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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 introduce you to the basic concepts of fill and stroke inside Illustrator. I'm starting off with a new document. I have called it The Big Circle, but it really is just a function of pressing Ctrl+N or Command+N on the Mac, and setting up a free space to work inside of here. I am going to go ahead and grab the Ellipse tool from the Rectangle tool flyout menu right there. Then I'm going to go from the center of the page, I'm just going to align my cursor with the center, and press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac, along with Shift. So I'm Shift+Alt+dragging in order to create a perfect circle from the center outward. That's Shift+Option+dragging on the Mac. You will see your Fill and Stroke controls up here inside of your Control palette.
So I'm going to go up to the Stroke option for starters, which is the outline around the circle, which is currently black by the way. So what we are seeing is we have a white Fill, that is, the interior of the circle is going to be white, and then we have a black Stroke. Then this, the Stroke Weight right here, defines the thickness of the Stroke, and you often hear that called Line Weight as well. I'm going to bring it up to say 8 pt for starters. Then let's go ahead and zoom in. I want you to see sort of a fundamental attribute of the way Stroke works. This is standard of post grip stroking 101, which is that the Stroke is centered on the path outline. So half of this Stroke is on one side of the path and half of the Stroke is on the other side of the path. In the case of the circle, half of the Stroke is outside and half the Stroke is inside. So if we have an 8-point Line Weight, 4 points are out, 4 points are in. This becomes important when you start trying to align lines and shapes with each other.
All right, to go ahead and change the color of that Stroke, you would go to this option right here, and you can either click on little icon or you can click on the Down pointing arrowhead, either is going to bring up the Swatches palette, which you can also see over here in the upper right hand corner of the screen. You can get to the Swatches palette by going to the Window menu and choosing the Swatches command as well. But it's so easy to get to these dropdown palettes inside Illustrator. So I'm just going to click, once again, up here in the Control palette on the Stroke icon, and then I'll choose the desired color, which in my case, something like violet will work out nicely.
Then to change the interior or the Fill color, you click next door on this icon. It will bring up exactly the same palette as you saw just a moment ago, which can kind of throw you, because you are not getting any indication up here which one is active, but you can see that white is the active swatch here inside the palette. So just click there. It's going to bring up the same palette. As if you click door, click there, and then choose say green or something along those lines, if you are working along with me, or go your own way of course. Now, in Illustrator CS4, there is yet another way to change the Stroke and Fill attributes, and that's to go over here to the Appearance palette. Now, the Appearance palette is control central, where Fill, Stroke, Transparency, and other attributes are concerned. Any dynamic attributes that you can assign to lines or shapes inside of Illustrator are located here inside the Appearance palette. To get to it from the Window menu, you go to Window and you choose Appearance, or you can press Shift+F6. I say that just in case you can't find the palette up on screen here.
We can see that we have a path selected, and we can also see that we have an 8 pt violet Fill and a green Fill. We can still access that same Swatches palette right from the Appearance palette. So basically, now in CS4, we can get more done without wandering all over the application. So you can click here in order to make it active, then click again to drop down the palette, and if you want to switch to some other color, of course you can. Then you would click up on Stroke in order to make the Stroke active. You can change the Line Weight if you want to; like I could raise it up to 10 points, and then I could click on this item right here in order to change that Stroke color to something else.
You also have the option-- this is true up in the Control palette and down here inside the Appearance palette. You have the option of clicking on the word Stroke to bring up the Stroke palette, which has many more options available to you. We will be running through those options in a later exercise. But this gives you a basic sense of what's going on with Fill and Stroke. In the next exercise, I'm going to introduce you to the Transparency Grid and Simulate Paper Color. Stay tuned.
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