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In Illustrator CS5 Essential Training, author Mordy Golding explains the core concepts and techniques that apply to any workflow in Illustrator, whether designing for print, the web, or assets for other applications. This course includes a detailed explanation of the elements that make up vector graphics—paths, strokes, and fills—and shows how to use each of the Illustrator drawing tools. Also demonstrated are techniques for combining and cleaning up paths, organizing paths into groups and layers, text editing, working with color, effects, and much more. Exercise files accompany the course.
In Illustrator, we now know that you actually draw these objects made up of paths and anchor points and then you apply appearances to make it look the way that you want it to. But as you draw new objects, they are always applied in your document in a certain way. As you draw new arts, each piece of art gets added on top of the previous piece of art. This is something what we call an object stacking order. Objects by default always get drawn on top of previously drawn objects. Now it doesn't obliterate the object beneath it.
In other words, it's as if they're kind of on two separate layers. I can still continue to move one of the objects on top without disturbing or destroying the object beneath it, but each time I create a new piece of art, that art gets added towards the top of the stacking order. For example if I would draw now a third flower, that flower be drawn on top of the second one. Now, when I'm using Illustrator, I do have the ability to make adjustments to the stacking order. Meaning I could take the topmost flower right now and send it one step backwards inside of the stacking order.
So right now it appears sandwich between the other two flowers. Likewise, I could take that same flower and send it all the way towards the bottom of the stacking order, so it now appears beneath the other two objects. At any time I can always select that object and bring it all the way back to the front again. But at any time inside of Illustrator, I'm always thinking about the stacking order and I am moving objects around inside of the stacking order. You might think of these as having three separate layers but everything that's happening right now is really happening on one layer.
You see Illustrator has something called an object stacking order. That means that each object has its own place in the stacking order that's all within a single layer. At any time I can create a new layer and that layer also has its own stacking order. If I take even a step backwards, all of my layers themselves also have a stacking order. So in theory, I can have one layer that has three flowers on it, and each of those three flowers enjoy their own stacking order, and then a second layer on top of this which may have even more flowers, and those flowers have their own stacking order.
But because those flowers are now inside of their own layer, that entire layer sits on top of the previous layer in the stacking order for layers as well. So it's an important concept to understand, the fact that we have the stacking order that applies across all the objects and layers inside of Illustrator. As we start to learn more about organizing and building our documents, we will get a much better idea of how this works, but for now it's important to understand this concept that you can add things at the top of the stacking order and then at any time you can adjust an object's position within that stacking order as well.
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