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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 get rid of what I'm calling the unflattering overlaps inside of our illustration. In fact, I've gone ahead and saved my progress so far as Unflattering overlaps.ai and what I mean by unflattering overlaps is these intersecting lines that meet in an undesirable way. For example, I don't really want this forward neck path to cleave into the jaw, the way it is right now. So how do we get rid of those overlaps? Well, it's a combination of cutting and erasing as you'll see. So let's say I'll go ahead and select this far front leg right there that overlaps the near front leg and I'm going to go ahead and grab my Scissors tool which lives in the same slot as the Eraser tool, note that, and it has a keyboard shortcut of C as you may recall from way long ago.
And I'm going to click at this location right there in order to cut this part of the path away from this part of the path. The portions of the path that I want to get rid of is already selected, so I'll press the Backspace key twice to get rid of it. That would be the Delete key twice to get rid of it on the Mac. So the Scissors tool, a heck of a tool. I really like it but it's not without its faults. If you select the back path right there, the path along the creature's back, and then you click at the location where it intersects the mane, then you are going to cut the mane because it's the main that's in front.
So this Eraser tool doesn't really care who selects it. It cares who is in front. So go ahead and press Ctrl+Z, Command+ Z on the Mac to undo that modification. You could switch over to the Eraser tool, if you wanted to. Shift+E is the way to select that and you could just erase this area like so and it looks like it's going to erase it totally and the Eraser tool does work on the selected path but notice as soon as I release, what I have really done is I have cut the path in twain, right at this location here. So I went ahead and kept the area that I painted over and it got rid of all of our stylus information, so it got rid of the pressure and it got rid of the tilt and it got rid of the bearing.
That's terrible. So press Ctrl+Z or Command+ Z on the Mac to undo that bad modification. Thing is the Eraser tool, it's a good tool actually but it works on filled paths better than stroked paths. All right, so what do you do? You go over to the Pencil tool icon, you click and hold and you choose the Path Eraser tool also known as the Pencil Eraser tool, which happens to work great for stroked paths and then you drag over the portion of the path that you want to delete. And if you end up missing a little bit of garbage like that right there, the simplest thing to do in my opinion is to go back to the Black Arrow tool, Shift-click on the area that you do not want to delete and then just press the Backspace key in order to delete the portion of the line that's still selected.
All right, let's re-perform that exact same trick a couple more times. Now the Path Eraser does work on selected paths, so you want to make sure you select the thing that you want to erase first. Then go ahead and paint over the areas that you want to get rid of and just make sure that you don't leave any weird little paths behind as you work. Finally, I'm going to go ahead and select this forward path, the path that represents the neck, and paint over this area here and I got rid of everything but if I hadn't, I could continue to erase. I could deselect this big area and press the Backspace or Delete key, what have you. That's basically all there is to erasing here inside Illustrator.
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