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In Illustrator CS5 Essential Training, author Mordy Golding explains the core concepts and techniques that apply to any workflow in Illustrator, whether designing for print, the web, or assets for other applications. This course includes a detailed explanation of the elements that make up vector graphics—paths, strokes, and fills—and shows how to use each of the Illustrator drawing tools. Also demonstrated are techniques for combining and cleaning up paths, organizing paths into groups and layers, text editing, working with color, effects, and much more. Exercise files accompany the course.
So, we know that when using Illustrator, if I want to copy the appearance of one object and apply it to another, I could use the Eyedropper tool to do that. However, if I have many objects that I want to copy attributes to, using the Eyedropper tool repeatedly can be quite tedious. More so, if I then realize, after I have applied many objects with the Appearance panel, in addition, if I later decide that I want to make a small modification to all those objects, I would need to reapply all the appearances again.
That's why, inside of Illustrator, there is a far more efficient way of managing appearances. And that's using something called Graphic Styles. Graphic Styles is a way to save, or capture, the full appearance of any artwork and then apply that appearance to any other artwork. In addition, you could always make modifications to those styles. Any object that has those styles applied to them will update accordingly. Let's see how that works. I'm going to start out by going to the Window menu and opening up my Graphic Styles panel.
In fact, quite often, I use the Graphic Styles panel together with my Appearance panel. So for now, I'm just going to kind of pull it out here ad even have it attached towards right here at the bottom of the Appearance panel, so they kind of act as if they are one big panel. Here's the way how to define a Graphic Style. I have this shape right over here. It has a simple Fill and a Stroke applied to it. I want to capture that appearance. Remember, I'm not saving the path right now. All I'm thinking about are the attributes that are applied to that path, in this case, a green fill and a 2-point black stroke.
I'm going to go to my Appearance panel, and right next to where it says the Object, which is currently a Compound Path, I have this little icon here. We call this a thumbnail. It basically gives me a small preview of what the appearance looks like. I'm going to take that thumbnail, click on it and drag that thumbnail into the Graphic Styles panel. Now I've created a Graphic Style. I've captured all of the appearance settings of that object. I'm going to double-click on it to give it a name. Let's call this one green flower.
I'll click OK, and you could see now this object is currently selected. In the Appearance panel, not only is the Appearance panel telling me that I have a Compound Path selected; it's also telling me that the green flower Graphic Style is currently applied to that object. Let's now create, or define, another Graphic Style. For example, this one down here has the exact same attribute as the one above, with one addition. This one has a Drop Shadow applied to it.
Once again, I'll just take the thumbnail, drag it into the Graphic Styles panel, and I'm going to double-click on it. I'm going to call it green flower with shadow. So right now, we've defined two Graphic Styles. Let's apply them to our objects. So remember before, if I wanted to click on this object and have it pick up some other appearance settings, I may have used the Eyedropper tool. Well, now instead, I'm just going to select this object, and then click on one of the styles. If I wanted to use the Drop Shadow style, I'll click on this one right here and now the object picks up the Drop Shadow.
I can click on these over here and do the same. Now I'm going to deselect my objects here. The real benefit of using a Graphic Style is not that I can just quickly apply a similar style across multiple objects; it's that I can now modify or make changes to that style as needed. Let's see how we can modify that style. I'm going to come over here to my Graphic Styles panel. You'll see that as I click on the styles, I have no artwork selected on my artboard right now. So you can see my Appearance panel says, No Selection.
But it does tell me that it's currently displaying the settings for the green flower Graphic Style, because right now my Graphic Style is selected in the Graphic Styles panel. You see when using the Graphic Styles panel and the Appearance panel together, each time I click on a style, I see the appearance settings for that style. So in this case here, we've applied Drop Shadows to all of these objects. Now remember, none of them are selected right now, but let's say my client comes back and tells me that that Drop Shadow is a little bit too extreme.
And you know something? This Stroke setting is also a little bit too thick. So we want to make some adjustments to the style. I had the style selected now, in the Graphic Styles panel, so I see all of its settings in the Appearance panel. I'm going to change to Stroke setting here to about half a point. I'm also going to click on the Drop Shadow and change its Opacity value to 40%. I'm now going to click OK. Now at this point, I haven't made any changes yet. However, if I go to the flyout menu here, there is a setting at the bottom called Redefine Graphic Style "green flower shadow".
You see, Illustrator knows that I had first clicked on this icon here to load the settings of this Graphic Style into the Appearance panel. And now, it saw me make some changes to those settings. So maybe I want to actually have those changes be incorporated back into the style. So, I'm going to choose Redefine Graphic Style "green flower with shadow". When I do so, all the objects of my artboard will automatically update to reflect that change in the style, without me having to select them to begin with.
So, it's a way for me to make changes to my document without having to actually physically go into my document, select those objects and make those changes. This is an incredibly powerful way of working with Illustrator and managing changes throughout the course of working on a document. So, when you're working on a file, it's best to think about where you might be able to apply and use Graphic Styles, so that you can save a tremendous amount of time and be more productive.
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