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Adobe Illustrator has long been the most popular and viable vector-drawing program on the market but, for many, the learning curve is steep. In Illustrator CS3 One-on-One: The Essentials , author and leading industry expert Deke McClelland teaches the key features of Illustrator in a way that anyone can understand. He also goes beyond that, showing users how to get into the Illustrator "mindset" to make mastering Illustrator simple and easy. The training covers how to use the core drawing and shape tools, the transformation and reshaping features, text and gradients, and color management and printing features. Even if learning Illustrator has been a struggle in the past, this time it is going to make sense. Exercise files accompany the training.
This time around I'm working inside of a document called Calendar face.ai in which we're focused in on this god's face that's at the center of this 260-day Aztec spiritual calendar known as the Tonalpohualli. And if you're working inside if your richer artwork document then keep working inside that document, that's fine. I just wanted to provide a catch up document for those people are just joining us. Now notice that I'm way zoomed in here, as you can see and notice that the outlines that are associated with the nose and mouth are way too thick. So I'm going to go ahead and select those objects by clicking and Shift-clicking on them like so.
Now I'd like to be able to change the stroke from the Control palette, but for whatever reasons Illustrator is not displaying the stroke options up here. It's a function of the objects that we have selected, don't you know? So Illustrator is always trying to be intelligent about which options it offers you. Sometimes it gets it right, sometimes it gets it wrong, whatever. The options are always available elsewhere. In our case they're available to us inside of the Stroke palette. So to get to your Stroke palette, you can go to the Window menu and choose the Stroke command or press Control+F10, and it's Command+F10 on the Mac, and currently my weight value is set to 2 points here.
I can click this down pointing arrowhead and choose from a different line weight if I want to, and notice they go as thin as 0.25 points. Bear in mind that that is a one quarter of one 72nd of an inch. That's how thin it is, and if you choose that option, you're going to get some very thin strokes on screen and you need to bear in mind that we're looking at this illustration at the 1200 % zoom ratio, so we're way the heck zoomed in here. Now I recommend that you don't go any thinner than 0.25 points, because if you do there's a very good chance that your lines are not going to survive the commercial reproduction process. So this hairline is, which is basically what it's called, this hairline is as thin as you want to go.
Now in our case, though, I want you to change the line weight to 1 point and you can do that by selecting the option from the pop-up menu or by just entering a value of 1, if you like. Now I'm going to focus in on the nose here. Now notice how the nose has sharp corners inside of it whereas other lines inside of this illustration have rounded corners. Well, we need to address that by clicking on any of the shapes in the nose. And just so you can really see what we're doing I want to hide those edges, those outlines that we're seeing on screen right now, and I'm going to do that by going to the View menu and choosing this command right here, Hide Edges, or you can press Control+H, Command+H on the Mac.
And that hides those edges from view. Now that the shapes are still selected, so you can drag them around, you can modify the strokes as we're going to, you can do anything you want. Bear in mind that hiding the edges inside of Illustrator is a sticky proposition, meaning it's persistent, meaning that if we go and select something else inside the illustration, I just clicked on the eye, we're not going to see its edges either until we press Control+ H again or Command+H again in order to bring those edges back. So just bear that in mind. Once you press Control+H your edges are hidden until you call them up again.
So I'm going to click on the nose, press Control+H to hide those edges, then I'm going to go over to the Stroke palette and I'm going to expand that Stroke palette by clicking on this little icon here, to the left of the S in Stroke. I'm going to click on it twice, first to collapse and then to expand, so that we can see all the options inside the Stroke palette, and notice this guy right here, it allows you to round off the corners. It's called Round Join, but it's really about the corners. Right now we have Miter Join selected which gives us sharp corners, we can also select Bevel Joint which will clip off those corners and then finally we have Round Join.
I'm most comfortable with round joins, not because I want happy soft artwork, but just because they're easier to handle and you don't end up with weird, bizarre corner aberrations which you can get sometimes inside Illustrator if you're not careful with miter joins. So I just went ahead and rounded off those joins. I also want to demonstrate very quickly the Dashed Line effect down here. You can assign a dotted line effect by turning on Dashed Line and then you just enter the size of your dashes like I'll make it 1 point and then the size of your gaps which are by default 1 point, and you can enter other dash and gap combinations if you want to, you know, vary it up a little bit. Now notice that things don't fare too well when you're stroking along an object with corners in it as we are here. It's better if you have smooth points going on inside of your object like continuous curves for example. But there is a way to accommodate a shape like this. You can go ahead and apply round caps. Now notice we can see some round caps on screen right now.
This is a round cap, for example. It's the cap on the endpoint, which is made round, and normally caps don't affect objects that don't have endpoints with them, continuous closed paths, like this one here. But the caps do affect the object when it has a dashed line. So notice if I turn on the rounded cap it goes ahead and, Illustrator goes ahead and strokes those caps so that we have like a bunch of Tic-Tacs going on around the nose at this point and if you change the dash value to 0 now and press Tab, you will see that you have a series of circles, and then I could create some space between the circles by making my gap value larger like so.
Okay just something to bear in mind. Something to play with if you like. I'm going to go ahead and turn off my Dashed Line effect because I just want this. I just want what we're seeing on screen, which is a nice pug nose with some rounded corners. Looks great. In the next exercise we're going to move on to the mouth, cause notice how the tongue is too high for the mouth. We're going to fix that and you'll see how in just a moment, if you'll join me, won't you?
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