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Adobe Illustrator has long been a popular vector–based drawing program, but for many the learning curve is steep. In Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals, author and leading industry expert Deke McClelland shows users how to get in to the Illustrator mindset and overcome this learning curve. He covers the application's key features in a new way, making it simple and easy to master Illustrator. Deke teaches viewers how to use the core drawing and shape tools, the transformation and reshaping features, text, and the Pen tool. He also explains how to export and print. Even if learning Illustrator has been a struggle in the past, this training can help make sense of it. Exercise files accompany the course.
In this exercise, I'm going to show you two things. First of all, how to resize your Blob Brush on the fly, and then I'm going to show you how to use the Eraser tool right here, which is an older tool inside of Illustrator; how to use that tool in order to erase portions of the illustration that you don't really like. So I have got this crude hand here that I have been working on. If you want to check out my progress so far, you can open up this illustration called Babys 1st blobs, found inside the 07_edit_transform folder. Notice that we have a little bit of a problem associated with this area right here, or at least I do, I have got some chunkiness right there, and I would like to smooth it out a bit. I don't want to turn it ultra smooth.
So I want to go at it with a smaller brush. You may recall that in the previous exercise I set the brush Diameter to 30 points, and that's pretty big as you can see. That's a whopping big brush. To change that brush, I could double click on the Blob Brush tool icon here in the toolbox, and then ask for a different Size value. Notice, you can't modify the size up here in the Control palette, so the Control palette is going to do nothing for you where modifying the brush is concerned. So I could change the Size value right here, but what a pain in the neck to have to visit this dialog box each and every time you want to change the size of your brush, which is why it's so wonderful that you don't have to do that.
I'm going to cancel out of here. To change the size of a brush on the fly, you press the Square Bracket keys (Left bracket, Right bracket); the ones that are just to the right of the P key on an American keyboard. So if I press the Left bracket key, I'm going to make the brush incrementally smaller, and if I press the Right bracket key, I'm going to make it incrementally bigger. So I want a smaller brush. So I'll just go ahead and press that Left bracket key a few times, or you can press and hold if you want to, although it moves pretty fast, just so that you know. Then I'm going to go into this area here, this rough area, and I'm going to paint it in better with my pressure- sensitive stylus. I said I'm working with a Wacom tablet, but this happens to be a Wacom Intuos3, in case you are curious.
All right. Let's go ahead and fill that out a little bit. That's just looking-- ugh, I'm doing a terrible job. That's just looking completely lumpy. But you know what, I'm relatively unconcerned by my terrible job, because I'm going to follow up these modifications here with the Eraser tool. So we also have the Eraser tool located right below the Blob Brush, and that should give you a signal that these guys are designed to worked together. You can get to the tool by pressing Shift+E or by clicking on the tool. All right. Now all you have to do at this point in the graphic is just erase away the portions of this layer that you don't like. It's going to work out better for you. You are going to get a better sense of how things are working if only this My Blobs layer that you are working on is active. You don't want a bunch of other layers active, because Illustrator is going to preview your erasing as if you are erasing the contents of all layers, but you are really only going to affect one layer at a time.
We will see that there is other ways to limit the Eraser tool as well, that you will need to know about before you get too far into using the tool, but right now we just want to get a feel for it, I think. You can see that it's delivering some pretty good results. So when you are erasing, it shows you these really jagged transitions. That's just a screen preview issue, as soon as you release, you see your smooth paths, just as you do always inside of Illustrator. All right. I'll go ahead and erase into here as well, and this to me is looking pretty good. If you wanted to make some more modifications, of course you certainly can. Have a ball with that tool. Play with it as long as you want.
Actually, you know what, I'm going to make my cursor smaller and notice, the Bracket keys also let me change the size of the Eraser cursor. I just want to round this off a little bit so that we don't have problems with it later. That's looking pretty good. Again, you want to go back and forth between these tools. If you end up scalloping an edge, as I kind of did right here, and I'll just make it more obvious. I did one of these there. Then you can press Shift+B to return to your Blob Brush and then try to make it better, try to round it off a little more, without adding in any awfulness, which is going to happen. I mean you are going to get some lumpy results using this tool.
All righty, so things are looking pretty good I think. In the next exercise, I'm going to show you how to further finesse a behavior of the Blob Brush.
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