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In Illustrator CS5 Essential Training, author Mordy Golding explains the core concepts and techniques that apply to any workflow in Illustrator, whether designing for print, the web, or assets for other applications. This course includes a detailed explanation of the elements that make up vector graphics—paths, strokes, and fills—and shows how to use each of the Illustrator drawing tools. Also demonstrated are techniques for combining and cleaning up paths, organizing paths into groups and layers, text editing, working with color, effects, and much more. Exercise files accompany the course.
In the previous chapter we spent some time going over the user interface inside of Illustrator. Now in this chapter we are going to focus on learning to get around the document itself. I have this file open right now and it has several artboards inside of it. On a day-to-day basis you will be moving around your document. Even if it has only one artboard, you are going to move around between different parts of your artwork. There are two main tools inside of Illustrator that are used to move around in your document. They are located here in the bottom of the toolbar. One is called the Hand tool and one is called the Zoom tool.
The Hand tool allows you to simply grab any area of the entire canvas itself and move it around. It is as if you're moving the furniture in your room, your entire desk, and everything is on that desk simply moves around with it. For example, if you really wanted to focus on working with this one flower, you might position this towards the center of your screen. You notice that when you move this around, the little sliders that appear on the bottom and the right side of your screen also are adjusted as well. You can grab on these icons called thumbs and actually move them around as well to go either vertically or horizontally and navigate within your document that way as well.
So you can see that you would use the Hand tool a lot on a day-to-day basis in Illustrator. The other tool is the Zoom tool. I'll choose that tool right here. When you click in an area, you see this little plus sign inside of the Magnifying Glass icon. It will zoom in on that area. So you might use a combination of these tools. If you wanted to zoom in on working on this one flower, you might zoom in on it over here and then use the Hand tool to make sure that it appears in the right place that you want on your screen. Clicking with the Magnifying Glass tool is called Zooming In.
But if I switch back to the Magnifying Glass for a moment, you see that I have the plus sign there. That means it will zoom in. There may be times that you want to zoom out or see more of your document. Pressing the Option key on Mac or Alt on Windows turns the plus sign into a minus sign. When you click again it zooms out. An interesting thing about the Zoom tool is that it has something called a Marquee Zoom setting. For example, if you wanted to zoom in on a specific area in your document, you can create a marquee area around that object using the Zoom tool and then zoom in on that specific area.
If I wanted to focus on this area where it says "Get Well Soon," I could click and then drag to draw a rectangle or a marquee around that one little area and upon releasing the mouse, I will zoom in on just that one area. So it is obvious that the Hand tool and the Zoom tool are both valuable inside of Illustrator, which is why I will tell you, never use them. Why? For a couple of reasons. First of all, as we are about to find out there are many other ways to navigate around inside of your document. More importantly, constantly switching between your content creation tools and these Hand and Zoom tools can really take you out of the flow and context of your design.
So the key here is going to be learning about how to use keyboard shortcuts. Let's take a look at how this works. I am going to switch here back to my Selection tool and say I am working on this artwork right here. Notice I can click on this shape right here to select it. We will talk more about selections in our next chapter. But if I wanted to zoom in for example on this W right here, rather than switch to my Zoom tool I will simply leave my cursor here and on my keyboard press Command+Spacebar. If you are on Windows that would be Ctrl+Spacebar. While you are holding those two keys down, you will see that your tool temporarily changes to the Zoom tool.
Upon releasing the keys my tool goes back to the Selection tool. So if I really want to work on this one W here, what I might do is press Command+Spacebar. It switches to the Zoom tool. I will then draw a marquee around the W, release the mouse and then release the keys on my keyboard. If I wanted to zoom out a little bit, I simply would add the Option or the Alt key to that keyboard shortcut. For example I will press Command+Spacebar. You will see now that I have the Zoom tool selected. I am now going to add the Option key or the Alt key on Windows and now you can see the minus sign there.
Now when I click, it will actually zoom out so I could see more of the artwork. Now let's say I wanted to focus more on the word Get. Well, I can't really see the G on my screen just now. I would need to adjust my canvas so that I can see more of my work. The last thing that I want to do is start coming down to these scrollbars and making adjustments. I also don't want to specifically choose the Hand tool. The keyboard shortcut to access the Hand tool temporarily is to press the Spacebar on your keyboard. So I am holding the Spacebar down. You see that my tool has changed now to the Hand tool.
I will now go ahead and click and drag so that I can see the G on my screen and now I'll simply release the mouse and the Spacebar on my keyboard to return back my Selection tool. But there are several commands inside of Illustrator that will really let me look at my entire document as a whole. Let's take a look at some of the settings that are available in the View menu. First of all we have seen these Zoom In and Zoom Out settings. The keyboard shortcuts here are Command+ Plus and Command+Minus or Ctrl+Plus or Ctrl+Minus on Windows. But I also have a setting here called Fit Artboard in Window. Command+0.
That's probably one of the most often use keyboard shortcuts inside of Illustrator. If I choose that option you will see that my entire artboard now fits inside of my window. Now I do have other artboards in my document. But right now, Illustrator is filling this one artboard to my entire screen. If I wanted to see all of my artboards, what I would do is I would go back to the View menu and I would choose Fit All in Window. And doing so, I now see all of my artboards. How does Illustrator know which artboard I am working on to focus in on just that one artboard? The answer is that Illustrator has a concept of something called an active artboard.
Take a look at all of my artboards right now. They all have light gray borders around them. However this one artboard has a black border around it. That indicates that this artboard is currently the active artboard. How do you choose which artboard becomes the active artboard? Well, Illustrator does so automatically based on how you work. Anytime that you click on a piece of artwork that's in an artboard, Illustrator automatically makes that artboard the active artboard. For example, if I wanted to work on this flower down over here, simply by clicking anywhere on the art or even on the artboard itself would now make this the active artboard.
Now if I were to go back to the View menu and choose Fit Artboard in Window, this artboard with the flower would fill my screen. So that's the main difference between these two settings here, Fit Artboard in Window and Fit All in Window. There's another setting here called Actual Size, which will display your artwork at 100%. It can be somewhat confusing. Don't think that actual size means that's the size it is actually going to print at. That depends on other variables, for example, the resolution of your monitor. In this case actual size just means 100%. Speaking of different zoom percentages, you will notice in the lower left-hand corner of your screen is a value here that says 100%.
This is actually a pop-up setting where you can click on this and choose to view your artwork at different values. If I wanted to work really close on this artwork, I can zoom in as much as 6400%. Once again here I will press Command+0 to fit this artboard on my window. This is the active artboard. Let's talk a little bit more about artboards though because we will be navigating between different artboards all the time. This document has five artboards inside of it. If I click on this pop-up right here, I'll see a list of all my five artboards and the artboard names and I could jump to any of those artboards by simply selecting them from this list.
For example, if I wanted to work on the branding elements, I can simply go here to the first artboard, Branding. Illustrator does two things. First of all it enlarges that artboard to fill my screen and it makes this artboard now currently the active artboard. I can also use these little arrows down here to step between each artboard. However, I think a more intuitive way to move between artboards is to use the new Artboards panel. This is new to Illustrator CS5. I will go ahead and I will open it right over here. It is on this side of the screen. You can see now a list of all my artboards.
If I double-click of any of these artboards, Illustrator will make that artboard the active artboard and center it on my screen. Finally, there is one other panel inside of Illustrator called the Navigator panel. Let me close the Artboards panel here, go over to my Window menu and choose Navigator. This is a panel here that gives me a little preview of my entire canvas. The highlighted area refers to when it is currently visible on my screen. I can click on this little highlighted area and move it around to view different parts of my document. For example, if I wanted to focus on the part of the flower I can go right over here.
I can also use the slider to zoom in on those areas or to zoom out as well. While the Navigator panel is nice in concept, I don't rely on it as much because it is so much easy to navigate your document once you learn how to use the keyboard shortcuts. So let's take a moment to review that. Remember that right now there is an active artboard. If I wanted to go and zoom in and work on that one artboard, I would press Command+0 on my keyboard and focus on that one artboard. Command+Minus will zoom out, Command+Plus will zoom in, pressing the Spacebar will change to the Hand tool, so I can move this artwork around and Command+Spacebar will let me zoom in on a piece of artwork.
Command+Option+0 will go ahead and fill all of my artboards in my view and clicking on any artboard turns that artboard into the active artboard. So that once again pressing Command+0 fills that artboard in view. When you get started using Illustrator, it is really important to become familiar with these settings and even though it may be a little bit slow at first, force yourself to learn these keyboard shortcuts. Before you know it, they will become second nature and your brain will be focusing on how to create your artwork and less about how to get around your document.
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