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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.
In this exercise, we are going to discuss joining, how to join paths together. We have actually got a couple of path combos that we want to join. First, we want to take this guy, right here, the arc and the spiral and join them into a single path and then we want to take these two partial arcs and join them as well. And remember, by the way, if you are trying to click in order to select these guys, because we have to select by path outlines, you want to watch your arrow cursor and as soon as you hover over a path outline, some place that you can click, you'll get that little block next to the arrow and they will tell you, now you click and you'll get something. If you don't see the block and you click, you're not going to get anything selected because you are clicking on the stroke, not the path.
All right, anyway, when you are thinking about joining, you have to work with open paths. What do I mean by open paths? Well, these guys are open because they end in end points; they have end points on them. They don't loop all the way around and rejoin. So something like a circle is a closed path, something like this eye up here, by the way, is a closed path. So anything that loops around becomes a shape, a shape is a closed path and what we think of this being a line is an open path and you can join open paths together. All right, so see how it moved the spiral off to the side a little bit. I'll undo that movement, so it's back where it was and you can see these two paths aren't really lined up properly. I'm going to zoom in farther, so you can see this guy is down a little bit. And by the way, I have saved my progress just in case you want to get exactly the same effect I'm getting as Join me.ai.
Now, I'm going to Ctrl-click or Command- click on this top eyeball to send this layer into the Outline Mode and I'm also, for a moment, I'm just going to click on the Guides to hide them so they are not in my way. So I can see what I'm doing and you can see these guys are not on top of each other. In order to join end points affectively, you really want them to be coincident and what this use of coincident means is that they occupy exactly the same space and the easiest way to make that happen is kind of drag the spiral off to the side here, get it out of the way, because this guy was lined up perfectly with the guide, notice that. So he is in a good spot, it's a spiral that's in a bad spot; I didn't draw it quite right. So now, I'll drag by then end point, I'm using the Black Arrow tool, notice that, and I'm going to drag it onto this other end point, so it snaps into place. Of course, I'm nice and zoomed in, so I can really see what I'm doing.
All right, now let's zoom out a little bit and I'm going to go ahead and grab my White Arrow tool and you now want to select the two coincident endpoints and the easiest way to do that is instead of clicking on the point, you want to marquee it. Now I have introduced a new tool here, the White Arrow tool, the Direct Selection tool, what it lets you do is select partial paths. So, for example, if I click right there on the end point of this arc, I'm selecting just that one anchor point and I can move it around all over the place, check that out. This is called reshaping, by the way, and we are going to examine reshaping in more detail in a later chapter, but you can take any path, and bend it like this just by dragging a point around.
So I'll press Ctrl+Z a couple of times, Command+Z on the Mac a couple of times, in order to move that back into the proper location. But the thing is you can't really affectively click on a point to select two points at the same time. This gets the end point in the spiral, how do I now board down and get the end point in the arc. Well, the easiest way to do that is to marquee and notice, if I just drag in an empty area with the White Arrow tool, I get this little marquee, you can see it right there. Anything that gets trapped inside the marquee, even partially, gets selected. So I just ever so partially surrounded this point and now it's selected. What I want to do is marquee down here and that will select both of these coincident end points, awesome! Now, I'm going to go up to my Control palette up here and notice we have got this Cut control right there, Cut path at selected anchor point. So you can also cut path this way. You can select a point with the White Arrow tool and click on that icon right there in order to cut it at that location.
But what we want to do instead is use this option; Connect selected end points, and if I click, notice I get this Join dialog box and I can say how do I want to join these points together. Now I have a smooth arc that's gently going to connect these two lines with each other. So I don't want to Corner, because that could end up creating basically what's known as a cusp point at this location, where we have a little bit of a Corner going on. I want to make sure that we have an absolutely smooth transition. So I'll select Smooth and click OK. Another way to work, by the way, in case you like commands better than icons up here, just so as you know, I'm going to press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on a Mac to undo that modification and I'm going to go up to the Object menu, these points are still selected, by the way, I choose Path and I choose this command right there; Join. You also have a keyboard shortcut. Ctrl+J, Command+J on the Mac. It does the exact same thing as this icon right there and it brings up this dialog box, you click on Smooth and then click OK.
All right, here is where things can go wrong. I'm going to undo that again and we will now have a lot of control handles showing up. That's okay. But things can go wrong with using the Scissors tool. So do you have a Scissors tool, it can give me an alert message and get mad at you, well the same thing can happen with joining. When you are joining, it's a very old trick inside of Illustrator and the old tools tend to be the fussiest tools. So let's say I would turn the Guides back on, so that I could see them and I were to go to the View menu, choose Guides and then choose Lock Guides, to turn off the lock. Notice that I have got the points selected. The guide does not appear to be selected. It's not a different color, it's still cyan, so we should be okay, but this Connect icon is dimmed.
And if I go to the Object menu and I choose Path and I choose Join, why then I get an error message saying, to join you must select two open end points. It's like, okay, done, thank you very much. If they are not on the same path, which they aren't; they are on different paths, they cannot be on the text paths, nor inside graphs. Well, this in a graph and it's not a text path and if both of them are grouped-- they aren't grouped. I haven't done any grouping. They must be in the same group. And it's just like, okay, check, check, check and check, none of this applies, okay, I'm now confused. Here is the problem; when you marquee there, you did select the Guide and you can see I selected the Guide because there is a little mark there inside the Guides layer that's telling you some Guide is selected and then it's like oh! So if I go up to the View menu and then take care of that problem, Guides > Lock Guides, then my Guides are no longer selected.
This Guide is now available, see and the Path > Join command is no longer going to gripe at me; it's just going to do what I asked it to do. All right, so I'm showing you that it's the height of tedium, I acknowledge that. But I'm showing it to you because you will run into these problems and you'll see an error message like that, where nothing in the error message. Even if you are the kind of person who diligently reads the error message, you just don't freak out and click OK. You read it and you are going, all right, so what's your point, Illustrator? This is the kind of stuff that happens. So in other words, Illustrator is frequently, especially with these old tools, unaware of its own issues. It will give you a text, this huge like page discussion of what it thinks its issues are and then it turns out, none of that applies. Very common.
So that kind of stuff happens. So that's one joining scenario there. In the next exercise, I'm going to show you different joining scenario, where we are working with two points that don't quite line up with each other, what do you do? The solution, coming right up.
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