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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 Illustrator's 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.
So we understand that in Illustrator vector graphics are made up of these paths, and these paths have anchor points that help define the position of those paths. However it's important to realize that paths themselves do not have any appearance. Meaning that while I can see the paths and the anchor points inside of Illustrator, they're there to help me define objects, but they don't actually show when I print out a sheet of paper. So let's take a look at what we have on the screen here for a moment. On the left side I have this concept called a path.
We know that we had this graph paper type of layout where I had these coordinates and I had these anchor points and paths that are used to define objects. However on the right side of the screen, let's focus on the appearance, meaning what happens when I actually print out this file. What does my graphic actually look like? The way that I like to describe it is that the paths itself is like the skeleton that defines the actual shape itself. The appearance are the clothes that you actually put onto that skeleton, so that they have some kind of visual appearance.
There are three basic types of appearances that you can apply to paths inside of Illustrator. The first one is something called a fill. The fill attribute basically fills up the entire enclosed area within the path. In this example here we have two paths. One is the overall flower shape, which I have filled right now with color, and then inside of that I also have a circle that's filled with a different color. In fact, we're going to learn later on in this title about different types of fills that you can apply.
Some fills are completely solid colors, but in this case here, I've actually applied something called a gradient as a fill inside of these objects. And a gradient allows you to define two or more colors and have those colors seamlessly blend into each other. But that's the first kind of an appearance that you can apply to a path, something called a fill. The second type of appearance that you can apply inside of Illustrator is something called a stroke. The stroke is actually applied directly onto the path itself and gives the path some kind of an appearance.
In this case for the flower shape on the outside, there is now a stroke specified using a black color. The circle on the inside of the flower is also using a black stroke but it's much heavier. As we're going to learn about strokes, you can change their colors and in addition you could change their thickness, or what we call the weight of a stroke. It's important to realize that if you do not specify a fill or a stroke for your paths, then you do not get any appearance, meaning nothing prints out on a sheet of paper.
It's only when you start to add these attributes or like I said apply clothing onto the skeleton that you start to get an appearance, that does appear on a printout. Finally, the third kind of appearance that you can apply to artwork inside of Illustrator is something called an effect. Effects can be things like soft drop shadows or other things that modify somewhat the appearance of your artwork. If you take a step back for a moment, and take a look at this from a 10,000 foot view, this is really what working in Illustrator is like.
Building shapes by creating paths and then modifying the appearance of those paths to get them to look just the way you want them. Because these paths and anchor points are all defined mathematically and because you have these appearance attributes that you can apply to them, it's very easy to make changes to your artwork at any point in your creative process. And if artwork needs to be scaled or adjusted for any need, the results that you'll get will always be clean, sharp, and perfect.
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