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Using the Appearance panel

From: Illustrator CS5 Essential Training

Video: Using the Appearance panel

Back in chapter 1, when we were discussing key Illustrator concepts, we learned about something called an appearance. In Illustrator, we create objects by defining paths, however, those paths don't have any appearance. They don't look like anything. They are invisible. They're used to define a shape. However, if you want a shape to look like something, you want it to have a color, or some kind of border around it, we need to apply attributes called Fills and Strokes. Well, these are called appearances.

Using the Appearance panel

Back in chapter 1, when we were discussing key Illustrator concepts, we learned about something called an appearance. In Illustrator, we create objects by defining paths, however, those paths don't have any appearance. They don't look like anything. They are invisible. They're used to define a shape. However, if you want a shape to look like something, you want it to have a color, or some kind of border around it, we need to apply attributes called Fills and Strokes. Well, these are called appearances.

By applying Fills and Strokes to an object, you are applying an appearance to that object. So far, we've created some basic shapes inside of Illustrator. And we've even applied some basic attributes like Fills and Strokes. However, the real way to control the appearance of artwork is through something in Illustrator called the Appearance panel. You can find that over here, the Appearance panel. But in reality, I find that panel so important that many times I grab the tab itself and rip it out so that I now have the Appearance panel standing on its own.

Let me close the Graphic Styles panel here because we don't need to see that. But I'll extend this just a little bit, so we can see the information here. And for the most of this chapter right now, we are going to focus on using the Appearance panel inside of Illustrator. I'll be honest with you. I believe that the Appearance panel is probably one of most important panels inside of Illustrator, not only because it helps you define the appearance of artwork, but more importantly, it allows you to see the settings of appearances that I've already been applied to artwork. What do I mean by that? Well, many times when working inside of Illustrator, you may get artwork that was created by someone else, not yourself, but maybe you got a file given to you from a client or from another designer.

If you want to be able to work with that file, and see and understand all of its settings, you'll need to start learning how to use the Appearance panel. To really get understanding of what the Appearance panel does, we need to review two basic concepts inside of Illustrator. One of them is something called stacking order. We know that in Illustrator, I work with objects. Each time that I draw a new object, by default, Illustrator adds that object to the top of the stacking order. Likewise, when I have layers, each time that I add a new layer, that layer appears above the previous layers.

In fact, if I take this object here, and by holding down the Option key, I create a copy of it, you can notice that this shape right now is sitting on top of this other shape. Sure, I can go to the Object menu, and I can choose Arrange, Send to Back. And this will now take the object that's currently sitting at the top of my stacking order, and it will send it to the back of the back of the stacking order. So now the new object that I've just created appears beneath the previous object. Well, I'm going to delete that object for now. But I just wanted to go over to that concept there that being something called the stacking order inside of Illustrator, objects or either above or beneath other objects.

Now we also now that there's another attribute that you can apply to Illustrator besides a Fill, something called the Stroke. And the Stroke is the appearance that you apply to the path itself. Some may think of it as a border, but really it's the attribute that gets painted directly on the path itself. In this case, for this object right here, by looking at the Appearance panel, I see that I have a two-point stroke applied to this object. Two-points refer to the thickness, or what we call the weight of that stroke. I will talk more about strokes in another chapter later on in this title.

But for now, just to make things a little bit easier to understand, I'm going to increase the weight of the Stroke. And I can do that directly through the Appearance panel by clicking on the value right here and changing with the something like 20 points, for example. Now you can see the path right here, but this thickness of the Stroke is actually distributed evenly on either side of that path. This is Illustrator's default behavior. Every time you define a stroke with some thickness to it, that thickness gets evenly distributed along the centerline of the path.

So in this case here, since I've applied a 20-point Stroke, I have basically 10 points of Stroke applied on one side of the path and 10 points of stroke weight applied to the inside of that path. Now in Illustrator, it is possible with closed shapes, to align that stroke completely to the inside or the outside. However, Illustrator's default setting is to apply that Stroke evenly along the centerline of the path. So now that we understand these two concepts in Illustrator, that of stacking order and that Stroke Weights are always distributed along the centerline of the path, we can take another closer look at what the Appearance panel is doing and how we can better use it to understand how appearances are applied to objects inside of Illustrator.

First, as you can see, what I've just done with the Stroke, the Appearance panel not only shows me the attributes that are applied to my object, the panel also allows me to apply or change attributes. For example, if I want to change the Fill color of this object, I don't need to go all the way over here with my mouse to this part of the interface. And I certainly don't need to also open up my Swatches panel right here. I can simply click on the square, and then click to bring up the Swatches panel directly. If I hold down the Shift key while I click on this, it brings up the Color panel.

I can do the exact same thing here for the Stroke color. So I'm able to actually apply attributes directly through the Appearance panel. But let me click here on the bottom, and let's take a closer look at what's happening here. Illustrator is letting me know that right now this object has default Opacity. And has this Fill color applied. And it has a 20-point Stroke applied as well using this color. But the order in which these appear inside of the Appearance panel is also significant. We had just finished discussing this concept of having something called the stacking order inside of Illustrator.

However, the stacking order applies to not only objects themselves but even the attributes within objects. For example, in my document right now, I only have one object. However, this object itself has a stacking order inside of it. We always read things from the bottom up inside of Illustrator. So what the Appearance panel is telling me is that Illustrator first applied default Opacity to this object. Illustrator then painted this colored Fill. And then it applied a 20-point black stroke on top of that in that specific order.

In other words, right now the Stroke is sitting on top of the Fill. This is the default behavior of Illustrator. Why does Illustrator always paint the Fill of an object first and then the Stroke afterward? Well, as we've discussed before, the weight of the stroke is always distributed on both sides of the path. However, the Fill itself goes all the way up to the path edge itself. So, for example, right now here's my path. My Fill really goes all the way up that part. However, since the Stroke itself was painted on top of the Fill, I'm not seeing the color the Fill that kind of bleeds all the way up to the path itself.

If I were to tell Illustrator to paint the Stroke first and then the Fill on top of it, I would see this green color go all the way to the line here, but I would not be able to see the inside part of the Stroke, meaning I wouldn't be able to see the full weight or the thickness of the stroke. So that's why Illustrator always paints the Fill first and the Stroke second. However, through the Appearance panel, if I want to, I can change that. To do so, I would simply click on the Stroke right here and drag it so that it appears beneath the Fill.

Notice that I see the Fill goes all the way up to the path, but I don't see that inner part of the stroke weight because it's being covered right now by the Fill, which appears on top of the Stroke. So at this point, we're really starting to understand a little bit more about the power that lies within the Appearance panel. I can use it to both view and also apply different attributes to my objects. But as we are starting to see, the Appearance panel treats the Fill and Stroke as if they were their own objects themselves.

Through the Appearance panel, we are going to have complete control over every single attribute of each object inside of Illustrator. It's a level of the control you can only get through the Appearance panel, and in the next movie, we'll see how it can really start to break apart both the Fills and Strokes of objects and treat them individually.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Illustrator CS5 Essential Training
Illustrator CS5 Essential Training

126 video lessons · 82160 viewers

Mordy Golding
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 3m 35s
    1. Welcome
      1m 18s
    2. What is Illustrator CS5?
      1m 46s
    3. Using the exercise files
      31s
  2. 12m 37s
    1. What are vector graphics?
      6m 3s
    2. Path and appearance
      3m 42s
    3. Stacking
      2m 52s
  3. 32m 6s
    1. The Welcome screen
      2m 23s
    2. Creating files for print
      6m 7s
    3. Creating files for the screen
      2m 55s
    4. Using prebuilt templates
      2m 40s
    5. Adding XMP metadata
      4m 18s
    6. Exploring the panels
      6m 33s
    7. Using the Control panel
      3m 11s
    8. Using workspaces
      3m 59s
  4. 43m 44s
    1. Navigating within a document
      9m 15s
    2. Using rulers and guides
      7m 26s
    3. Using grids
      3m 6s
    4. Using the bounding box
      3m 37s
    5. Using Smart Guides
      5m 56s
    6. The Hide Edges command
      3m 22s
    7. Various preview modes
      3m 47s
    8. Creating custom views
      4m 3s
    9. Locking and hiding artwork
      3m 12s
  5. 28m 46s
    1. Using the basic selection tools
      8m 50s
    2. Using the Magic Wand tool
      5m 22s
    3. Using the Lasso tool
      2m 28s
    4. Selecting objects by attribute or type
      3m 37s
    5. Saving and reusing selections
      2m 15s
    6. Selecting artwork beneath other objects
      2m 13s
    7. Exploring selection preferences
      4m 1s
  6. 1h 16m
    1. The importance of modifier keys
      1m 52s
    2. Drawing closed path primitives
      11m 38s
    3. Drawing open path primitives
      5m 47s
    4. Understanding anchor points
      3m 43s
    5. Drawing straight paths with the Pen tool
      7m 37s
    6. Drawing curved paths with the Pen tool
      9m 47s
    7. Drawing freeform paths with the Pencil tool
      5m 33s
    8. Smoothing and erasing paths
      3m 8s
    9. Editing anchor points
      7m 21s
    10. Joining and averaging paths
      10m 9s
    11. Simplifying paths
      4m 55s
    12. Using Offset Path
      2m 17s
    13. Cleaning up errant paths
      2m 32s
  7. 48m 26s
    1. The Draw Inside and Draw Behind modes
      7m 34s
    2. Creating compound paths
      5m 56s
    3. Creating compound shapes
      8m 0s
    4. Using the Shape Builder tool
      10m 28s
    5. Using Pathfinder functions
      8m 6s
    6. Splitting an object into a grid
      1m 16s
    7. Using the Blob Brush and Eraser tools
      7m 6s
  8. 49m 5s
    1. Creating point text
      4m 2s
    2. Creating area text
      8m 13s
    3. Applying basic character settings
      7m 44s
    4. Applying basic paragraph settings
      4m 28s
    5. Creating text threads
      8m 25s
    6. Setting text along an open path
      6m 29s
    7. Setting text along a closed path
      6m 24s
    8. Converting text into paths
      3m 20s
  9. 18m 55s
    1. Create a logo mark
      11m 26s
    2. Add type to your logo
      7m 29s
  10. 42m 42s
    1. Using the Appearance panel
      8m 21s
    2. Targeting object attributes
      4m 42s
    3. Adding multiple attributes
      4m 25s
    4. Applying Live Effects
      5m 18s
    5. Expanding appearances
      4m 42s
    6. Appearance panel settings
      4m 33s
    7. Copying appearances
      4m 51s
    8. Saving appearances as graphic styles
      5m 50s
  11. 34m 0s
    1. Applying color to artwork
      5m 57s
    2. Creating process and global process swatches
      8m 54s
    3. Creating spot color swatches
      3m 19s
    4. Loading PANTONE and other custom color libraries
      4m 49s
    5. Organizing colors with Swatch Groups
      3m 31s
    6. Finding color suggestions with the Color Guide panel
      4m 24s
    7. Loading the Color Guide with user-defined colors
      3m 6s
  12. 50m 23s
    1. Creating gradients with the Gradient panel
      8m 12s
    2. Modifying gradients with the Gradient Annotator
      4m 37s
    3. Applying and manipulating pattern fills
      5m 33s
    4. Defining your own custom pattern fills
      9m 13s
    5. Applying basic stroke settings
      5m 22s
    6. Creating strokes with dashed lines
      3m 41s
    7. Adding arrowheads to strokes
      2m 45s
    8. Creating variable-width strokes
      4m 35s
    9. Working with width profiles
      2m 36s
    10. Turning strokes into filled paths
      3m 49s
  13. 32m 46s
    1. Creating and editing groups
      8m 18s
    2. Adding attributes to groups
      12m 17s
    3. The importance of using layers
      5m 9s
    4. Using and "reading" the Layers panel
      7m 2s
  14. 12m 13s
    1. Creating and using multiple artboards
      7m 52s
    2. Modifying artboards with the Artboards panel
      2m 2s
    3. Copy and paste options with Artboards
      2m 19s
  15. 31m 10s
    1. Moving and copying artwork
      3m 55s
    2. Scaling or resizing artwork
      6m 47s
    3. Rotating artwork
      2m 44s
    4. Reflecting and skewing artwork
      2m 34s
    5. Using the Free Transform tool
      2m 15s
    6. Repeating transformations
      3m 39s
    7. Performing individual transforms across multiple objects
      2m 10s
    8. Aligning objects and groups precisely
      4m 27s
    9. Distributing objects and spaces between objects
      2m 39s
  16. 35m 40s
    1. Placing pixel-based content into Illustrator
      5m 14s
    2. Managing images with the Links panel
      4m 49s
    3. Converting pixels to paths with Live Trace
      8m 44s
    4. Making Live Trace adjustments
      6m 9s
    5. Controlling colors in Live Trace
      6m 4s
    6. Using Photoshop and Live Trace together
      4m 40s
  17. 14m 42s
    1. Managing repeating artwork with symbols
      4m 38s
    2. Modifying and replacing symbol instances
      3m 8s
    3. Using the Symbol Sprayer tool
      6m 56s
  18. 16m 57s
    1. Cropping photographs
      1m 59s
    2. Clipping artwork with masks
      3m 22s
    3. Clipping the contents of a layer
      3m 31s
    4. Defining masks with soft edges
      8m 5s
  19. 26m 2s
    1. Defining a perspective grid
      7m 48s
    2. Drawing artwork in perspective
      8m 46s
    3. Moving flat art onto the perspective grid
      9m 28s
  20. 25m 8s
    1. Printing your Illustrator document
      3m 26s
    2. Saving your Illustrator document
      6m 39s
    3. Creating PDF files for clients and printers
      7m 30s
    4. Exporting Illustrator files for use in Microsoft Office
      1m 4s
    5. Exporting Illustrator files for use in Photoshop
      2m 31s
    6. Exporting artwork for use on the web
      3m 3s
    7. Exporting high-resolution raster files
      55s
  21. 2m 18s
    1. Additional Illustrator learning resources
      1m 36s
    2. Goodbye
      42s

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