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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.
Throughout this entire video training title, you've seen how important both the Appearance panel and the Layers panel are. Yet, if you take a look at Adobe's Essentials workspace, which is basically the default setting when you open up Illustrator, you can see that both of those panels-- the Appearance panel here and the Layers panel--are kind of buried closely towards the bottom of the screen. In fact, when you expand this, they're barely visible at all. Appearance and Layers are both collapsed. Now, we've also seen how we could use both the Appearance and the Graphic Styles panel side by side.
Yet, the way that they're currently set up now inside of the Essentials workspace, even if I have the Appearance panel visible, I can never see the Appearance panel and the Graphic Styles panel simultaneously. I would have the like click on a graphic style and then switch back to the Appearance panel to view its settings. Now, we've also seen that the Appearance panel itself is extremely powerful, because I can apply fills and strokes directly from the panel itself. I can actually bring up the Stroke panel by clicking on the Stroke panel here. And not only can I bring up the Swatches panel by clicking on a fill color right here, if I hold down the Shift key when I click on this icon, it actually brings up the sliders which are available inside of the Color panel.
So, if you think about it, because I can access all that information, do I really need to have the Swatches panel and the Color panel always visible on my screen? Sure, they're colorful and they kind of brighten up on my screen a little bit, but from a usability standpoint, it seems like somewhat of a waste of space. So, what I'd like to do is just take a few moments here to share with you how I will like to set up my screen. Now, I am not saying that you should create a workspace that matches mine exactly; the whole point of a workspace is that it matches a way that you work.
However, maybe I will give you a few pointers so that when you actually build you workspace, you have a great headstart. The first thing I am going to do here is I am actually going to bring up my Appearance panel, my Graphic styles Panel--I know I am going to be using those--my Layers panel. I do find the Artboards panel to be really useful as well. Now, first thing I am going to start doing is really start bringing out the panel that I know that I use often. I am going to drag out the Swatches panel here. I am not going to really use the Swatches panel, because I know that I can access it directly from the pop-up menu here inside of the Appearance panel, so I am going to close the Swatches panel.
And let's say the Brushes panel, we actually are going to use brushes, we are going to use symbols, because those are great library elements. And I can also pull out the Strokes panel here. Now, I know I am not going to use that because again I can access the full stroke panel just by clicking on the word stroke right here. Likewise, I can access the full Transparency panel by clicking on anywhere to Opacity, be it up over here or here, so the Transparency panel also for me kind of has no use. The Gradient panel does have value. I do use some of the settings inside of the Gradient panel, so I am going to leave that available.
I don't use the Color panel. Like I said, we can actually access that directly through the Appearance panel, so I am going to close the Color panel. But the Color Guide is useful to me, so I am going to leave the Color Guide available. So, notice now I have no more dock on the right side of my screen. So, let's start building what will eventually be our workspace here. I am going to start with the Appearance panel. I am going to grab it by its tab and drag it to the far right of the screen, until I see that little part animate out, see that little blue bar. I may let go the mouse, and now I have created a dock that contains the Appearance panel inside of it.
Now, I also want to add the Layers panel to this. Those are the two panels that I am going to use most often. So, I am going to take the Layers panel and grab it by its tab. I don't want o to drag it in here, because I don't want it to become grouped with the Appearance panel. I kind of want to drag it to the bottom of the screen, and now you can see there is a little blue bar that appears at the bottom of screen. And now when I release the mouse, I will see that I am kind of splitting the space, the vertical space, between the Appearance panel on the Layers panel. So, I am actually going to drag it up here. I am actually moving my cursor right in between the two. You can see my cursor turns to a double-headed arrow.
So I can actually adjust this. I am going to leave my panel somewhat like this. And this way I have enough room in my Appearance panel for some really nice appearances, and I can have the Layers panel here. Even though I am not going to be using layers, remember that am going to be using it to be able to see the hierarchy of my file. I want to be able to see each of the objects inside of my document. Now, the things that I see here on my screen right now are panels that I use once in a while, but not constantly, so I don't need to have them always visible. For example, the Color Guide is really valuable.
I can use it to get inspiration about using colors, but I don't always need to have that available. So, I am going to start by moving the Color Guide over here. I am going to drag it by its tab and I am going to create another dock. So, as I move my panel over here, you see how I am kind of creating a new dock. I am going to let go of the mouse. I now I have a completely new dock here. But I don't need to actually have it open all the time, so I'm going to collapse it. I am going to click on the little white arrow here to collapse it to icon view, so that now, whenever I need to access just that panel, I click on it. It becomes available.
I click again and now it disappears. I also don't need to take up that much extra space of my document. Next, I want to think about the library elements that I use all the time. Those are graphic styles, symbols, brushes, so on and so forth. So, I am going to create a part of this same dock that's going to contain that information. I will start with graphic styles. I will drag them over here. Now, I could drag them directly inside of the bar here, towards the bottom. You see a little blue bar appears right beneath that Color panel. There is a difference if I drag it onto the panel. Notice now that the whole panel, the whole Color Guide panel turns blue.
That would group it together with these. But if I drag it just to the bottom, a little blue line appears in the bottom there, and now when I release the mouse, it creates like a separate grouping just for this element. And now, I will take the Brushes and I will drag it directly on top of that icon, and I will do the Symbols the same way. So, now you can see I have one group that's for the color here, and then I have one group that is for all these elements here, these library elements. Just to show you how this actually looks, if I do expand this by clicking on the white arrows, you can see that Graphic Styles, Symbols, and Brushes are now all grouped together.
But I am going to, nine times out of 10, use it in this iconic state. Now, I am going to drag the Gradient panel in here. I am going to put it just beneath it, so it will create a new group--and the Artboards also I will put down here to create a new group as well. Now the reality is I have plenty of room down here to add additional panels, ones that I use every so often, and I don't want to always go back to the Window menu to open them. So why not take advantage of that space? And if I go to the Window menu, I have, for example, the Align panel. I actually use the Align panel quite a bit, and the Align panel contains the Transform and the Pathfinder panels.
I use those also. So, I am just going to drag all them in here and create a group of those. Now, if you find that you use a lot of text inside of the designs that you create, you might want to add some of the text panels in here, but I am actually going to add one more panel. I find that I use this one quite often. It's the Links panel. It allows you to actually see all the linked information that you have, as far as placed images, and I will drag that right here into this panel as well. Great! Let me close Actions here. So, now I have basically created the panels that I need for my workspace.
Notice again, my Appearance panel and my Layers panel are in front and center. And before I actually go ahead and save this workspace, I want to point out one other important aspect. We don't always think about it, but our workspace not only saves the location and the settings for our panels that we see, it also saves the location of panels that we don't see. For example, let's say you are some kind of a print service provider and you use the Flattener Preview panel all the time to be able to make sure that your files are going to print correctly when using transparency. Now, if I go to the Window menu here and I choose Flattener Preview, the Flatterner Preview panel comes up right over here. And maybe you also use a Separations Preview.
So, if I go again to the Window menu and I choose Separations Preview-- let's go over here, Separations Preview-- I can see that that pops up now in this part of screen. Well, what I can do is I can actually put this in a location where I find it useful. For example, maybe I want the Flattener Preview here and I want the Separations Preview here. Let me go ahead and make it just like that. So, this way I always know where they're going to appear, and then now I am going to close them. You see, when I do that, the next that I open those panels, they will pop up in that exact location. If I don't, then wherever they were before is where they will get saved inside of workspace.
So, remember, it's important to note that the workspace saves not only the panels that you can see, but it also saves the location and settings for those panels which are not visible. So, now I am going to come over here to the pop-up menu where it says Essentials, and I'm going to save my own workspace. I am going to call this one MORDY. I would not suggest that you call it MORDY, but add your own name or something that you find a good way to identify it by, and click OK. And now you've created your own workspace. So, let's say I am working and I am going to switch back to Essentials for a minute. So, now I have changed my workspace to something else, and I realize, oh, you know what, I want to set this back to the workspace that I find most useful.
So, I am going to choose MORDY. I am going to go back to that workspace, and just to show you, if I open up the Flattener Preview, notice where it opens up. It opens up in the location where I've actually saved it last. Now there is one other important note here, which is, you are not limited to only creating one workspace. You may find that when you are doing certain types of work, this workspace is great. But if you just literally being creative and you just want to have as many colors on screen or brush settings, you may want to create a workspace that's optimized for that kind of work. Or maybe you are picking type for a logo or something like that.
You don't really care about appearance of layers. You care more about your open type settings and your font settings, maybe colors. So feel free to go ahead and create as many workspaces as you need; however, for me my default workspace is always going to look something like this.
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