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Illustrator Insider Training: Rethinking the Essentials is the first installment in a series of courses designed to show experienced Illustrator users to how master core features and build art more efficiently. Adobe Illustrator has evolved dramatically over the years, and many creative professionals may be missing out on features that have been added to the latest versions. This course takes a fresh approach to core concepts, such as paths, attributes, object hierarchy, groups, and layers. Advanced techniques such as combining multiple effects and customizing textures are also included. Exercise files and a free worksheet are included with the course.
In the previous chapter, we discussed the difference between selecting something inside of Illustrator and targeting something. We discussed the concept that selecting something refers to the structure, while targeting something refers to the presentation. We also spoke of another concept inside of Illustrator called Smart Targeting. That's where when I select something, Illustrator automatically targets something for me. Now in Illustrator all we have are selection tools, so I can select something, and as we said, Illustrator can go ahead and target something for me.
But using the Layers panel, we'll actually see that we have a way to both select and also manually target something. In other words, the Layers panel will give us complete control over both selecting and targeting as well. Let's see how that might be useful. In this document called layers_2, I am simply going to come to my Layers panel and I'll click on the two triangles here to reveal what is actually inside of these layers. I'll actually click over here to reveal the different groups that I have here as well. So we can see I have several nested groups here. I don't need to drill down more than that to get these points across.
Now, if you look at the far right side over here of the Layers panel, we have these blank areas. And we've already discussed that if I click on these areas, I can select an object or a group. For example, if I want you to select this text on the artboard where it says Directions, I can come over to the far right here and click where it says Directions. But to the immediate left of this selection indicator are these circles. In fact, if you look at every layer, or every object inside of my document, they all have these circles. Currently right now, because I've selected the Directions object, this circle also has a double line around it.
Let's discuss exactly what these things are. First of all, the names of these circles are called target circles. They identify what the target is inside of Illustrator. Now remember that Illustrator has Smart Targeting so that when I actually click on an object to select it, Illustrator automatically targets something as well. When a circle has a double-line around it, it means that that object is targeted. So because I've selected the Directions text, Illustrator's Smart Targeting kicked in and actually targeted that same object as well.
Now, it may seem like selecting and targeting are one and the same. I mean when I go ahead and I actually select that text object, I see that it's also targeted. However, let me show you an example where that may not be the case. If I take a look in my document here, this indication of where the store is is actually a box that has a logo inside of it, and those two things have been grouped together in one group. So I have a group here called Store. I am actually going to click on the artboard to select that entire group. Now, let's take a close look at exactly what the Layers panel is showing me. It's showing me right now that all of these objects are selected because you can see that the boxes appear over here on the far right side.
However, only the Store, only the group right here, has a double circle around it. That means that right now just the group is targeted; however, the objects inside of that group are not targeted. In other words if I were to make some kind of an appearance change right now, for example add a new stroke, or add some kind of a live effect, that effect would go on to the group or would go on to that container, the container that's currently called Store in my document. It wouldn't get applied to any of the objects that are inside of that group. So in this case here, I have several objects that are selected but only one of those things are targeted.
Now I myself didn't target them. That's what Smart Targeting does. Illustrator figured that when I clicked on the group, I wanted to select all of the structure within that group. However, when it comes to presentation, Illustrator figured I probably only want to make changes to the group container itself, so only that group container became targeted. Now if you want, you can manually target something by clicking directly on the target circle itself. For example, if I wanted to add some kind of a drop shadow, but I didn't want the drop shadow to be added to all the elements-- for example, maybe I only want the drop shadow to be added to the building itself-- I can click on the target circle of the building and now you can see that I specifically targeted just the building.
Or if I wanted to make changes to all the elements within a group, instead of simply selecting the entire group-- let's say right over here by clicking on the far-right edge of the Store group-- I can click on the target circle right here and then hold down the Shift key, so now that both of these elements are currently targeted. So if you can see now, all of the elements inside of my group are currently selected. However, the group itself is not targeted. I've targeted specifically this Logo group and the Building path itself. So you can clearly see that it's possible inside of Illustrator to have certain elements selected but not targeted.
And I also have a way to override the Smart Targeting by clicking on these target circles themselves. There's something else to note about these target circles. In fact, I am going to go ahead now and click on the bottom on the screen here just to deselect everything. Notice that some of the circles are actually filled with white, and yet some have this kind of a grayscale or gradient fill inside of it. What does that mean? Well, let's go back for a moment here and remember that we spoke about a concept inside of Illustrator where certain objects have basic appearances and certain objects have complex appearances.
Basic appearances are objects that have just a single fill or stroke, whereas complex appearances are where I may have added different attributes like multiple strokes or fills, or maybe I've added live effects, for example. When I scan to the Layers panel, whenever I see a plain white target circle, that means that that object has a basic appearance. However, when I see a target circle that's filled, that indicates that that object has a complex appearance applied to it. So, complex appearances are indicated in the Layers panel by filled target circles.
Now you may have heard other people--for example, I know Deke McClelland, always refers to these things as meatballs and you know I partially take blame for that, because back in my days at Adobe when I was on the Illustrator team, internally we would refer to these as meatballs. So whether you call them meatballs or target circles, the key thing to understand is what their function is. If they're filled white, it means that those objects have basic appearances, and if they're shaded with some kind of gradient inside of it, that means that object has a complex appearance applied to it.
Reading these target circles is yet another way that you could understand how a document is built. For example, I may open up this document from a friend, and I may not know how they built that wonderful road or those train tracks. And if I go into Outline mode by pressing Command+Y or Ctrl+Y, well, I don't see those elements at all. I am wondering maybe how did they get there. A quick view at the Layers panel, however, lets me know that the Main Street and Train Tracks, which are these two paths-- and I know that because when I click on it I see it now becomes highlighted here inside the Layers panel--there is a filled target circle there.
And if I click on the target circle, because now that is the target, I can take a look at my Appearance panel and easily see, wow, there's a whole bunch of strokes applied to that single object. And that's how they got that appearance. Likewise, if I want to know how the train tracks were built, I can easily see the train tracks as not just a single path; it has a complex appearance applied to it. And by clicking on the target circle, I can now look at the Appearance panel and view all of its settings. In fact, let's go back to the concept of groups for a second here. We know that right now this element was a group.
However, that group, which is called Store, has a basic appearance, meaning the group itself doesn't have anything applied to it. So if I wanted to ungroup this, I can do so in a safe manner and not expect any change in the appearance of my document. By ungrouping it, or by throwing out that container, I am not losing any change in appearance. However, if I take a look over here at the Logo group and I would try to ungroup that, I would see a change in appearance, because the Logo group does have some kind of a complex appearance applied to it.
Just by looking at the screen, I am going to guess it probably has a drop shadow on it, but just to be sure, I can click on the target circle of that group and see, yup! There it is. There is a drop shadow on that group, meaning that as a user if I were to now try to ungroup that object, I would lose the drop shadow because I would be deleting a container that has some kind of a complex appearance applied to it. So from the concept of working inside of Illustrator, a quick glance at the Layers panel can save me so much trouble. I can easily see the structure of my document.
I can easily see where complex appearances are applied within my document. And instead of going through trial and error and trying to figure out how something actually is built by clicking around and kind of moving around my document itself, I can look right at the Layers panel and see exactly what's going on.
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