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Knowing the fundamentals of drawing and reshaping paths is only part of the story. In Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Advanced, the second of the popular One-on-One series, computer graphics expert Deke McClelland covers some of Illustrator's most powerful and least understood features. He shows how to merge simple shapes to create complex ones with the Pathfinder palette, as well as align paths to create schematic illustrations. Deke explains how to paint fluid, multicolor fills with blends, and the new and improved gradient tool. He explores seamlessly repeating tile patterns, blobs and brushes, and imported images. He also dives into one of the deepest features in all of Illustrator, transparency. Exercise files accompany the tutorial.
Recommended prerequisite: Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals.
Download Deke's customized keyboard layouts and color settings for Illustrator from the Exercise Files tab.
In this exercise, I'm going to show you how to use the Crop operation to use one path that cut through a bunch of other paths inside of Illustrator. I have gone ahead and saved my progress so far as Cape & smock.ai and the idea is this robot right here... We are now looking at the lower region of the robot, his torso as it were. He's got kind of a lab coat on, let's say, and so what I'm calling the smock is this white area in the background, the main white of the body. Then what I'm calling the cape is really this opening right here that will reveal the grill lines. So, I want this grill lines to appear just inside of the V of the cape. And we are looking to get this effect here. This is the Ghost robot.ai file, so the finished version of the illustration and you can see the grill lines only appear inside of the area that's not covered by the cape.
All right, so we are going to use the cape to crop the grill lines. So let's switch back here to Cape & smock. Now the first thing that we need to do is make sure that we get rid of all the strokes and convert them over to fills. So I'm going to start by clicking on anyone of these grill lines because they are all grouped together. I went ahead and grouped them in advance. We can actually see these I believe inside of the Layers palette. If I twirl open my pathfinders right there and I'll go ahead and hide the Stroke palette for a moment, we can see there is this group of grill lines right there.
So it's not too far down the stack at this point. Go ahead and select all of them. They are open paths, which of course is dangerous, but what's really bad about them at this point is they have strokes and no fills which means that the Pathfinder operation is going to completely obliterate them and that's not what we want. So we need to convert them to paths that have fills and no strokes. So go up to the Object menu, same thing we've seen before, go to Path and then choose Outline Stroke. And I should say something. Outline Stroke really is a pathfinder operation.
It's just a pathfinder operation that isn't included with the Pathfinder palette over here. And it oftentimes is a first step before applying the pathfinders. So go ahead and choose the command or if you load the dekeKeys, Control+Backslash, Command+Backslash on the Mac. We now have a series of closed and filled paths that have no strokes at all. All right, the next step is to grab this shape that's going to serve as the cropper. So this is the shape that's going to crop the grill lines. Now there is two things that have to happen with the crop shape here. One is that it needs to be filled so again we need a fill on those strokes. However, we need to reinstate the cape outline ultimately with its stroke intact because we are going to lose it in just a second, as you will see. So we need to copy it is basically when it comes down to.
As you work with Pathfinder operations, you will learn to recognize when you need to do this but often times, you will need to copy your shape before you send it into a Pathfinder operation because you are going to lose it in the course of the Pathfinder operation and you want to regain it later. So when in doubt, just go ahead and chose the Copy command. If you think something is going to go amiss then just go ahead and copy in advance, so I'm going to go up to the Edit menu and choose Copy, Ctrl+C, Command+C on the Mac and we have now copied this cape shape right here. Now what we need to do is go ahead and click on the switch icon here or press Shift+X in order to swap the fill and stroke so that we have a filled shape without any stroke associated with it whatsoever.
Now I'm going to go ahead and change the color of the field right here by bringing up my Color palette, switching over to the fill like so and let's just grab a random color, like so, like this red. What I want you to see here is that the cropping shape is in back of the grill lines. Now this is something you have to come to terms with in Illustrator in general. When you are masking, as we'll see in the later chapter, and when you are cropping whatever is serving as the mask or the crop or what have you has to be in front of everything that is going to crop. That is a really strange thing in my opinion but it's the way it is. So you need to press Ctrl+Shift+Right-Bracket or Command+ Shift+Right-Bracket on the Mac to go ahead and pop that guy to the top of the stack and you can see it right there now, at the top of the My Pathfinders layer.
Now then, go ahead and Shift-click on any one of the grill lines to select all of these guys. And now we are finally ready to crop and here's what you do. You go over to this icon right there, inside the Pathfinder palette of course, and you click on it and you have now successfully cropped your shapes as you can see here. So the grill lines have now been cropped by the topmost shape and everything has been brought to the top of the stack. So there is our group right there. Voonderbar. Now of course, as I was saying-- I'm going click off the paths so that we can see.
As I was saying we lost the cape outline. It's still kind of there but it's part of the larger group of junk that's going on here and it's going to make some later editing difficult if we decide to stick with the lines that are there and they are invisible right now and so on. Why not just paste our original path into place? So I'm going to press Ctrl+F or Command+F on the Mac in order to paste that path to front, the one we copied just a moment ago. Now I'm going to scroll upward a little. You can see that we have got a lot of overage right here, a lot of leftover line.
So here is what I'm going to do. I'm going to press Ctrl+Y or Command+Y in order to switch to the Outline Mode and just to make sure that I get things exactly right, I'm going to press Ctrl+ Spacebar or Command+Spacebar on the Mac to get my Zoom tool and I'm going to marquee around this area right there. So that we are really zoomed in. What am I at? 4331.25% and so we are way zoomed in. Now I'm going to go ahead and grab my Scissors tool. This guy right there. If you don't see it then it's probably the Eraser tool. Click and hold on Eraser and choose Scissors. You also have a keyboard shortcut of C and you want to click at this location right there in order to cleave that path and this, the top path for me, is still selected. It's important that the path we selected before you operated on it with the scissors tool and I'm going to go ahead and spacebar drag over to this location right there.
And if you can't tell where you are, you can sort of zoom out or you can bring up the Navigator palette and find your way around the illustration but this is the other area that I need to cut, one of the other areas. So I'll go ahead and zoom in and I'll click at this location right there and it's just helpful to be zoomed in because then you can see exactly where that intersection is. All right, now I'll go ahead and take my own advice and bring up the Navigator palette and find that my advice isn't all that helpful when this guy is so tiny. Let's go ahead and make this palette bigger and then I'm going to drag up to here so that we are inside the heart. See this region right there where the cape is intersecting with the heart shape? And we want to get rid of that stuff as well because we don't want the cape to go in there. I'll show you what I mean.
I'll press Ctrl+Y again, Command+ Y on the Mac. See how it goes up into the heart? That's not what we wanted. The heart is a hole inside of the robot, because he has no heart. See, how he's so sad? All right so go ahead and grab your black arrow tool once again. Click on that path outline to make sure it's active because you have to have a selected path in order to operate on it with the Scissors tool. Then go ahead and grab your Scissors again, press Ctrl+Y Command+ Y on the Mac in order to switch to the outline mode. You can of course also by the way go up to the View menu and choose the first command at the top of the menu.
Then I'm going to go ahead and click right there at that intersection and that deselects the paths that I want to work on. So I'll press the Ctrl key to temporarily get my black arrow tool and that's the Command key on the Mac. And then click on this path outline like so in order to make it active and then I'll click there with the Scissors tool after releasing the Ctrl or Command key. I have now cut the path exactly where I wanted to cut and I'll go ahead and zoom out, a few times don't you know, and then I'll get my black arrow tool.
I'll click on this top path in order to select it and then press the Backspace key or the Delete key on the Mac. You will still see it here in the preview mode. That's because we also have the invisible guy that's part of this group right here. Don't worry about that and if that mixes you up, just go ahead and press Ctrl+Y or Command+Y on the Mac to switch back to the preview mode. You will see that that is gone away now. All right let's go ahead and scroll down, click this guy right there, Shift-click on this guy in order to select those two and then press the Backspace key or the Delete key on the Mac to get rid of them as well and we have now done an awesome job of cropping our grill lines inside of our cape and keeping our cape outline as well.
In the next exercise, we are going to get to work on this Frisbee shapes right here.
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