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Illustrator can be used to accomplish many different design tasks. For this reason, Illustrator CS4 Essential Training teaches core concepts and techniques that can be applied to any workflow for print, the web, or assets that will find their way into other applications. Mordy Golding explains the elements that make up vector graphics—paths, strokes, and fills—and shows how to use each of Illustrator's drawing tools. He demonstrates how to combine and clean up paths, and organize them into groups and layers. Mordy also covers text editing, working with color, expressive brush drawing, effects, and much more. Exercise files accompany the course.
You'll find that Illustrator has lots of useful little functions to be able to work with and edit your paths. For example, on this document right here, it's called joining and averaging, which you'll find in Chapter 05 of the exercise files. I'm going to go ahead and use my direct selection tool to show you that when I click on let's say this path right here, even though this looks like they're all connected, they are really not. These are separate individual path elements that are not connected at all. So how do I actually join these together? So there is a way to basically take two paths and join them so that they become one path and there are several options for doing that.
For example if I were to, let's say, go to this open area right here, I could use my regular direct selection tool to click once on that anchor point, Shift+Click on this anchor point. So now these two anchor points are selected and then I can go to the Object menu and I could choose Path and then choose Join. And that will join those together, it will find basically the shortest point between them and it will always use a straight line to basically draw a joining line between those two points. And now by the way if I go ahead and I basically click on this path, you'll see that the path is not all connected on this side. These are still two separate elements but that is connected. In fact, I'm going to now go ahead and let's say focus on let's say these two right here. And now it's hard for me to just simply Shift+Click to select both of the anchor points as they're right on top of each other. So what I'll do is, I'll marquee select these two. I'll take my direct selection tool, click over here, drag to encompass that area and release the mouse and now both of those anchor points are selected.
Now if I go to the Object menu, I could choose again Path and then Join. But I'm going to get a dialog box because I have these two overlapping points and whenever you have two overlapping points, Illustrator is going to ask me well, do you wanted to be a smooth anchor point or a corner anchor point. So in this case here, I wanted to be a corner anchor point, I don't wanted to be any curves involved. So I'll leave it as a corner anchor point. By the way, you never get that when you have two separate anchor points because they'll always be at corner. Basically, a straight line being created between those two anchor points. We'll never create a curve because how would Illustrator know where you want to place the control handles.
Whenever you do have two overlapping ones, it will ask you if you wanted to be a smooth or a corner anchor point. And notice I have two more that I select to connect. I have these two, which I have to connect, and then I have these two, which I have to connect. So I'll start for this one right over here. Unfortunately, there's just no way that I can select everything and then tell Illustrator, "Connect all of those overlapping paths that you find." There is a plug-in, by the way. It's available for Illustrator. It's called Concatenate. If you do a Google search for Concatenate, the guy who wrote it, his name is Rick Johnson, a fantastic guy, wrote a couple of plug-ins for Illustrator. It share like some 10 or 15 bucks to use it, but it's worth every penny because what it allows you to do is just select a whole bunch of disconnected paths and just say, connect them all with one function as opposed to what we have to do right now, which is actually select each of these paths on its own and go ahead and connect them.
So again, I'm going to marquee select these two here. The keyboard shortcut for joining is Command+J or Ctrl+J. Again I want it to be a corner point and click OK. Now here's the one thing that I can't do. Even though that right now these areas are split open, they're not connected whatsoever at all. What I can do is select all the anchor points of the shape. For example, right now, the shape is physically an open shape because it's not close but those two areas on the upper left hand corner right over here, they do overlap. And in this particular example when you only have two anchor points that overlap and that's all that there is. Basically, everything else is all connected. You can go to the Object command, choose Path and then join those and it will automatically join those using the same as case here, a corner point.
So that's the only case you can select a whole range of objects. Normally though, you would have to only select two anchor points and then perform the joint command. Sometimes you get an error if you try selecting more than two anchor points. You receive an error that says you need to have only two anchor points selected in order to use a Join command. So that's how you would use that particular setting. I'm actually going to undo this for a second so we see the back out so I have these is also for paths before. In fact, the easiest way was simply just go to the File menu here and choose Revert and that will bring us back to the state here in case you want to do it that way. So I have now these as again also for paths that are right here.
Let's say I want this to become a square, how would I do that? Right now I don't want just to connect the line; I actually wanted to square itself up. So what I can do is besides the Join command, there's also another command inside of Illustrator called the Average command. And the Average command can actually take two points that are not exactly sitting on top of each other and then perform an Average command then combine them on top of each other using that particular setting. Let me show you what I mean. If I take these two right now and I go to the Object menu, I choose Path and rather than choosing Join, I choose Average and when I choose Average here, I'm going to choose, not necessarily Horizontal or Vertical. I'll give you examples of why I chose both of these, in a minute.
I'm going to choose both. I want you to find basically average of the horizontal and the vertical together and when I click OK, you can now see that those are all together that's it, right there. Now I can go ahead and I can take those too, and I can join them, Command+J, make a corner point and then I'm done. So that's one easy way that I can simply perform an Average command to help me find that point and then simply join them in that way. So to take the averaging half a step further, what I can do is again marquee select with the direct selection tool, all of the anchor points on the far ends of these lines. Now, these were all lined up very nicely but these are not necessarily lined up very nicely. I can choose Object, Path, Average and if I choose both, look what happens here, they all both get averaged on both the vertical and the horizontal in the same time as well.
So, that is basically the commands of using, joining and averaging. As you will see later, there is the capability inside of Illustrator. These anchor points to stay selected, you can use some of the Align functions for that as well. And when we talk about the whole entire way of working with aligning objects, we'll get into detail about that as well. But here's just a basic simple way of just averaging or joining individual anchor points in this way.
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