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In this installment of the Illustrator Insider Training series, Mordy Golding shows how to draw vector artwork quickly, precisely, and efficiently—without having to think about technical concepts like anchor points or control handles. The course highlights intuitive drawing techniques using the Pathfinder functions, Live Paint groups, Shape Builder tool, and variable-width strokes. It also describes the sketching workflow and features in Illustrator that use pressure-sensitive drawing tablets, allowing designers to focus more on their creativity.
So we've seen how Live Paint can allow us to create artwork inside of Illustrator purely from a visual perspective and allow us to build artwork in a far more intuitive manner. We can use tools like the Live Paint Bucket tool, and also the Live Paint Selection tool to help us as we work within this Live Paint Group structure. However, I wanted to kind of wipe this slate clean here for a moment and really focus on what makes Live Paint tick, how does it work? How can I make sure that when I use it, I use it correctly? Well, let me share with you a few insider tips on how Live Paint works inside of Illustrator.
More importantly, we'll also discover why things like brushes or variable width strokes can't work with Live Paint, and in this case, we'll kind of get a better idea of when you can use Live Paint and when it might not be such a good idea. I'm going to start off by just creating a couple of lines here on my artboard, maybe like make like a tic-tac-toe board. So I have these four paths. Again, the paths right now are open paths, they aren't closed, but because they all happen to crisscross each other, at some point it creates this visual region here in the middle that looks like it's closed.
So I might be able to fill that area with a color. Again, if I take my Selection tool and I select all four pieces of art and I press Command+Option+X on the Mac, or Ctrl+Alt+X on a PC, I've now combined these four shapes into a Live Paint group. That allows me to use my Live Paint Bucket tool which I'll choose over here to fill this area with color, and I'll just go ahead and use my right-arrow to go over say to yellow which just happens to be my favorite color, and I'll fill that middle area with color.
Because this is a Live Paint Group, I have the ability to take these paths individually with my Direct Selection tool and modify the paths and the area simply updates along as I make these edits. So what makes this work? Well, we know that when we work with Illustrator, in the world of vectors, we had something called an Object Stacking Order. That means that when I create one rectangle, then I draw another rectangle. That rectangle is on top of the previous rectangle, and I can always send rectangles to the back or to the front and adjust their Object Stacking Order.
However, we also know that when I create a group, the group itself has its own stacking order inside of it and if we take a look at the group as an entire container, all the objects within the group are kind of fused together and there really is one level of stacking order for all the elements inside the group and that's kind of how the magic happens inside of a Live Paint Group. A Live Paint Group takes all the objects inside the group and puts them all on the same level from an Object Stacking Order perspective.
So all the pieces of art now suddenly have this ability to kind of fuse together and make a shape. Any area within all these objects that have now been fused together, that appear visually closed or even somewhat visually closed if we have Gap Detection turned on, is what enables me to use the Live Paint Bucket tool, or the Live Paint Selection tool to work within these realms of Live Paint where I work more in a visual way than on how the underlying paths and anchor points are built.
So because all these elements right here are kind of fused together almost as if they were like a Pathfinder unite all together, I don't really have a way to identify a path that I can put for example a variable width stroke on or a brush stroke on. In fact, if I select this path right here, and I go to my Brushes panel, and I try to put this brush on it, you can see that nothing happens. It's only once I expand my Live Paint Group, and then it turns into regular paths, and at that point by the way, you'll notice that in this path here where I have only one anchor point here, and one anchor point here, when I choose to expand all this by clicking on the Expand button here, I now have anchor points here that actually create a physical object right here.
So this does allow me to now select let's say one of these segments and apply a brush attribute to it. But as long as I'm inside a live, Live Paint Group, I don't have the ability to put brushes on my paths. So hopefully, this provides just a little bit more insight onto how Live Paint Groups work. While it does sound like a limitation that I cannot apply brushstrokes in this way, I guess it is based on a perspective of how you look on it and more importantly on the type of art that you need to create because there are certain things that Live Paint Groups can do obviously that we can't do with regular shapes.
I'm going to hit Command+A or Ctrl+A, and just delete all this. I'm just going to draw two paths for a moment here. one this way, and one this way. I'm going to take the two and press Command+Option+X or Ctrl+Alt+X to create a Live Paint Group. Next, I'm going to use my Live Paint Selection tool to just simply select this part of my path and change its stroke way to like maybe 5 points. Next, I'll select this part of the path and I'll change its color to blue and maybe I'll even turn on the Dashed Line setting. Next, I'm going to switch here to my Direct Selection tool and simply deselect this artwork.
Notice if I click on this right now, I have one anchor point here and one anchor point here, yet, along the same exact path, I now have two completely different stroke attributes. That's happening because I'm living inside of a Live Paint Group, and there happens to be another path that kind of crosses over this path to create some kind of separation between them. As I move this path back-and-forth, that's going to adjust where these changes happen. More importantly, I am going to press the Option key and click on this path, if you are on a Windows machine, you would press the Alt key, and that lets me select the entire path including the anchor points and I'll change the stroke here to actually none.
So I can't even see the path right now, yet that path, because it's here, determines where one attribute ends and where one begins. When I'm finished working, I have the ability to select this entire Live Paint Group and expand it, and all I'm left with now are two individual paths. So we see that there are benefits to both sides over here. working with Live Paint Groups lets me do things that are incredible like this, yet, when I work with Live Paint Groups, I cannot apply brushes or variable width strokes. So before you sit down to create your artwork, basically when you're in the sketch stage, you have the ability now to take a look at your artwork and observe it.
Think about what tools you're going to use to build it. Should you be using Pathfinder? Maybe you can use Live Paint to help out, or maybe you can use another tool called the Shape Builder tool and that's something that the next chapter is all about.
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