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Illustrator Insider Training: Rethinking the Essentials is the first installment in a series of courses designed to show experienced Illustrator users to how master core features and build art more efficiently. Adobe Illustrator has evolved dramatically over the years, and many creative professionals may be missing out on features that have been added to the latest versions. This course takes a fresh approach to core concepts, such as paths, attributes, object hierarchy, groups, and layers. Advanced techniques such as combining multiple effects and customizing textures are also included. Exercise files and a free worksheet are included with the course.
We've already seen that using appearances allows us to create very nice designs. For example, right here I've created a shape and I've used multiple stroke attributes to get this beautiful border. However, you can quickly see how this can reveal some kind of a problem inside of Illustrator. For example, maybe I want to use this exact same border on multiple objects inside of my design. As I see over here in this file called styles.ai, I have three flower designs at the bottom of my document, and maybe I want each of those flowers to have that same type of nice border.
Do I have to start selecting each of those flowers and apply multiple strokes and change the settings of each of those strokes? That can get tedious in a hurry. So what we want to do is become more efficient by actually saving appearances as something called graphic styles. With graphic styles, we can easily apply the same appearance to multiple objects inside of our documents. Now, I'm going to start off by actually pulling out the Graphic Styles panel here, and I'm actually going to just click and drag so that it touches the bottom part of this panel, the Appearance panel.
You can see a little blue line appears at the bottom. I'm now going to release the mouse and now the Graphic Styles panel is kind of like docked to the appearance panel, so they both move together. Now by default, the Graphic Styles panel appears here in this Icon view. I'm actually going to go ahead and change that to a List view. I am going to go to the flyout menu of the Graphic Styles panel. I'm going to choose to view this in a Small List view. This is just going to show me the names of the graphic styles. For some reason, I just find it a lot easier to reference graphic styles by their names than it is to try to figure out and understand how those little tiny chiclet icons may represent how that graphic style may look when it's applied to artwork.
Now in this document, all we have is a default style. Now, I already have an object here that contains multiple stroke attributes on it. When I have it selected, you can see in the Appearance panel that I have four different stroke attributes each with different settings here applied to that single object. What I'd like to do is I like to capture that information and save it so that I can easily apply that exact same border to multiple objects to my document. Now a lot of people don't fully grasp exactly what a graphic style is because one of the ways that you can actually save a graphic style, or define a graphic style, is by taking any piece of artwork from your artboard and dragging it into the Graphic Styles panel.
That saves it as a graphic style. But in my mind, I may think that I'm actually saving that object as a graphic style, which is not the case. I'm going to press Undo here for a second. What a graphic style actually is is a saved appearance. So let's talk about a different way of actually creating a graphic style inside of Illustrator. I have this object selected, so I can actually see that there are four stroke attributes applied to that object. If you take a look at the top of the Appearance panel, I have the word "Path" that appears in bold which is my target, and just to the left of that target is an icon, which we call it the thumbnail.
The thumbnail just gives me a quick graphic representation of what that appearance looks like. Between you and me, that little thumbnail is way too small for me to really make any good use out of it; however, it does give me a way to create a graphic style in a way that lets me better understand exactly what that style is, because another way to create a graphic style is to actually take that thumbnail and click and drag that thumbnail into the Graphic Styles panel. You'll see now my mind is not saying "Oh! I'm dragging the object into the Graphic Styles panel," because I might think that I'm taking the structure of that file and saving it as a graphic style.
Now, I'm taking the appearance, meaning just the presentation values, and I'm capturing that information, and I'm saving that as graphic style. So when I release the mouse now, I'm now going to double-click on the word Graphics Styles here to give it a name. And let's call this one loops, a nice little border name for this. So I've now created a graphic style called loops, and what is that graphic style? It is a captured set of appearances. The only thing that is contained in that graphic style is presentation information.
There is no structure information. There are no paths. There are no anchor points. There are no control handles at all. All there are inside of that are captured settings of strokes, and maybe fills and live effects if that appearance contains it. Now, in this case here we're dealing strictly with stroke information, so that graphic style just has stroke information. Now, let's see how we actually apply those graphic styles. I'm going to select this shape right over here and just simply come over to the Graphic Styles panel and click on loops. What I've done is I've actually taken my object, which had certain presentation values-- it had a default fill and stroke-- and I've replaced those presentation values with the values that were inside of the graphic style called loops.
So before my object had a fill and a stroke. Now this object has no fill, but it has four different strokes. Now, if I wanted to apply that same graphic style to these other two flowers here, I may went into a problem. Let me explain. If I select this middle flower right here, which is still this light yellow color, and I now apply the graphic styles hoping that I'm now going to get that border design added to my shape, I'm actually going to see that I'm going to lose that yellow fill color. That's because I've completely replaced the presentation values of that object with the presentation values that were present in the graphic style.
I'm going to press Undo. You see I actually want to add the presentation values to this object without removing what's already there. Now, the nice thing is that as of Illustrator CS4, there is a way to actually do that. Instead of just clicking on the loops graphic style, I'm going to press and hold the Option key on my keyboard. Now, I'm on a Mac, so if you're on a PC or on a Windows machine, press and hold down the Alt key while you perform this action. I'm now going to click on the same graphic style, the loops graphic style.
But because I had my finger on the Option key, Illustrator takes the appearances that are inside of the graphic style, and it appends them to the existing artwork. Or it adds them while keeping the existing ones intact. Notice that the fill is still there. However, in this case here, all the strokes were added beneath the fill in the attribute's stacking order. To correct that problem, I simply have to take the fill and drag it to the bottom of the stacking order, and now I get the effect that I'm looking for. Let's try that one more time on the purple flower. I'll select the purple flower, I'll hold down the Option key, and I'll click on the loops graphic style.
Now, I'll just move the fill down to the bottom. So we now know that if I want to apply graphic style, I can save or capture the Appearance settings of any object, and then simply apply those Appearance settings to any other object inside of my file. If I want to append those settings to an existing object, I can do so by applying the graphic style while holding down the Option or the Alt key.
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