Illustrator CS5 Essential Training
Illustration by John Hersey

Joining and averaging paths


Illustrator CS5 Essential Training

with Mordy Golding

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Video: Joining and averaging paths

As we know all objects inside of Illustrator, all paths, are made up of anchor points. Now there are many times when you are working with creating objects when you need to actually fuse or join anchor points together. So in this video, we're going to focus on two commands inside of Illustrator. One called Join and one called Average and we'll actually see how we can use both of these settings together to get the results that we're looking for. To begin with, I'm going to zoom in just on these leaves right over here and notice that when I click on this to select it has a bounding box around it.
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  1. 3m 35s
    1. Welcome
      1m 18s
    2. What is Illustrator CS5?
      1m 46s
    3. Using the exercise files
  2. 12m 37s
    1. What are vector graphics?
      6m 3s
    2. Path and appearance
      3m 42s
    3. Stacking
      2m 52s
  3. 32m 6s
    1. The Welcome screen
      2m 23s
    2. Creating files for print
      6m 7s
    3. Creating files for the screen
      2m 55s
    4. Using prebuilt templates
      2m 40s
    5. Adding XMP metadata
      4m 18s
    6. Exploring the panels
      6m 33s
    7. Using the Control panel
      3m 11s
    8. Using workspaces
      3m 59s
  4. 43m 44s
    1. Navigating within a document
      9m 15s
    2. Using rulers and guides
      7m 26s
    3. Using grids
      3m 6s
    4. Using the bounding box
      3m 37s
    5. Using Smart Guides
      5m 56s
    6. The Hide Edges command
      3m 22s
    7. Various preview modes
      3m 47s
    8. Creating custom views
      4m 3s
    9. Locking and hiding artwork
      3m 12s
  5. 28m 46s
    1. Using the basic selection tools
      8m 50s
    2. Using the Magic Wand tool
      5m 22s
    3. Using the Lasso tool
      2m 28s
    4. Selecting objects by attribute or type
      3m 37s
    5. Saving and reusing selections
      2m 15s
    6. Selecting artwork beneath other objects
      2m 13s
    7. Exploring selection preferences
      4m 1s
  6. 1h 16m
    1. The importance of modifier keys
      1m 52s
    2. Drawing closed path primitives
      11m 38s
    3. Drawing open path primitives
      5m 47s
    4. Understanding anchor points
      3m 43s
    5. Drawing straight paths with the Pen tool
      7m 37s
    6. Drawing curved paths with the Pen tool
      9m 47s
    7. Drawing freeform paths with the Pencil tool
      5m 33s
    8. Smoothing and erasing paths
      3m 8s
    9. Editing anchor points
      7m 21s
    10. Joining and averaging paths
      10m 9s
    11. Simplifying paths
      4m 55s
    12. Using Offset Path
      2m 17s
    13. Cleaning up errant paths
      2m 32s
  7. 48m 26s
    1. The Draw Inside and Draw Behind modes
      7m 34s
    2. Creating compound paths
      5m 56s
    3. Creating compound shapes
      8m 0s
    4. Using the Shape Builder tool
      10m 28s
    5. Using Pathfinder functions
      8m 6s
    6. Splitting an object into a grid
      1m 16s
    7. Using the Blob Brush and Eraser tools
      7m 6s
  8. 49m 1s
    1. Creating point text
      4m 2s
    2. Creating area text
      8m 13s
    3. Applying basic character settings
      7m 44s
    4. Applying basic paragraph settings
      4m 24s
    5. Creating text threads
      8m 25s
    6. Setting text along an open path
      6m 29s
    7. Setting text along a closed path
      6m 24s
    8. Converting text into paths
      3m 20s
  9. 18m 55s
    1. Create a logo mark
      11m 26s
    2. Add type to your logo
      7m 29s
  10. 42m 42s
    1. Using the Appearance panel
      8m 21s
    2. Targeting object attributes
      4m 42s
    3. Adding multiple attributes
      4m 25s
    4. Applying Live Effects
      5m 18s
    5. Expanding appearances
      4m 42s
    6. Appearance panel settings
      4m 33s
    7. Copying appearances
      4m 51s
    8. Saving appearances as graphic styles
      5m 50s
  11. 34m 0s
    1. Applying color to artwork
      5m 57s
    2. Creating process and global process swatches
      8m 54s
    3. Creating spot color swatches
      3m 19s
    4. Loading PANTONE and other custom color libraries
      4m 49s
    5. Organizing colors with Swatch Groups
      3m 31s
    6. Finding color suggestions with the Color Guide panel
      4m 24s
    7. Loading the Color Guide with user-defined colors
      3m 6s
  12. 50m 23s
    1. Creating gradients with the Gradient panel
      8m 12s
    2. Modifying gradients with the Gradient Annotator
      4m 37s
    3. Applying and manipulating pattern fills
      5m 33s
    4. Defining your own custom pattern fills
      9m 13s
    5. Applying basic stroke settings
      5m 22s
    6. Creating strokes with dashed lines
      3m 41s
    7. Adding arrowheads to strokes
      2m 45s
    8. Creating variable-width strokes
      4m 35s
    9. Working with width profiles
      2m 36s
    10. Turning strokes into filled paths
      3m 49s
  13. 32m 46s
    1. Creating and editing groups
      8m 18s
    2. Adding attributes to groups
      12m 17s
    3. The importance of using layers
      5m 9s
    4. Using and "reading" the Layers panel
      7m 2s
  14. 12m 13s
    1. Creating and using multiple artboards
      7m 52s
    2. Modifying artboards with the Artboards panel
      2m 2s
    3. Copy and paste options with Artboards
      2m 19s
  15. 31m 10s
    1. Moving and copying artwork
      3m 55s
    2. Scaling or resizing artwork
      6m 47s
    3. Rotating artwork
      2m 44s
    4. Reflecting and skewing artwork
      2m 34s
    5. Using the Free Transform tool
      2m 15s
    6. Repeating transformations
      3m 39s
    7. Performing individual transforms across multiple objects
      2m 10s
    8. Aligning objects and groups precisely
      4m 27s
    9. Distributing objects and spaces between objects
      2m 39s
  16. 35m 40s
    1. Placing pixel-based content into Illustrator
      5m 14s
    2. Managing images with the Links panel
      4m 49s
    3. Converting pixels to paths with Live Trace
      8m 44s
    4. Making Live Trace adjustments
      6m 9s
    5. Controlling colors in Live Trace
      6m 4s
    6. Using Photoshop and Live Trace together
      4m 40s
  17. 14m 42s
    1. Managing repeating artwork with symbols
      4m 38s
    2. Modifying and replacing symbol instances
      3m 8s
    3. Using the Symbol Sprayer tool
      6m 56s
  18. 16m 57s
    1. Cropping photographs
      1m 59s
    2. Clipping artwork with masks
      3m 22s
    3. Clipping the contents of a layer
      3m 31s
    4. Defining masks with soft edges
      8m 5s
  19. 25m 52s
    1. Defining a perspective grid
      7m 48s
    2. Drawing artwork in perspective
      8m 46s
    3. Moving flat art onto the perspective grid
      9m 18s
  20. 25m 8s
    1. Printing your Illustrator document
      3m 26s
    2. Saving your Illustrator document
      6m 39s
    3. Creating PDF files for clients and printers
      7m 30s
    4. Exporting Illustrator files for use in Microsoft Office
      1m 4s
    5. Exporting Illustrator files for use in Photoshop
      2m 31s
    6. Exporting artwork for use on the web
      3m 3s
    7. Exporting high-resolution raster files
  21. 2m 18s
    1. Additional Illustrator learning resources
      1m 36s
    2. Goodbye

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Watch the Online Video Course Illustrator CS5 Essential Training
10h 37m Beginner Apr 30, 2010

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In Illustrator CS5 Essential Training, author Mordy Golding explains the core concepts and techniques that apply to any workflow in Illustrator, whether designing for print, the web, or assets for other applications. This course includes a detailed explanation of the elements that make up vector graphics—paths, strokes, and fills—and shows how to use each of the Illustrator drawing tools. Also demonstrated are techniques for combining and cleaning up paths, organizing paths into groups and layers, text editing, working with color, effects, and much more. Exercise files accompany the course.

Topics include:
  • Setting up a new document based on the output destination
  • Using rules, guides, and grids
  • Making detailed selections
  • Drawing and editing paths with the Pen and Pencil tools
  • Creating compound vector shapes
  • Understanding the difference between point and area text
  • Applying live effects
  • Creating color swatches
  • Transforming artwork with Rotation, Scale, and Transform effects
  • Placing images
  • Working with masks
  • Printing, saving, and exporting artwork
Mordy Golding

Joining and averaging paths

As we know all objects inside of Illustrator, all paths, are made up of anchor points. Now there are many times when you are working with creating objects when you need to actually fuse or join anchor points together. So in this video, we're going to focus on two commands inside of Illustrator. One called Join and one called Average and we'll actually see how we can use both of these settings together to get the results that we're looking for. To begin with, I'm going to zoom in just on these leaves right over here and notice that when I click on this to select it has a bounding box around it.

I'm temporarily just going to turn that bounding box off for now, so we can better focus on seeing the actual anchor points themselves. To do so, I'm going to go to the View menu. I'm going to choose Hide Bounding Box, the keyboard shortcut for that is Command+Shift+B or Ctrl+Shift+B, and now I have the bounding box turned off. We can clearly see where the anchor points are on these objects. Now if I take a look at this leaf over here, from a first glance, it may appear as if this leaf is actually joined as one object, but it's really made up of two shapes. If I click on this part of the leaf here, I see that it's completely separate from this part of the leaf as well.

They're two objects that just happen to be kind of touching each other. I'm going to press undo to return them back to the original position and more so, the anchor points. These objects are just made up basically of two anchor points each, one here and one here for this object, and one here and one here. Actually, this one is the third one right over here. But these anchor points on the ends, if I press undo here, are actually occupying the same coordinates or same position. They're basically just one right on top of each other. Now I'm going to deselect by clicking on the background here.

I already locked all these objects and they so they won't become selected when I click in these areas here. But the first thing that I need to do is just make a selection to tell Illustrator which anchor points I want to connect. Now normally to make a selection, I would just click on something and if I wanted to select two objects, I would hold down the Shift key and click on the second object. But in this example, both anchor points are stacked right on top of each other so I have to use a marquee selection in order to select both of those elements. Now remember, if I'm using my regular Selection tool as a click and drag, I'm going to be selecting entire object, meaning all the anchor points here.

I just want to join these two separate anchor points into one. So I'm going to hold down my Command key or Ctrl on Windows. So I now temporarily access my Direct Selection tool and I'm going to click and drag to marquee select these two anchor points. So at this point right now, I have two anchor points selected, one from each of these halves of the leaf. Now I'm going to go to the Object menu, I'm going to choose path, and then this option here called Join, the keyboard shortcut is Command+J, and now these two anchor points have been combined into one.

Now, I can do the same for these two anchor points that are right here. I'm going to basically deselect my object, hold down my Command key, now I'm going to click and drag to marquee select these two anchor points and I'm going to use the keyboard shortcut Command+J or Ctrl+J to now join those together. I now have one single object. I have taken two objects and by fusing their anchor points together, I now result with one single object. Now in the example that I just showed you right now, the anchor points that I was joining together were stacked right on top of each other.

But let's take a look at another example. I'm going to zoom in on this leaf right here at the bottom and you can clearly see that while these two anchor points are stacked right on top of each other, these two are very far away from each other. So what happens now if I want to join these two anchor points together? Well I'm going to use my Direct Selection tool, I'm going to click and drag to select these two anchor points, and if I go to the Object menu and I choose Path > Join, notice that what Illustrator does is it leaves the two anchor points in the positions where they were but it creates a straight line, basically a path, to connect those two anchor points.

So my result is that they are joined but a path is added there to basically close off that area. I'm going to press Undo because I don't really want that effect. What I really want is I want Illustrator to somehow figure out a location somewhere in between over here where both of these anchor points might move for example. I'm doing this manually but I'm moving two individual anchor points together and now they are overlapping the same spot and my leaf comes to a point. So if I press now Command+Z to undo that action, I just pressed Undo twice to return both anchor points to their original position here, I could perform an action in Illustrator called Average, where Illustrator will look at the position or the coordinates of each of those anchor points and come up with some kind of compromise or area or another position where both those of those anchor points can come together.

So I'm now going to basically drag- select these with my Direct Selection tool. I'm now going to go to the Object menu, I'm going to choose Path and now I'll choose average and Illustrator just needs to know how we should perform that average. Should it look at the horizontal axis, the vertical axis, or both of them? In this case here, I want to select both horizontally and vertically. So I'm going to the Both option and in just a short while we are going to really understand better what these two horizontal and vertical settings do. But for now, I'm going to click OK and you'll see that Illustrator now calculated a position that both lines up these anchor points horizontally and vertically so their positions are now averaged.

It hasn't joined them yet, but it found out a place where they can now both overlap and at this point, I can go back to the Object menu, I can choose Path, and I can choose Join. I'll share with you a little bit of a keyboard shortcut though. It's somewhat tedious to have to first perform the Average command and then on top of that also perform the Join command. I mean after all doesn't Illustrator realize I am only averaging it so that I can join it? It's true that there are times that you might want to average something that you don't want to join them. I'm just going to press Undo to go back to the original positions here.

But there is a keyboard shortcut that you can apply that will perform both the averaging and the joining together. So once again with my Direct Selection tool, I'm going to click and drag to select just these two. Now normally the keyboard shortcut for joining is Command+J or Ctrl+J. The keyboard shortcut for the Average command is Command+Option+J or Ctrl+Alt+J on Windows. Well if you hold Command, Option and Shift while tapping the J key, or in Windows that would be Ctrl, Alt and Shift, using that keyboard shortcut will actually perform both commands, the Average and the Join command, in one step.

So let's try that right now. I'm going to press now on my Mac Command, Option and Shift and then I'll hit the J key. Notice now that Illustrator found the average for both the horizontal and the vertical axis and join those two anchor points together into one, all with one keyboard shortcut. Now I want you to get a better idea of exactly what this averaging command does, specifically in regard to both horizontal and vertical. So I'm going to zoom out just a bit here and let's focus on these lines that are down here on the bottom of the page.

I'm going to use my Direct Selection tool to click and drag to select all the anchor points on the left sides of these paths. So these anchor points are not selected but these are. Now if I want to calculate an average position for all these anchor at once, I can go to the Object menu, I can choose Path > Average, and I'll start off by choosing Horizontal. When I click OK, watch what happens. If I were to draw a line now straight to the middle, you can see that all these anchor points are aligned horizontally. I'm going to press Undo and now once again I'm going to click and drag to select just the left side anchor points.

Now I'm going to use the keyboard shortcut Command+Option or Ctrl+Alt+J. This brings up the Average dialog box and this time, I'm going to choose the Vertical option. When I click OK, you can see that Illustrator found the vertical average between all those different anchor points. Now, in reality the functions that I've just been doing now with averaging can also be accomplished using the Align tools inside of Illustrator,. Those can be found here in the Control panel. So for example, if I press Undo and once again I click and drag with the Direct Selection tool to select just these anchor points, I could use this option right here, Align Horizontal Left, to now line up all those anchor points as well.

This is one of the nice things about Illustrator. There are always multiple ways to accomplish similar tasks and later on in another chapter in this video title we will cover in depth how to use all these other align functions. But hopefully this gives you a better idea on how to use the Average commands inside of Illustrator and more importantly, how to combine and average at the same time using that combine keyboard shortcut so that you can quickly and easily join anchor points together. Now there is one thing that I want to talk about which is new to Illustrator CS5 and that's the ability to actually join multiple anchor points at the same time.

Now, if I go back up over here to our leaves, kind of zoom in on this area right here. When we were joining these objects together, I was selecting two anchor points at a time and then creating a join. Well take a look at this. I have a leaf over here, which also is set up in to two halves. It's two separate objects. If I know that I want to basically join all of these anchor points together, I can use my Selection tool and I can click and drag to select both halves at the same time. Now I'll use the keyboard shortcut Command+J or Ctrl+J on Windows and in one step, Illustrator not only joins these anchor points here but these anchor points as well.

In other words Illustrator right now did a search throughout those paths for overlapping anchor points and automatically connected all those that were separated. So with Illustrator CS5, I don't necessarily need to work with just two anchor points at a time. I can go ahead now and just click and drag to select two objects. I know right now they are split into two shapes but I can hit Command+J or Ctrl+J to combine those together into one shape.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Illustrator CS5 Essential Training .

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Q: Despite clicking the rectangle icon on the toolbar, as shown in the video, the other tool shapes are not accessible in Illustrator. The rectangle is usable, but the star, ellipse, etc. are not, and do not appear anywhere in the toolbar. What is causing this problem?
A: These tools are grouped together, so to access them, click and hold the mouse for a second until the other tools appear. If that isn't happening, reset the Illustrator preferences file. To do so, quit Illustrator and then relaunch the application while pressing and holding the Ctrl+Alt+Shift keys. Once the Illustrator splash screen appears, release the keys and that will reset the preferences file.
Q: In the video “What are vector graphics,” the author states that if he creates a 1 inch x 1 inch Photoshop file at 300ppi image, there are 300 pixels in that image. Is that correct?
A: This statement is by the author was not totally correct. If the resolution is 300ppi, it means that there are 300 pixels across one inch, both vertically and horizontally. That would mean you'd have 90,000 pixels in a 1 inch x 1 inch image at 300 ppi.
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