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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.
In the previous exercise, I showed you how open paths don't always fare so well where Pathfinder Operations are concerned. The same goes for strokes. So basically just as closed paths are your friends, fills are your friends as well. When you are working with Pathfinder Operations, strokes and open paths sometimes go completely away, especially if you have an open path that only has a stroke associated with it. Kiss it goodbye when you apply a Pathfinder Operation. And I'll show you what I mean here. I am still working inside that document, Time 2 Boo.ai, and you can see this word Boo that I have constructed just using a combination of really either rounded rectangles or partially rounded rectangles. That is pieces of rounded rectangles, is what I really mean by that. And some of the rounded rectangles have strokes and fills like this guy right here, and others have strokes but no fills and then we have got this open path at this location right there that has a stroke and no fill associated with it.
What I'm really looking for is computer letters on the order of this finished effect right there. So this is my final Ghost robot.ai file and I have got strokes and fills associated with all of the letters at this point. But we are basically outlining all of our former strokes. So it looks great, old school computer readable type. All right, so let's go back to Time 2 Boo, and let's just focus for the moment on the OO! we'll come to the B in the next exercise, because it's more complicated. But I'm going to go ahead and grab these letters and the punctuation mark by dragging across them, by marqueeing them with the Black Arrow tool. That also selects my talk balloon. So I'll Shift-click on it in order to deselect it and let's go ahead and unite all of these shapes together because that's really what we want is the united effect.
So I'll go ahead and click on the Unite icon and notice that not only do all of my letters get filled in, my two Os both get filled in but where the exclamation point is concerned, I lost that open path. So it just went away. Illustrator made no attempt to whatsoever to keep that path outline for me. It just said, well, this guy is open and it's a stroke so I don't know what to do for you buddy, I'm just going to, I have to delete it. So anyway, that's no good. Let's go ahead and press Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on the Mac to undo that operation. Things don't go too much better if we were to Alt-click or Option-click on the Unite icon. This time we keep our path outlines, they are not thrown away, but we do lose the stroke information that was formerly associated with this path outline right there and we don't get the effect we are looking for. So let's try something different.
I am going to press Ctrl+Z, Command+Z on the Mac once again. What you want to do is you want to take your strokes, which are not your friends, and you want to convert them into fills, which are your friends. How do you do that? Well the same way we made the fingers, right? You go up to the Object menu and you choose the Path command and you choose what has to be one of the best commands inside of illustrator. And notice if you loaded my Deke keys, you have got a keyboard shortcut for Outline Stroke of Ctrl+Backslash or Command+Backslash on the Mac.
So anyway, I'll go head and choose the Outline Stroke command, then we have gone ahead and outlined all the strokes and converted them to fills so we have filled yellow shapes and filled black shapes, and now if I go over to the Unite icon, just click on it. That's all I have to do, then I have gone ahead and united all of those shapes into one. So why did Illustrator not get rid of the holes inside of the Os? Why did it go ahead and keep those holes, which is exactly what we wanted? Well, I directed it to make sure to keep those holes by not filling those shapes. So because there were no fills there, they did not get included in the final united shape.
So remember, where you place your fills is going to make a difference when you go ahead and unite your shapes together or when you apply any of the other Pathfinder Operations for that matter. Now I want to go ahead and apply different fills and strokes. So I'll press the I key to get the Eyedropper tool and then I'll click on this shape down here, the ellipse that has the blue fill and the black stroke like so, and that goes ahead and loads the black stroke and the blue fill as we are seeing right there. So now strokes are our friends of course. You can always apply fills and strokes after the effect to your united and otherwise Pathfinder modified paths inside of Illustrator. In the next exercise, we are going to bring to bear all of the knowledge I have taught you so far. So everything about strokes versus fills and open versus closed paths and unite and divide. We are going to need all of that information in order to convert these paths right here into a B.
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