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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.
Now the great thing about Pathfinder operations inside of Illustrator is that they allow you to take basic shapes and combine them to create more complex paths and I'll give you a sense of a few practical applications of Pathfinder operations in subsequent exercises. But for now in this exercise, I just want to give you a basic, somewhat goofy introduction as you will see here, but it will give you a sense for how Pathfinder Operations work and how they have changed inside of Illustrator CS4. So if you are used to the Illustrator CS3 and earlier approach, you will see things are different now.
Now I have been working with this sample file for years here but I have gone ahead and updated it and I have called it Emerald submarine.ai. You can see here that I have got a couple of main shapes. I have got this emerald submarine in the background and then I have got this silhouette of this fellow and we'll call this fellow Ringo and the idea is I'm sort ripping off this movie called Yellow Submarine, which was a cartoon vehicle for an obscure band called The Beatles. You probably haven't heard of them but back in their day, they were as big as Lady Gaga. I kid you not. And so the idea here is we are going to take Ringo and we are going to combine him with the submarine and we are going to do so using a Pathfinder operation.
Now to get to the Pathfinder operations inside of Illustrator, you go to the Window menu and you choose the Pathfinder command, or you have got a keyboard shortcut if you want, you have got Ctrl+ Shift+F9, Command+Shift+F9 on the Mac. I wouldn't bother to memorize that one if I were you, but I'll show you this. You also have the option of clicking on this icon right there. If you can see this column of icons on screen inside of Illustrator and that will bring up the Pathfinder palette. We are going to be working with the Pathfinder palette a lot throughout this chapter. So I'm going to go ahead and drag this little group of palettes over here to this location, right there above the Layers and Appearance palettes so that we can see it. And notice that we have two rows of Pathfinder operations, these little icons here, two rows.
One is called Shape Modes, which can potentially create compound shapes inside of Illustrator, which permits you to create dynamic interactions between shapes, as we are about to see. And then we have this Static Pathfinder operations. Once applied, they are applied for good. So you are actually changing the nature of the shape. So let me show you what I'm talking about. I am going to go ahead and click on Ringo in order to make him active and then Shift-click on the submarine in the background and let's say that we want to merge these two shapes into one. When we go over to this first icon right there, which is now called Unite. This is what it used to be called in the way old days but this is a change from its previous name in Illustrator CS3.
Note if I click on this icon, I go ahead and permanently fuse this two shapes together and not only are they permanently adhered to one another, so that you can see that the path online is now tracing around both the submarine and Ringo and we have got this hole right there that represents the gap between Ringo's legs and another hole that's part of his high-heel boot right there. But this is a permanent fusion of the two shapes, that's something we didn't see in Illustrator CS3 and I'll explain the difference in just a moment.
Also, Illustrator has gone ahead and assigned just one set of Fill and Stroke attributes to the entire fused shape. So it's gone ahead and taken the attributes from the forward object, which was Ringo, and assigned that black stroke and that yellow fill to the submarine as well. So we now have a yellow submarine. I am going to go ahead and press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on the Mac in order to undo that operation, and then notice, if I hover over this icon, you will see that it says Alt-click to create a Compound Shape and add to the shape area.
That would be an Option-click on the Mac. So go ahead and do that, Alt-click on that icon or on the Mac, Option-click, and now see that we still have two yellow objects. So Illustrator goes ahead and assigns the black stroke and the yellow fill from the forward object to the entire compound shape. Notice there is a slight difference here. We also have independent path outlines going on. So we still have Ringo and the submarine independent of each other. And I'll show you why that is such a great thing when we take a look at editing compound shapes in the very next exercise.
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