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In Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Mastery, the third and final part of the comprehensive Illustrator One-on-One series, author and industry expert Deke McClelland shows how to take advantage of the wide array of dynamic effects in Illustrator CS5. Deke explores Illustrator’s powerful Gradient Mesh feature, great for creating photorealistic airbrushing effects. He also covers graphic styles, the liquify tools, envelope-style distortions, the new Bristle Brushes, 3D text, and perspective drawing. Exercise files accompany the course.
I've saved my progress as Initial house grid.ai and in this exercise I am going to pass along a few tips and tricks for working with perspective grids, because there is a heck of a lot of bells and whistles going on here and there is a few top secret hidden tricks as well. Now I have set up my grid. It's visible on-screen and I've selected the Perspective Grid tool. Now note that you can hide the grid at any point in time when one of the grid savvy tools is selected. So that is to say, if the Selection tool is active, which is not a grid savvy tool, and you try to click on that little close box above the widget, nothing happens.
It just ignores you and that's ridiculous in my opinion, but that's the way it works. However, if you switch to one of the grid savvy tools like the Rectangle tool and then you click on the little close box, then the grid goes away. As soon as you click on the Perspective Grid tool which is also of course grid savvy, so you can click the close box with it as well. But as soon as you switch back to the Perspective Grid tool, the perspective grid comes back up on-screen. I was telling you can also go to the View menu, choose Perspective Grid, and choose this command to hide the grid or show the grid. Normally, it has a keyboard shortcut and I apologize for this.
I stepped all over it with Deke keys. By default, it's Ctrl+Shift+I or Command+Shift+I on a Mac. But I went ahead and reassigned that keyboard shortcut without really thinking to the Inverse command. So if you don't like that then you can go over here to the Edit menu choose keyboard Shortcuts, dig your way to that hide or show Perspective Grid command and go ahead and reassign the keyboard shortcut of Ctrl+Shift+I, Command+Shift+I on the Mac to it. Anyway, I really don't find this shortcut to be necessary, because after all, all you have to do is click this close box in order to hide the grid, switch to a different tool, switch back to the Perspective Grid tool, and then it comes back up on-screen.
The other thing to bear in mind is that you have one and only one perspective grid per document. So I don't care if you've got 15 artboards all over the place. You've got one perspective grid. If you need a different perspective grid for each of your artboards, guess what? You're going to have to put them in separate documents. That's just the way it is. Also, the perspective grid is not like a guideline. It doesn't exist on a specific layer. You can't hide it and show it and lock from the layers panel. So basically you've got this one grid that exists independently of all of your layers.
I was telling you about how these panes right here can end up getting foreshortened. What we're seeing is a very long left-hand pane and a very short right-hand pane. Even though I've dragged this knob way out here, I'm just not getting anymore grid action. That's because Illustrator is unable the render the grid at this resolution. The idea is that if Illustrator had to pack into many trajectory lines, the ones that are extending to the vanishing point and the vertical gridlines, then a grid would end up being opaque at a certain point and you won't be able to see your artwork.
It doesn't matter whether you can see much of this pane or not, you can draw on the pane all the way to the vanishing point and way beyond in front of the pane as well. So it's just a visual guideline, but you may feel like you want more of a pane and I will come back to that in a moment. But first let's say that the gird is too opaque for your taste. You want to make it more translucent. Well, in that case you go up to the View menu, you choose the Perspective Grid command, and then you choose this command right there, Define Grid, a hard command to get to but pretty useful when you're setting up the grid in the first place.
At that point you can change that Opacity value. I'll go ahead and take it down to 35% let's say. You can change the colors of your various panes to your heart's content. That's about all I do inside of this dialog box other than save a preset, which we will do in a moment. You can also change your grid resolution here if you want to numerically as opposed to just dragging that little diamond shaped gadget on-screen. If you're Mr. Science then you can work with these values right there, but I just go ahead and adjust the grid manually on-screen. At any rate I am going to click OK in order to make those gridlines more translucent as you're seeing them there.
But let's say you don't want any gridlines. You just don't want to see them at all. Well, check this out. This is the wackiest technique. Notice that we've got these little knobs right here and there's three of them altogether and they look like little circles inside of circles, perhaps wheels. One of them this guy right here controls the ground plane. So you can drag that plane up or down if you so desire. Then the other two allow you to swing those left-hand and right-hand panes. But notice that they are not color-coded, which I think is really odd. I would like to see this one be green and this one be orange and this one be blue, for example.
Well, you can do that plus more my Alt+Clicking or Option+Clicking on the Mac. So if I Alt+Click or Option+Click on that little control right there, then I end up switching from the grid to a translucent pane, and I also get a color-coded marker. Why isn't that the default, at least for the marker? Then if you Alt+Click or Option+Click again and you'll totally get rid of that pane and all you've got is this line just one line extending back to the vanishing point. If you want to restore your grid you Alt+Click or Option+Click again and then if you want to go back to the translucent overlay you Alt+Click or Option+Click once again, the third time in my case.
Now I am going to do the same thing for the other ones. I am going to Alt+Click or Option+Click on this guy in order to create a translucent right-hand pane as well as an orange marker, very handy. Then I will Alt+Click or Option+Click on this one in order to establish a translucent green ground plane and create a green marker. Having done that, let's say that this is my ideal perspective grid, and then you want to go and save it by going up to the View menu, choosing Perspective Grid once again, and then choosing Define Grid. Notice that I am not showing you any right- clicking techniques, because they don't exist.
Anyway, I am going to go ahead and choose Define Grid. I'll click on Save Preset and I'm going to call this Favorite house grid let's say, because I've got a couple of other set up. Then I'll click OK. Now I have this house grid and I can come back to it anytime I like. I will click OK in order to hide the dialog box and now you'll notice here in the View menu if you go down a perspective grid, you'll see Two Point Perspective and there's Favorite house grid. Now another thing to note is that these settings are not saved along with your document. Rather they're saved as global preference settings, which mean it's easy to lose them.
If Illustrator crashes, which happened to me before this exercise actually, then you will lose any grids you've saved during that session. So it's one of those things if you really want to preserve that grid setting, then you want to go ahead and save your changes of course, but then go ahead and quit the program and restart it. That is my random collection of tips and tricks for working with the perspective grid here inside Illustrator.
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