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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 gang, I don't know if you have noticed but I went ahead and made a few alterations to that circle filled with a tile pattern illustration that we saw in the previous exercise and then I went ahead and saved my modifications as Big pattern circles.ai and this file is just oozing with vector based goodness here. I am going to go ahead and click on the star shape right there and I want you to see, this star shape is part of a rather intricate compound path that involves three concentric circles. Nothing is filled at this point.
They are just stroked. Three concentric circles and a star and I was able to combine these paths together using that command under the Object menu > Compound Path > Make and incidentally you can apply that command in waves if you wanted to. So the first thing I did was I combined the outermost circle with the star and then I added another circle and combined it with Make and then added another circle and combined it with Make. So, in other words, you can use this command to add a standard path to an existing compound path if you want to or even to marry two compound paths together.
All right, so anyway, that said, I'm going over to the Appearance palette because I want you to see how these Fills and Strokes were put together. Notice there is no fill. The entire compound path has a Drop Shadow associated with it. That's why we have this little bit of darkness over on the bottom right edge. And then we have got a big 60 point stroke right there which is that Arabian gradient pattern and then behind that, we have another 60 point stroke that's entirely white and it's offset slightly so that we have this white highlight edge up-left.
I was able to create that offset using this Transform function. So if you click on Transform, you will bring up the Transform effect dialog box and you will see that I moved on the fly and dynamically, I moved the Stroke 2 points over to left and then 2 points up. And that's what we are seeing there and if you ever decide to apply that command on your own, you find it up here under the Effect menu > Distort & Transform and there it is, the Transform command and it is an utterly wonderful command. We'll explore in it all kinds of detail in a future chapter, part of the Mastery series, here inside One-on-One.
Anyway, I just want you to get a sense of what's going on. If you want to try to see what effect each one of these items has, you can turn On and Off the eyeballs here inside of Illustrator CS4, I'm so glad they gave us eyeballs in the Appearance palette. It makes it much easier to tear apart an effect and see how it's put together and also just see what contribution is being made by different attributes, so you can decide if you want them or not. Anyway, here is my larger point. I want you to look at this graphic and notice that whatever is going on, that all of the tile patterns, even though we have three different tile patterns in all, working together in different objects, all of the tile patterns merge together perfectly.
So you know how, when you have a really nicely tailored shirt and you button-up the shirt, why then, one half of the shirt matches up perfectly with the other half of the shirt, you know what I mean. So the pattern flows across beautifully instead of getting interrupted. That's what we have going on here except, we have got circles instead of shirts. Now the reason I bring it up is because this is very fragile and you can muck it up really easily if you are not careful. Check this out for example. Let's say I decide to grab this circle and I want to move it to a different location. I'll go ahead and drag it over here and now the pattern is out of alignment because I moved both the object and the pattern at the same time.
So it's unlikely that I would want to make a mess of things to the extent I have here, but it's possible and it's probable that you might want to scale some of these objects. So I'll go ahead and press Ctrl+Z, Command+Z in order to put that circle back where it was. Let's say I want to move this circle or a copy of this circle toward the inner ring right here and I would do that using the Scale tool. So, I'll go ahead and grab the Scale tool and the center is right there in the center of the shape. So that's fine and then I'll go ahead and drag from down, right inward like so, and I'll press the Shift key so that I'm constraining the proportions and then I'll press Alt or Option and so I have got Shift+Alt down here on the PC, Shift+Option on the Mac, so that I'm creating a clone. Release and then release my keys and oh, my goodness! What have I done? This is a complete and utter catastrophe.
I have got this tiny little iddy-biddy tile pattern and everything is out of alignment. So that's no good. What do I do? Well I'll go ahead and press Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on the Mac. When you are working with a lot of objects that have tile patterns associated with them like this. You can either double-click on a Scale tool icon in order to bring up the Scale dialog box and you can turn Off Patterns. You might also decide that you want to turn of Scales Strokes & Effects so that you are not making an iddy-biddy stroke right there. You may have noticed that the stroke got thinner and then we could go over to our Uniform Scale option and I could enter something like 68%, I don't know, I'm just shooting in the dark here and we'll see what happens even though that's not the right Amount I want to make it smaller than that. Let's try 48%.
Notice that not only is my object smaller but it's still the same thickness, thanks to the fact that I turned Off Scale Strokes & Effects. And the pattern did not scaled at all thanks to the fact that I turned Off the Patterns checkboxes, so only the Objects checkbox is turned on and only the object got scaled. Then if I click OK then look at that, it looks great. All right, so what if however, you want to use the Scale tool. We'll go ahead and press Ctrl+Z, or Command+Z on the Mac. Then in that case what you do is you press Ctrl+K or Command+K in order to bring up the Preferences dialog box and you turn off these checkboxes right here.
Now they are turned off now for us because I just turned them off inside the Scale dialog box. So once you turned them off inside one of the dialog boxes, they're off globally inside the software, then if you end up turning them back on inside the dialog boxes they get turned On globally as well. However, if you did not bring up that dialog box in the first place and you just want to use the tools, then you'd press Ctrl+K, Command+K to bring up the Preferences dialog box and then turn Off Transform Pattern Tiles and turn Off Scale, Strokes & Effects if you don't want to scale the strokes, of course, and the effects being things like Drop Shadows and so on.
All right, so I'll just click OK because that is what I want and then I'm going to go ahead and drag with the tool press, the Shift key and the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac release my mouse button and then release the keys and it looks dandy. All right, so that's how you go about ensuring that you can apply transformations to objects without affecting the tiles and incidentally now notice if I were to drag the object to a different place then the pattern remains the same. So the pattern remains aligned across all of these objects and I can put these guys anywhere I want and I'm still going to have aligned patterns like so. So that's the function of turning off that checkbox.
Now, what if you want the opposite? I'll go ahead and press Ctrl+Z a few times by the way or Command+Z on a Mac several times to get back to this appearance right here. What if I want to take all of these tile patterns, every single one of them, and I want to move this star so it's right there in the center of the entire illustration? How do I move the pattern without moving the objects? I'll show you how that works in the next and last exercise.
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