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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 gang, I've dramatically simplified things. You can see here that I've gotten rid of all the layers, except for core design, so there is no peeking any more. And I've also gotten rid of those three patterns that I built for you that were based on this design here inside the Swatches palette. So we are down to just this one layer, I'm going to actually make the Layers palette smaller here, because we need more room for Swatches at this point. All right, what we need to do in this strange mix right here, we need to identify a rectangle, because Illustrator needs a rectangular area in order to generate a tile pattern. It's always going to be a repeating rectangle, even if the pattern is not inherently rectangular, as ours isn't and most patterns aren't.
So what do we do? Well, we need to see when the objects begin repeating up and when they begin repeating sideways, so up and down, and side-to-side. And you can see here in our case, we've got this star right there directly above this star. So the rectangle doesn't have to be all that tall. We can see these stars repeat upward pretty quickly here, but to find a star to either the right or the left, takes a greater distance. In fact, it's not till here that we see a start repeated horizontally. So our rectangle is going to be wider than it is tall.
So tell you what, let's go and zoom in on the graphic at this point, and we definitely need the Rectangle tool, you've got to use the Rectangle tool in order to identify a rectangle, and that's going to help Illustrator as we'll see, Illustrator needs that rectangle as well. So go over to the Star tool, because that's the last tool I used in the Shape tool bunch, and I'm going to choose the Rectangle tool, or I could press the M key, and I what need to do is I need to identify an area that we'll repeat successfully. So I'm going to start at some anchor point intersection like right about there let's say should work and then what I'll be doing is I'll drag all the way over to the similar anchor point over here to the left and I'll be dragging up to the similar anchor point above. And that means that I need to drag to this anchor point right there, because that's the intersection of this horizontal line and this vertical line. Does that make sense? So watch me work here.
I'll go ahead and drag from this location, and I'll stop up at this location, and you can see that everything is going to be repeated successfully. So I'll go ahead and release, in order to draw, in my case, this white rectangle, I'm going to get rid of the fill, so I can see what I'm doing. And I might even change the stroke to white for just a moment, because there are no white strokes inside of this illustration so far, so that will be identified the rectangle independently of everything else. And I'll click on white having gone ahead and selected the stroke there, and now I'll press Ctrl+H or Command+H in order to hide the selection edges for just a moment here. And what we need to identify is that everything that's right there that's inside of the shape has something that's going to repeat on the other side.
So in other words, this guy right here, this triangle from the star is repeated right outside of the pattern edge as well, which tells you the rest of it's on the inside, which means this little triangle is going to flow smoothly into the remainder of the star at this location here. And then by the same fashion, we've got these two star points that are hanging outside of the rectangular area, and those are represented by the exact same star points down here at the bottom corner, and then we don't have any star out in this area, we are out of star right there, so we are out of star over this location as well.
So this should repeat exactly right. Does that make sense? Look around all the edges. Make sure that everything that's falling out off the rectangle is coming back into the rectangle on the opposite side. So that's how that works. And once you've done that, you are ready my friend to actually go in here and assemble a tile pattern. In fact, let's go ahead and zoom out a little bit. I'll press Ctrl+H or Command+H again in order to bring back those selection edges, and what we need to do is get rid of all the stuff that is not falling inside the rectangle at all.
So if you click on a group of shapes, and you can't find it inside the rectangle, and we can't. Notice even though this is got probably a little bit of the stroke corner going into the rectangle, it's already covered by this orange shape right here, which has an identical strokes. So we can go ahead and get rid of that guy, and this guy does not fall inside the rectangle at all, so you can get rid of it. Obviously he is right out. This guy does fall inside the rectangle. It has this little hook, going into the rectangle right there. That's all it takes. If it goes into the rectangle at all, you got to keep it.
All right, what about this guy? He can go away, he is not in the rectangle, bear in mind, there is a rectangle, don't look at the artboard, we are looking at the white rectangle right now. And this guy right there he does, he falls inside, you know what, I'm going to make this rectangle thicker. So we can see it a little better here. Let's go ahead and make it 6 points thick, so we can really see what's going on here. We are interested in whether the fills of the shapes fall inside the rectangles, because everybody has the same stroking pattern. All right, what about these guys? No, they are not inside. What about these guys here? No, they are not inside, because we are not worried about the stroke, we are just worried about the fills, and something I should note about this stroke is it going outside, or is it centered? It's centered. All right, so it's okay. Okay, it was just fooling me.
So now, really I'm confusing myself, right, left and center. All right, let's go ahead and click here, what about this group right here? Yeah, a little bit of that point does go into the rectangle, so we have to keep it, and this group up here does not fall into the rectangle, obviously, so it can go away. This one also, not inside the rectangle. Everybody else though I believe does have some elements inside the rectangle, so they have to be kept. Now if you really wanted to tidy things up, you can get rid of portions of the groups that aren't inside the rectangle and you can do that by just getting your White Arrow tool, for example. Or you can get your Black Arrow tool. You could select everything on this layer and just go ahead and press Ctrl+Shift+G, Command+Shift+G on the Mac, or go up to the Object menu and choose the Ungroup command. Mine is dimmed because I just pressed the keyboard shortcut to ungroup everything. And then go ahead and select independent objects that are not inside of the rectangle, like these two guys. We can get rid of them. This star is not inside the rectangle at all, and there we have it. That is your rectangular tile pattern right there people, we have to keep this guy, because a little bit of his elbow is poking in there.
And we have to keep this one, then we have to keep all the objects that we are seeing here. Now I know it doesn't look like a rectangle. It doesn't look at all like a rectangle. And you might think, well, somehow we've got to trim it to a rectangle, or we've got to mask it, or we have to do something along those lines. No, we don't. All we have to do is provide a rectangle, so Illustrator knows the rectangular area, and I'll show you exactly how that works, because it is definitely not something you would expect, in the next exercise.
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