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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.
In this exercise, I'm going to show you the difference between the Minus Front and Minus Back operations in Illustrator. I'm still working inside the Primitives.ai file. This time around, what I want to do is I want to go ahead and unite these little highlight wedges right here with the eye paths. So we have sort of those cartoon Mickey Mouse eyes. I'm going to do that by clicking on the wedge path and then Shift-clicking on the elliptical path there with my Black Arrow tool. Then I'll go over to my Pathfinder palette. I want to go ahead and combine these two paths permanently.
So I'll just go ahead and click on this icon right there. It used to be called Subtract, now it's called Minus Front. So just click on it in order to cut the wedge out of the ellipse, so much easier than trying to draw this path from scratch using the Pen tool. All right, now let's go ahead and do the same thing with these two paths right there. So click on one, Shift-click on the other with the Black Arrow tool and then click once again on what was formerly called the Subtract mode, now called Minus Front, and this is why it's called Minus Front is because it subtracts the front shape from the rear shape.
So in our case, I'll go ahead and press Ctrl+Z, the ellipse must have been in front of the wedge and that's what caused our problem. What if we want to subtract the rear shape, which happens to be the wedge from the front shape? Why then we switched to this last mode right there, Minus Back? Now is it located in a completely different position? Well, because, it is incapable of being applied as a dynamic operation. You can't create a compound shape with this option, and otherwise, I think, Adobe just figured this was the best place to put it.
So anyway, it does happen to be the opposite of this guy right there. So there is Minus Front. If it doesn't work, if you get the wrong effect, then try this guy, Minus Back, and you'll get the right effect as we're seeing there. In the next exercise, I'm going to show you how to use the Subtract mode, Minus Front, if you will, to create donuts, and I'll tell you what that means.
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