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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.
One of the hidden gems inside of Illustrator CS4 are the templates that come free with Illustrator. Now I know what you're thinking as a designer: you don't need to be using clipart or working with other people's artwork, which is fine. But Adobe bundled some blank templates, which can be very useful to use inside of Illustrator. To access these templates from the Welcome Screen, you can simply choose From Template. Alternatively, you can go the File menu and choose New from Template. I'm going to go over here, for example, and click on From Template. You can see that I have Blank Templates and then I have theme templates, for example, a Club style for Film, FlexSkins, which I'll talk about in a moment, Japanese Templates and then a Tech theme.
Just to show you the Tech theme for example, I'll choose let's say an Annual Report. Click on the New button and that shows basically how you might create an annual report inside of Illustrator. Now I'm not suggesting you go ahead and create a 200 page annual report here inside of Illustrator. Obviously the point here is if you have certain graphic intensive pages, this might be a great place for you to design this. What I love about what Adobe has done now with the templates is they've kind of showed I could also use multiple artboards to take advantage of these templates as well. In fact, when you go over here to the File menu and then choose New from Template, one of the most exciting things that I've seen, for example, is the Blank Template, for example, Banner Ads.
If I click on the New button here, I see that what Adobe has done is created a single document, that has multiple artboards that are for all different types of sizes that might be used on an online ad banner campaign, which is a great way for you to get started by creating artwork and then basically applying that to all these different popular web banner sizes. I'll go back to one of the sections for a moment here. If you go to the File menu, choose New from Template, there is something here called FlexSkins. Now if you're the developer type and you are using the Flex framework for actually developing applications, Illustrator has the ability to basically define how the different elements in an application look.
By opening up the FlexSkins template you can define how buttons look, sliders, so on and so forth. Then when you're building your applications you can customize exactly how that looks. Of course you would use the FlexBuilder application in order to define and create those applications. So while at first the concept of templates themselves may not be that exciting, I do urge you to take a look at some of the templates that ship with Illustrator to either a) get a head start in some of the artwork instead of you having to define things from scratch or b) even using some of those blank templates to really make it easy for you to create the artwork that you need. As a closing thought you also might think about creating your own templates.
When you work inside of Illustrator you can always go to the File menu and then instead of choosing Save or Save As, you can choose Save as Template. This saves your file as an extension called .ait or Adobe Illustrator Template. Basically, it makes a file with a certain flag inside of it. So the next time you open up that file, it opens up as an untitled document and therefore you can never go ahead and overwrite the original file. This is great if you're working in a department or -- where you have many designers and you want to create a certain look and feel for a basic idea for template and then distribute that template to all of the different people on your team. You can save templates anywhere in your hard drive, on a server, on even in the same folders that you have here inside of this Templates folder.
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