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Knowing the fundamentals of drawing and reshaping paths is only part of the story. In Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Advanced, the second of the popular One-on-One series, computer graphics expert Deke McClelland covers some of Illustrator's most powerful and least understood features. He shows how to merge simple shapes to create complex ones with the Pathfinder palette, as well as align paths to create schematic illustrations. Deke explains how to paint fluid, multicolor fills with blends, and the new and improved gradient tool. He explores seamlessly repeating tile patterns, blobs and brushes, and imported images. He also dives into one of the deepest features in all of Illustrator, transparency. Exercise files accompany the tutorial.
Recommended prerequisite: Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals.
Download Deke's customized keyboard layouts and color settings for Illustrator from the Exercise Files tab.
All right, I've gone ahead and redrawn Eunice, for the simple reason that I wanted to introduce more stylus variations into my Brush Strokes and I have saved off the graphic as Eunice.ai and gosh! If Eunice doesn't love Bob, just so many flourishes inside of this art work. Meanwhile if you go check out the Layers palette and you take a look at Bob, you just wonder why and he is crudely rendered, he is not very smart and he is not even very sensitive. He is about to run over this poor little prairie dog, right there. So there is no accounting for love inside Illustrator CS4. Anyway, let's go ahead and turn Eunice back on and turn Bob off, though truth be known, Eunice doesn't turn Bob off at all. Anyway, I'm going to switch over to the Brushes palette and I'm going to click on this 9 pt Back brush, because this is the one that's applied to all of the Brush Strokes inside of this graphic. It brings up the Calligraphic Brush Options dialog box once again. So there's all sorts of variations that you can apply with your stylus that can be tracked by Illustrator and assign to one of our three attributes right here, Angle, Roundness or Diameter.
Now Pressure is undoubtedly the way that we want to go with Diameter, but let's switch things out a little bit where Angle and Roundness are concerned. I'm going to click the down pointing arrowhead and we'll run through these Random-- We have already seen it's just totally random. It's not based on the information from the stylus at all; you can apply it to a mouse drawing as well. We have got Pressure, which is how hard you press down on your stylus. We have Stylus Wheel. That's a little bit of an anomaly. You only get that with certain kinds of styluses. They have to basically be airbrush type styluses that have little scroll wheels on top of them and you might associate that scroll wheel input with the Diameter value. Then only have Tilt, which is how far the stylus is tilted. It could be straight up and down or at an angle with respect to the tablet. Then we have Bearing. That's the direction of your tilt. So you might be tilting the stylus away from you, towards you, left, right that kind of thing and then Rotation is you rotating the stylus as you're painting with it.
So that's an option as well. So in other words, Illustrator combined with a pressure-sensitive stylus is able to track everything that you can do with that stylus, just as in the traditional world. So, it's a really great thing. The difference is, of course, that you can change to the behavior of your Brush Strokes after you get done laying them down. So Illustrator provides a much more flexible approach than the real world, don't you know? So I'm going to switch the angle to Bearing because that makes the most sense to me. The direction in which I tilt my stylus should naturally affect the Angle value right there. So I'll change that to Bearing and you will see some changes happen on screen because my Preview checkbox is turned on and then I'll go ahead and associate my Roundness with the Tilt because, obviously, you are going to get a Round Brush Stroke when your stylus is straight up and down and it's going to be Elliptical when you tilt that stylus.
All right, we also have to associate some sort of Variation here. So I'm going to take that Roundness value, let's say, up to 50% and my Angle value, I'm going to go ahead and leave alone, 130 degrees is just fine. I'll increase the Variation value that's associated with my Roundness to about 30% for now and I'll also go ahead and increase the Variation value to about 120 degrees. Now this value can go up as high as 180 degrees or as low as 0 degrees regardless of what the Angle value is set to, because you are going to get unique results between 0 and 180, no matter what. Whereas the Variations for Roundness and Diameter max out at whatever you assign for the Roundness and Diameter values.
Now I'm going to increase my Diameter pretty significantly here. It's going to harm Eunice quite a bit. She is not going to look too good but I want to give you a sense of what's going on with these little preview guys right here. The black brush top indicates the 45 pt Diameter combined with 50% Roundness combined with 130 degree Angle. The Grey guy on the right is the extreme. So this would be a Diameter of 45 plus 9, so actually I'll take it up to 10 to make the math easier. So this would be a 55 pt Diameter with a Roundness of 50 plus 30, so 80% Roundness and then an Angle of 130 plus 120, so whatever that turns out to be.
It's not that the math is difficult. It's just figuring out what that means in terms of an Angle, is whatever it is. It's that apparently. And then this would be everything minus, so it would be a Diameter of 45 minus 10, so that's a 35 pt Diameter right there. The Roundness is now just 20% and the Angle is whatever, 10 degrees I suppose. So just to give you a sense of what's going on. I don't expect you to really use that information in any sort of cognitive way but it is there in case you want to take advantage of it. I'm going to go ahead and reduce my Diameter value down to 9 like so and we get a much better Eunice in the background. And then I'm going to take my variation for Roundness all the way up to 50% and we can see that it does make a difference.
So there is quite a bit of Pressure, Tilt and Bearing information built into these paths and if you want to see what kind of difference it makes, turn the Preview checkbox off. That would be what things look like before we started editing the Bearing and Tilt, for example, although we do have the pressure information intact, because that was already built into this 9 pt Back brush and this is our modified version of the brush with the Bearing and Tilt taken into account. Now I'm going to go ahead and click OK and when I do, Illustrator is going to ask me whether I want to apply my changes because it's going to go ahead and save the changes to the Brush no matter what, by virtue of the fact I clicked OK instead of Cancel. Should Illustrator apply your changes to the Strokes or should it leave the strokes alone, and that's entirely up to you as you work through the program. I'm going to say Apply to Strokes and accept the modified, though still lovely, Eunice here inside Illustrator.
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