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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.
In this exercise, I'm going to introduce you to the painting tools and the primary painting palette here inside of Illustrator CS4, and these are them right there, starting with the Paintbrush tool. Now, that's your foremost painting tool if you want to paint with strokes and brushes, as we'll be seeing how that works over the course of these many exercises. But it is fundamentally a stroking tool. It's also pressure-sensitive, which is nice. So if you are working with a pressure- sensitive stylus along with a tablet that supports pressure-sensitivity, then this guy right here is definitely a great tool and then you can change your strokes after the fact, very flexible tool as well.
Then we've the Pencil tool, which is nothing. I really can't give you a lot of reasons to use this tool. It doesn't have any pressure-sensitivity. It does paint with strokes, I guess, but I think it's a pretty uninteresting tool. Does draw free form lines. Kind of a leftover from the past really. But if you click and hold on the tool, you'll get this fly-out menu of tools from the future. We've got the Smooth tool. That allows you to smooth over paths that are drawn with any tool inside of Illustrator incidentally. And then we've the Path Eraser tool, which allows you to erase your stroked paths. So it works nicely in concert with the Paintbrush tool there.
Then new to Illustrator CS4 is the Blob Brush tool. Strangely named tool. They chose that because as you paint with the tool, the various lines that you draw end up gloaming together with each other. But what it really does is it paints with fills. So it paints outlined paths that are then filled in. Again it's pressure-sensitive. So it's a very flexible tool. Doesn't really work in concert with the brushes palette. So you may find that the Paintbrush tool is a little more flexible but very useful tool for a free form drawing. And then we have the Eraser tool, which is a fill eraser tool. So just as this Path Eraser tool, the pencil eraser because it's at the end of the pencil, erases stroked outlines. The Eraser tool is designed to erase filled outlines.
So it works very nicely along with the Blob Brush tool. Even though it's been there inside of the software since Illustrator CS3. Anyway, if you're not seeing the Eraser tool, you can switch to it. You might see the Scissors are still into that since that's the tool that we've been using quite a bit, as opposed to the Knife tool which is awful. Anyway, there is the Eraser tool, just so that you know it's there. I'm going to go ahead and switch back to my Black Arrow tool, so that I'm not getting that little no-can-do icon. And then finally, we've got the Brushes palette. Now, my Brushes palette is located right there. You might find that you need to go to the Window menu and choose Brushes or press F5. It's got a very easy to remember keyboard shortcut right there. Doesn't really deserve that great of a keyboard shortcut.
It actually comes to us from Photoshop and Adobe every once in a while tries to make sure that Photoshop and Illustrator's keyboard shortcuts are the same. But anyway, here is the Brushes palette. Now, because we're going to be visiting it a lot, I'm going to move my Brushes palette down here next door to the Layer palette. So notice that I've switched around my palettes just a little bit here, so that I've little more room to work inside of the key palettes for this chapter. And these brushes can all be applied as strokes inside of Illustrator. So they are ideally suited to this Paintbrush tool, as we're about to see in the very next exercise.
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