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Outlining artwork with Offset Path and Pathfinder Add

From: Illustrator Insider Training: Rethinking the Essentials

Video: Outlining artwork with Offset Path and Pathfinder Add

You know, sometimes you take a look at all the effects that appear inside the Effect menu and you ask yourself, when would I ever need, or when would I ever use some of these? Like for example, there is a whole bunch of Pathfinder effects here. Now I use Pathfinder effects when I am trying to build artwork, but when would I want to use Pathfinder as a Live Effect? Well, in this movie, I am going to show you exactly why you might want to do that. Now we have some artwork here in this document that's called outlines.ai, and I have two graphic elements here: I have these flowers over here in the top and I have some text in the bottom as well.

Outlining artwork with Offset Path and Pathfinder Add

You know, sometimes you take a look at all the effects that appear inside the Effect menu and you ask yourself, when would I ever need, or when would I ever use some of these? Like for example, there is a whole bunch of Pathfinder effects here. Now I use Pathfinder effects when I am trying to build artwork, but when would I want to use Pathfinder as a Live Effect? Well, in this movie, I am going to show you exactly why you might want to do that. Now we have some artwork here in this document that's called outlines.ai, and I have two graphic elements here: I have these flowers over here in the top and I have some text in the bottom as well.

Now sometimes you want to create an outline around your artwork, and we already discussed that when you have a group, you have the ability to apply your stroke to a group. Now if you want just the stroke to appear around just the perimeter of our artwork, we learned the technique that we can actually take the stroke and drag it beneath the contents in the stacking order so that artwork itself kind of blocks all the strokes. However, what if you actually want to offset that path somewhat? Well, let's take a look at what kind of effect we can actually create. I am going to start off by selecting the elements right here.

This is one group that contains the flowerpots, the flowers, and the leaves. And by looking at the Appearance panel here, I see that my group is targeted. What I'd like to do is I would like to create a single path that kind of traces around the perimeter of the entire artwork. However, I don't want this path to actually touch the artwork. I want it to be somewhat offset away from artwork itself. Sometimes you want to create like a patch or some kind of a graphic that's going to go on the background and you want to create some kind of an outline that appears around the entire perimeter of the logo.

Well let's see how we can do that very easily as an appearance for the group itself. So the first thing I am going to do here is I am going to start to add a stroke to the group. Inside the Appearance panel, I will come down over here to the button that allows me to add a new stroke, and I now have a stroke applied to the group. We want this to be a little bit more significant, so I will change the weight of the stroke to about 5 points. Now as you can see, all the elements in the group have a stroke applied to it. We learned that this happens because Illustrator looks at all the elements that are inside the group as if they have now become one big path, so everything gets a stroke applied to it.

Now we want this path to be somewhat offset from our artwork. So, with the stroke still targeted here inside the Appearance panel, I'll come down to the Effects icon and I will choose Path > Offset path. This is going to allow me to move the path off the object. I will click on the Preview button here, and we see that it's currently set to 10 pixels, which actually doesn't look too bad at all. So I will click OK, and we can see that the path that we just added, or I should say the stroke that we just added to the group, has now been offset away from the graphic itself.

However, there is just a big mess here because all the objects have strokes applied to it. Now, let me ask you. If you had created an artwork like this without using any kind of an appearance, how would you clean this up? How would you turn all the strokes or all these separate paths into one united path? That's right; you would use Pathfinder. Well remember, that in this case here I am dealing specifically with a group. There are multiple objects here. Each of those objects now are getting stroke, but I want to combine those into one fused path.

So again, with the stroke still targeted inside the Appearance panel--and if I click on the twirl-down I will see we now have the Offset path that is applied just to this one stroke-- I am going to add now yet a second effect. I am going to go back to the effect over here, choose Pathfinder, and then I will choose Add. Note what happens now. All that mess went away, and all I am seeing is one united path that traces the outline or the perimeter of my graphic. So just to review what we've done here, we've taken a group, we've applied a stroke to that group, we then set an offset path, and then we used the Pathfinder Add effect to unite, or combine, all those strokes into the appearance of one object.

Of course, because this is an effect that we have applied to the group itself, if I were to make changes to the group--like for example use my direct selection tool and actually move some of these leaves around--that outline will always update. Remember, if I want to make changes to the group itself, I'll want to use isolation mode so that I don't have to ungroup and lose that effect. So we have applied this now to a group itself. However, there are many times when you want to do a similar kind of effect with text. Now for example, if you wanted to trace the outline of the letters that appear on the word Flowers down here, we can use a similar technique.

We don't need to convert this text to outlines at all. I could simply select this element right here. Notice now that I have my type object targeted. And we already know that really this type object is a group that contains characters inside of it. So the same concepts that we have applied to the flowers above, we can now also apply to this text element. We will start by adding a stroke. I will change it to maybe around 3 points in thickness. Then with that stroke still targeted, I will apply the Path > Offset Path command.

Let me click on Preview here. I think 10 pixels here is a little bit too much. Let me bring it down to maybe around 5. I will click OK, and now to get one united appearance for this entire stroke, again I will make sure that the stroke itself is still targeted in the Appearance panel, and now I will add the Pathfinder > Add effect to complete the look I am going for. Of course, the text is still editable, so I can make changes, like change the type- face or make changes at all to the appearance of that text at will. So you can start to see how powerful it can be to start combining effects together.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Illustrator Insider Training: Rethinking the Essentials
 
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  1. 8m 22s
    1. Welcome
      1m 15s
    2. Exploring the Illustrator Timeline
      5m 12s
    3. Getting the most out of this training
      1m 30s
    4. Using the exercise files
      25s
  2. 16m 27s
    1. Starting off on the right foot
      27s
    2. Knowing the difference between structure and presentation
      4m 38s
    3. Understanding paths and attributes
      4m 56s
    4. Distributing stroke weight along a path
      2m 25s
    5. Bottoms up: Object hierarchy and stacking order
      4m 1s
  3. 51m 9s
    1. The all-important Appearance panel
      37s
    2. Understanding attribute stacking order
      6m 45s
    3. Targeting individual object attributes
      7m 32s
    4. Adding multiple attributes to a single object
      9m 31s
    5. Modifying appearances with Live Effects
      7m 11s
    6. Using multiple strokes to create a border design
      4m 36s
    7. Using multiple strokes to create a map
      5m 52s
    8. Using multiple fills to mix spot colors
      4m 59s
    9. Using multiple fills to create textures
      4m 6s
  4. 46m 2s
    1. Learning to live with appearances
      30s
    2. Basic appearance vs. complex appearance
      4m 27s
    3. Clearing or expanding an appearance
      10m 52s
    4. Controlling the appearance of newly drawn art
      5m 11s
    5. Saving appearances with graphic styles
      6m 54s
    6. Changing artwork by modifying a graphic style
      7m 39s
    7. Uncovering a treasure trove of graphic styles
      5m 1s
    8. Copying appearances with the Eyedropper tool
      5m 28s
  5. 33m 28s
    1. Why do we create groups?
      1m 48s
    2. Applying an effect to a group
      4m 38s
    3. Understanding the difference between targeting and selecting
      4m 44s
    4. Knowing the dangers of ungrouping artwork
      2m 21s
    5. Using Isolation mode to preserve group structure
      6m 59s
    6. Adding a stroke to a group
      6m 13s
    7. Adding a 3D effect to a group
      3m 36s
    8. Extending the concept of groups to type objects
      3m 9s
  6. 46m 34s
    1. Are you a layers person?
      33s
    2. Learning to use the Layers and Objects panel
      9m 27s
    3. Making selections and editing stacking order
      6m 38s
    4. Reading and using the target circles
      8m 43s
    5. Copying artwork and appearances
      5m 37s
    6. Adding effects to layers
      9m 56s
    7. Getting the most out of the Layers panel
      5m 40s
  7. 47m 19s
    1. It's more than just a drop shadow?
      48s
    2. Adding basic texture with Mezzotint
      7m 50s
    3. Generating custom textures with Texturizer
      12m 22s
    4. Adding a stroke to an image with Outline Object
      5m 54s
    5. Aligning text precisely with Outline Object
      6m 31s
    6. Adding callout numbers with Convert to Shape
      4m 36s
    7. Enhancing performance with Rasterize
      2m 30s
    8. Avoiding pitfalls when using effects
      6m 48s
  8. 31m 59s
    1. Asking yourself the "what if?" question
      33s
    2. Outlining artwork with Offset Path and Pathfinder Add
      5m 36s
    3. Adding captions with Convert to Shape and Transform
      7m 1s
    4. Creating a crosshatch effect with Scribble
      5m 44s
    5. Creating buttons with Round Corners and Transform
      13m 5s
  9. 25m 21s
    1. Working with other people's files
      36s
    2. Setting up a workspace that makes sense
      9m 43s
    3. Learning to "read" an Illustrator file
      5m 48s
    4. Controlling pixel resolution
      9m 14s
  10. 1m 2s
    1. Next steps
      1m 2s

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