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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.
In the previous movie we learned the true meaning of something called the Shape Mode inside of Illustrator. We learned that we can create something called the compound shape inside of Illustrator which acts as some kind of a live Pathfinder object that I can consider to modify even after I perform mathematical functions like add, subtract, intersect and exclude. Now you may ask yourself, I kind of see the benefit of maybe having live objects but most of the times that I am drawing artwork, I pretty much know what I want to draw as I am working on it. So I usually want my artwork to be expanded and to create the shapes that I want to work on right now, I don't really worry about what I am going to need to change later on in the future.
Well, the reason why this feature exists is because it allows a situation to exist between Illustrator and its sister application called Photoshop. You see Photoshop also has the ability on some level to work with vector graphics and it does so using something called shape layers. When illustrator added Shape Modes, Adobe made Shape Modes and shape layers consistent and actually it could be compatible with each other. In fact, it's the same underlying technology that makes both of those features work and that allows us as users to move vector objects freely between Photoshop and Illustrator using the Shape Modes and shape layers.
Let me show you exactly how that works. See right now here I am inside of Illustrator and I have my Pathfinder panel opened, you can see that I have my Shape Modes, something here called Add, Subtract, Intersect and Exclude. Let's hop over to Photoshop for just a second here and you can see that when I have Photoshop opened, I can choose some of these different Shape tools, for example this Ellipse tool which is very similar as the Illustrator's Ellipse tool. When I click and drag to create a shape, I am going to hold down the Shift key so I get a perfect circle.
There's no such thing really as a vector shape inside of Photoshop but I can have vector paths that act as like a clipping path. So what I have now inside of Photoshop is something called a shape layer. You can notice over here that by creating the shape of my art board, it looks like I have a black circle but if I look over here in my Layers panel I have created something called Shape 1 which basically is a vector mask that has black pixels inside of it. If I kind of focus on the tool Options bar here at the top of the screen, you can see that this tool has different modes inside of it.
The Regular mode over here allows me to Create a new shape layer every time I draw a new shape. However, I can also choose between four other options and don't these look familiar. Add, Subtract, Intersect and Exclude, the same options that I found inside of Illustrator. Now let's see what happens when I actually choose the Subtract mode. Now I still have my Ellipse tool selected, I am gong to hold my Shift key down and click and drag to draw another circle, but you can see that my result actually subtracts this shape from the previous one.
What I have done here is I've actually created a single mask that has these interlocking or overlapping vector paths and based on the modes that I am choosing, the pixels only fill certain parts of those overlapping paths. That's really what a shape layer is inside of Photoshop. It's simply a way for me to create these vector clipping paths and fill them with pixels and do so in a way defined by the different modes that I choose over here which are the Add, Subtract, Intersect and Exclude. Now the real cool thing about the way that Adobe implemented this is that I have the ability to move these shapes back and forth between the applications.
It's important to realize again that the concept of a fill and a stroke does not really apply to Photoshop. All I have here is some kind of a clipping path and I have pixels inside of it, but that's not really a fill attribute. So the one thing that I cannot move between Photoshop and Illustrator are the actual fill or stroke attributes. However, what I can move between the two applications are the actual vector paths themselves with the shape modes intact. So if I take the Arrow tool or the Selection tool here inside of Photoshop and I click over here to select this path and I hold down the Shift key now and I select this one as well, so now I have both of these paths within this single shape layer selected and I press Command+ C or Ctrl+C. Now let's switch over back to Illustrator and I hit Command+V or Ctrl+V to paste, I now get this thing that says Paste Options and I can choose to paste this as a Compound Shape, which is fully editable because it's now going to be converted to a shape mode inside of Illustrator or I could choose to paste it as a Compound path, which means all I am going to see is just a crescent shape, I won't see both full intact circles.
But just to see how this works I am going to choose the Compound Shape option, I am going to click OK and notice now that both of those circles have come in. If I change the Fill color because remember there was no fill on this object, it was simply a mask for black pixels, and now I choose a color like red for example, I can see that only this part of the shape is being filled in because these two shapes have a Subtract Mode inherently inside of them. Now likewise I can do the reverse, I can create a Shape mode here inside of Illustrator. in fact, just to start from scratch I am going to delete these two circles.
Let's take maybe a Rectangle tool here and click and drag and then click and drag to create another shape, select both of these and I'll come here to the Shape Modes and I'll hold down the Option or Alt key and now choose the Subtract button. So now I have created a compound shape. Notice by the way I do not use a Stroke attribute here because I would not be able to transfer that stroke attribute to Photoshop. I am now going to press Command+C or Ctrl+C to copy from Illustrator, now I'll switch over to Photoshop and hit Command+V or Ctrl+V to paste. Notice that here I have the ability to paste it either as a Smart Object, as Pixels, as the path itself or as a shape layer, which I am going to choose here and click OK.
And now I have brought these two shapes here on its own layer. In fact, if I hide now Shape 1 over here, you can see that I can click on these two shapes here and continue to still move these shapes around here inside of Photoshop, so they come in as fully editable vector shapes here inside of Photoshop as shape layers and if I knew I was working on some kind of illustration inside of Illustrator and I wanted to bring it into Photoshop and I wanted to maintain some kind of editability inside of Photoshop, meaning I still want to scale it up in size or make modifications, I can do so using these Shape Modes inside of Illustrator and bring them into Photoshop as the shape layers.
So in reality if we kind of take a step back, this is the whole reason for why the Shape Modes exists inside of Illustrator. They're not really there as much for us to work inside of Illustrator, although they are really beneficial because they tend to keep things live, but they are also really here to allow us to be able to move vector content between Photoshop and Illustrator without any loss in editability. Now, let me go back here to Illustrator for just a moment and yes, there are some times when having this Live Pathfinder might be useful to you inside of Illustrator.
But it's not so easy to work with within the realm of the world of Pathfinder and that's why we're going to find out that in the next chapter, we're going to deal with something called Live Paint which is going to give us the ability to work in a live state without the consequences of losing the editability of our artwork. But for now, we have a much better understanding of not only what Pathfinder does inside of Illustrator but the nuances that exist within the panel itself.
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