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In Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Mastery, the third and final part of the comprehensive Illustrator One-on-One series, author and industry expert Deke McClelland shows how to take advantage of the wide array of dynamic effects in Illustrator CS5. Deke explores Illustrator’s powerful Gradient Mesh feature, great for creating photorealistic airbrushing effects. He also covers graphic styles, the liquify tools, envelope-style distortions, the new Bristle Brushes, 3D text, and perspective drawing. Exercise files accompany the course.
In this exercise, I am going to introduce you to the Actions panel. I'll show you how to create an action set which is a folder that you can fill with actions. It's an organizational tool to be sure, but it's not an optional step. You have to create an action set to house your actions, that way you can also save off your actions whether to back them up or transfer them to a different machine or share them with a colleague or what have you. I am working inside of a file called Musical review.ai. It's found inside the 30_actions folder and to get to the Actions panel, you go up to the Window menu and choose the Actions command, but here is the interesting thing.
Out of all of these various panels that have these myriad shortcuts here, one of the few that does not have a shortcut is Actions and Actions allow you to automate and apply shortcuts to those actions. So how ironic is it that the Actions panel itself lacks a shortcut, ha, ha! Anyway, I am going to go ahead and choose that command to bring up the Actions panel and notice that we have by default a single action set. It's called Default Actions. Go ahead and twirl it open and you'll see this long list of actions that Adobe has created for you.
Now these actions are somewhat demonstration of you can do, but they're also extremely rudimentary. Most of these things do one and only one operation. For example, Revert, if you twirl it open, it reverts the image to save version of the image. I ask you, honestly, is it easier to go ahead and click on this Revert action here which has no shortcut and then drop down and click the Play button or is it easier to go to the File menu and choose the Revert command or just press F12? You know. I don't know about that one, I think you can do it much better.
Here is another one that I think is fairly interesting. There is the Rotate dialog right there. I can click on this text to select it and then click on Rotate dialog, drop down to the Play button, click on it, and that'll bring up the Rotate dialog box or cancel out, I could just go over to the Rotate tool and double-click on it. So in other words, I wouldn't put any stake whatsoever in these actions that are provided to you by default, and again, I think you can do much better. So I am going to go ahead and twirl not only that action close, but I am going to twirl close that Default Action set and we're going to create a new set by dropping down here to the bottom of the Actions panel and clicking on the Create New Set button and I'm going to go ahead and call mine dekeSet, you can call yours anything you want and then go ahead and click OK.
Now after this point, you can start recording actions into that set. This is just my recommendation to you. You can record actions into the Default Action set, but I very, very, very much recommend against doing that, because if you do so, it's easy to lose those actions, they're also going to be sitting there with a bunch of bad actions, and also if you want to be able to save your actions to back them up for example, and this is very important. So let's say I've got this dekeSet action set here and I have three or four actions recorded into it.
Well, unlike things, like symbols and brushes and swatches and all these other fantastic things that we've seen, Actions are not saved as part of a document, instead they're saved inside of Illustrator's global preferences which means that they are really truly saved when you quit the program. If you crash or something along those lines happens why then you can end up losing your actions. So if you're spending any time recording these things which you will, then it's a really great precaution to go over to the flyout menu and choose the Save Actions command.
You don't save individual actions by the way, you save an entire set so you select the set, then you choose Save Actions and then go ahead and save them to a logical place on your hard drive obviously. After that point, if you want to be able to load them up, you lose your actions for example here in Illustrator because you crash and you need to load them back in or you want to load them on a different machine, then you would choose the Load Actions command. It's pretty much that easy and then you'll go ahead and load an entire set. All the more reason not to junk up Default Actions with your own actions, because then you'd have to save off your actions along with all the bad ones using the Save Actions command.
So beat that horse to death. That's how you bring up the Actions panel, that's how you create a new set. In the next exercise, I'll show you how to create an Action.
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