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Adobe Illustrator has long been a popular vector–based drawing program, but for many the learning curve is steep. In Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals, author and leading industry expert Deke McClelland shows users how to get in to the Illustrator mindset and overcome this learning curve. He covers the application's key features in a new way, making it simple and easy to master Illustrator. Deke teaches viewers how to use the core drawing and shape tools, the transformation and reshaping features, text, and the Pen tool. He also explains how to export and print. Even if learning Illustrator has been a struggle in the past, this training can help make sense of it. Exercise files accompany the course.
We're going to start things off not by just tackling the Line tools. I'm not going to have you just start drawing. Because first, before we can draw, you need to grok how illustrations are put together, even very simple illustrations like this, how they are assembled inside of Illustrator. If this is your first time in a vector drawing program you need to understand Illustrator is not in any way, shape or form analogous to a pencil and a piece of paper. You are not just going to start sketching inside the program. There are Sketch tools that are available to you, but really, the way things are truly assembled inside of Illustrator is more architectural.
It's more like putting together something sculptural, because you actually have to work with objects on top of objects, objects that neighbor each other and every one of these guys you have to think of it as being an object. Because it is this thing that you can do something with, you can take this line and move it to a different location. So these are like an Erector Set. How many more analogies can I make? All right, but if we think of this as being an architectural experience, then your levels are over here inside the Layers palette. So I want you to go up to the Window menu and make sure Layers is visible, it has got a checkmark next to it and everything, if not, go ahead and choose it or press F7 once again.
Because the Layers palette, it's just pivotal to understanding what's going on inside of any given illustration. I'm going to go up the palette menu, that little guy right there. Click on it and choose Panel Options and you can see right now the layers are large, these little layer thumbnails, those are large. It shouldn't be called large; it should be called dinky. Basically, it's not Small, Medium, Large. It's microscopic barely visible and dinky. Those are your three options there. Then you have Other, which is like now we can start getting reasonably large. Now, it would be nice if you could go really large with this like, 300 pixels or something. But if you try that value you are going to get your wrist slapped. The value must be 12-100. All right, so click OK and I'm going to change it to let's say 75, whatever, click OK.
And now we have bigger thumbnails to work with so we can actually see we are doing. Now you can see that the top layer, let's go ahead and drag this over a little bit so we can see the names of the layer. There is Draw here, because that's where you are going to draw. I'm going to have you draw on the Draw here layer. I have started the eye, but there is a lot left to do. Notice that it's turned off, so its eyeball is off over here, so if I were to click this eyeball, that would turn off everything. Click it again to show the guy below, and the reason the guy below is here the Horus layer is because that's the layer we are going to be tracing. It is going to be our finished item that we are going to simulate right here, which you'll see.
Now notice that little triangle right there. That triangle, if you are quick on it you are going to expand the layer and reveal everything that is inside of the layer. Often times you hear this called the twirly triangle, because you can click to twirl it and it then twirls it open. That's pretty much the nomenclature I use, when I tell you to twirl something up and that's what I mean. You are going to expand it by clicking on that little triangle. You can see every single object inside of the illustration and these objects are known as paths. And you can see, anything that is a word inside of these little brackets right there, actually inside the less than and greater than sign, those indicate names that Illustrator has created automatically for you.
So it named this thing Path and it named this other thing Path. And it you want to see, look everybody has got eyeballs. So you could say gosh! Which one are you, and if you turn it off, then you say oh! You were this guy right over here, cool! Then you can turn it back on. You can do that with all of them. Notice that guy is that guy and so on and so on. Some things are Groups and Groups are, of course, labeled Group as you see it right there and you can twirl them open and check out their contents, which can get pretty deep as we are seeing right there. This is a weird thing where you have got a Group, there is a Group right there inside of another Group and that Group right there contains a few different objects, a few different paths.
If I made that wider, you can see, that's what they are called. Let's go ahead and scroll back down there. So we've got Group inside of a Group and inside of there we have got some Paths. The reason it's sort of organized that weird way is because that's how this tool right there draws things, the Polar Grid tool puts groups inside of groups, which is something it does. But I just want you to see how molecular you can get and check this out. This is what, I think, will blow some of you away. We are really trying to keep track of your drawings and especially if you are conveying drawings to other people, if you are sharing drawings between different artists and you are working in sort of a corporate environment in other words, then you can double-click on an item here and you can give it a name. You can call this the Iris, for example, you can identify exactly what it is and click OK and that's your name now. You can identify any piece you want, you could call this-- this is actually the Eye, right here, right? So you can name these items. You can also drag them up and down the stack in order to change their stacking order, which is something we'll investigate in greater detail as we move through this series. You have just a ton of control right there.
Then you have these independent guide objects. Guides are actually full-fledged objects inside of Illustrator. We are going to talk about guides, the function they serve and how you work with them, beginning in the next exercise.
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