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Laying down a random symbol set

From: Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Advanced

Video: Laying down a random symbol set

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.

Laying down a random symbol set

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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This video is part of

Image for Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Advanced
Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Advanced

153 video lessons · 28086 viewers

Deke McClelland
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 38m 35s
    1. Welcome
      1m 48s
    2. Linking AI and EPS files to Illustrator
      6m 48s
    3. Installing the dekeKeys keyboard shortcuts
      7m 43s
    4. Remapping Mac OS shortcuts
      6m 56s
    5. Installing the Best Workflow color settings
      4m 54s
    6. The color settings explained
      7m 4s
    7. Preserve Numbers vs. embedded profiles
      3m 22s
  2. 1h 40m
    1. Converting pixels to vectors
      1m 2s
    2. Tracing an imported image
      6m 17s
    3. Other ways to trace
      3m 17s
    4. Raster and vector previews
      7m 2s
    5. Threshold, Min Area, and Max Colors
      5m 27s
    6. Tracing options: The raster functions
      8m 2s
    7. Using the Ignore White option
      5m 3s
    8. Tracing options: The vector functions
      6m 40s
    9. Expanding traced artwork
      5m 6s
    10. Sketching and drawing for Illustrator
      6m 24s
    11. Editing scanned line art
      9m 23s
    12. Adding contrast and color
      10m 32s
    13. Live Trace and resolution
      9m 8s
    14. Expanding and separating paths
      8m 43s
    15. Scaling and editing traced art
      8m 4s
  3. 1h 8m
    1. Gradients are good
      1m 15s
    2. Assigning a gradient fill
      6m 9s
    3. Using the gradient annotator
      7m 31s
    4. Editing multiple gradients
      4m 37s
    5. Establishing symmetrical gradients
      5m 28s
    6. Creating a radial gradient
      5m 46s
    7. Adjusting the midpoint skew
      3m 23s
    8. Mixing gradients with blend modes
      6m 11s
    9. Making a transparent gradient
      6m 42s
    10. Drop shadows and dynamic effects
      5m 58s
    11. Assigning a gradient to editable text
      5m 42s
    12. Editing text that includes dynamic effects
      2m 56s
    13. Assigning a gradient to a stroke
      6m 46s
  4. 1h 37m
    1. The earliest dynamic functions
      1m 10s
    2. The gradient-intensive illustration
      5m 26s
    3. Creating a multi-color blend
      7m 39s
    4. Establishing a clipping mask
      3m 34s
    5. Reinstating the mask colors
      9m 7s
    6. Editing blended paths
      6m 50s
    7. Adjusting the number of blended steps
      6m 49s
    8. Using the Blend tool
      4m 33s
    9. Blending between levels of opacity
      7m 32s
    10. Editing the path of the blend
      6m 22s
    11. Adding a custom path of the blend
      5m 4s
    12. Placing one mask inside another
      8m 33s
    13. Blending groups and adjusting the speed
      6m 1s
    14. Rotating objects in 3D space
      10m 21s
    15. Creating custom perspective guides
      8m 31s
  5. 1h 37m
    1. What was old is new again
      39s
    2. Introducing tile patterns
      6m 11s
    3. Determining the points of intersection
      6m 51s
    4. Extending paths from the intersections
      5m 40s
    5. Crafting symmetrical subpaths
      5m 38s
    6. The final flawed subpaths
      5m 52s
    7. Reconciling misaligned paths
      5m 34s
    8. Completing the core path outline
      6m 14s
    9. Making a symmetrical modification
      6m 47s
    10. Adjusting the interior elements
      8m 26s
    11. Coloring paths and testing the interlock
      9m 29s
    12. Establishing a rectangular tile
      6m 22s
    13. Defining a tile pattern
      3m 43s
    14. Creating a few color variations
      8m 50s
    15. Protecting patterns from transformations
      6m 9s
    16. Transforming patterns without paths
      5m 30s
  6. 1h 12m
    1. Filling and stroking virtual areas
      44s
    2. Introducing Live Paint
      7m 57s
    3. Stroking with the Live Paint Bucket tool
      5m 30s
    4. Using the Live Paint Selection tool
      7m 18s
    5. Adding a path to a Live Paint group
      4m 33s
    6. Building a classic Celtic knot
      8m 28s
    7. Constructing the base objects
      5m 31s
    8. Weaving one object into another
      6m 13s
    9. Creating a path that overlaps itself
      7m 15s
    10. Painting a path that overlaps itself
      5m 34s
    11. Creating knots inside knots
      5m 2s
    12. Adding gradients and depth
      8m 22s
  7. 1h 4m
    1. Dynamic effects and OpenType
      1m 12s
    2. Applying a dynamic effect to type
      5m 43s
    3. Creating a basic bevel effect
      4m 12s
    4. Building up a multi-stroke effect
      4m 49s
    5. Best practices for 3D type
      6m 34s
    6. Applying a "path wiggler" to type
      6m 14s
    7. Drop shadows and Raster Effects settings
      4m 52s
    8. Duplicating attributes and effects
      7m 8s
    9. Editing type with dynamic effects
      7m 27s
    10. Ligatures, swashes, ordinals, and fractions
      5m 45s
    11. Small caps and the Glyphs panel
      4m 25s
    12. Warping text and increasing resolution
      6m 9s
  8. 1h 44m
    1. A world of colors at your beck and call
      1m 32s
    2. Customizing a letterform to make a logo
      8m 37s
    3. Creating a custom drop shadow effect
      6m 26s
    4. Introducing the Color Guide panel
      9m 3s
    5. Harmonies and Color Guide settings
      5m 39s
    6. Lifting harmony rules from color groups
      7m 21s
    7. Harmony layouts and the Lab color wheel
      8m 15s
    8. Working inside the Edit Color dialog box
      6m 36s
    9. Limiting a color group to spot colors
      5m 47s
    10. Recoloring selected artwork
      5m 50s
    11. Recoloring with custom color groups
      6m 1s
    12. Swapping colors with the Color Bars feature
      5m 18s
    13. Using the options in the Assign panel
      8m 41s
    14. Moving color groups between documents
      7m 17s
    15. Distilling your artwork to one spot-color ink
      7m 45s
    16. Recoloring artwork that contains gradients
      4m 17s
  9. 1h 21m
    1. How symbols work
      1m 2s
    2. The power of symbols
      5m 1s
    3. Creating new symbols
      6m 0s
    4. Enabling the new 9-slice scaling
      4m 24s
    5. Adjusting your 9-slice scaling guides
      6m 54s
    6. Previewing and acquiring symbols
      4m 12s
    7. Finding a symbol and creating an instance
      4m 13s
    8. Duplicating and replacing instances
      4m 19s
    9. Breaking a symbol link and envelope fidelity
      5m 26s
    10. Distorting and expanding a symbol
      4m 54s
    11. Updating an existing symbol definition
      3m 40s
    12. Recoloring a symbol definition
      4m 13s
    13. Applying a basic "local" color adjustment
      5m 20s
    14. Applying a more elaborate local color adjustment
      5m 4s
    15. Laying down a random symbol set
      5m 35s
    16. The eight symbolism tools
      6m 55s
    17. Editing selected instances
      4m 11s
  10. 1h 32m
    1. Illustrator needs Photoshop
      1m 1s
    2. Two ways to place a pixel-based image
      6m 6s
    3. Working with linked images
      6m 6s
    4. Linking versus embedding
      9m 38s
    5. Stroking and blending an image
      6m 16s
    6. Adding a clipping mask and page curl
      6m 51s
    7. Creating a blended border effect
      7m 10s
    8. Rasterizing your artwork in Photoshop
      8m 0s
    9. Saving a flat raster file from Photoshop
      4m 58s
    10. Restoring cropped border elements
      5m 39s
    11. Copying and pasting into Photoshop
      6m 27s
    12. Working with Photoshop Smart Objects
      5m 26s
    13. Adding a pixel-based layer effect
      4m 12s
    14. Editing a Vector Smart Object in Illustrator
      7m 20s
    15. Creating and placing a transparent image
      7m 1s
  11. 1h 15m
    1. The many forms of transparency
      1m 29s
    2. Real-world blending modes
      7m 57s
    3. Exporting transparency from Illustrator
      6m 24s
    4. Opacity and blending modes
      6m 18s
    5. The Darken and Lighten modes
      7m 17s
    6. The Contrast, Inversion, and HSL modes
      6m 12s
    7. Blending modes in action
      5m 11s
    8. Creating a knockout group
      6m 14s
    9. Confirming the viability of your artwork
      6m 8s
    10. Introducing the opacity mask
      4m 6s
    11. Making an opacity mask
      5m 25s
    12. Drawing inside an opacity mask
      3m 34s
    13. Creating a gradient opacity mask
      5m 29s
    14. Adding an opacity mask to a single object
      3m 22s
  12. 1m 13s
    1. Until next time
      1m 13s

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