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Knowing the fundamentals of drawing and reshaping paths is only part of the story. In Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Advanced, the second of the popular One-on-One series, computer graphics expert Deke McClelland covers some of Illustrator's most powerful and least understood features. He shows how to merge simple shapes to create complex ones with the Pathfinder palette, as well as align paths to create schematic illustrations. Deke explains how to paint fluid, multicolor fills with blends, and the new and improved gradient tool. He explores seamlessly repeating tile patterns, blobs and brushes, and imported images. He also dives into one of the deepest features in all of Illustrator, transparency. Exercise files accompany the tutorial.
Recommended prerequisite: Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals.
Download Deke's customized keyboard layouts and color settings for Illustrator from the Exercise Files tab.
All right, I have gone ahead and save my progress as Bob the horse.ai and you know how sometimes a piece of art just speaks to you. Mine did that except that all that it said was, "My name is Bob." So I now have this horse here, drawn with a mouse. And I went ahead and created a new brush actually for it. As opposed to editing the existing brush. We'll see how that works in the next exercise. I created a new one by dropping the down to this little page icon and clicking on it down here at the bottom of the Brushes palette. I accepted New Calligraphic Brush, which is your default option, clicked OK, and then establish my Settings. I'll cancel out here.
I'll go ahead and double click on 9 pt Back, because it's leaning backward, here inside the Brushes palette and these are the settings I used: an Angle of 130 degrees, Roundness 40% and Diameter of 9 pt. Notice that I also switch this middle option from Fixed, which is going to give you fixed line weight throughout the entire horse here, to Pressure. Pressure in my case isn't going to make any difference where Bob is concerned because he was drawn with a mouse and the mouse is not a pressure sensitive drawing device. However, it will make a difference in this exercise when I begin drawing with a pressure sensitive tablet. Now if you wanted it to make a difference with Bob, if you wanted his Diameter to vary, you could change it to Random right there and then things will happen randomly and quite badly I would gauge.
Part of the reason it's going so very awry is that I have the variation cranked up to 9 pt as well. So the full Diameter value becomes the variation value. If I wanted to back off that variation value then I would get less variation going on inside of my Strokes, so that back leg, for example, wasn't getting quite so dinky in the background there. That's pretty ridiculous. Anyway I'm going to cancel out. Let's give Bob a girlfriend. So I'll switch over to Layers palette. Let's turn off Bob for a moment and let's create a new layer by Alt-clicking or Option- clicking on the Page icon down here at the bottom of Layers palette. I'm going to switch my color for the layer to Red and I'm going to change the name. Who would Bob like? I think Eunice and then we'll click OK.
Now we'll draw a pressure sensitive horse using a pressure sensitive stylus, combined along with a Wacom tablet. So I'm going to switch back to Brushes, make sure my 9 pt Back Brush is active. I could also choose it by the way up here from the Control palette, by clicking on this down-pointing arrowhead and choosing it from the list. So you get the Brushes palette up there as well. Now the tablet that I have is a Wacom Intuos 3, just so as you know. When it comes highly recommended by me, I really like this thing, and by the way, the company is called Wacom. It's not Waecom or Wakom or any of those things.
I am just going to set about drawing with this stylus. Now, there's a couple of advantages of drawing with the pressure- sensitive stylus. One of which is it's a stylus instead of a mouse. So with the parking analogy, it's more like parking a Volkswagen I suppose to a bus. So, we have a lot more control over what we are doing. Also, I can go ahead and bear it down on the stylus and that information is recorded by the Brush Stroke, not only the Brush tool which keeps track of how hard I press, but also the Brush Stroke. This path outline right there is recording all the information as I go. This is an unusual thing about the Paint Brush tool. It's not the only pressure- sensitive tool in Illustrator arsenal but it's the only one that goes ahead and registers the pressure sensitivity with the path, which is we'll see is a really useful thing.
All right, so she is a very beautiful horse I think. Now let's see what things look like if I go about editing this brush that I have applied to this horse. I'll go ahead and double click once again on that brush to bring up the Calligraphic Brush Options dialog box. Once again, I can go ahead and vary these settings as much as I like, so I can make the Brush Rounder if I want to or Narrower if I prefer and I can change its Angle, so the same exact stuff that we saw before. But in addition to those controls, I can increase the Diameter that's not new, but I can go ahead and change the amount of brush variation. And no matter what, throughout this entire process the pressure of the Brush is still intact.
So where I press lightly like at the end of a Brush Stroke, then that was recorded and that factor is into the new equation where this new brush is concerned or this modified brush, that is to say. Where I pressed heavily that's going to get recorded as well and that's going to factor in to the equation. So it's absolutely amazing that this information is embedded into that path outline, so you can apply a Calligraphic Brush to any path you can draw inside of Illustrator, whether it was drawn with one of the Shape tools or a Line tool or the Pen tool or what have you. However, it's only the Paint Brush tool that is going to record pressure sensitive information and you can even go so far as to turn the pressure off, where this brush is concerned. Click OK. If you wanted to change the paths in the background and then come back later and turn pressure back on and that pressure information is still there inside of the path outline. So I just want you to know just how extraordinarily flexible Illustrator is.
In the next exercise, I'll show you more about editing brushes here inside Illustrator.
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