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Animated Character Design with Illustrator
Illustration by John Hersey

Opening and closing paths


From:

Animated Character Design with Illustrator

with Angie Taylor

Video: Opening and closing paths

There are two types of paths in Illustrator. There are open paths and closed paths. An example of a closed path would be this object here where the path is completely enclosed. Example of an open path would be this one here, where you'll see if I just solo that, so Alt-clicking on the eyeball icon will solo it. And let's just switch off our transparency grid for a second. And you can quite clearly see, particularly if I deselect it, that this is an open path, okay? You'll be able to see that even more clearly if I select it and maybe choose to fill it with a color.

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Animated Character Design with Illustrator
2h 33m Intermediate Jan 14, 2011

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

This workshop from author and animator Angie Taylor teaches how to use Illustrator's tools and features to prepare 2D files for animation in Adobe After Effects. Discover how to make the most of Illustrator's drawing tools and Autotrace feature, and to how use Live Paint and Kuler to recolor artwork. Plus, get a ton of tips and tricks for giving artwork a hand-drawn look and find out how to set up layers, aspect ratios, and transparency options for importing into After Effects. The lessons are focused and solution-oriented, and all the project files are included.

Topics include:
  • Setting up the work area
  • Bringing artwork into Illustrator
  • Tracing artwork manually
  • Creating complex shapes
  • Working with paths
  • Using Live Trace
  • Coloring artwork
  • Applying 3D effects
  • Exporting artboards
  • Options for saving files
Subjects:
3D + Animation Design Illustration Character Animation video2brain
Software:
Illustrator
Author:
Angie Taylor

Opening and closing paths

There are two types of paths in Illustrator. There are open paths and closed paths. An example of a closed path would be this object here where the path is completely enclosed. Example of an open path would be this one here, where you'll see if I just solo that, so Alt-clicking on the eyeball icon will solo it. And let's just switch off our transparency grid for a second. And you can quite clearly see, particularly if I deselect it, that this is an open path, okay? You'll be able to see that even more clearly if I select it and maybe choose to fill it with a color.

Okay. You'll see that I have this edge at the top that is not closed. Okay. I can close paths quite easily just by selecting them and going up to the Object menu > Path > Join. Now, the keyboard shortcut, which you'll probably want to learn, because you'll be using it quite a lot, is Cmd+J, or Ctrl+J on the PC. And watch what happens if I select that. You'll see that it joins the path at the top, so I've now got a closed path. Now, we're going to do that to the other leg.

Let's just choose the right leg and I'm going to choose it by clicking on the target. And I'm going to say close path or hit Cmd+J or Ctrl+J on the PC. Okay. I'm just going to remove that fill from there because I don't really want them to have orange legs. Now, there are other times you may want to open a path. If we have a look at this hand here, and again, I'm going to zoom in by hitting Cmd Plus on the keyboard, Ctrl Plus if you're on a PC. Now, this hand here, is a case where I would really want to open some of the paths.

These shapes are too closed and I need to join this thumb to the hand. So, to do that I would select this shape and the tool that I like to use, well, there's a few tools you could use. You could use the eraser tool but I'll show you what happens if you use the eraser tool. So, I'm just going to make that brush smaller by hitting the left bracket key and then, I'm going to erase the section that I don't want to appear. And everything is looking okay till I release and you'll see that it remains stroked on that edge. So, the eraser tool isn't really good for this because I want to actually remove that stroke.

So, the best tool to use for this is the scissors tool because the scissors tool allows me to click and define a section that I want to remove. So, I'm clicking on the path here and here. And now, if I toggle temporarily to the selection tool by holding down the Cmd key or Ctrl key on the PC, I can select that section and hit Backspace to remove it. And now, I've created this gap in my path. Okay. So, if I select this item now, and what we're going to do is just switch off the other layers. So, I'm going to Alt click on stopwatch, and then I'm going to open this selection and switch off everything except that. And I can just click and drag down the eyeballs to do that. And if I switch on the Transparency Grid, again, the keyboard shortcut for that is Shift+Cmd+D, or Shift+Ctrl+D on the PC.

You can see what's happened. It's removed that section and left this section in tact. Now, I can just put all of these back on. Or indeed, I could have undone all of those steps to get back to where I wanted to be. So there we have it. There we have a section removed. I'm going to do one more. I'm going to select this one here. And I'm going to select my scissors tool and I'm only going to remove a small section here, because I want it to look like a knuckle. So, I'm going to select there. Select there. Hold down my modifier key to select that item and remove it. And we'll do the same with this one, modifier key, select it, cut out a small section, select that section with the modifier key, remove it. And we can continue doing that until we have all the fingers removed. And I'm going to show you a finished one where I've done that. Okay, so here's one where I've worked a little bit further on it. You can see that there are a few rough edges here but it's very easy for me to go and tidy those up.

And the tool I would use to do that is the path eraser tool. So choose the path eraser tool, select the path that you want to erase, which is this one, and just click and drag along that path to remove that section. So, you can go through and very quickly tidy up these paths by doing so. Now, obviously I would take a little bit more time over this if you weren't watching. And I would get that all nice and tidy so there weren't any errors but you get the idea. That's how you can open and close paths and use other tools to tidy up the selections afterwards.

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