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Knowing the difference between structure and presentation

From: Illustrator Insider Training: Rethinking the Essentials

Video: Knowing the difference between structure and presentation

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.

Knowing the difference between structure and presentation

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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This video is part of

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  1. 8m 22s
    1. Welcome
      1m 15s
    2. Exploring the Illustrator Timeline
      5m 12s
    3. Getting the most out of this training
      1m 30s
    4. Using the exercise files
      25s
  2. 16m 27s
    1. Starting off on the right foot
      27s
    2. Knowing the difference between structure and presentation
      4m 38s
    3. Understanding paths and attributes
      4m 56s
    4. Distributing stroke weight along a path
      2m 25s
    5. Bottoms up: Object hierarchy and stacking order
      4m 1s
  3. 51m 9s
    1. The all-important Appearance panel
      37s
    2. Understanding attribute stacking order
      6m 45s
    3. Targeting individual object attributes
      7m 32s
    4. Adding multiple attributes to a single object
      9m 31s
    5. Modifying appearances with Live Effects
      7m 11s
    6. Using multiple strokes to create a border design
      4m 36s
    7. Using multiple strokes to create a map
      5m 52s
    8. Using multiple fills to mix spot colors
      4m 59s
    9. Using multiple fills to create textures
      4m 6s
  4. 46m 2s
    1. Learning to live with appearances
      30s
    2. Basic appearance vs. complex appearance
      4m 27s
    3. Clearing or expanding an appearance
      10m 52s
    4. Controlling the appearance of newly drawn art
      5m 11s
    5. Saving appearances with graphic styles
      6m 54s
    6. Changing artwork by modifying a graphic style
      7m 39s
    7. Uncovering a treasure trove of graphic styles
      5m 1s
    8. Copying appearances with the Eyedropper tool
      5m 28s
  5. 33m 28s
    1. Why do we create groups?
      1m 48s
    2. Applying an effect to a group
      4m 38s
    3. Understanding the difference between targeting and selecting
      4m 44s
    4. Knowing the dangers of ungrouping artwork
      2m 21s
    5. Using Isolation mode to preserve group structure
      6m 59s
    6. Adding a stroke to a group
      6m 13s
    7. Adding a 3D effect to a group
      3m 36s
    8. Extending the concept of groups to type objects
      3m 9s
  6. 46m 34s
    1. Are you a layers person?
      33s
    2. Learning to use the Layers and Objects panel
      9m 27s
    3. Making selections and editing stacking order
      6m 38s
    4. Reading and using the target circles
      8m 43s
    5. Copying artwork and appearances
      5m 37s
    6. Adding effects to layers
      9m 56s
    7. Getting the most out of the Layers panel
      5m 40s
  7. 47m 19s
    1. It's more than just a drop shadow?
      48s
    2. Adding basic texture with Mezzotint
      7m 50s
    3. Generating custom textures with Texturizer
      12m 22s
    4. Adding a stroke to an image with Outline Object
      5m 54s
    5. Aligning text precisely with Outline Object
      6m 31s
    6. Adding callout numbers with Convert to Shape
      4m 36s
    7. Enhancing performance with Rasterize
      2m 30s
    8. Avoiding pitfalls when using effects
      6m 48s
  8. 31m 59s
    1. Asking yourself the "what if?" question
      33s
    2. Outlining artwork with Offset Path and Pathfinder Add
      5m 36s
    3. Adding captions with Convert to Shape and Transform
      7m 1s
    4. Creating a crosshatch effect with Scribble
      5m 44s
    5. Creating buttons with Round Corners and Transform
      13m 5s
  9. 25m 21s
    1. Working with other people's files
      36s
    2. Setting up a workspace that makes sense
      9m 43s
    3. Learning to "read" an Illustrator file
      5m 48s
    4. Controlling pixel resolution
      9m 14s
  10. 1m 2s
    1. Next steps
      1m 2s

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