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Knowing the fundamentals of drawing and reshaping paths is only part of the story. In Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Advanced, the second of the popular One-on-One series, computer graphics expert Deke McClelland covers some of Illustrator's most powerful and least understood features. He shows how to merge simple shapes to create complex ones with the Pathfinder palette, as well as align paths to create schematic illustrations. Deke explains how to paint fluid, multicolor fills with blends, and the new and improved gradient tool. He explores seamlessly repeating tile patterns, blobs and brushes, and imported images. He also dives into one of the deepest features in all of Illustrator, transparency. Exercise files accompany the tutorial.
Recommended prerequisite: Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals.
Download Deke's customized keyboard layouts and color settings for Illustrator from the Exercise Files tab.
Now that we've identified the rectangular tile, we're ready to actually define the tile pattern. And I've gone ahead and saved my progress as Rectangular tile.ai and I'm going to start things off by selecting everything that's on this layer. That's just the one layer so you could press Ctrl+A or Command+A on the Mac if you want to. And then I'm going to double-click on a Scale tool, because right now this tile pattern is way too big. It's ginormous. It's taking up our entire artboard. So I'll double-click on the Scale tool, and I'm going to enter a scale value of 25% and press the Tab key, and we can go ahead and Scale Strokes and Effects if we want to. It doesn't really matter because I'm going to change those strokes in just a second. So click OK, and now let's go ahead and zoom in on this item right here. And you know what, I'm going to zoom out and I'm going to go ahead and move these objects a little higher inside the artboard, because we are going to make three variations of this tile pattern, as long as we're at it here.
Now I'll zoom in, and I'm going to deselect the rectangle for just a moment, and I really want my objects to have white strokes, not black strokes, because I think that that's going to set them off better, because they have these dark fills going right now. So let's go ahead and change the stroke, the stroke is active. I'm going to change the stroke to white, and I'm also going to increase the Stroke value, the line weight to 1.5 points, and this is my tile pattern right there, this is what the patterns is going to like. All right, now let's grab the rectangle. Here is the magic, this is so bizarre, but here is what you do, and this is very important that you follow these steps exactly by the way.
First of all, you get that rectangle. It's in the right place, so don't move it. Leave it alone. Gust make sure that both fill and stroke are transparent, got to be that way, and here is the extra super important part. The rectangle has to go to back. Now, I was telling you if we were using this rectangle as a mask, it would have to be in front, but when it's masking a tile pattern, it's got to be in back. Don't ask me. These are the rules. I just follow them. Ctrl+Shift+Left Bracket or Command+Shift+Left Bracket on the Mac to send that rectangle to back.
Now select the entire group of objects right there, and what we are going to do is bring up the Swatches palette, there is a couple of different ways to work actually. One is you can go up to the Edit menu, and you can choose Define Pattern, and if you do that, then you'll get this dialog box that allows you to name the pattern, and I'm going to call mine Arabian garish like so, because this is a garish coloring scheme, and I'll click OK. As soon as you do that, you'll see this new pattern appear here inside the Swatches palette, and I know it doesn't look rectangular. It looks like it's a total mess. It doesn't look like the other ones, don't worry about that, this is the way you do it.
All right, so let's zoom out. And let's make some other variations on this tile pattern. I'm just going to drag these guys down here, and press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac and release, in order to create a clone of those objects. And then let's go ahead and switch over to the other coloring scheme. I'm going to do the same thing with the Eyedropper. So I'll press the I key to get the Eyedropper, I'll go ahead and click on this color right there, and that turns it into the stroke color, I didn't mean to do that. So let's press the X key to switch to the Fill, go ahead and scroll down the list and click on this color to make it the fill color, good. And then I'm going to Alt-click on the edge of this star right here.
Now this is going to fail I believe actually, and you know what? Just because it's hard to click on the borders of all of these objects here. I'm going to press Ctrl+K or Command+K on the Mac in order to bring up the Preferences dialog box, and I'm going to switch to Selection & Anchor Display, and I'm actually going to turn this check-box off for once in my life, so that we can actually click on the interior of these shapes in order to color them, and I'll click OK. Now, the reason I say this is going to fail, if I'll Alt-click or Option-click on the star, I'm going to assign the wrong stroke, as you can see right there.
Then I went ahead and pressed Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on the Mac. I need to change the stroke to white, if I can find it, and I've got so many swatches here, there is white, and I'm going to change the stroke weight to 1.5, oops! I entered a comma. I thought I was in Europe, 1.5 here, there we go, and now I'm going to press the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac, and click on the stars, still have the Alt or Option key down. Next I'm going to switch to this sort of rose color right there. And I'm going to Alt-click or Option-click on all of the violet shapes, in order to fill them with that new color, and then I'm going to click on this beige to make it the new fill color, and I'm going to Alt- click or Option-click on all of the orange shapes in order to fill them with beige. Then I'll get my Black Arrow tool, or Marquee this group of objects, I've got the rectangle. That's very important.
Here's another way to make a tile pattern inside of Illustrator. You grab your objects. And you drag them and drop them into the Swatches palette. Now that fails to name the new swatch, so go ahead and double-click on it, and we'll call this one Arabian geometric. Is what I was calling this pattern. You can call it Arabian muted, or whatever you want to, click OK. And then finally, I'm going to create another duplicate of these objects here, by dragging them and then Alt or Option dropping them to new location on the page, and this time around, oh, oh, oh, classic bad maneuver on my part. Let's go ahead and undo a couple of operations, because notice what happened. I'll press Ctrl+H or Command+H on the Mac so you can see. I just filled all of my shapes with the tile pattern, because I double-clicked on that tile pattern to name it while they were still selected. So I just made a huge mess of things.
So I've got to press Ctrl+Z or Command+ Z until I regain my original colors. I still have my tile pattern. It's not named properly inside the Swatches palette. Press Ctrl+H or Command+H to bring back my selection edges, click off the objects in order to deselect them, then go to the Swatches palette, double-click and rename this one, Arabian. You know what? I'm going to call it Arabian muted. All right, then I'll click OK. And I'll once again duplicate these objects, like so, by pressing the Alt or Option key before I drop them, and then click off the shapes, and actually you know what, I want them all selected. I'll select them all again, and then I'll Shift-click on the rectangle to deselect it. The rectangle needs to remain transparent.
All right, and now I'm going to go ahead and assign to the fill, so the fill needs to be active. Is it? Yes, I can see it is down here at the bottom of the toolbox. I want to go ahead and assign this copper radial gradient to all of my shapes. Now I'll select the whole bunch like so, and scroll down to an open part of the Swatches palette, drag and drop them right there into that new location, click off the shapes in order to deselect them, so they don't go coloring them with the tile pattern, and double-click, and I'll call this one Arabian gradient, or something along those lines, and then click OK, and I've now successfully created three tile patterns.
So the question becomes, will they work? Will we be able to fill an object with the repeating seamless tile pattern based on what we've done so far? We'll see the answer to that question in the next exercise.
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