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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.
Illustrator's Control panel appears towards the top of the screen- not the very top. In this case right now I do have the Application Frame option turned on. So this bar at the very top of the screen here is what we call the Application Bar. If I go ahead and I click and I drag you will see that the whole Illustrator application moves as one unit, the panel, the documents, the bars, so on and so forth. But directly beneath this Application Bar is what we refer to as the Control panel. Now if you are coming from a program like maybe Photoshop or you are familiar with InDesign, Photoshop has something called the tools Options Bar.
InDesign has something called the Control panel as well, which is an area basically that we call context- sensitive meaning that depending on whatever it is that I have selected in my document, the options actually change here now. Again to contrast something like Photoshop for example, it has the tool Options Bar. It's called the tool Options Bar because as you choose a tool, the settings for that tool show up in that particular tool Options Bar. But with Illustrator we are far more concerned about what I have selected in context to my document, than I'm with the tools that I'm using. So as you will see when I select different parts of my document, different parts of artwork, different types of artwork, I'll see different options visible in this Control panel. Now right now I have absolutely nothing selected. So what I do have is a few settings here. By the way in far left it tells me that I have no selection. This is what we call our target or our object type right now and obviously there is no object at all. It's no selection.
That will help us identify when we have things like groups targeted and so and so forth and we will see that much later one as we will be able to get more in-depth inside of drawing with Illustrator. If I go over to the far right over here I see that I have a Document Setup button and the Preferences button. This gives me quick access to either of these two settings to basically allow me to make those changes and again I have that available to me whenever I have nothing at all selected. So now let's go ahead and actually click on an object. For example this blue background right here. If I wanted to change its color, I can go over here to the top of the Control panel and then click on this option, which is the Fill icon. Click on that and I see all the swatches that I have actually created or had available to be in this particular document.
By the way if I go ahead and I hold down the Shift key when I click on this, that changes to the Color panel, which allows me to use the CMYK sliders or really I can choose RGB slider or Web Safe RGB sliders so on and so forth all directly through this. So I can very easily specify colors directly through the Control panel. The same thing also if I wanted to apply a Stroke attribute, I can click over here on this option and this will go ahead and apply the Stroke attribute. Now, remember way back when we discussed we have these different types of stroke attributes, for example, I know that I could pick a Stroke Color and Stroke Weight, which is the thickness of my stroke, but let's say you wanted to have a dashed pattern on that particular stroke, a dashed stroke. Let's say you wanted to actually have the end caps to be round instead of square. Well, normally you would need to go to the Stroke panel to get that information, because the Control panel's job basically is to offer up settings that you would use most often, but we are not always turning on the Dash patterns or requesting round end caps for our particular strokes.
So you will notice the word Stroke right here, is actually in blue with an underline beneath it. Now if you have ever surfed the web, anytime you see something that's blue with an underline, it's a hyperlink, and if you click on it, it usually takes you somewhere, maybe to another page or perform some kind of function. Well, the Stroke panel basically pops up any time you click on the word Stroke. So I'm going to go ahead and just click once on that word Stroke right there, and the entire Stroke panel with all the setting, including the Dash settings and the Cap settings now appear. So the great thing about the Control panel is that even if I don't see all the settings necessary, sometimes I have the access to find that information.
For example, the Opacity setting right now, there is just a slider here that will allow me to adjust the Opacity of a particular object. So instead of 100% Opacity, I can make it 50% opacity. But if I wanted to change the object's Blend mode, I can go to click on the word Opacity, it brings up the entire Transparency panel where I can now access each of the individual Blend modes, and again this is all made possible through the Control panel. We will actually see that some other places in Illustrator like the Appearance panel also have this functionality built into it. What's great about this also is that you will see that the Control panel itself is intelligent based on the resolution that your monitor is, meaning how wide your screen is, this will have more or less information and the Control panel makes it's best guess to try to find what is the most useful when you already have something selected. For example when I click on Text, I see that I now have the options for Character settings.
As far as Paragraph settings, well there are far too many that I could choose from. So I can just click on the word paragraph and the entire Paragraph panel with indents, space before so and so forth, that all comes up as I click on that particular button. Now if you want to go ahead and choose exactly what does or does not appear inside of the Control panel, go up to the far right edge up at the Control panel, this little button right here. If you click on that a little flyout menu basically gives you options of all the possible settings that could appear in the Control panel. Now if you are a person who only works in the world of print and you never had the ease of working let's say Flash for example, well there is a setting inside of Illustrator that when you are working with text, you can specify certain settings for Flash text and right now that setting is turned on, which would mean that when you click on text that option will be available. But if you've never really worked with Flash and that is no interest to you, you can actually uncheck that option. And now that option will not show up in the Control panel anymore.
Now I'm not suggesting that right after that you start turning these settings on and off, but as you become more and more familiar with Illustrator and you start to make the interface more customized and more your own, you may want to come back to the Control panel and adjust some of the settings in the Control panel itself to best work for you.
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