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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.
Now in this first exercise we're going to start things off with Preference settings and if that sounds like a really dry boring topic, you got it. That's what it is. There's no disputing it. I just cannot lie to you people, but I'll tell you what. A couple of promises. First I'm going to try to keep the proceedings as lively as possible by doing this: Hey, hey, hey. So that'll help out a lot and then secondly, I promise not to show you all the Preference settings, because if I did by the end of that you would be in a stone cold coma, I swear you.
You would be sleeping for 20 years. It would be just like Rip van Winkle except it would be you and I don't want that on my hands, so I'm just going to show you the key preference settings, the ones that you need to know so that you and I are in simpatico, and also these are the Preference settings that will make you a better user inside Illustrator, I guarantee it. In any case, it's all good, right? Any information's good information, right Daddy-o? Right sonny-o. All right, so let's go. My first bit of information is to go ahead and close this darn dialog box here. I'm sick of seeing it. I'm going to turn on Don't show again. And I'm going to close the unwelcome screen.
Now the part I'm going to miss is that big bunch of orange right there cause it gave us a little bit of color. We're no longer going to have any color. It's going to be very, very gray. As we go up to the Edit menu, choose Preferences and choose General. On the Macintosh side of life you go to the Illustrator menu, choose Preferences and then choose General. Either way, you got a keyboard shortcut, that's Control+K on the PC and Command+K on a Mac, and that's definitely a good one to memorize because if you know it once inside Illustrator for example then that information goes over to Photoshop and InDesign and the other applications as well, cause they all use Control+K. All right so, go ahead, however you get there, mosey on over to the General panel of the Preferences dialog box and note this very first option: Keyboard Increment. That's the one I want you to change. Here's the story.
When you have an object selected, you can nudge it from the keyboard by pressing the arrow keys and each arrow key is going to by default nudge that selected object one point in one direction or the other. Now one point is a very small increment, right? It's 1/72 of an inch, so it's about the thickness of your fingernail when you look at it sideways. That's a very small increment. But I'm here to tell you from experience, it's not small enough. When you're nudging from the keyboard, you want really ultrafine control, so I'm going to have you set this down to 0.2 pt.
You don't have to enter the point necessarily but if you're working in a different unit of measurement you should. Son 0.2 pt and the good news is that now, you might think, That's so tiny, I'm never going to get anywhere as I'm nudging things from the keyboard. Well there are ways to up the keyboard increment by pressing the Shift key along with the number key, but there's no way to go down. So you might as well set that low in advance. All right, that's our first Preference setting, excellent. Now let's go on to our next one. Click the Next button in order to go to Selection & Anchor Display, a new panel of options here inside of Illustrator CS3. Notice that you can change the size of your anchor points here.
So if the dinky anchor points that Illustrator shows you by default are too dinky, then you can select to have a larger selected point and leave the deselected points dinky, or you can make them all bigger just by clicking on one of these guys here. I'm going to leave it set to dinky, that's they way I like it. You can also control the display of handles. Should they be round handles? Should they be big round handles? Should they be diamond shaped handles, like you're used to seeing inside of FreeHand, if you migrated from FreeHand over to Illustrator. It's up to you which ones you choose. I'm going to stick with the default.
Highlight anchors on mouse over. Such an awesome new function inside of Illustrator CS3. I love this one. It means that if you just randomly move your mouse over a point it'll show you there it is and that makes it a lot easier to locate and select points, which is something you do a lot inside of Illustrator. You can show handles when multiple anchor points are selected so that you can see all the control handles that are associated with anchor points. It can be nice. If you don't know what I'm talking about, don't worry about it but I'm telling you it can be nice, but it's going to also interfere with your ability to tell what's going on, because things get very busy very quickly. So I'll leave that checkbox turned off.
The one checkbox I'm going to recommend you change here is this guy: Object Selection by Path Only. Here's the story. Imagine you've got a blue rectangle. You want to select that blue rectangle. Well, normally by default cause this checkbox is turned off, you can just click in the blue and you select it. Makes sense, right, because you want to be able to select the darn thing as easily as possible. Imagine a much more complicated scenario where you have like a thousand lines crossing at this blue rectangle. Wouldn't it be better if the blue rectangle didn't get in the way of all the lines and you could click on a path outlines and specifically the path outlines, and only the path outlines, in order to select a path.
It means you have to be a little bit more careful, but it means Illustrator responds positively to your careful behavior. So what I'm going to tell you to do is turn this checkbox on. I'm going to remind you to turn this checkbox on several times throughout the training because it's super, duper important that it be on, if you want to follow along with me. Turn it on. All right, I think I made my point. That's good. Hey, that's enough for now. I don't want to overwhelm anybody here. We saw a couple of really cool Preference settings that needed to be modified. In the next exercise we'll see a few more, and then you and I will be on the same page.
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