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Illustrator can be used to accomplish many different design tasks. For this reason, Illustrator CS4 Essential Training teaches core concepts and techniques that can be applied to any workflow for print, the web, or assets that will find their way into other applications. Mordy Golding explains the elements that make up vector graphics—paths, strokes, and fills—and shows how to use each of Illustrator's drawing tools. He demonstrates how to combine and clean up paths, and organize them into groups and layers. Mordy also covers text editing, working with color, expressive brush drawing, effects, and much more. Exercise files accompany the course.
So we have a very basic understanding of what appearances are, what groups and layers are, and how they all interact with each other, and it's really important to kind of, bring them all together and understand how, when you create a document, each of these can offer individual benefits, especially when they are all used together. It's extremely important, when working with artwork that other people have created, to understand how those documents were created. And in fact, the Layers panel can help you reverse engineer better than any other file. This becomes extremely important when people start applying appearances at the object, group, and even layer level. Let's take a closer look.
I have three surfboards here in this particular file, the file called object_group_layer, and you can find this in Chapter 09 of the exercise files. I'm going to go to this first particular shape right here and click on it. In fact, I make sure that I have my Appearance panel open, and let's bring that up to the top of the screen here. I'm also going to go ahead and open up my Layers panel, so that we can see that as well. In fact, I'll attach them both together, so that we can get a really good idea of how both of these particular panels look, and how we can use them when we start exploring our particular files. Again I'll select the first surfboard on the left here. What's my target here? My target is my Path. So I'm going to go ahead right now, and take the particular path and apply a color. Let's go ahead and say for the Fill color, we are going to use -- oh yeah, you guessed it, yellow. So now I'm going to take the second one that's right here, and I'm actually going to take a single shape, go to the Object menu, and choose Group. You can actually create a group inside of Illustrator even with one object. Remember that a group itself, even though it's a concept of basically putting objects together, but remember that a group is very much like a plate. So I can create a plate, and only put one element on top of it. So what I have done right now, is I have created a group that contains only one element. If you look at the Layers panel right here, I see that created group, and there is only one path inside of that group. In fact, you can either take this particular group and drag stuff right out of it, and now the group disappears. Let me go ahead and press Command+Z right now, but I now have my group with my path inside of it, and rather than actually click on this particular right now, take a look at my Appearance panel.
I don't have my path targeted. I actually have the group targeted. Remember Illustrator uses something called Smart Targeting. Whenever you select a group, Illustrator targets the group thinking that whatever you want to apply to that group, should get applied to the group overall, and not to the actual individual objects within that group. So now if I go ahead, and I choose from the Appearance panel to add a new Fill, I can choose that that particular fill should be yellow. Now even though these visually look like they are the same, this particular object has a single path that has a fill in it. This one has now a group, and that group has an appearance, the object inside of the group does not have one. In fact, if I go ahead and I just target the group specifically, you can see that the fill here is actually white with a black stroke. We can actually clear the appearance completely of that object, and then we see now that particular group itself over here, now has just filled yellow on its own. We can even click on this right now, again, Illustrator smart targets the group automatically, and change the stroke of this to be black if we wanted to.
So now we have two objects that look visually the same. This one is a path that has a yellow fill and a black stroke. This is a path that lives inside of a group that has a yellow fill and a black stroke. I can even go one step further. Let's go and create a brand new layer; layer 2. Take this object and drag it into that particular layer. Now that particular object is living inside of layer 2. I can now take my Layers panel and click on the little targets over right here, and target the layer manually. I'm going to open up the Layer panel here. You see the path? The path is not targeted right now. Even though it looks like I have the path selected on my screen, my target, which is the word in bold here, is my layer. Yes, inside of Illustrator, it's possible to apply attributes, not only to individual objects and groups, but also to overall layers. So I can now, for example, choose to add a new fill or a new stroke to the actual layer itself. So now the layer has a fill of yellow.
Now why would I want to do this? There are certain, maybe attributes that I can apply at the layer level. For example, a stroke, which should mean that all objects that I put on the layer have a stroke, or maybe for example, I want to add drop shadows to everything on a certain layer. For example, I'll press Undo right now, twice, just to go back to my layer being targeted, and what I'll do now, is I'll go to the Effect menu and choose to apply Drop Shadow, but because my layer is my target right now, the drop shadow goes on the layer. This is actually pretty cool, because it means that I can take this shape, which is a regular plain path, which is now living inside of layer 1 and I could drag that particular path into layer 2. In doing so, it now takes on the drop shadow because it now is living inside of a layer where all objects on that layer has got a drop shadow, and by dragging that particular object back into layer 1, it now loses that particular drop shadow, because it's no longer in that layer.
I can now individually apply objects to paths, to groups and even to layers as well. In fact, let me show you how Illustrator helps you out here, because in some cases you can really get yourself into some trouble. For example, I'm going to go ahead over here, and create a brand new layer in my document. I now have layer 3, which I'll bring to the top of my hierarchy. Let's go ahead and collapse these layers here, and I'm actually going to hide these layers. So now I have layer 3. I'm going to create just a regular rectangle here. This rectangle right now has a yellow fill, and a black stroke. I'm going to go ahead in this particular Appearance panel right now, and for the Fill, set my Opacity to 50%. So we know that right now the actual yellow that I'm seeing here, even though in my Color panel if I were to choose this object, looks like it's going to be a solid yellow. If I come here and I print this right now, this is going to be 50%, tinted yellow. Actually it's just transparency, it's 50% of that full strength yellow. But now I'm going to go to the overall Opacity setting of my entire object, and set the object's Opacity to 50%. So what's my result right now? Even though I'm seeing 50% of the fill right now, and 50% of the Opacity for entire object, my result really is 25% Opacity, because I have 50%, over the 50% fill.
What would happen now if I would to go ahead and create a group? So now this object is living inside of a group, and I go ahead and I take the Opacity setting of the group, and I change its Opacity setting to 50%. Well, now I'm down to about 12.5% Opacity, because I now have a square, basically that has it's own fill set to an Opacity, plus the object overall has an Opacity setting, plus the group that it lives in has an Opacity setting. Well take a look at this, I'm now going to manually target the layer, and I'm now going to set the layer's Opacity to 50%. So that means I have so many now built in layers of Opacity in this particular shape.
Illustrator helps me, by the way by first identifying each of these shapes now have complex appearance, because I have added those Opacity settings here, but when I go ahead now, and I click on this particular items inside of my Layers panel, for example, if I click on the path itself, and I target the path, Illustrator let me know that right now this path happens to be living inside of a group, which has a transparency setting on it and that group happens to be living inside of a layer that has a transparency setting on it as well. So I'll always see, not only the target itself, but if the target belongs to other groups of layers that have appearance applied to them as well, Illustrator will identify those, and show me to them above the particular target in the Appearance panel.
So that's just one way that Illustrator helps to identify this, again, without the Appearance panel, it's like flying an airplane in the clouds without any instruments. You are flying blind. So I do suggest that when you're working inside of Illustrator, that you pay close attention to what the Appearance panel is telling you, because from a very basic level, almost any time that you get confused about where objects are, or where certain effects are being applied, you can easily find that information directly in the Appearance panel.
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