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Another great way to expedite your design process and really enhance your workflow is to use something called graphic styles inside of Illustrator. If you are familiar with layer styles in Photoshop, this should be a snap for you, because layer styles and graphic styles are essentially the same thing. You are saving the appearance of an object as a reusable state, which you can then apply instantaneously to different parts of your design. So in this movie we are going to cover how to create graphic styles here inside of Illustrator, and then also how to save them out so you can use them in other projects as well.
The first thing I'm going to do is zoom in on this play button here, and we are going to create a graphic style for the background of this button. So I'll select it first with my Selection tool and then I'm going to add a stroke to it, first of all. So I'll just come up to the Control panel, and I'll click a few times to add a 5-point stroke. Then I'm going to make sure that I'm working in the Appearance panel. The Appearance panel and the Graphic Styles panel are both going to be essential for this exercise, so I'll drag this over to the left, so I have it out. And I'm also going to find the Graphic Styles panel, which is here. You can also go to Window and select Graphic Styles to bring it up.
And I'll dock it right underneath the Appearance panel. That way I can see it. And so, once I have both of those out there, I have everything I need to sort of construct this appearance that I'm working on. So with that selected, I'm going to make sure that I'm targeting the stroke, so I'll select that to make sure the stroke is the active part that I'm targeting, and then I'm going to come over to the Swatches panel. I'm going to add a gradient stroke. Now it should be noted that this is only available in Adobe Illustrator CS6, so if you have CS5 or earlier, you will not be able to assign a gradient stroke to your object.
You can just assign a regular color stroke, no big deal. I'm going to assign the gradient to this. Then with that selected, I'm going to go to the Gradient panel, change the Angle to something like -90, and then I'll target the black color stop, and I'll change that to a lighter gray by dragging over. And once I see the big green plus, release, and it changes the color for me. And once I have that done, I'm going to come back over to the Appearance panel and make sure I'm targeting the full path and I'm going to add a drop shadow to it. So we'll go to Effect > Stylize > Drop Shadow.
I'll turn on my Preview. And so I'm going to reduce the X Offset and Y Offset to 0; the Blur radius, I'm going to crank that up to about 4; and the Opacity, I might back that down to about 85. I want a nice definition between the foreground and background though, make it look a little bit more 3D. And I'll hit OK. You'll notice as I do this that everything is being recorded in my Appearance panel, I've got the stroke, I've got the fill, I've got the drop shadow; everything is coming into place just like I need it to be. Now the last part of this puzzle is to change the fill opacity, so I'm going to the fill here, toggle down the little triangle, and click on the Opacity for that, and change that to about 80.
And by doing that, that's going to reduce the overall opacity of the design, so I can see through it a little bit. Now with the drop shadow applied, it's a little bit a harder to see, so I'm might actually crank that back down a little bit more. Something like 60% looks nice. So now I'll collapse that back up and toggle the fill closed. And so basically what I have done is added a gradient stroke, changed the opacity of the fill, and added a drop shadow to this. And so what I need to do now is save this as a reusable graphic style. So I will come down to Graphic Styles panel and I'll click New Graphic Style.
That creates a brand-new graphic style for me here, and I can double-click it and call this Button Style. Hit OK. It allows me to rename it. And now I want to add a style for the play button as well, and so in order to do that, the first thing I'm going to do is look in the Appearance panel and I'm going to add a new fill on top of it, and I'm going to change the fill to be a gradient fill. You can do this from Swatches panel or from the little dropdown menu right here; either one works. I'm then going to target the gradient here, change this to even a lighter gray, something like that, maybe a little bit darker, just to give it a little bit of definition.
So we've got that taken care of. And I'm going to go to Effect and I'll choose Apply Drop Shadow. I want it to have the drop shadow effect as the previous piece. And so now I'll go down and click Create New Graphic Style. It creates a graphic style to match. I'll double-click and call this Control Style. So two styles I've created now. And I'm going to reset my workspace really quickly and zoom out with Command+0 or Ctrl+0. And my Graphic Styles are right here. I'll just keep those open and watch what happens. Watch how easily I can apply styles to everything on this page. So I'll select this button, give it this graphic style, select the controls, give those the graphic style, this button, select these individual control points. There we go! Select this, boom! And the last one, just like so.
When I click away, you can see I've created some nice three-dimensional-looking buttons, all by reusing that graphic style that I created for each one of those individual controls. And so now if I wanted to make these available to other projects or even share these with people in my workgroup, it's very easy to do that as well. What I'm going to do now is make sure I don't have anything selected on my canvas. I'm going to come over and select a few of these graphic styles, the ones that are in here by default, because I don't need them. And I'm just Shift+Clicking those, and I'll click the little trashcan, say Yes to delete those, and so I now have just the two that I had there.
And so if I want to save those out as our own library, I'll just go to this little panel menu. I'll choose Save Graphic Style Library. It's going to bring me to the Graphic Style library folder, and I'll call this button_styles and hit Save. And so now, even if I create a new document--File > New, here we go. Let's say I wanted to create a button, so I'll drag this out, and create just a blank button like so. If I wanted to apply that same graphic style in a brand-new document, I'll go to the Graphic Styles panel--notice it's not available to me, so I have to go to the little library icon here--go to User Defined and select button_styles. They pop up for me.
I can then click and it adds on that graphic style, just like it would in the other document as well. So hopefully by now you have a better understanding of what graphic styles are and how you can use them on your designs, and also how you can save those out and share them with other people in your workgroup or other projects that you might be working on.
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