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Illustrator can be used to accomplish many different design tasks. For this reason, Illustrator CS4 Essential Training teaches core concepts and techniques that can be applied to any workflow for print, the web, or assets that will find their way into other applications. Mordy Golding explains the elements that make up vector graphics—paths, strokes, and fills—and shows how to use each of Illustrator's drawing tools. He demonstrates how to combine and clean up paths, and organize them into groups and layers. Mordy also covers text editing, working with color, expressive brush drawing, effects, and much more. Exercise files accompany the course.
Before we start drawing inside of Illustrator, we first have to learn about Illustrator's user interface. It's kind of like when you buy a car you first learn about what all the knobs and all the switches do, then you can start driving. Now Illustrator CS4 and in fact all the CS4 applications in Adobe Creative Suite have a brand new user interface. As you can see the colors are mainly muted tones of gray and that's mainly to allow you to focus on the artwork on your page and not be distracted by other things that appear on the side. I have just started by just creating a brand new print document, then clicking OK with whatever those settings are that we last used.
We will start on the left side of the screen here where we have what we call the tools panel. At the top of the tools panel is a dark gray bar with a double white arrow. By clicking once on that bar, I can now change the Tool panel to configure into two rows instead of one long row. Click again, reduces it back to a single row. Likewise if I go to the right side over here clicking anywhere in the gray bar at the top reduces all of these two icons. I can simply access any of these by clicking once and just that individual panel opens up. Clicking again closes that panel and again clicking anywhere in the top of the gray over here expands those panels, so I can see them all. Now you may notice that as I'm reducing the size of these panels to icons, you can see that the document itself resizes itself all the way to the edge.
This is because Illustrator CS4 now has the concept, there is something called an Application Frame. This is actually something that was always available on Windows but it's new to Macintosh. In fact, if you go over to the Window menu, you can choose an option here called Application Frame. I'll turn that off for now and you see that this is kind of the way that Illustrator had always worked before. You have your panels where they can be expanded and collapsed and a document Window kind of floats in the middle of your screen here. Personally, I like when the Application Frame is turned on. It allows me to treat Illustrator as one unit and when my panels collapse my document size is at the maximum viewable range. I'll go back to the Window menu and I'll turn that Application Frame back on. Now there is a lot more that you can do with the panels itself.
For example, let me go to the Window menu here and choose, open up the Align panel. Now in this case over here I have this panel that is not really docked or not attached to any side of the screen, it's kind of free floating and Illustrator calls it either a Floating panel or a Flotilla. This basically allows me to really put panels anywhere on the screen that I deem necessary. I can easily arrange these panels by clicking on any of the tabs. The tab of the panel is the exact part where the word of the panel appears and drag that outwards. I can also dock these panels with each other. For example I could take the Align tab right here and just touch the bottom. You see how this little kind of blue bar appears, when I release the mouse these all now move as a single unit.
What's great about CS4 is that I can now simply click on this gray bar and collapse these icons as well. I can use my mouse on any edge basically to reduce this to either icons or something as wider for that matter. Again, one single click opens up that panel temporarily. I click again and that disappears. Let me expand this for a minute here. I can always basically grab anything over here and just drag it to the side. Notice how now a little bar shows up on this side here. I have now created a dock basically where these panels can live in. Now I can go to the Window menu again, open up something else, for example, maybe I'll open up the Links panels for example. I can take the Links panel and drag it right in over here as you will see again a blue bar appears right here and now the Links panel appears down here.
Again I can collapse this. I basically now have two rows or two docks that contain these particular panels here. I can expand them individually or I can have them both expanded as well. Notice again how because I have the Application Frame turned on, my document Window resizes accordingly. I'm going to close the Actions panel here. I'm going to expand just this dock light here, just to show you as I'm working, sometimes I don't want to see any panels all at. So I can easily tap the Tab key on my keyboard. That hides all my panels instantly and now they are not in the way at all. What's great about that is if I need to quickly grab something from the panel, if I move my mouse towards the edge of the screen and I hold for a second, that panel does appear temporarily until I move my mouse away, in, which time it goes back to being unavailable.
Taping the Tab key brings those panels back again. Holding on the Shift key while I press Tab, so a Shift+Tab basically hides all my panels except for my Control panel and my Tool panel. So all the panels that are on the side appear temporarily. Again Shift+ Tab brings those back as well. Speaking of the Control panel on the top over here, let's take a closer look at what that does.
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