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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 how to merge multiple strokes using a compound path. So I've gone ahead and saved my progress so far as a document called Rectangles abound.ai found inside the 10_select_enhance folder. So-called because we have all of our rounded rectangles, they do abound inside in this document. Notice what we have is sort of this effect where we're starting with this square and it becomes progressively more rounded until it turns into a circle, which is the way rounded rectangles work. They will ultimately become circles once the roundness takes them over.
Now we have got this outer square and this inner circle right here. They intersect each other both with a black stroke and with the white stroke. Somehow the black stroke doesn't interrupt the white stroke at this location. So how did we pull that off? Well, what I would like you to do is go ahead and turn on the All objects layer in order to bring up our layer in progress here. Turn off the Guides layer just to get that that out of your face, because you don't need that anymore. Now we do have a big rectangle back here but it's hard to get to. You can see it just barely if you look down here in this lower right corner or any of the corners, actually, you can see a little bit of this stroke thickness. So there is this black rectangle that we need to bring to the front here, but if you try to click on it, you are going to end up getting this big group right here that includes the two versions of the circle and also this outer brown rectangle as well as the translucent star.
So I want to move back there, I want to actually select the object below right at this location. Now if you go up to the Select menu and you choose the Next Object Below, you will go to the very next object below, which is that last rounded rectangle we just drew in a previous exercise. That's not what you want. So instead what you do is you click here in order to select that object once again and then you right-click at this location where this other object is. It's right back there someplace. You right-click right there or if you don't have a right mouse button on the Mac, you press the Ctrl key and click. Then you choose Select and you say Next Object Below.
Because this specific variation of the command is click-sensitive, it will say oh, you mean this one right there. That is what we want. All right. Now go ahead and press Ctrl+Shift+Right bracket or Command+Shift+Right bracket on the Mac to bring it all the way to front. It is filled of course, which is a problem, so that fill is covering everything up. Make sure your fill is active here in the toolbox, which it is for me and then you can press the Slash key in order to make that fill transparent. Now we can see everything that we need to see. All right. I want to select both, this big square here and the circle. So I'll Shift-click. The problem is that circle, of course, is part of the big group that we were working on earlier. So we need to extract that circle from the group and the easiest way to do that is to just grab it with the White Arrow tool, or you know what, why don't we take advantage of a different way here? Let's go ahead and twirl open All objects inside of the Layers palette, then twirl open front objects, this guy right there.
There is our circle, so just drag it out, actually, make sure that nothing is selected. Let's press Ctrl+Shift+A, Command+Shift+A on the Mac just to be cautious, and then just go ahead and drag this circle up and out of the group below the square like so. Now it's no longer part of the group so that's another way to extract objects from groups inside of Illustrator. I was going to do a Cut and Paste in front, but this is better. All right. So I'll go ahead and twirl close that group. Now meatball the circle and Shift+meatball the square so that the two are selected or you could just select them out here in a larger illustration window if you prefer.
Now what I want to do is I want to give these two shapes a second stroke. So I'm going to go over to the Appearance palette and miracles of miracles. If you have been using Illustrator for any period of time, remember that in the old days, the Appearance palette would have told us that we have mixed appearances. Even though the paths share a 6 point black stroke and no fill and there is nothing different about these two paths. Because they were filled and stroked at different times, the Appearance palette had no idea of what was going on. This has been fixed inside of Illustrator CS4 thankfully, because it makes a huge difference.
We can now see that both of these two objects here are actually the same. So it is capable of comparing things. So we can see that we have one stroke, one black 6-point stroke assigned to both of these guys. I'm going to go ahead and add a stroke by clicking on this Add New Stroke button down here at the bottom of the dialog box. That will add another 6 point black stroke just because it always duplicates what it found as already being evident inside of these shapes. I'm going to change the stroke color here, the top one, to white and let's go ahead and change that stroke weight right there to 3 points and see how that looks.
That looks great. The problem is-- I'll press Ctrl+H, Command+H on the Mac-- notice that the square is covering up the circle, so that those white strokes do not intersect each other the way I want them to. It's white stroke with black stroke in back of it, and then another white stroke with a black stroke in back of it. So the black stroke is interrupting the white circular stroke right there. That's a bad thing and it happens four times, actually eight times really, that the stroke is getting interrupted here, here, here, here and so on. I'm not going to point to every single one of them because you just hear me say here a lot.
Anyway, both shapes are selected. It thinks these are two paths right now, so it's stroking them independently. We need to tell Illustrator, no, they are one path. Treat them as if they are one big weird path. You do that by going up to the Object menu, choosing Compound Path and saying Make. I realize this is an odd command, but this is how it works. You are going to take two paths, combine them into one. It could be several paths. Doesn't have to just be two; it could be many. Combine them into one and then they will be stroked as one unit. You can see that we have got a keyboard shortcut of Ctrl+8, Command+8 on the Mac which itself is a compound path and 8 is a compound path because it has holes that are being cut into the larger, sort of, snowman shape of the 8.
Anyway, more about that later when we talk about compound paths, but for now just go ahead and choose this weird command and lo and behold it does exactly what we wanted it to do. They are now one path. If I go to the Layers palette, I'll see that there is no longer a path called Square and a path called Circle. So if press Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on the Mac, you can see we have got Square, we have got Circle. Then if I press Ctrl+ Shift+C or Command+Shift+C on the Mac, we have got this one thing that is called Compound Path and it's the merged version of the two. As a result, we have this nice intersecting right there, this merging that is, of the two white strokes and in the back of that we have two merged black strokes. That's what you can accomplish by combining strokes with compound paths here inside of Illustrator.
In the next exercise we are going to begin to build the lace pattern from the circles. Join me please!
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