a while it's doing this weird thing and that's because I'm accidentally dragging the segment. So I'm getting two points at a time. I need to make sure that I'm dragging on an anchor point to move just that anchor point around.
But dragging an entire segment is an option. You can do it inside of Illustrator if you want to. I don't want to do it there. That's terrible, and making a mess of this particular soldier, and he is the lead soldier. The thing though I'm thinking as I'm modifying these guys is that this guy, he has got a lot more curvature in the underlying template that I'm giving him credit for. And so what I might do is I might go ahead and press the P key to get my Pen tool and just click in the middle there. Nice. Notice that. That gave it a little more curvature, and then I would Ctrl+Drag or Command+Drag that point to a different location, and I could do that at a few points on these guys. Just adding a point, it's giving them a little bit of pizzazz there I'm finding.
So you might try that, you might not. Completely up to you what you decide to do with these guys, just how strange and fingery you decide to make them, as one of those aesthetic choices that you and I might make completely differently than each other. All right. So am I done? I keep thinking I'm done. I swear to you, I did not mean to edit this path as long. This guy is looking peculiar to get him a little more girth right there. All right. That's a nice boat full of brave warriors. There it is. That's how the Spline Curve Model works. We're basically foreseeing the Spline Curve Model into Illustrator where it doesn't belong. Thanks to the Round Corners function.
In the next exercise, we are going to begin to take a look at the True Curvature Model inside of Illustrator, Bezier curves.
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