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In Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Advanced, author and industry expert Deke McClelland teaches how to take advantage of the wide array of dynamic features in Illustrator CS5. This course demonstrates how to apply these features to paths, groups, and editable text to create professional-quality artwork. The course covers Live Trace, Live Paint, and Live Color, as well as symbols, gradients, exporting, and integration with Photoshop. Exercise files accompany the course.
In this exercise I am going to introduce you to the symbol sprayer, which is this awesome tool ultimately that allows you to lay down a bunch of instances at a time, so you're spraying in or painting in if you prefer, a random assemblage of instances and you can even combine different instances with each other and move them forward and backward and stain them with different colors. It's really an awesome feature, and it relies on these tools that are known as the symbolism tools. But I need to tell you upfront, and I'm sad to pass this information along, but basically inside of Illustrator CS5, the symbol sprayer has some real performance issues that Adobe needs to address.
Now there are a couple of bug fixes that have followed the original Illustrator CS5 and neither of them takes care of the problem. Hopefully, there will be a future release of the software that will solve the problem, but between you and me I don't know when it's coming, I have talked to the product managers, they realize it's an issue and it's on the docket for some later fix, but in the meantime I'll show you how it works, and I've got you covered no matter what, so hang in there. I've saved my progress that's far as Wings on fire.ai, and let's say I want to paint in a kind of grass pattern, against this green background.
Well, I'll bring up my Symbols panel and I'll go ahead and scroll all the way down to Grass 1. Notice that's second to last symbol there, go ahead and click on it to select it, and then you can hide the symbols panel, so that we have more room allotted to the illustration. Now I am going to drop down to this tool right there, very low on toolbox, it's called the Symbol Sprayer tool, it has a keyboard shortcut of Shift+S and I'm actually going to click and hold on that tool and drag over to the flyout menu and release so that we have a little toolbox right there, a mini toolbox of symbolism tools, and there are lots of them, and I'll run through what each one of them does in the next exercise.
But for now what I want you to do is just start painting, and at first everything seems to be hunky-dory, and the Illustrator moves along at a reasonable pace and above 40 or 50 symbols into things, it just grinds to a halt. I cannot tell you how personally frustrated I am about the performance issues here, and somehow this just wasn't cut during the beta cycle. So nobody in the beta program complained about this feature, which means of course, nobody bothered to use the feature, because if they had, it would have been immediately obvious that this tool had a problem and you can blame me as well, because I'm always part of the beta cycle, and I didn't get around to using this tool during the beta process, or I would complained about it. Boy! Would I have complained about it? Anyway, by now I should've laid down about 300 symbols and I'm getting about a symbol, a minute now out of this tool, it is just terrible.
So what you do, and what you should be able to do by the way is, you happily paint along spraying symbols willy- nilly all over the place and then you should be able to go up to the Symbols panel right there and switch over to Grass 2, and say, hey, I want to paint some thick blades of grass along with my thin blades of grass, and playfully paint around instead of banging your head against the monitor, the entire time, this horrible processes happening. And just gotten to the point where it's unusable, and again, it is that kind of thing where once it gets a lot of symbols inside of this Symbol Set, which is what we were creating here, then it really slows to a crawl.
And I think it has something to do with those little plus signs, I thinks it's a screen redraw issue, if I'm guessing correctly, because now that we have all these little reference points, Illustrator is having to calculate a lot more stuff when it's laying down the symbols and it just can't keep up for some reason or other. Well, I'm sure you could be addressed if they just get around to it. Anyway, so here I am complaining like crazy, do I have a solution for you? Yes, I do. It's called another document, that's called Merciful catch-up file.ai; that I have created for you that has this symbol set that's just full of grass that I have painted.
Yes, your welcome, and you don't have to do that work that way and you don't have to watch your life come to a grinding halt. Now, I am going to twirl open this Life layer inside the layers panel, so switch over to layers panel if you want to, if you are work along with me. Scroll all the way down to the bottom and you'll see the sign that's called Symbol Set, that's it. That's the thing that you create using the Symbol Sprayer tool and then when you spray those thick blades of grass, they get sprayed into that same symbol set, so the symbol set is a special object in Illustrator. Notice you can't twirl it open, so you can gain access to the individual instances, you can't select them using your arrow tools in other words.
You just work inside this gargantuan symbol set using the symbolism tools. Now if I were you, I would ask the obvious question, which is, how do you do this Deke? How did you finally paint this many grass blades in there? Did you spend like three hours just holding down the mouse button? The answer is no, I totally cheated, I went back to CS4 and painted the symbol set in and darn straight, that's what I did, no way I was suffering through this, and that is the only trick I can pass along to you right now.
Is if you still have Illustrator CS4 installed in your system or Illustrator CS3 or an older version of the software going back to when these tools were introduced, then they spray like crazy. Really great performance out of those versions of the program, it's just CS5 that has issues. Well, once you get a symbol set down however, then you can modify it using the symbolism tools, some of which work quite briskly, others not so fast, and we'll see how all of those tools function in the next exercise.
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