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In this installment of the Illustrator Insider Training series, Mordy Golding shows how to draw vector artwork quickly, precisely, and efficiently—without having to think about technical concepts like anchor points or control handles. The course highlights intuitive drawing techniques using the Pathfinder functions, Live Paint groups, Shape Builder tool, and variable-width strokes. It also describes the sketching workflow and features in Illustrator that use pressure-sensitive drawing tablets, allowing designers to focus more on their creativity.
Before we get started drawing Mister Zee over here, let's talk for a moment about the default settings inside of Illustrator, specifically as they pertain to drawing artwork. Now what we're going to be doing is we're going to be drawing shapes on top of this sketch. Now the default setting for Illustrator for a regular object is going to be a white fill and a black one- point stroke, as you see over here. In fact, if I take a regular rectangle for example and I click and drag here, I can see that that's my default setting. In case you ever are drawing some of the artwork and you want to get back to default setting, we know that the D key on your keyboard is the keyboard shortcut to reset an object back to its default settings.
So if I choose for example to change the color here to yellow and maybe I increase the Stroke Weight and let's change this to blue or purple for example. I can take this object, press the D key on my keyboard, and that resets it to a white fill and a black one-point stroke. However, as you can see when this artwork is on top of Mister Zee, because it has a white fill, it kind of blocks my template, so I can't see what I'm working on. Many times when I'm drawing inside of Illustrator I will not be able to see the artwork underneath it if it has a fill. So I really don't want my artwork to have a fill inside of it.
Second of all the Stroke Weight right now is set to 1 point, but as we're going to be working on Mister Z over here, whatever we're drawing you want to be able to pay attention to the detail, we want our paths to be beautiful and clean and smooth and set in just the right way. So we wanted to be able to zoom in a lot. If I press Command+Spacebar or Ctrl+Spacebar on Windows you get the Zoom tool and I can click and drag to draw marquee and zoom in really close, and we'll see that a one-point stroke is going to be too thick for us. In fact when we're drawing inside of Illustrator, we don't really care yet about what colors we're going to apply to the artwork; we just want the paths to be correct so that we can later on choose to color the artwork, but as we're drawing, we want to focus on the path itself.
So usually what's ideal is actually change your Fill Setting to None because we don't care about the fill now, so we could actually see the entire template through the artwork. And we want our Stroke Weight to be maybe even a quarter of a point. It's very, very thin setting. We want to be able to see it but we don't want to get in the way. Now notice over here also that my color of my path is black. Now in my example here the sketch that I created is just a black-and-white version. It's kind of dimmed back to 20%. So a black stroke here is going to work just fine, but you may find that if you're drawing on top of a color image or something else that black doesn't work for you.
So what we really want to do is we want to change Illustrator's default setting because as I'm working inside of Illustrator if I ever change something, for example, I decide that I want to increase the Stroke Weight somewhere, I do want to color something else in, I want to be able to quickly reset my object back to its default setting, and I don't want default to go back to a white-fill and a black one-point stroke. I want it to go back to a no-fill and a quarter point stroke. So how do we do that? The answer is that we change the default setting inside of Illustrator. I don't want to change Illustrator's default settings forever. I want to change Illustrator's default settings for this one document, because when I'm drawing I want certain defaults.
At the same time when I'm doing some other kind of project I may have other defaults that do work for me. For example, a white-fill and a black one-point stroke probably works for some other kind of application, but not when I'm drawing or I'm trying to trace artwork here. I'm going to zoom out just a bit. I'll press Command+0 just to kind of fit this in the window. I have this shape here selected. I'm just going to simply delete it. I don't need that right now. Let's go to our Graphic Styles panel here inside of Illustrator. I have mine right over here. If you don't have it on your screen set up the same way that's mine, you can simply go to the Window menu and you'll find Graphic Styles listed here as well.
Now we don't really care about all the other graphic styles in our document but the first graphic style that up here is listed in your panel is a very important setting. It's called your Default Graphic Style setting. If I click on it, Illustrator will now show me in the Appearance panel the settings for that default style. This happens by the way for any graphic style. I can click on this style for example, and the Appearance panel tells me I don't have any artwork selected, but it's showing me what the settings are for the Illuminate Yellow graphic style. So if I click on my Default Graphic Style, Illustrator is showing me right now that my default is a one-point black stroke and a white fill, which we already spoke about.
I'm going to make a change though. I'm going to click on the Fill here. I'm going to set it to None. I'm also going to change my Stroke Weight from 1 point to a 0.25 point, and I'm going to leave at color black. Now that I've made these changes here, I'm going to take this icon right here, I'm going to click on it and drag it, I'm going to hold down the Option key on the Mac or the Alt key on Windows, I'm going to drag it on top of my default swatch and you can see now it gets highlighted with a black outline. That means that now I'm taking the settings that are in my Appearance panel and I'm using those settings to override the existing default setting.
I'm going to release the mouse and then I'll release the Option or the Alt key. So let's see what we've accomplished. If I now take a rectangle and I click and I drag to create a rectangle my rectangle by default now has no-fill and a black quarter point stroke. So if I change this for example to yellow and let's change the color here to blue and let's change the Stroke Weight here to like 4 point. Now if I'm working and I realize, hey, I want this shape now to be filled with none and have a 0.25 point stroke, I can now press the D key on my keyboard, D for Default, and now my object changes to my new default setting, which is no- fill and that 0.25 point black stroke.
So when I'm drawing I do find it helpful to redefine my default setting here inside of Illustrator so that moving forward I can simply press that D key to get just the right format that I want for the paths that I'll be drawing.
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