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Illustrator can be used to accomplish many different design tasks. For this reason, Illustrator CS4 Essential Training teaches core concepts and techniques that can be applied to any workflow for print, the web, or assets that will find their way into other applications. Mordy Golding explains the elements that make up vector graphics—paths, strokes, and fills—and shows how to use each of Illustrator's drawing tools. He demonstrates how to combine and clean up paths, and organize them into groups and layers. Mordy also covers text editing, working with color, expressive brush drawing, effects, and much more. Exercise files accompany the course.
At a very basic level, the Layers panel in Illustrator allows us to divide our artwork up in two sections that way we can more easily work within a more complicated file. However, there is a tremendous amount of hidden power inside the Layers panel that really helps us work with just about any file whatsoever and no additional work is necessary. In this example here we do have three layers. These are the exact same three layers that we created in the previous movie. The document that I'm working with here, if you want to follow along is called object_hierarchy; you will find that inside of Chapter 09 of the exercise files. Let me go ahead and move this just a little bit over here to the right here so we can get a better idea of what's happening. I'm going to expand this particular Layers panel so that we can see a lot more of it; in a minute you will see why.
Notice that each of the layers themselves have a little triangle what we call disclosure triangle or some people refer to them as twirleys or twirl downs. Let's start off here on the bottom with a background layer. We know that the background layer, as we saw before it consist of one particular rectangle or one path that we created, that's filled with a gradient. If I go ahead in the Layers panel right here and I click on that little twirl down, I'll see that the path exists here. Now, even though this path is listed here in the Layers panel, this itself is not a layer. Take a look at how the background layer itself over here that I have has a great background, but the path is sitting on a while background.
Well, basically the Layers panel itself has the ability to show me not just layers but also objects or in fact all the objects that exist inside of a file and I can distinguish the difference between paths or objects and layers by seeing what color the background is inside of the Layers panel. In fact, let's go ahead and click on the twirl downs for the Separate Objects layer and also for the Grouped Element layer. I'll click down over here in the blank areas that I have no layer selected. As in quick overall view I can see right away that I have three layers in my document. I have the Grouped Element layer, the Separate Objects layer, and the background layer again identified each by gray backgrounds.
The white backgrounds here indicate objects that exist inside of those layers. The importance of this is twofold. First of all, I have the ability now to see every single object that exists inside of my file right here under Layers panel. And in addition, I also have the ability to visually see the hierarchy or the way that the objects are built inside of my file. Remember that everything inside of Illustrator is build from the bottom-up. So I see that in this document, this path comes first on the bottom as the background. Then I have this particular path here, then this path and this path. There is a group, this path, for example, and then moving forward. Now that we understand that, let's take another look over here. I see that in my Separate Objects layer, which is this element here that's made of many different objects, there is a group that exists there. If I click on the twirl down for that group, I see the elements that exist inside of that group.
In fact, that group right here is the word Surf, but it's a different compound shape that exists right there for the letter S, U, R and F. Let me go ahead and close that for a second here. Take a look at the Grouped Element. I now see that there is a group. These elements now live inside of a single group. If I click on the twirl down I'll see that the same elements that make up the Separate Objects are now put inside of this overall group. We discussed before I could use Isolation mode to basically jump into a group and edit objects within that group. We also know that we can bring objects to the front or to the back of other objects again within a single layer.
Well, rather than always have to travel up to the Object menu to change the stacking order of objects you can do things directly through the Layers panel. For example, right now this word Hawaii is sitting above this particular red path, which is this word right here Hawaii over this red path right here. However, if I take this layer right here or this object within the Layers panel and drag it beneath that red path, we will see that I now changed the stacking order. It's still there, but I just sent it behind that particular object. I can Undo that or change it by simply taking that and dragging it above as well. But perhaps most important of all is how you can work with appearances and layers together. I explained before that when we had this particular element here that we have grouped together and we applied the Drop Shadow, the Drop Shadow now is applied to the Grouped Element, which means that if I were to selected this group right now and choose to un-group it, the Drop Shadow would disappear.
Now the reality is that when you are working inside of a graphic and you select a particular object, you see it has a Drop Shadow. How do you know if that Drop Shadow belongs to the group or not? Well, when you use the Layers panel, it's a really easy way to tell. Take a look over here. I'm going to deselect this piece of artwork right now. Take a look on the far right on the Layers panel and you will notice that each layer or an object has a little circle here. Some of these circles are hollow while some of them are filled with a gradient. These circles are called target circles and depending on the way that they look, they identify to us as designers, whether or not those particular elements have appearances or I would say complex appearances applied to them.
Let's explain; I'll bring up the Appearance panel here because these things go hand in hand. Let's close the Graphic Styles here. So I have the Appearance panel and I have the Layers panel here side by side. Let's move this over just a little bit so we can see a little bit more, what we are dealing with. We know that the path itself that exists right here is a regular path that's filled with a gradient. Since it has a single Fill and a single Stroke, that particular element has a basic appearance. Any object or a layer that appears in the Layers panel with a hollow circle identifies that object or layer as having a basic appearance.
However, any time you see a shaded target circle, that means that, that particular object or layer has a complex appearance applied to it and in fact with that having to do too much detective work. We can easily take a look at this file right now and see what is going on. This group right here has the Drop Shadow on it because if I look right over here at the group, I see that the group has a target circle that has that shaded, meaning that this group has some complex appearance on it. However, each of the objects inside of that group, all have basic appearances, which means that they obviously can have Drop Shadows on them. In comparison, take a look at the Separate Objects layer. The layer itself has a regular target circle, meaning that the layer itself has a basic appearance. However, each of the individual objects within that layer obviously have complex appearances, meaning that I might assume that they all have Drop Shadows on them. You can see this very clearly simply by clicking on the target circle itself. If I go here to the group and I click on the target circle, I'm manually targeting that particular group.
Now, Illustrator employs something called Smart Targeting, which means if I click on a group, Illustrator automatically targets the group for me, thinking that if I want to apply an effect, I want it to be applied to the overall group. However, I can manually target anything inside of Illustrator by clicking on its target circle. For example, clicking on this word Hawaii right here, on the target circle here, identifies that this text is now selected and targeted and that particular object has a Drop Shadow applied to it. So it's obvious that the Layers panel contains a tremendous amount of information about how my file is actually built and even if you don't actually use layers in your artwork. The ability to see the object hierarchy in your file and the appearances that are applied to them make the Layers palette a very valuable tool.
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