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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, you may recall in the previous exercise, we went ahead and opened up The walrus played bass.ai and we took that Fin item right there, that Fin path, and we combined it with the original Compound Shape and we've created now a Compound Shape that's nested inside of another Compound Shape and that works. That's works perfectly fine, but it's just a weird solution and it means that it's pretty easy to get confused about what's going on here. And you can imagine if you start adding other subpaths to your Compound Shape, you are going to create Compound Shapes nested inside of other Compound Shapes nested inside of other Compound Shapes. It's going to turn into a real mess in terms of your ability to sort of track things and edit. So here's a better way to work.
I'm going to press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on the Mac to undo the addition of this Fin path right there to the larger Compound Shape. And instead a couple of different ways to work. I'm going to deselect all of my paths. I'm going to go over to Layers palette. I'm going to click on Fin. Now this works beautifully, what I'm about to show you, if you've taken the time to go ahead and organize your illustrations. So you've set up layers, if you've gone ahead and maybe even named paths inside of the layer and you know what each path does. But most illustrations aren't that well organized. But if yours is and you can tell what's going on here, then watch this.
You can just grab Fin here inside the Layers palette and you can drag it into the Compound Shape and you can determine exactly where it's going to be. If it's going to stacked in front of Ringo or in back of Ringo. Now if I go this way, if I go ahead and drag it and drop it between Ringo and Submarine for example, notice that it is combined. Now the Fin is combined with larger Compound Shape. So we just have one Compound Shape. We don't have one nested inside of another and it contains all three or the subpaths Ringo, Fin, and Submarine. But Fin comes in subject to the default Pathfinder operation that is Unite. And that's why we're seeing the Fin grow outward instead of cutting a hole there.
If you want to change that, just meatball the fin there inside of the Layers palette and then switch it over to the Minus Front option and you can just click on it of course, because then you're going to get this error message right there. I really, actually, resent this behavior. I think they could have done a much more skillful job of implementing this new behavior. But anyway, I'm going to click OK and I'm going to Alt-click or Option-click on this Minus Front mode and then you get this interaction right here. So the Fin does indeed become a hole in the larger Submarine, which is exactly what I want.
Now let's say alternatively here, that you're not working inside of a particularly well organized illustration and you've got 100 zillion different objects inside your Layers palette and you can't tell what's what and you don't want to scroll up and down for the rest of your life. So how do you go about inserting a subpath into an existing Compound Shape? Well, I'm going to go ahead and press Ctrl+Z couple of times in a row, that's Command+Z on the Mac. Twice in a row. Then I'll go ahead and select this Fin object and I'll do that just by clicking on it with a Black Arrow tool and I'll press Ctrl+X or Command+X on the Mac to cut it to the clipboard. Then I'll get my White Arrow tool so that I can select my Submarine path independently and I could have Alt-clicked on this path outline or Option-click on the Mac to select the entire path outline, but in my case it's enough to have just a single segment selected. That's works just as well.
And then I'll press Ctrl+F or Command+ F on the Mac in order to paste the Fin path in front of the Submarine path and as a result, I've gone ahead and pasted Fin inside of the larger Compound Shape. So I accomplish the same goal, I did just a moment ago by dragging items up and down the stack here inside the Layers palette. Then you would go ahead and make sure that your Fin path is still selected as it will be, and you would Alt-click or Option-click on Minus Front here inside the Pathfinder palette and we now have this delightful, dynamic interaction of these various subpaths here inside of Illustrator. In the next exercise, I'm going to show you how to expand a Compound Shape in order to create a static path outline.
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