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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.
So we know that the Appearance panel not only displays the attribute's stacking order for all of our objects, it also allows us to make modifications to that stacking order. Well, let's take a look at another benefit that we get by using the Appearance panel. I am working on this document called targeting_attributes, and let's first take a look over here at this word that appears up in bold towards the top of the Appearance panel. Now, right now it says No Selection because I have no object selected right now. But when I click on this right now, this object right here, to select it, you can see over here that now it changed to the word "Path." That means that currently my Path is selected.
Well, actually, yes, I have selected it, but I've also done something else; I've targeted that object. In fact, the word that's displayed here inside of the Appearance panel, the one that appears in bold, is what we refer to as the target. Later, in chapter 4 in this training, we're going to focus on specific distinctions between selecting something and targeting something. But for now, it is important to understand this new concept of the ability to actually target something. So right now, yes, my path is selected, but my path is also targeted.
By default, the entire object is targeted, meaning, for example, let's say you want to add some kind of transparency here to this piece of artwork. So I am actually going to go first to the View menu, and I am going to turn on my transparency grid. See, there is a setting here called Show Transparency Grid, which turns on this checkerboard pattern in the background of my document. If you use Photoshop, this will look very familiar because it helps to identify the transparent areas inside of our document. Let's say I wanted to add some opacity to this specific object right now.
So I know that I can go over here to my Opacity value here and maybe change it to about 50%. You can see now that I can actually see directly through this entire object. However, what if I only want the fill of this object to be transparent, but I want this stroke to be full strength, I want it to be fully opaque? Well, I know that many people who have been using Illustrator for a long time might actually start creating two objects. They might create one object, give that object a transparent fill, and then they'll do a Copy, Paste in Front, and create an entirely new object that has no fill, but leave that stroke fully opaque.
Well, that's not really that efficient, especially when you consider that you actually do all that with one object directly through the Appearance panel. Let's see how. I am going to press Command+Z, or Ctrl+Z, to undo that transparency setting that I just applied, and now I am going to look at the Appearance panel. Like we've discussed before, I want just the fill to have an Opacity value, but not the stroke. So I am going to now click over here on the fill itself to highlight it. What I've just done now is I've targeted specifically the fill of this path.
Now if I change my Opacity value to 50%, you can see that only the fill gets an Opacity setting. I can see through the yellow fill, and I can actually see the checkerboard pattern beneath it. However, the stroke itself still appears fully opaque. And I'm doing this all with only one path. Now again, what makes this possible is that before I applied the Opacity setting, I first targeted a specific attribute of my selected object. In fact, if I click on the little twirl down triangle here inside of the Appearance panel, I can see that just the fill gets its own Opacity value of 50%, although the overall object has default opacity--and the same thing applies to the stroke as well.
The stroke has no opacity applied to it as well. Now I am going to click over here on the word "path" or on that target, so now the entire object is targeted. I want to share with you what I feel is probably the most important reason to use the Appearance panel. You know, even if you are not going to go ahead and start moving stacking order things around, or if you are going to start targeting individual attributes, there are many times when you might work with other people's files, and you may sometimes see something inside of an Illustrator document that doesn't seem to make any sense. Let me explain what I mean by that.
I am actually going to deselect this piece of artwork right now. Let's close the Appearance panel. I am just going to double-click on the tab itself a couple of times, so that all I see is just a collapsed version of the Appearance panel. Say I received this file from somebody else. I may go ahead now and have to make some kind of changes to this document. Now, I'll go ahead and I'll select this, and I see right here that the fill is kind of like somewhat semi-translucent; I can kind of see through it. But if I look at my Opacity slider with that object selected, I do not see any Opacity setting at all. It's set to 100. It's fully opaque.
Well, how can an object be fully opaque if I can actually see through it right now? In fact, when I go back to the View menu here, I am going to turn the transparency grid off by choosing Hide Transparency Grid. We had discussed before that many people use the Color or the Swatches panel to identify which attributes are applied to objects. Now, let's take a look at everything that Illustrator is showing me. I select this object. I want to know, what color is that object is filled with? Well, if I look at the Color panel here, it looks like it's filled with 100% yellow. But that isn't going to print 100% yellow; That's only 50% yellow, because that fill has a 50% opacity applied to it.
If I look at the Swatches panel, it shows me it's filled with that yellow swatch. If I look over here at the Fill indicator inside of the Control panel, that looks like a bright yellow to me. And again if I look over here at this part of my toolbar, I also see a bright yellow. So I don't see any connection between my object and the other indicators that appear throughout the user interface. As I said before, if I were to go to my Transparency panel, my Transparency panel is reading an Opacity value of 100%. The only way for me to figure out that that path itself has a fill that has its own Opacity value is by going to the Appearance panel and targeting that specific fill.
Notice that now the fill is actually targeted. I've selected it here inside of the Appearance panel. Now my Opacity value does read a 50%. The same thing applies here in the Transparency panel. However, if I don't have the Appearance panel visible, I can actually see that there is some kind of disconnect inside of my document. In fact, let me add a little bit of complexity here. I am going to take a rectangle. Draw a rectangle right here. Let's give this some kind of a pattern fill, and I am going to send this to the back. Let's do Object > Arrange > Send to Back.
So now you can actually see, if I change back to my regular Selection tool here, that I can actually see the pattern through the fill, but I can't see it through the stroke of this object right here. Now, if I had received this document from somebody else and I click on this object, I may wonder how is it that that's happening. I see an Opacity value of 100 here, yet I can still see through that object. This is actually why I don't even rely on the Color or the Swatches panel at all, because I feel that they've lied to me. They don't give me the full story about what I'm seeing inside of my screen.
I do everything now through the Appearance panel, because that will always show me exactly what my artwork settings are set to. So to recap what we've learned so far: We know that the Appearance panel shows me the attributes stacking order of my artwork, it allows me to modify that attribute stacking order, and it allows me to target specific attributes to apply different settings to them. Finally, it allows me to also see all the settings for the attributes for a particular object, something I can't find anywhere else inside of the user interface inside of Illustrator.
So we're beginning to see just how valuable the Appearance panel is. This is only a beginning though, and we've barely scraped the surface of what we can actually do with the Appearance panel, which is something that we'll begin to discover inside of the next movie.
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