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Illustrator can be used to accomplish many different design tasks. For this reason, Illustrator CS4 Essential Training teaches core concepts and techniques that can be applied to any workflow for print, the web, or assets that will find their way into other applications. Mordy Golding explains the elements that make up vector graphics—paths, strokes, and fills—and shows how to use each of Illustrator's drawing tools. He demonstrates how to combine and clean up paths, and organize them into groups and layers. Mordy also covers text editing, working with color, expressive brush drawing, effects, and much more. Exercise files accompany the course.
New to Illustrator CS4 is the Blob Brush. It's a new kind of a brush that is somewhat based on the premise of the Paintbrush. However, it does not have that live type of an effect. As we have seen before when we created a regular brush stroke using the paintbrush, the result was an underlying vector path that has some kind of appearance applied to it. If you wanted to then edit or work with that particular path, you needed to expand the appearance of that particular stroke. Well, with the Blob Brush, it actually draws expanded paths as you create and paint with it, and the beauty of the Blob Brush also, is that as you begin to paint over additional strokes or existing strokes, it automatically merges with those. Let's take a look at how that works.
I'm currently using this blob_brush file, which you will find in Chapter 12 of your Exercise files. I'm going to zoom in, just say on just this area here of the claw. Let's say I wanted to paint this, I currently have this object, which I have locked, so that it does not get in the way, but I want to use it as a base for the artwork that I'm going to draw. I'll go ahead and I'll select the Blob Brush that's right here, and in fact, if you double-click on it, you will notice that it has a lot of the settings, which are very similar to the Calligraphic brush. In fact, it's extremely similar to the Calligraphic brush, in ways that you can choose Size, Angle, and Roundness, and also have them based on not just Fixed settings, but also Pressure based settings as well.
In fact, I'm going to change the Size over here, to have 10 pt but based on Pressure. I'm going to have the Variation also set to 10 pt, this will give me the beautiful Thick and Thins that I would get with a pressure sensitive pen, and I'll set the Angle and Roundness set as zero and 100 here as well. But you will also notice that combining with the settings for Calligraphic brushes, I also have the settings that you would find for the paintbrush tools. I'm going to go ahead and right now leave everything just as they are by default setting, and click OK. Now watch what happens when I start to draw, as I begin to press very lightly, I can create very think and thick strokes as well, but as I begin to adjust the other parts over here, if I go into the outline mode here, you will see that I'm beginning to see these are combined now to one shape. In fact, let me press Undo for a second here, and kind of show you as I move to the side here, which just looks like an outline mode. If I go ahead, and I press thin and thick, see how that turns into not one single path through the middle, but actually expands. As I begin to add additional paths as well, it merges and it automatically creates one complete shape as well.
This is fantastic when you are trying to create a shape with inking, so on and so forth, some kind of technique that really allows you to create one or all shape that you can apply either effects to, or does a great job on that. So I'm going to actually zoom out a little bit, go back into my regular preview mode, and what's nice about the Blob Brush as well, is that you can change the brush size of your tip basically by using the bracket keys in your keyboard. If you are coming from Photoshop, you'll be familiar with that. You can actually use the bracket keys; closed and open bracket keys, to make your brush size smaller or larger. So for example, to get really nice detailed work I'll make a very small brush, just to get the tips over there that you might find, that I can go ahead and I can add that as well, make a larger brush, to kind of fill in the other areas that are here as well.
You can of course also choose any calligraphic brush when using the Blob Brush. It actually works with any of these tools here. However, it also works just by double clicking on it here, and the defining your brush in this way. By default, whenever you are painting over colors that are the same, the Blob Brush will merge to create that one over all shape that we have seen so far. However, you could choose this option here called Selection Limits Merge, which means that you will only have shapes that merge with each other when they are selected. I'll click Cancel here, and what's important to understand with the paintbrush itself, it's very powerful on it's own. If you are an Animator, or an Illustrator, or somebody who needs to create some really nice fluid kind of strokes, you may find it more beneficial to use the Blob Brush to create these over paths, because you don't have to go through that step of expanding. Also, as we will soon see with the Eraser tool. When you use the Blob Brush, it's very easy to go back and forth between the Eraser tool and the Blob Brush, which may not be possible with the Paintbrush tool.
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