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In Illustrator CS5 One-on-One: Mastery, the third and final part of the comprehensive Illustrator One-on-One series, author and industry expert Deke McClelland shows how to take advantage of the wide array of dynamic effects in Illustrator CS5. Deke explores Illustrator’s powerful Gradient Mesh feature, great for creating photorealistic airbrushing effects. He also covers graphic styles, the liquify tools, envelope-style distortions, the new Bristle Brushes, 3D text, and perspective drawing. Exercise files accompany the course.
I've saved my progress as Roly-poly fuzzy-wuzzy.ai, found inside the 26_Brushes folder, and in this exercise we're going to take this caterpillar of a path outline that I've created and we are going to define that as a proper art brush that we can use to stroke our letterforms. So notice here inside the Layers panel that I've got a group set inside of a group. We don't really actually need that larger group, even; we already got it out of another group. But we don't need the big group either. So meatball the big group, if you're working along with me, go up to the Object menu and choose Ungroup or press Ctrl+Shift+G, Command+Shift+G on the Mac.
Now, we've got a group with the path outline below. Now the path outline, this rectangular path, that determines how the brush fits the path outline, and that's a very important thing to have there. So leave it alone. However, the group is inelegant in my opinion. It's got all these little bits of junk inside of it that we're never going to want to edit independently of each other; much better to take the group and convert it into a compound path. So I am going to meatball that group item which incorporates the entire caterpillar path outline, and I am going to go up to the Object menu, choose Compound Path, and choose Make.
Normally, that goes ahead and converts all the selected paths into a compound path. In our case, it's going to take the group and convert it into a compound path. You can also press Ctrl+8, or Command+8 on the Mac. Now, notice we have, as I say, a more elegant compound path solution. Much better in my opinion, as well. All right! I am going to marquee both of these items, and I am going to drag them down a little bit, and then I'm going to drag them upward while pressing the Shift and Alt keys, or the Shift and Option keys on the Mac, to create a clone. Now we have two different versions of this path outline, which makes sense because I've called this layer "chalk alts," plural, meaning that I am going to try a few different alternatives, because I really don't know what's going to work.
Until I apply this art brush, this modified art brush to my path outline, I'm not going to know whether it looks good or not. So I am going to take this guy because I am not really sure about this edge here, I just want to cleave it away. So I am going to take this rectangular outline, and I'm going to use it to mask away those bad edges--not with a clipping mask, but rather with a pathfinder operation. So I'll bring up my Pathfinder panel, and I am going to click the third icon in the top row, Intersect, which is going to find the intersection of these two path outlines. Hide the Pathfinder panel. Notice now that I've gone ahead and cleaved away those extra edges.
So we'll see which one works better. All right! Now I am going to bring up my Brushes panel, and there are a couple of different things you can do. You can just drag this guy, and drop it into the Brushes panel. Or if you want to replace an existing brush definition, you can drag on top of it like so. This is the chalk round brush. This is the one I assigned to the letters, and you can press the Alt key, or the Option key on a Mac, and notice with Alt or Option down you get this heavy rectangle which shows you that you're going to replace the old definition with the new one. If you do that--I am just sort of walking you through how it's going to work.
You don't necessarily need to do this part with me, because I disapprove with this approach. But you'll bring up the Art Brush Options dialog box, you can change the name if you want to. You can predefine a size so that it's thicker or thinner than normal when assigned to the brush. Generally, not the best way to work, but you can do so. You can also say I always want it to be pressure sensitive or something along those lines. We'll come back to that width point options in a later exercise. Notice you also have the Scale options. You can scale proportionally. Bad idea because it's going to inflate the brush in the middle as it traverses long path outlines, which always looks horrible, at least where natural, sort of conventional art brushes are concerned.
You can stretch to fit the stroke length. That's a great idea in my opinion. Or you can stretch between guides. Do you recall back in the Symbols chapter in the Advanced portion of the series, I was explaining to you how nine-slice scaling works inside of Illustrator CS5? Well, that's what's going on with Stretch Between Guides. You can set up some guides, and you can say you only want to stretch that area of the brush, and then the ends don't get stretch. Totally an option if you want to go to that much effort. We don't have any guides to work with, so I am going to select Stretch to Fit Stroke Length.
You can also change the direction if you want to. This is the best setting, Stroke From Left To Right. And what it really means, because it has nothing to do with left to right, it has everything to do with the direction of the path outline. So you want the beginning of your brush, the left-hand side, to be at the beginning of the brushstroke. So I guess, that's where left or right comes in. It's left or right side of your brush. Then the right side of the brush is mapped to the end of the path outline. You could switch it the other direction if you want to, but bear in mind, you need to know every one of these settings can be modified later on down the line.
So you don't have to get everything right when you're creating the brush in the first place. You may, for some weird reason--I can't imagine why you would do this--but you can create a brush that's perpendicular to the path outline, if you want to, and you may find use for that. But 99% of the time you're going to go with this guy, the second icon in, From Left To Right. You can also flip along and flip across. Flip Along is going to flip along the length of the path outline; Flip Across is going to flip across the width of the path outline. Again, these are not decisions you need to make in advance; those are decisions you make after you apply the brush to a path outline.
Here is a change you do need to make. Method should be set to Tints, not to None, and None maybe your default settings. Tints is the better setting when you're working with a black art brush definition like this, it will go ahead and map the black to the color that you've assigned to the stroke. So this is the way to work. Finally, you've got these Overlap options. These are new to Illustrator CS5. In the old days, you just had this one icon right here. You actually didn't have the icon. This was the old behavior though, which is to say there was no adjustment at corner points.
So you could get some awfully weird edges going at the corners if you want better edges. And what happens is Illustrator actually stretches the Art Brush definition at the corners if you select this second TP right here. When in doubt, leave that second icon selected, and then go ahead and click on the OK button. Now, you should notice, if you were working in a Preview mode--I am working in Outline mode right now--and you could see your text, the text to which this art brush has been applied, you could not see the changes on the fly. This Preview check box really isn't functional.
You are not going to see the difference between the new art brush and the old Art Brush. It's going to look exactly the same, until you click OK and then you'd have to click on Apply to Strokes in order to not only to modify the core art brush definition, but also to apply it to all effected strokes inside of your illustration. That's not the way I want to work though, because A, we can't preview our changes, so what's the point? And B, we'd be getting rid of something that we know works. At least it's the devil we know, in other words. This devil we don't know, who knows how it's going to turn out.
It could be better, or just as likely, it could be worse than the cure. So I'm going to cancel out here, and what I am going to do instead is create a new art brush, and I'll show you exactly how that works in the next exercise.
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