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Illustrator Insider Training: Rethinking the Essentials is the first installment in a series of courses designed to show experienced Illustrator users to how master core features and build art more efficiently. Adobe Illustrator has evolved dramatically over the years, and many creative professionals may be missing out on features that have been added to the latest versions. This course takes a fresh approach to core concepts, such as paths, attributes, object hierarchy, groups, and layers. Advanced techniques such as combining multiple effects and customizing textures are also included. Exercise files and a free worksheet are included with the course.
Before we actually get started with Illustrator, I want to take a few moments to discuss the distinction between two concepts: something called structure and something called presentation. As we'll find out throughout this course, the more that we understand about the distinction between structure and presentation, the easier it will be for us to take advantage of some of the most powerful features found inside of Illustrator. Now, to actually start the discussion about these two concepts, I want to talk about web design. Now I know that may sound a little bit odd to you, but it's a great way to really understand the difference between structure and presentation, because in the world of web design this is a very important concept and speaks directly to how HTML and CSS work.
Many of you may be familiar with something called HTML. It's basically markup; it takes content and identifies what that content is. So, for example, if you've ever looked at some HTML code, it might look something like what you see in the left side of your screen where it says Structure. You have these tags, for example h1 or p, which stands for header 1 or paragraph. And there is this text that's involved basically in between those tags. There is nothing here that describes how that text should appear inside of a web page. Rather, it's identifying exactly what the content itself is.
So we refer to this as Structure because it's the most important information and that information never changes. However, one of the most powerful things about using CSS for web design is that it allows you to describe how the structure itself should be presented on a screen. For example, a CSS style sheet may describe headers to be displayed in a certain typeface, and in bold, and in red. However, you can change the CSS very easily. And while the structure, the content itself, doesn't change, the presentation of that content does change.
So we see something that could appear very different. For example, in this case here, not only has the typeface been changed, you can actually see now that there're some background colors and some boxes that define the areas where that text lives on the page. Now again, if you look on the left side, those boxes don't exist at all. In other words, the same structure can be seen in more than one way. Now, let's apply that concept to Illustrator itself. We know that in Illustrator we can create some artwork and that artwork is defined by paths.
These vector paths actually define the structure of our artwork. However, we also know that the paths themselves don't actually print out on a piece of paper or appear on a screen. In order for us to see those paths, we apply certain attributes, like fills and strokes for example, and we get a result that may look something like this. These attributes that we apply to our artwork define the presentation of our artwork. Now, if you've used Illustrator before, you're probably familiar with the concept of viewing something in Preview mode, or in Artwork mode. Or some people call it Outline mode.
So we're kind of used to seeing the paths themselves without any fill or stroke attributes applied to them, but also seeing them in full color, as we see on the right side of the screen. Now, as you probably know, it's a lot easier to change the attributes of an object-- for example, change a fill color or a stroke color--than it is to actually changed the vector paths themselves. But the important thing to realize is that inside of Illustrator, we can actually make more changes to the presentation than you may be aware of. In those cases we keep the structure the same, but we can change the presentation completely.
For example here, on the right side you see that I have 2 flowers and I have some colored boxes behind the flower and the seeds in the logo, yet, if you look at the structure on the left, those elements don't seem to be there at all. That's because inside of Illustrator we have the ability to add certain elements or change the appearance of artwork by making changes to the presentation without changing the underlying structure of that artwork. So this really isn't just a case of viewing something in Outline mode, because as you can see, there may be certain elements that exist inside of your artwork that don't even exist in outlines.
Take a look at the reflection that appears underneath this entire graphic on the Presentation side. Yet there is no object that identifies that reflection on the Structure side. How does that work? Well, that's what this entire course is all about. But the important concept to grasp here is that there are two distinct things inside of Illustrator: structure and presentation. And it's much easier to change the appearance of artwork by adjusting the presentation, yet keeping the structure intact. So now that we understand what structure and presentation are, we can start to understand what actually is used to define those elements, mainly paths and attributes.
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