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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.
I've gone ahead and modified my artwork a little bit, and saved my changes as Revised brush.ai, so called because I revised that 9 point back brush, here inside the Brushes palette. In this exercise, I'm going to show you how to replace and extend and smooth over brush strokes using the Paintbrush tool here in Illustrator. So, let's start things off by selecting this main path right there. If you want to modify an existing brush stroke with a Brush tool then you start by selecting it and then you go over and grab the Paintbrush tool or press the B key for brush and then using my tablet once again, I'm going to paint pretty carefully actually from this path right here. Notice I started by painting along that one segment and I'm trying to paint a more flourishing mane, befitting of Eunice right there, and that looks pretty darn good.
So I just went ahead and change the direction of my path while retaining the former area of the path outline right there. So you can modify path using the Brush tool here inside of Illustrator. So that's pretty great! Now the tool isn't always super predictable, and if you end up completely making the path go kaflooey and you yank off the front of the hair as you paint it in this direction, then just press Ctrl+Z, try again, and try painting right along that one segment there. And I'll tell you more about how to give that a result out of the Paintbrush in the next exercise.
Then I'm going to go ahead and select these two paths right there by Ctrl-marqueeing or Command- marqueeing and of course, pressing the Ctrl or Command key gives me the Arrow tool on the fly. You could if you prefer, just press the V key to get to the Arrow tool and I'm going to Ctrl+Shift-click or Command+Shift-click on this leg to deselect it, and what I want to do is I want to connect these two paths together. Now what you don't want to do is you don't want to use the Join command. You don't want to move the end points together and then join them and let me show you why. Let's go ahead and grab the Black Arrow tool for a moment and move these paths together, and I have got a little bit of an extra point right there that I'm going to get rid of, with a White Arrow tool, select that point and delete it, like so.
Then I'll drag this point until it snaps into alignment with the other path and then I'll select those two coincident points now and I'll press Ctrl+J or of course, I could go up to this icon in the Control palette and say Connect selected end points. So either one is going to work and then you'll get this little Join dialog box asking you if you want to join it as a corner point or a smooth point, whatever you prefer, I'm going to say Smooth and then notice as soon as I do that, that I wipe out all of the information that was associated with that brush stroke. So I just wiped out the bearing and the tilt and the pressure information for that entire path outline.
Now I'm not sure why Illustrator goes ahead and does it but it does do it and so you want to watch that one. So joining paths together does not tend to be a good idea, not joining them using Ctrl +J or the Join command or any of the techniques we have seen so far. Instead here's what you do. I'll press Ctrl+Z, a few times actually in a row there, Command+Z on the Mac, of course, to undo those modifications and then I'm going to switch back to my Black Arrow tool by pressing the V key. I'm going to marquee these two paths without selecting this forward leg. That works out nicely.
Make sure they're selected, then press the B key to get the brush once again, and using my stylus, this is very important that you stick with your stylus, if you start with the stylus, stick with the stylus and then I'm going to paint from this location right there, like so and release right there and then notice what that does is that goes ahead and extends this path upward but it does not connect the two paths together. So let's try that again. Let me show you a special trick. Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on the Mac, the two paths are still selected. They need to be selected if you are going to join them, then drag from one of them like so and before you release on the other one, press and hold the Ctrl key on the PC or the Command key on the Mac, and then release and that will go ahead and join those two together.
So press Ctrl or Command on the release to fuse two open paths into one with the Paintbrush tool. And one other thing, I want to show if you press and hold the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac, you get this little smooth tool right there. Do you see that cursor? Another way to get to it, by the way, is to go to the Pencil tool, click and hold on it and choose the Smooth tool from the Pencil tool flyout menu. So either way it works and this Smooth tool by the way is applicable to paths drawn with any tool inside Illustrator. So you can use it on your lumpy pen tool paths as well if you want.
Anyway, I'm going to switch back to the brush and I'm going to press the Alt or Option key and I'm going to paint along this line to smooth it out, just a little bit and maybe smooth this area as well and notice it can add points, it can delete points, you never know, but it should smooth out the outline a little bit and take some of the rumples out of the equation. Then I'm going to Ctrl-click or Command-click on this rump pump right there and I'm going to, oops, I just started dragging. That's not going to be good. I'll go ahead and undo that modification. I will press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac and drag over this area in order to round off the rump just a little bit more. So those are your options, so remember you can paint along a path with the brush tool in order to extend it or change its direction, as we've saw with the main.
You can fuse two paths into one open path, that is to say into one, by pressing and holding the Ctrl key or the Command key. When you release on the other selected path and then you can Alt+Drag or Option+Drag along the selected path and in each case, the paths have to be selected throughout. Alt+Drag or Option+Drag in order to smooth it. In the next exercise, I'll show you what to do when the Paintbrush tool goes wrong.
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