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Adobe Illustrator has long been a popular vector–based drawing program, but for many the learning curve is steep. In Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals, author and leading industry expert Deke McClelland shows users how to get in to the Illustrator mindset and overcome this learning curve. He covers the application's key features in a new way, making it simple and easy to master Illustrator. Deke teaches viewers how to use the core drawing and shape tools, the transformation and reshaping features, text, and the Pen tool. He also explains how to export and print. Even if learning Illustrator has been a struggle in the past, this training can help make sense of it. Exercise files accompany the course.
In this exercise, I'm going to show you how to turn a vector drawing into a tracing template. Now, the conventional way to approach tracing templates is to go to the layer that contains the objects, double click on it, and you will see right there inside the Layer Options dialog box, I can turn on Template, and I can say Dim Images to let's say 30%, something pretty dim, so that they are grayed out in the background, and then I'll click OK. Problem is it doesn't work. It does show that this is a template and it locks it down, it gives you this little Template icon right there. But the reason it's not giving us the desired effect of dimming back the graphic so that we can distinguish, for example, these draw Here lines from the ones that we are tracing, the reason it doesn't work is because that whole template notion is designed to suit imported images, so the reasoning goes.
You would sketch out your idea on a piece of paper, scan it or take a digital photograph of it with your iPhone or something even, and then go ahead and import that image into Illustrator, and then make it a template. We will see that approach in a later chapter. But if you are trying to create a vector template, like we are doing here for the sake of learning, then that's not the right approach. So I'm going to press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on a Mac to undo that modification. You can see we are back to a standard layer without italics. It doesn't look any different inside the illustration window of course.
Here's what we are going to do instead. We are going to target the layer. You target a layer by clicking on this little circle right there. Notice it says click to target, drag to Move appearance. By which it means you can drag Appearance attributes from the Appearance palette, you can drag those around. But we are most concerned about clicking into target. Now, this little guy, you can think of him, this circle as being the target, or you can think of it as being the meatball. That's what they call it internally at Adobe is the meatball. So I just end up turning it into a verb in everything. I say meatball it. So just go ahead and click there in order to meatball the whole layer so the darn thing is selected. It is now targeted, so any modifications we apply are going to be applied to the entire layer.
Now I'm going to go up to the Control palette. Notice there is this option right there, Opacity. I'm going to select the Opacity value and change it to 25%, press the Enter key or the Return key on a Mac, and I have now turned this into a dimmed layer. The amazing thing about this is anything I add to this layer is now going to be translucent. So if I were to grab the Rectangle tool while this layer is active, and I'll go ahead and switch the Fill and Stroke attributes here by clicking this little Switch Icon, the Swap icon, if you will, down here at the bottom of the toolbox, and that's going to make, oh, everything black, I still have things selected. That's not such a good idea. Let's go ahead and undo that modification.
I am going to go up to the Select menu and choose Deselect, which is Ctrl+Shift+A, Command+Shift+A on a Mac. Definitely a good keyboard shortcut to remember. So all is Ctrl+A, Command+A. For the opposite effect, you add the Shift key. All right. I'll deselect everything. Now I'll go down to this little icon, click on it, that swaps the Fill and Stroke, and then if I draw a square, notice it comes in gray, because its subject to the Opacity which is applied to the entire layer. All right. So I just want to make it clear, that's a layer wide attribute; I'll go ahead and press Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on a Mac to undo that modification.
Now, let's just go ahead and lock down that layer by clicking in the Lock column, then turn on the Draw here Layer, click on the Draw here layer to make it active, and we now have an illustration that has a tracing template. We are then going to go ahead and trace what we are seeing as gray objects using the Simple Line tools up here, starting in the next exercise.
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