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Covering a wide range of topics, from advanced masking to chart creation, Illustrator CS4 Beyond the Basics reveals a whole new level of power, creativity, and efficiency with Illustrator. Instructor Mordy Golding explores how to work with Live Paint groups, get the most out of the Live Trace feature, and take advantage of Illustrator’s wide range of effects. He also discusses advanced transformation techniques, powerful 3D functionality, and important color concepts. Exercise files accompany the course.
One of the most important panels inside of Illustrator is the Appearance panel. I'm actually going to drag that out here on to the screen so we can take a better look at this, because I want to explore some of the effects inside of Illustrator. Now you know that you can go over here to the Effect menu, you can view some of the effects and these are live effects meaning that they are actually to change the appearance of your artwork, they don't ask you to adjust the underlying vector path. Now you can also apply effects directly by clicking on the button here in the Appearance panel and you'll notice that all those same settings are here. So one that I want to explore specifically here in this movie is something called Convert to Shape. There is now in effect, inside of Illustrator, which is called Convert to Shape and you can convert basically any shape to a Rectangle, a Rounded Rectangle or an Ellipse. Now when I first noticed, I was like well if really wanted a Rectangle or a Rounded Rectangle wouldn't that just draw it that way from the beginning. I mean I wouldn't be drawing a star and then turn it into a rectangle.
Well it's really important to think about this particular effect and how it might apply to text object because obviously if you type some letters on your screen those take the forms of letters but there are maybe times where I want to turn those letter forms into other shape, such as a Rectangle or Rounded Rectangle. So let's explore one specific example. I'm going to go ahead here, I'll just deselect this right now, take a regular type object over here and I'm just going to type a word. Let me type in the word SURF, for example. I'm going to scale this up in size over here. So I'm just going to go ahead and holding the Shift key to make it a little bit bigger so we can see this on the screen and what I want to do, I want to create some kind of artwork where I have a background behind this particular object and the reason why that might be important is -- for several reasons, first of all maybe I want to make some kind of cool web button in the web or what I find many times when you have text that you need to overlay over other objects.
For example, maybe you have map and you want to have some kind of call-out but there is a lot of busy color and textures going on in the background. So it might be hard to read the text. So what you would want to do is create some kind of white box or some kind of border or outline around the text, so that's the text would be readable on that noisy background. So let's take a look at how that might easily be done here inside of Illustrator and I want to do so in a dynamic fashion, meaning that, I'm never sure when I type all my text in the screen that is always going to be spelled correctly or that it might not have an accidental typo in there. So I want to make sure that my text stays live and I can always make changes and edits to my text at any time. Now when I do so I would want that outline, that other background that I want to create to remain in the live state as well and update accordingly.
So let's see how that is to do working with this Convert to Shape command inside of Illustrator. So first I'm going to just change my text. Let's choose the Bold option here, something a little bit more substantial and I'm going to go over here to my Appearance panel and I'll first start off by adding a new fill to my object. So now what I have done is I have added a secondary fill, a fill that is sitting above the characters which are the letter S, U, R, F that I typed earlier and I'll change the fill Color to yellow just to allow us to see it more clearly for now, and that particular fill as you can see right now is covering up the black letter that I first typed.
Now what I'm going to do I'm going to take that fill, I'm going to change its stacking order. I'm going to simply click on that particular fill and drag it that it appears beneath the characters. So now that yellow fill is kind of hidden from view because the black type that I have right now is kind of hiding it because it's above the yellow fill in the stacking order of the object. Now remember when you are dealing with the type objects, the type itself is really kind of a group and just think of each of the characters in that string of text as how much of grouped objects that are now in this one group which we call a type object. I'm going to highlight the fill to target just the fill itself and now I'm going to apply that effect. Let me go to the Effect button right here, I'm going to choose Convert to Shape and let's turn this into a Rounded Rectangle. The dialog box comes up here and I'll click on the Preview button so we could see what happened. What I have just done now is I have taken the letters S, U, R, and F and I have turned them into a Rounded Rectangle. Now this is not something that I would normally be able to do, I want to able to keep the text but I have taken a secondary fill of that particular text and I have not converted it into a Rounded Rectangle.
So let's change some of the settings that are here. Now Absolute over here, you can see the setting here for Absolute Width and Height. That would allow me to basically define a Rounded Rectangle that doesn't change. It's the exact same size. What I would like to do is I would like to make it so that if I ever change that text SURF into something else, maybe I would change it to Surfing for example, I would like that background to enlarge or grow with the text as well. So that means that I'm going to choose this option here called Relative. Relative means that the Rounded Rectangle that I'm creating is relative in shape and relative in size to the actual fill itself, which are the letters here.
So of course if I add more letters, the fill will get bigger. If I would have fewer letters then that particular fill would reduce in size. So now I could choose to add Extra Width or Extra Height. If I were to set this to 0 right now I would match the same slug size that the text itself. But I'm going to go ahead here and add just a little bit of Extra Width, maybe around quarter of a inch and then for the Extra Height over there, I'm actually going to leave it set to 0 right now. Now, I'm also going to increase the Corner Radius to about to about a quarter of inch, instead of an eight of an inch, just so I get that nice and rounded edge that's there and with the Relative option chosen I'm simply going to click OK to apply that effect and now what I have done is I have created a single text object that has two fills inside of it and one of those fills the bottom most fill which is colored yellow has been converted to Rounded Rectangle. If I take my Type tool now I can still of course edit my text and if I change it to Surfing, notice now that background has enlarged and grown as well with the text itself.
So this becomes an increasingly powerful way that I can add effects or other things to my particular text objects without having to actually convert my text outlines or to create multiple objects that will be difficult for me to edit. Now, if I had some kind of background here I could easily, now specify a particular color here, maybe a Solid Gray or a White instead of a Yellow here that would always make sure that my text is readable on any kind of a background. So give this effect a try, I think you will be surprised what you will find that it can do for you.
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