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Covering a wide range of topics, from advanced masking to chart creation, Illustrator CS4 Beyond the Basics reveals a whole new level of power, creativity, and efficiency with Illustrator. Instructor Mordy Golding explores how to work with Live Paint groups, get the most out of the Live Trace feature, and take advantage of Illustrator’s wide range of effects. He also discusses advanced transformation techniques, powerful 3D functionality, and important color concepts. Exercise files accompany the course.
Displaying data visually though the use of charts and graphs, for example, can be an extremely powerful way to convey information and the good news is that Illustrator has a nice set of tools to create these graphs and charts. The bad news is that Illustrator's graphs and charting tools haven't been updated since like version 6 and as such when you try to compare Illustrator's graphing functions to things like Excel or found in other applications, they fail in comparison. But not all is lost because you do have a tremendous amount of graphical capabilities in all the other areas inside of Illustrator and at the end of the day graphs and charts that are created inside of Illustrator are simply regular paths just like any other. As such you can use your own design towns to create great looking charts.
Now just to set the right expectations here as we start to work with graphing functions inside of Illustrator, you may look at this document here. It's called graphs.ai and it's a basically a weekly surf heights forecast and if you maybe wanted to take vacation and go surfing you can compare the actual surf heights forecast for let's say Hawaii and California here. The red bar is indicating the surf heights in Hawaii where as the purple bar over here represent California. I also have a nice little 3 dimensional pie chart over here and exploded actual view of a pie chart, which also represent the experience levels in years of the average number of people who actually attend and go surfing these areas.
When I'm actually creating the charts themselves, they don't look anything like this at all. In fact, in this document right over here I have two different artboards. I'm actually going to switch to my second artboard. I'm going to go down here on the bottom and I'm actually going to switch to artboard number 2. And you could see that this is actually the way that these charts were created. They are black and gray and they are kind of straightforward as far as the formatting is involved. Notice that there is no 3D effect here. It's not exploded in any way. So these are the charts that I created when I first inserted the data into Illustrator and only afterwards that I have to go then and style that information.
Now for smart about how we use Illustrator, we can use things like graphic styles and paragraph text styles to quickly style these charts just the way that we need them which is the few clicks of a mouse. For example, on this document if I open up my Graphic styles here you'll see that I have two styles; one created for Hawaii and one created for California. If I wanted to quickly style these chart to match the way that I had on the previous artboard, I could use my Group selection over here to actually click twice on Hawaii to basically select an entire data range and then with one click apply that particular style. I can click twice on the California legend over here and go ahead and apply that style as well.
So this is just one example of how if we really apply the smarts that we have learned throughout this entire training title, we can quickly see how we can format the data very easily. But before we jump right into learn how to create these graphs and charts inside of Illustrator, I just want to point out one thing; presenting data graphically in a meaningful way is actually an art and a science as well. While there are plenty of times for flashy things and drop shadows and so on and so forth that may not always be the best way to present data in the form of a chart or a graph. Remember that at the end of the day what you trying to do is convey a certain amount of information. And it's your job, as a designer, to make sure that message get through. In fact, if you are going to be creating a lot of charts and graphs, I highly recommend the great books published by Edward Tufte. As one of the leaders in the field of info graphics, you are sure t learn a lot from his insight. I'll close the Graphics Styles panel here and I switch back to artboard number 1 and now that we have a really good understanding exactly what we can expect out of creating charts and graphs inside of Illustrator, let's get started by creating some graphs.
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