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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.
All right gang, welcome to alignment and distribution inside of Illustrator. Now I need to warn you upfront, this is not the most exciting topic on earth. This is the first time that I have ever done a video chapter on Alignment and Distribution inside of Illustrator ever. Just to help you along in your merry way, to keep you interested here, I have gone ahead and turned this project into a puzzle so there is a little bit of intriguing and over the course of exercises, the puzzle will unfold. All right, so the puzzle itself is called Checkerboard art.ai and it contains this complete cacophony here of checkers that need to be organized and aligned with each other. On this layer right here called letters we have a bunch of letters. Now each one of these letters is a separate piece of point text. So, we have black letters and colored letters in the background. Every one of them all 32 are separate little pieces of point text. They are editable text by the way which means that you could end up getting a font warning.
Now, I'm using a font called Rosewood for it is worth, Rosewood Standard right there as you can see. And that ships along with various skews of the Creative Suite, but if you don't have it, don't worry about it. Just sit back and watch me right now. In a future exercise I'll give you a version of this document in which the letters have being converted to outlines. But I can't do that yet because the structure of the letters whether they are editable text or whether they are outlined letters makes a big difference in terms of how you align the text inside of Illustrator.
So, for now you are going to need the font if you are going to work along with me. All right, so I'm going to turn off letters and I'm going to switch to the checkers layer right here and we want to start things off by aligning this central group of checkers. Now, even though the checkers are a total mess and so are the letters, everything is completely is a big mess at this point. The checkers are in the rough locations where they need to be. In other words the top left checker is in the top left corner of the Artboard and the top right checker is located in the top right corner of the Artboard and so on. So I have roughly lapping in place. But nobody is in the proper actual real position at this point. So we are going to start things off by aligning this group of four checkers right here in the middle and I'll tell you something about the Artboard and the checkers. They are scaled to fit. So the size of the Artboard is 640 point wide and 640 points tall. The size of each and every checker is a quarter of those measurements I just told you. So, 160 points wide and 160 points tall. So each checker is the 16th of the size of the overall Artboard and there are 16 checkers in all. So they are going to fit beautifully to the Artboard.
Now we are going to start things off by aligning things manually. Now there are alignment options that we are going to discuss in all kind of detail that are available both the in Control palette up here assuming that the Black Arrow tool is selected and in the Align palette which I have opened over here on the right hand side of the screen. If you want to open your Align palette, you can go the Window menu and choose the Align command. You also have a keyboard shortcut that's Shift+F7 and the Align palette contains a few unique options down here. But most of the options also appear in the Control palette assuming of course that the Black Arrow tool is active and you have a few objects selected here inside of your illustration.
However, we are going to start things off by not using any of those alignment options, but rather aligning things manually which is very common inside of Illustrator by taking advantage of Snapping. So you want to go to the View menu and make sure that Snap to Point is turned on. If it doesn't have a check mark next to it, go ahead and choose that command. You got a keyboard shortcut. I don't use it, but it's there in case you want to advantage of Ctrl+Alt+" or Command+Option+" on the Mac. All right but here's what we are going to do. Assuming that Snap to Point is turned on deselect everybody, grab this checker right there and drag it by its point, very important that you are able to drag it by its point. If you are having problems doing that is probably because your Bounding Box is turned on and need to make sure that Bounding Box is turned off. So notice this. I'll go ahead and choose Show Bounding Box from the View menu and you can see now that this guy totally gets in the way of your ability to drag the square by its corner point. And that means you are not going to be able to manually align it with this other square up here.
So what you want to do is you want to go to the View menu and choose Hide Bounding Box to get rid of that, Ctrl+ Shift+B or Command+Shift+B. That's a good keyboard shortcut to bear in mind because you may find that you want to flip back and forth between Showing the Bounding Box and Hiding the Bounding Box. Generally speaking however I leave it turned off. And then once it's off, go ahead and drag this corner point right there and snap it into alignment with that corner. So the top left corner point of the beige square snaps into alignment with the bottom left corner point of this sort of violet square above it.
You will see a little snap cursor, so you will see the white arrowhead to show you that things are indeed snapping into place. Then grab this guy right there and snap it into place and then grab this guy right there and snap it into place. I'll go ahead and press Ctrl+K or Command+K on the Mac and switch to the next panel of options here assuming that you have Object Selected by Path Only turned on, very important. You can go ahead and select through objects like so. So you are not going to select the violet object by clicking inside of its fill and that's going to give you a lot more control over what's going on.
All right then I'll drag this until it snaps into alignment and now I have the central group of four squares exactly where I want them. So far so good. Not huge information that far but we are going to ease our way into the exciting world of alignment and distribution, one exercise at a time. In the next exercise I'm going to show you how to take this group of four checkers and align it exactly where it needs to be with respect to the Artboard.
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