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Adobe Illustrator has long been the most popular and viable vector-drawing program on the market but, for many, the learning curve is steep. In Illustrator CS3 One-on-One: The Essentials , author and leading industry expert Deke McClelland teaches the key features of Illustrator in a way that anyone can understand. He also goes beyond that, showing users how to get into the Illustrator "mindset" to make mastering Illustrator simple and easy. The training covers how to use the core drawing and shape tools, the transformation and reshaping features, text and gradients, and color management and printing features. Even if learning Illustrator has been a struggle in the past, this time it is going to make sense. Exercise files accompany the training.
All right, who's ready to create rectangles? C'mon gang, let's go. Woo-hoo! Rectangles! Admittedly they're kind of a boring shape, really, when you come right down to do it, but they're a very popular shape. They're the kind of thing that you're going to need inside of your illustrations on a regular basis. So I want to make sure that you understand how to use the Rectangle and Rounded Rectangle Tools. So I'm going to introduce you to those tools inside of this exercise and show you a couple of weird things about rounded rectangles that you might want to know, especially if you're coming from another program such as say FreeHand. All right, so here's what we're going to do. I'm working inside of course, my calendar image, my 260-day Aztec calendar here, and you may be too if you're working inside that original Tonalpohualli document, why then keep working inside of it. If you want to catch up with me, you can open this document right here: Now for the rectangles.ai, inside the 04_Geometric_Shapes older. All right, I am now going to go ahead and switch to the Rectangle Tool, and notice that it's Rectangle Tool (M). M is the keyboard shortcut for the Rectangle Tool and I sort of told you why back in chapter 3, but I'm going to tell you why again with a little bit more background, because I always feel like when training, it helps to make sense.
So here's the deal. Basically M is assigned to the Marquee Tool, to the Rectangle Marquee Tool inside of Photoshop, and Adobe's all about cross application harmony between these various Creative Suite programs, so they decided the equivalent of the Rectangular Marquee Tool in Illustrator is the regular old Rectangle Tool. So we'll give it the same keyboard shortcut M. So you just need to remember, rectangles, Mmmm, mmmm, good. All right and then you'll remember that keyboard shortcut. So I'm going to draw a rectangle and it's a pretty easy shape to draw. You draw from corner to corner, but you've got to select the tool first. You'll find that if you're drawing a star, it's not going to work so well. All right I forgot to select the tool.
A common mistake. I'll go ahead and click on the tool to select it, there we go, nicely done Deke. And now I'll go ahead and drag with the tool in order to draw an authentic rectangle and you press the Shift key of course to constrain it to a square, or I'll go ahead and undo that, press the Alt key or the Option key on a Mac and drag in order to draw from the center outward. Press the Shift key as well in order to constrain it to a square. This actually isn't a square, so I'll just go ahead and leave it as an almost square rectangle there. And then release when it's done. Okay so that's your rectangle. What about your rounded rectangles? Well Illustrator encourages you, this isn't the only way to work, it encourages you to draw your rounded rectangles with the Rounded Rectangle Tool. So I'm going to go ahead and grab my Rounded Rectangle Tool and then I'm going to start dragging. Now I have pretty round corners going on right now, your corners probably won't be this round. They're less round than this by default, and you can edit them on the fly.
If you want to make your corners more round press the up arrow key. You can even press and hold the key in order to animate that roundness. Press the down arrow key to make those rounded corners less round and more sharp, like so. All right, so I've drawn my rounded rectangle. What if I want to modify the roundness of my corners after the fact? Something that you can do very easily inside FreeHand for example, but now that Adobe owns FreeHand, Adobe's not really going to update it anymore, so over time I think a lot of people are going to be coming to Illustrator from FreeHand just because FreeHand will be frozen in time, which it kind of has been anyway over the last few years, but what do you do? What do you do inside Illustrator? Well Illustrator doesn't have a classic method for adjusting the corners of a rectangle.
Instead you have to apply a live effect, this is the best way to work anyway, and it's kind of weird. I'm going to go ahead and undo that rectangle, and I'm going to draw a new rectangle just a standard, old, everyday rectangle right here with the regular old Rectangle Tool. Now let's say I want to round off those corners. The best way to work is to go up to the Effect menu, choose Convert to Shape. This is really totally bizarre especially if you're coming from a FreeHand background, but this is the way you do it. And then go to Rounded Rectangle, and then you say, once you get this dialog box up on screen, you turn on the Relative checkbox and you set both the Extra Width and Height values to zero because you don't want to add any width and height to this point you just want to round off the corners, and then you specify a corner radius. For example if you say, Hmmm let's do a corner radius of 50 points. Press Tab and it updates on the fly. Now the originals shape is still a rectangle, but now it strokes, inside the preview mode, it's now stroked as a rounded rectangle. So it's a nice dynamic shape.
And this may seem pretty peculiar at first but as we get farther and farther into Illustrator, particularly after I show you how live effects work, I think this will make a lot more sense to you and it actually works really nicely. It's actually a good thing, but right now it probably doesn't seem like it. I'll click OK in order to accept that modification. Now let's say you want to edit those rounded corners further. You change your mind and you say, No, no, I want it to be like 100 points of roundness, why then here's where things get a little strange. Since we're just, you know, since we're pretty early into the program here.
But you go to the Appearance palette, I'm going to click above the Appearance tab in order to reveal this palette because I collapsed it, and you'll see Assign to the selected path is this attribute right here rounded rectangle, and notice it's a live effect. You double-click on that live effect, brings up the Shape Options dialog box here and you change your mind by changing this value. You want 100 corner radius, then you click OK, and that's how you go about establishing a dynamic corner radius and modifying that corner radius inside of Illustrator.
Just one of those weird things. As I say, it will make a lot more sense as we get deeper into the program, but for now, I'm going to press Backspace key or the Delete key on the Mac, in order to get rid of that big, old rounded rectangle cause we don't want it. What we wanted was the rectangle I drew up there and these rectangles right here. I'm going to set up these rectangles at an angle and you're going to set them up with me in the very next exercise.
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