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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.
In this exercise I'm going to show you how to go about editing a compound shape, and how you can change the Pathfinder mode that's at work inside of the said shape. I am working inside this document called Emerald submarine.ai and I've made just one change. I've gone ahead and selected both the Submarine and Ringo here and I went ahead and Alt-clicked or Option-clicked on this Unite icon in order to combine the two shapes into one, even though they are still independent of each other. And let me show you what I mean by that. Let's say that we want to move Ringo around here, independently of the submarine in the background. Why then we need to select Ringo, but if I were to click off this shape in order to deselect it and then click on Ringo with the Black Arrow tool, I'm going to select the entire compound shape.
So a couple of different ways to select Ringo independently. One is to get the White Arrow tool and then you can go ahead and click off the shape, once again to deselect everything. Alt-click or Option-click on Ringo in order to select him independently of the submarine and then move him into a different location, if you like, and notice that Illustrator goes ahead and merges those two shapes on the fly, which is really great. That's the whole dynamic nature of compound shapes as opposed to static compound paths, which we'll be seeing later.
You can also if you want to, you can go to the Layers palette, and you can twirl open the Up above layer and you'll see this new item right there called Compound Shape. And Illustrator went ahead and named it automatically, which is a handy thing so that you can find your compound shapes very easily just by looking through the Layers palette, if you like. If you twirl that open, you'll find two paths -now I named these Ringo and Submarine- that are combined together inside of this Compound Shape. So if you wanted to select Ringo independently of the submarine, even if you had the Black Arrow tool selected, so I'll go ahead and switch little Black Arrow tool by pressing the V key, and then I'll go ahead and meatball Ringo like so and I select him independently. I could also meatball the Submarine and I'd select it independently, if I wanted to.
Or here is another thing you can do. I'll click off of both shapes, double-click on the outline for either the Submarine or Ringo, and you will enter the Isolation Mode right here, and you can tell you're in the Isolation Mode, because you can see up here near the title bar that you're working inside the Compound Shape item, which is found inside the Up above layer. And now I can go ahead and select Ringo independently of the Submarine just using my Black Arrow tool, because I've got that Compound Shape isolated from everything else inside of my illustration. So however you want to work.
Now what I'm going to go ahead and do is I'm going to switch Ringo from the Unite mode. Notice this is a dynamic option, so Unite is selected right here. I'm going to go ahead and switch him over to Minus Front, which is essentially the subtract mode inside of Illustrator, and that's going to subtract Ringo from his background. But thanks to the modified behavior inside of Illustrator CS4 where you have to Alt-click or Option-click in order to stick with the dynamic Shape Mode, notice if you just click on this icon as you used to in the old days, you'll get this error message here that's says the filter produce no results. Because you have to have two intersecting paths selected and I only have one path selected at this point.
If I want to switch out the dynamic mode that's assigned to Ringo at this point, I have to press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac and then click on that icon and now he becomes a whole. So anytime you want to maintain this dynamic interaction between these shapes, you have to Alt-click or Option-click on one of the Shape Mode icons. This Alt-click or Option-click behavior only works with the Shape Mode icon. So just these top four icons inside the Pathfinder palette. Alt-clicking or Option-clicking does nothing when working with the bottom row of Pathfinder icons.
At this point in time now, I'll go ahead and zoom in here to my illustration a little bit. I can actually move this hole to a different location like s, and he becomes a floating hole in the submarine, which is terribly useful, and really amazingly flexible. And notice this. I can even reveal things in the background if I wanted to, like this walrus. The walrus is actually not in the movie The Yellow Submarine. It's just another clue for you all. All right, now if I go ahead and click on this Back one level icon here or just press the Escape key, I'll escape out of the Isolation Mode and I can still see the walrus in the background and because only Ringo is selected I can still move him to a different location.
So you don't have to be in the Isolation Mode. That's just one way to work. You do, however, if you want to change the dynamic Shape Mode on the fly, you need to make sure to Alt-click or Option- click on one of these top icons here inside the Pathfinder palette.
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