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Knowing the fundamentals of drawing and reshaping paths is only part of the story. In Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Advanced, the second of the popular One-on-One series, computer graphics expert Deke McClelland covers some of Illustrator's most powerful and least understood features. He shows how to merge simple shapes to create complex ones with the Pathfinder palette, as well as align paths to create schematic illustrations. Deke explains how to paint fluid, multicolor fills with blends, and the new and improved gradient tool. He explores seamlessly repeating tile patterns, blobs and brushes, and imported images. He also dives into one of the deepest features in all of Illustrator, transparency. Exercise files accompany the tutorial.
Recommended prerequisite: Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals.
Download Deke's customized keyboard layouts and color settings for Illustrator from the Exercise Files tab.
Now although Brush tool can be a pretty amazing tool for creating and manipulating artwork inside of Illustrator. It can be a wee bit frustrating as well. And when I say a wee bit, I mean exceedingly clench your fist, beat your head against the monitor, frustrating. At least for me personally, but I might have anger issues. But still there are ways to make the tool behave and I'm going to show those ways inside of this exercise as well as a few ways to edit the paths traditionally. I have gone ahead and made some changes to my artwork and I have saved those changes as Further edits.ai and I'm going to click on this hair because I want to change it a little bit. Right now, it looks a bit too much like a mullet, so I'll press the B key to switch to the Paintbrush tool here and I'm going to drag from this anchor point up and over to this anchor point like so and release, and that completely changed the direction of the path.
Now that is not the maddening problem that I wanted to show you. That wasn't supposed to happen, so press Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on the Mac. Basically, Illustrator has a lot of issues. We are determining exactly what portion of the artwork you want to modify are concerned, and you usually can help it by painting along the existing lines like so. But now this is a problem I wanted. I went ahead and paint it from corner to corner and when you release on a corner point, sometimes and you never know, but often times what it does is it goes ahead and wipes out that corner and replaces it with a loop like this and that's not what we want. So I'll press Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on the Mac to try again and I'm going to drag from this location like so and then I'll release right there on the segment instead of on the point. And that gives me more of the ripple that I was looking for.
Okay, now let's say that I really want to calm down the hair in this region right there because Eunice is not a part of a 80s hair band. We want some nice, just flowing lovely hair and so I want to repaint this entire area going down to this location. The trick is to make sure that you begin painting along a segment and you end painting along a segment. That's when it's going to work out the best. Now what's going to happen is anyone's guess. As I start painting along this region here but if I paint like so, along an existing segment and then I'm taken off doing my own things for a little bit and then I come back to an anchor point and release. This is what ends up happening. You just completely get rid of all that extra stuff that you liked at the end of the path outline and so when you release on an anchor point, danger is basically what you should feel.
So releasing on an anchor point is almost never a good idea where painting is concerned. I'll go ahead and press Ctrl +Z, Command+Z on the Mac to undo that modification. The better thing to do is start off along this existing segment, paint as you like, like so, and then comeback to the existing segment and then release and that worked. Nice! And if you have problems with wiping out the beginning of the path, which can happen oh-so-often, then just try again. Undo and try painting along that existing segment once again.
All right, I'm going to switch to the Black Arrow tool by pressing the V key and I'm going to click on this path right there. This is another wonderful thing that can happen. I'll press the B key to get my Brush tool. I'm still working with my Wacom tablet by the way, and I'll start dragging from that anchor point, also a bad idea by the way, and I'll drag upwards like so and release and of course, Illustrator naturally thinks, "Oh, I know what you want to do." Wipe out everything you have done and redraw it. That makes sense! So go ahead and press Ctrl+Z, Command+ Z on the Mac, because it most certainly does not make sense but that's what it does. Now what you need to do to solve that problem is begin dragging over that segment once again and then continue it like so and you end up getting much better results.
All right, yet another problem that you might run into is you have got a path selected, you are just not paying all that much attention, you start dragging from here. Notice I'm not that close to the path. I have got several pixels between me and that path and I just drag straight down or something and I completely wipe out that other path because I was close enough to the selected path that Illustrator thought I wanted to manipulate it. Now if you end up having those sorts of problems, obviously, Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on the Mac to undo, then go over to the Paintbrush tool icon in the toolbox, double-click on it and that brings up the Paintbrush tool options dialog box.
Now make sure that Keep Selected is tuned-off. That way, when you are painting a bunch of brush strokes into an illustration, they don't remain selected and you don't run the risk of accidentally harming them. So Keep Selected should stay off. Edit Selected Paths should stay on because otherwise, you are going to edit deselected paths inside the illustration and that would be an unmitigated disaster in my experience but within 12 pixels. 12 pixels really honestly? I don't think so. I think, we can be more careful than that. So I'm going to reduce that value to 5 pixels, press Tab, it's going to update, click OK and now if I go ahead and start dragging it at this location here, then I keep the former path and I just add to it.
I will tell you, there is no reason you have to edit your paths with the Paintbrush tool, just because you drew with the Paintbrush tool, doesn't mean you have to edit them with the Paintbrush tool. You can use the White Arrow tool and the Pen tool, if you like. So for example, I could grab this point and drag it upward, I could modify my control handles if I want to. This is all okie-dokie by Illustrator and it won't harm a darn thing. What can end-up harming things is if you decide to delete an end-point. So just know that can cause problems. It doesn't always but it can cause problems. You may lop-off a nice tapered end. In our case, I think it works just fine with this main but in other cases, I have seen it go wrong. Yeah, this time it worked out okay, so that's nice. I'll go ahead and press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z, though because I want that end-point.
What if you want to delete an interior point like this one right there? Well, don't just delete it because then you are going to buzz the path under two paths and then joining it back together can cause problems. So instead, just go ahead and grab your Pen tool right there and then hover that point, you will get the little minus sign next to the Pen tool cursor and click in order to make it go away. So as long as you are careful with your modifications, you should be able to retain all that good pressure sensitive and otherwise painterly information in that path outline.
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