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Illustrator Insider Training: Rethinking the Essentials is the first installment in a series of courses designed to show experienced Illustrator users to how master core features and build art more efficiently. Adobe Illustrator has evolved dramatically over the years, and many creative professionals may be missing out on features that have been added to the latest versions. This course takes a fresh approach to core concepts, such as paths, attributes, object hierarchy, groups, and layers. Advanced techniques such as combining multiple effects and customizing textures are also included. Exercise files and a free worksheet are included with the course.
When we covered the concept of different attributes inside of Illustrator--for example, fills and strokes--we also spoke about something called effects. Effects, or Live Effects as they are called inside of Illustrator, allow us to modify the appearance of individual attributes. Now, if we think about it, opacity is like one kind of an effect, meaning that I have the ability to take a fill and change the appearance of that fill by applying some kind of opacity or blend mode. However, in this case, I want to introduce the entire menu of effects. You'll find them over here in the Effect menu.
And these are all different things that you can apply to an object, or actually you're applying them to a specific attribute, in order to modify that attribute. But it's important to realize that this effect that you'll be applying will only be changing the actual presentation of your graphic. Even though it may look like your artwork changes completely in the way that it looks, that change itself will not change or affect the structure itself. Now, in addition to being able to actually apply effects from the Effect menu, you'll also find that at the bottom of the Appearance panel is the fx icon, and you can actually duplicate or find that entire menu right here as well.
Now one other thing that's important to realize about effects is that all the rules and things that we've already discussed until now-- things like stacking order and targeting--also apply to effects. So let's apply some of these effects and see how they work. I am going to start by selecting this object here on my artboard. And if you look at my Appearance panel now, it says that my path is targeted. I see the fill and stroke information. I'll come down to the fx icon right here, and I'll choose, let's say, Stylize and then Drop Shadow. Let's add a quick little drop shadow to our object here.
I am going to click OK to just take the default settings, and you can now see that my object as a whole gets a drop shadow on it. If we take a closer look at our Appearance panel now, we'll actually see that the effect is listed inside of the Appearance panel. Not only is it listed, it's also put in the specific order about where it appears. It really won't make sense to have the drop shadow appear at the top of my stacking order because then my drop shadow would be blocking or obscuring the view of my artwork. So Illustrator first puts the drop shadow beneath all the artwork, and then it paints the fill and then the stroke.
However, if I press Command+Z to undo that action, and I first target, for example, just the stroke itself, now only my stroke is targeted. If I go to the Effect icon here and I choose Stylize > Drop Shadow, I will now be applying a drop shadow specifically to the stroke. Notice over here that the stroke itself has a drop shadow. The fill of this object doesn't have a drop shadow at all. In fact, if I click on the twirl-down of the stroke, you'll see that the drop shadow now appears only for the stroke and is not applied to the fill at all.
Now one important thing to note about working with the Appearance panel is that when these effects, which again modify the appearance of any kind of attribute--meaning a fill or stroke--I can easily move that around within the Appearance panel. So if I decide at this point, you know what, I really want the drop shadow to apply to just the fill, I can just take the drop shadow and drag it inside the fill. You see that when I bring my icon, and I'm dragging it down and I touch the fill, the two black arrows appear on the left and right side of that fill. When I release the mouse, you'll now see that the drop shadow has been applied only to the fill but not to the stroke.
Likewise, if I take that same drop shadow and I continue dragging it down outside of the fill, you can see now that that drop shadow gets applied to the entire object, both the fill and the stroke. So it's not being applied specifically to just one of those attributes. One of the nice things that Adobe has added recently--in CS4, they did this--by adding the little eyeballs over here inside the Appearance panel, I could temporarily see what my artwork looks like without the drop shadow by just turning off the eyeball. The benefit of this is that I don't have to actually remove the drop shadow, which may have specific settings applied to it, in order to see what my artwork looks like without it, and then reapply it again.
I could simply turn that eyeball back on and then see exactly what that artwork looks like with the drop shadow, or basically, reinstate the drop shadow. Now if I decide at any point that I don't want the drop shadow at all, I could take it and I can drag it right into the Trash icon, and it's no longer there. Now, I want to take a moment here to explain why exactly the feature is called Live Effects. I'll actually click over here on Path and make sure that my entire path is targeted, and let's go back to the Effect menu this time. And I'll choose something like, for example, Distort & Transform, and something called Roughen.
This is an effect that you can actually apply to your artwork to make it appear as if the path itself kind of has jagged edges to it. I am going to click on the Preview button, so we see what it looks like. That's a little bit extreme. So I'll change the Size down to about 2%, and the detail to about maybe 2 per inch. Now, I'll click OK, and I'll see what that artwork looks like with this Roughen effect applied to it. However, I'm actually going to go up to the View menu and toggle the Outline mode-- Command+Y on a Mac, or Ctrl+Y on PC. And that allows me to see the underlying structure, or the path of my artwork.
Notice that that path has not been changed. The Roughen effect did not modify any of the anchor points or control handles of my artwork. The only thing that Roughen did was change the way that that artwork appears. It changed the presentation. So if I go back--I am going to press Command+Y again to go back now to Preview mode-- I'll see how that effect changes the appearance of my artwork. Now, the reason why this effect is called Live is for two reasons: First of all, at any point in time if I were to take let's say my Direct Selection tool, select one of these anchor points, and actually move the anchor point--meaning change the underlying structure of my artwork--the appearance of that artwork, including the effect, will update accordingly to match that change.
Let me press Undo to go back to the original shape. Another reason why this is called a Live Effect, if I select entire object here, is that I can actually click on the word "Roughen" inside of the Appearance panel to bring up the dialog box and make it change or modify the settings of that effect. So the effect is always live because I could always continue to make adjustments to it later on. This is an incredible timesaver. Imagine if you actually created some kind of a roughen effect, you sent your job to a client for approval, and he tell you, "You know what? It's not rough enough." You want it to look a little bit more rough.
You'd have to redo your artwork all over again. Well, if you use Live Effects, all you need to do is come back to the Appearance panel, click on the Roughen effect itself, and make a change. Let's go to maybe 4% for the Size, and click OK. And now we've made an adjustment to our appearance without having to worry about what the underlying structure is. Again, I have the ability to apply that effect, that Roughen effect, to adjust the stroke or adjust the fill. Or if I had multiple fills or multiple strokes, I can apply different Roughen effects to different strokes or fills of my object.
Now in these examples, all we've done is applied things like a drop shadow or a Roughen effect. But remember, the Effect panel itself is filled with many different settings. We're going to get to a lot of them throughout the entire course. However, the benefits of the Appearance panel should now be clear. It's a lot easier to make changes to the presentation of your artwork than it is to make changes to the structure of your artwork, and all that power is encompassed directly here inside of the Appearance panel.
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